Four Essential WordPress Plugins

If you are a blogger with your own hosted WordPress site, consider installing these WordPress plugins:

  • Akismet Run, don’t walk, to install this plugin. In fact in most brand new WordPress installs, you should see this plugin already in your Plugins dashboard, ready to be activated. This plugin does a great job of filtering out spam comments on your blog .. it’s really painful to delete these comments by hand. The one trick, is that you will have to create an account at to obtain your WordPress API Key. However once you have that, you will be able to activate Akismet
  • All-in-One-SEO For more control over your page title and meta tags: see my earlier post on title tags and a pointer to this plugin
  • Google Analytics This doesn’t have to be a plugin as you can update the footer.php code directly with the Google Analytics tracking code, however there are several plugins available. I installed Yoast’s plugin and it was straightforward. With this, you should set up your google analytic account first. If you think you will need help, I would suggest watching the YouTube videos on the topic, just search on “google analytics wordpress plugin video” and browse through them until you find one that makes sense to you. Why do you want to install this plugin? So that you have information about the visitors to your site, what keywords they use … etc. Don’t worry about if you don’t understand google analytics at first. The important thing is to start the analytics tracking now, so you can look at your blog’s performance trends in the future.
  • Google XML Sitemaps This plugin will help Google crawl your blog (and help Google discover it in the first place!). It creates a list of your blog posts and pages in a special format that Google likes (called XML) and updates it when you change or updates your blog. With this plugin, you MAY need to know how to create and change permissions on a file on your server, (usually done through a FTP client such as Filezilla). Another cool thing, which I plan to cover more in a future post, is that it helps with eliminating duplicate content. Instructions and download for Google XML Sitemap Plugin. You may be also able to install it directly from your wordpress config panel (Add New Plugin).

Update: March 4, 2013: These plugins are all still valid. I’ve published a more extensive list of WordPress plugins critical for SEO that you might want to check out as well.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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Merlyn Sanchez says September 12, 2010

Thank you for explaining these plug-ins in a way a non-techie can understand!

I use Askimet and find it indispensable for keeping sp@m off my site.


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Louise Edington says September 13, 2010

How funny! Yesterday I was just installing a couple of these. I have, however, messed something up and people can no longer comment on my blog. I would like to cry right now as I can’t figure out how to fix 🙁

Irene Turner says September 13, 2010

good suggestions, thanks! I will make sure that I forward to my web person to be sure that my site has these 4. Love helpful tips like this

Kathy Alice says September 13, 2010

Hi Louise,

Try deactivating Akismet, and removing what you recently installed. Good Luck!

Kerry Hargraves says September 13, 2010

Love Askimet. Thanks for the tips about the others. I’ll give them a try.

Michael Cavitt says September 13, 2010

Kathy Alice, thanks for a literate explanation of these plugins. Now that I’m taking care of my own sites I need this.

Donna McCord says September 13, 2010

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I, too, am forwarding this to my web person to make sure all is as it should be; I know we just recently installed Askimet which has been a real help!

Peggy Maffeo says September 13, 2010

Kathy, thank you so much for this great info. I’m in the process right now of getting my blog on moved over to my own domain name on .org. So I will ask my hosting company to make sure these 4 plugins are installed and activated.

Darcie Newton says September 13, 2010

I’ve got most of these installed but love the explanation and the extra help on the google analytics…still not getting that one completely. I’d love more suggestions for apps that increase functionality or add zip to an otherwise standard blog.

Kathy Alice says September 13, 2010

Hi Darcie, as far as adding some zip what did you have in mind? I took a look at your blog, and you might want to check out my post on twitter and social media plugins

BTW, how do you like Socrates?

Judy Stone-Goldman says September 14, 2010

I love having guidance in these matters! I already have Akismet and Google Analytics. So on to the others. I plan to investigate your other links, too. Thanks.

Brandy Mychals says September 14, 2010

Great info – I’ll have to get my tech person to install it – beyond me…Would love to get rid of the endless SPAM!

Going to check out some of your previous posts…
Brandy Mychals
Split Second Perceptions

Jean Bentley says September 14, 2010

Thanks for the great tips and they’re so easy to understand.

Candace C. Davenport says September 15, 2010

Kathy Alice-

Thanks- How do these apply if you are not on WordPress but hosted separately? I assume they all have plug-ins that are not WordPress plug-ins?

I’d love a further post on Google Analytics if you are so inclined!


Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

Pat Zahn says September 16, 2010

Boy, I can attest to Akismet! I recently transferred my blog to WordPress and on the one hand I saw why I should do that, (my blog was seen more readily), but on the other I had some very “interesting” comments. I had delayed activating Akismet, but now it’s done, no more weird English comments…

    Kamryn says January 2, 2012

    At last some raitnoailty in our little debate.

Bill Browning says September 16, 2010

Clear and to the point. Thanks Sensei. I’m in the process of beginning to migrate one of my sites to WordPress from Squarespace and will definitely take your advice.

Kathy Alice says September 16, 2010

Hi Candace,

This post applies to blogs that are hosted on their own domain and have installed wordpress, not to blogs on the domain.

Google Analytics .. now there is a meaty topic. I will put it on my todo list!

Letting the Search Engines Know About Your Site | Making Sense of the Web says October 10, 2010

[…] built a XML sitemap of your site. If you haven’t and you have a wordpress site, see my 4 essential plugins post, if you have some other type of site, check into […]

Susan Berland says April 21, 2011

I found your information while doing a Google search trying to get some help with a problem I was having activating my Askimet plugin. What a find! Great information. I have added the two plug-ins I didn’t already have. Thank you for such valuable information.

Susan Berland
A Picture’s Worth

Kathy Alice says April 22, 2011

Thanks Susan, glad it was helpful. These are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more useful plugins!

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