The only plugins that you really need

Many people go overboard when installing plugins to extend WordPress’s functionality.

Unless you are adding functionality that you really need, then it isn’t necessary. One of the main reasons to avoid overloading WordPress with a plethora of plugins is performance. It’s pretty simple; the more plugins you are running means your site requires higher horsepower, so to speak. Additionally, the more plugins you run increases the odds that one of the plugins will conflict with another. In a perfect world all plugins and themes would be developed following a particular set of standards that would help insure conflicts would be avoided, however that isn’t currently the case. That’s why I’ve put together this short list of plugins that I actually recommend you run. Some of these aren’t necessary if you don’t require their specific features, so use your own judgment.

All In One SEO

All Shaken & Stirred Themes are optimized for search engines (like Google and Bing), however if you’d like more control over Search Engine Optimization, I recommend that you install this free plugin. It will automatically generate META tags for you and gives you the option to create your own META description and META keywords.

Google XML Sitemaps

“This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.”

If you are running on a multisite version of WordPress, use this version of Google XML Sitemaps. If you don’t know what multisite means, you probably don’t need to worry about this.

Google Analyticator

This is one of those plugins that you may or may not need depending upon if you are interested in tracking your web analytics and have a Google Analytic account.

“Google Analyticator adds the necessary JavaScript code to enable Google Analytics logging on any WordPress blog. This eliminates the need to edit your template code to begin logging. Google Analyticator also includes several widgets for displaying Analytics data in the admin and on your blog.”

WP-DB-Backup or BackupBuddy

It’s always a good idea to backup your website. WP-DB-Backup will do it automatically for you, and you can even schedule it to do it on a weekly basis. It will only send you a copy of your database, which may not be that helpful if you aren’t familiar with things like mySQL or if something happens to your files. If you want to go with a more robust and bulletproof backup plan, I would go with BackupBuddy.

Gravity Forms

If you are in need of a contact form, this plugin is for you. Although it costs $39, it is well worth the investment. The power and reliability of the forms you create with the Gravity Forms plugin is out of this world. Not only can you create contact forms, but also multi-page forms, order forms, registration forms, posting forms, and more. I recommend checking out their website for more information.

If you don’t feel like dropping $39 for a professional plugin and only need a basic form creator, I recommend checking out Contact Form 7

Akismet

“Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s ‘Comments’ admin screen.“

Last time I checked, this plugin comes bundled with WordPress by default.