The nature of plugins is that they provide WordPress with supplemental functionality that may not be needed by every site. Rather than try to squeeze a million features into the WordPress core, application-specific functionality is left to the awesome developers within the thriving WordPress community.
Developers see a need (or an opportunity), create a plugin, and release it to users. If the plugin is popular enough, and makes sense to integrate into the WordPress core, the wizards behind the curtain will see that it happens.
Even so, there remain a number of top-notch plugins that, for whatever reason, have yet to be swallowed up by the core. Here are some of the best that we find useful for virtually any type of WordPress-powered site:
Google XML Sitemaps:This plugin will create a Google-compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. It supports all of the WordPress-generated pages as well as custom ones.
Every time you edit or create a post, your sitemap is updated and all major search engines that support the sitemap protocol, like Google, MSN/Bing, Yahoo! and Ask.com, are notified about the update.
This is a super easy activate-it-and-forget-it plugin that can help you by making sure search engines find every last corner of your site.
IImage Browser:The built-in WordPress media gallery is getting better over time. There are some nice parts about it, such as how you can query for attachments to particular posts and whatnot, but it has more than its fair share of problems.
For one thing, inserting images uploaded in this way adds a bunch of additional class names into your image tags that you may not want. This plugin is dead-ugly to look at, but it makes uploading and displaying images for your site dead-easy and far less prone to failure.
Does every article in a magazine look exactly the same? No, not only because that would be boring but because each article is unique and should be designed as such. Having complete stylistic and functional control over every Post and Page of your site is very powerful and opens up some awesome design possibilities.
FeedBurner FeedSmith:The point of using FeedBurner is to get some statistics on how many people subscribe to your site. But what point are statistics unless they are accurate? This plugin will redirect anyone trying to access your WordPress feed directly to your FeedBurner feed address. Set-it-and-forget-it.
Subscribe To Comments:There have been various services in the past that have tried to consolidate all of your commenting activity in the web-o-sphere into one place, but so far none of them have really sank their teeth in as being the “go-to” choice. Even so, when you comment on a blog an anticipate a reply, generally you want to know about it.
This plugin makes it easy to stay current with the conversation by clicking a checkbox next to the comment form. After checking the box and submitting a comment, you will receive an email whenever a new reply is posted on the thread. Best of all, you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking a link in any one of the email notifications.
WP-DBManager:There is nothing more important and vital to your WordPress-powered site than the mysterious database that lives on your server. If your entire server was destroyed, but you had a recent backup of your database, you would be OK.
Among other useful features like on-demand backups and database optimization, you can have this plugin email you your database at set intervals.
Custom Post Limits:There is only one setting in WordPress to display how many Posts to show on a page (located under Settings > Reading). But what if it made sense to display only one post at a time on your blog’s homepage?
That would mean that your search page would also display only one post, which is dumb. This plugin allows you more fine-grained control over how many Posts are displayed for each type of page, including search pages, category pages, archive pages, and everything else.
Post Editor Buttons:There is a user-setting for turning off the visual editor. When you do that, instead of the rich-text editor you see when creating posts, you just get a few buttons and see the raw HTML in the content box. The full control over formatting that this editing mode provides is nice, but the buttons you get are fairly limited.
The good news is that the Post Editor Buttons plugin allows you to create your own buttons on the fly, which potentially could be useful for any type of site. Below, we see a number of custom buttons added: “h3,” “h4,” as well as buttons such as “html,” which wraps the selected text in their respective tags.
All in One SEO Pack:The #1 selling point of the All-in-One SEO Pack is that it automatically generates an appropriate meta description tag for each Posts and Pages based on their contents.These automatically generated meta descriptions control what shows up as the descriptive text in the search-engine results.
As you can imagine, these descriptions are greatly important because they help users decide which link to click. In addition to providing this automated functionality, the All in One SEO Pack also enables you to override the default settings and individually control the meta description, post title, and keywords for every Post and Page on your site.
As if that weren’t enough, this plugin also takes care of some duplicate content issues by automatically formatting your page titles and implementing meta-tag canonicalization.
Clean Notifications:The default comment notification email from WordPress is kind of fugly. It’s plain text, and contains a whole bunch of links.Thankfully, the Clean Notifications plugin utilizes some very basic HTML to help the emails look much more readable and user friendly.