When you create your WordPress site, you get a lot of great functionality built into the core CMS. But plugins can give you an even greater level of flexibility and functionality that can make your site really stand out. There are literally thousands and thousands of WordPress plugins available—some are outstanding, others not so much.
I find myself using a core of plugins with most of my sites—including my photo blogs. While everyone’s website situation may be a little different, I believe everyone can benefit from these seven WP plugins. I would definitely recommend you check them out if you’re not already using them.
1. All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert
I’ve written about this one before. There are plenty of SEO plugins for WordPress, but this one is probably the most popular. And, it’s the one I use all the time for my sites. All in One SEO Pack is a must for optimizing your WP site for the search engines.
2. Fast Secure Contact Form by Mike Challis
All web sites need to have a way to contact the site owner or webmaster. As a photographer, you can certainly have your information listing on your blog, but often the best and easiest way to communicate is through email. Fast Secure Contact Form gives you an easy to set up contact page on your site where people can submit questions or comments and you receive the message via email. Captcha is included to prevent spam or misuse.
3. Exclude Pages from Navigation by Simon Wheatley
By default, when you create a page in WordPress, it is usually added as a menu or submenu item on your site. There are definitely times when you might not want this to happen (for example if the page should only be displayed when the user takes some specific action, etc.). When you install the Exclude Pages from Navigation plugin, you will then see a checkbox option when you create pages in WP. Just uncheck the box and your page will not appear as a menu item!
4. Page Links To by Mark Jaquith
Another navigation issue that may come up is when you’d like a menu option to take you to another site or location. When you install the Page Links To plugin, you get the option to specify whether the page you’re creating is a regular WordPress page or if it is a URL. If you select the URL option and enter the URL string, this menu entry will now be treated as a URL link.
5. Google Sitemap Plugin by BestWebSoft
While some people may disagree, I still think that sitemaps are important to your search engine results. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to submit sitemaps and with the Google Sitemap Plugin, you can easily create and update sitemaps of your website and submit them to Google Webmaster Tools—all from within the WordPress interface.
6. Tinymce Thumbnail Gallery Plugin by James Charlesworth
For photo blogs, this is a great plugin that displays multiple images on a page or post that jump out when you mouse over. It’s a great addition if your current theme isn’t that photo-friendly. Or, it can be a nice complement if you have one of the newer photo blogger themes.
7. Limit Login Attempts by Johan Eenfeldt
Last, but certainly not least, I recommend you install the Limit Login Attempts plugin. Website security is a huge issue and a lot of malicious attacks result from nasty automated programs that repeated try to access your site. This plugin will limit the number of times someone (or some program) can attempt to login with an incorrect password. Once the limit is reached, they are locked out.