After reading Drew’s post Building a WordPress Blog From Scratch, I started to write a loooong comment, then decided to write a post, and finally decided to write a series.

I’m a huge proponent of WordPress.  I use Drupal for ecommerce sites & am familiar with Joomla.  They both have steep learning curves, and are both overkill for real estate websites.  I currently integrate WordPress with a custom IDX solution on all of my real estate sites, including

WordPress can be a fully functioning CMS, and can be very SEO friendly.  Google’s Matt Cutts went so far as to say that WordPress takes care of 90% of SEO.  So, how to get the remaining 10%, and how to turn WordPress into a fully functioning CMS?  Plugins.  Here are the plugins I use & recommend:

As a side note, there are plugins that have more features than these, but I choose these plugins because of their combined features & support.  There’s nothing worse than upgrading WP only to find that one of your plugins is no longer supported, and so breaks your site (which has happened to me.)

  1. Akismet – Comes out of the box with WordPress for good reason:  It kills 95% of potential spam comments with very few false positives.  Easy to enable, but you do have to sign up for an API, which is free.
  2. All in One SEO Pack – Feature rich SEO plugin that takes care of your title tags, meta data, and canonical URLs.  Lots of nice automation.
  3. cforms II – Flexible & design rich contact form plugin with auto confirmation & landing page functionality.
  4. Google Analytics for WordPress – Allows you to easily add the Analytics javascript to every page, and is functional with cross subdomain tracking.  Nice extras like “exclude admin” which automatically excludes traffic from the admin (you) which can skew data.
  5. Google Chrome Frame for WordPress – If you’re like me and you’ve stopped supporting IE6, then you can enable this plugin and prompt your visitor to download Chrome Frame, so they can view the web in a modern browser without giving up the oh-so-awesome IE6 (or 7, or 8 – it’s all in the plugin options.)
  6. Lucia’s Linky Love – I run a dofollow real estate blog, but it’s very far from a “free for all.”  This is the most flexible dofollow plugin out there, in my opinion.
  7. My Page Order – You can manage the order of your pages in WordPress with the default installation, but it’s pretty janky.  My Page Order gives you a nice GUI to order your pages.
  8. Page Lists Plus – In order to act as a functioning CMS, your WordPress installation needs this plugin.  This allows you exclude pages from nav, change the link text, and perform a few other questionably beneficial actions to your page lists.
  9. Redirection – I manage the page redirection of my main site through my .htaccess file, but use redirection for my other sites.  Redirection is really cool in that you can manage and track page redirection (which is why I use it to manage redirection, rather than Page Lists Plus.)
  10. Reveal IDs for Admin – It’s often useful to know the page, post, etc IDs, and this plugin allows you to display them, and choose which level of user sees them.
  11. Robots Meta – Allows you to tag your pages with robots meta data to instruct bots to follow, index, nofollow, or noindex specific pages.
  12. Smart Youtube – Allows you to easily insert youtube videos into your posts, pages, or sidebar widgets.
  13. Subscribe to Comments – Allows your readers to subscribe to comments in a post.
  14. Tweetmeme Retweet Button – Allows your readers to easily retweet a blog post.
  15. WordPress Database Backup – Protect your data and schedule DB backups often.  Complete with email functionality.
  16. WP Super Cache – If your site ever breaks, disable this plugin first.  It’s typically the culprit.  I hem & haw over whether or not I like it, but I’m using it as of the past few months.  It caches your site so you can deliver it to your readers much more quickly.  If you’ve ever heard of “digg proof,” this is what does it for WordPress (plus a beefy hosting plan.)

Today, I have 41 plugins installed on my site, and I’m running these 16.  I’ve probably disabled & deleted 50 other plugins over the past two years.  The nice thing about WordPress is that if you want to do something with your site, there’s probably a plugin or widget for it.  If there’s not a plugin/widget for it, there are thousands of developers ready to write one for you.

Up next…Evaluating & Choosing a WordPress Theme.