The right combination of Wordpress plugins are the special sauce that makes Wordpress really kick its Content Management competition to the curb. The following six plugins are super easy to install, will save you time, give awesome ROI [okay, they are free, but your time is an investment] and make your website look good as well as be loved a little more by the search engines. Does this sound like a winning combination, or what? Let's go...
Tagging helps your website visitors drill deeper into your website without using search, and they also help search engines spider your site better. These are all good things, but why settle for a boring tag cloud to display your tags when you can have a really cool tag cloud instead? WP-Cumulus is a flash based plugin with the ability to have a transparent background and be re-sized to any dimension you choose. The almost hypnotic movements of the tags on your site make this a very cool aesthetic find. Here's an example of the tag cloud in action.
Having a form or forms on your site let your visitors interact with you. It might take them 20 seconds to fill out your form but it can take a lot longer to create one for your site if you don't use this slick plugin. Never again will you wrestle with HTML tags and CSS to get a good looking form! Wufoo.com is a great help when it comes to building a form for your website, but do yourself a favor and install Contact Form 7 and simplify things even further.
Sitemaps are not really used by your visitors because you have a very well thought out navigation system on your website already, don't you? But give the search engines a map for your site easily by installing this plugin. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and let Google know the name of your site map to get the ball rolling for speedy indexing of your web pages.
A website that loads slowly will lose visitors. It will also not rank so well on Google who now looks at download speed when assessing how it's going to rank a page. This handy plugin is your best friend in the speed department. Mashable.com uses this plugin so it's got to be pretty good, right? Here's the full list of how this plugin helps your site.
Last, but by no means least, is my favorite gem making backup made ridiculously easy. Most folks have no idea how they can back up their website, but think of how disastrous a hacking incident plus a poor excuse for a hosting company can equal: a very big headache - and your site could be out of action for a very long time. This plugin will backup your website when you want it to and can store the files on a server or email them to you. If you want to have your site zipped and emailed to you each day you can. It's brilliant! This is by no means THE list for must-have Wordpress plugins - but it is one that will round out and complement other great plugins [like All In One SEO] so that your website will definitely be a notch above most of the rest. So, what are you waiting for? Get installing!