*We've updated this post originally published at the end of September, 2009. A lot has changed since then :D*
WordPress is probably the easiest and most malleable blog tool on the web that functions on Apache. Although it doesn't permit complete customization, it does provide a solid blogging tool with many additions to keep you're information and SEO needs satisfied.
We don't use many plugins, but over the years Distinct SEO has learned a few things through trials and tribulations. Here is a list of some of the plugins we use ideal for building a community and optimizing wordpress blogs.
Top WordPress Plugins for Search Engine Optimization
Akismet checks your comments against the their web service for spam. Originally I never used the services, but after my blogs became popular I got the API key and turned it on. Akismet solves spam from hitting the comment section.
ALL in one SEO
There are many SEO plugins out there but we opted to use ALL-in-one-SEO plugin and mostly like what it does. I've had to jump in and delete a few lines from the header deep within the code that I didn't like and what couldn't be controlled from the SEO plugin admin panel. Apart from that, the normal user will have all items required to have clear and concise Title elements for each post (not that you couldn't do that without the plugin).
Addthis or Sharethis
With so many different social media communities out there it's hard to enable readers a 'share' button for their preferred social network. Addthis and Sharethis are the leaders in the 'all-in' social network sharing button. They also provide free stats when you sign up for an account.
With this tool you can change the number of posts displayed when viewing different archive pages including the home page, comments, archive, categories, home, and more.
Peter's Custom Anti-Spam
Akismet does the job, but before I had this installed. It provides added protection against spambots. It prevents a number of bots from posting in the comment section.
This plugin permits each post to have unique lists of Technorati tags. You have to insert the tags manually which is sometimes a drag cause I forget to do it.
WP Tags to Technorati Use a social media plugin instead of these Technorati ones.
I dropped Simple Tags and went for a more efficient plugin to display Technorati tags in your post. The only downside is that it automatically puts the tag in the footer of the post. Not a huge deal though.
Subscribe To Comments
This is a good way to give people a chance (to remind them to come back) to return to your blog when somebody responds to a comment they've made.
This plugin enables you to put in a text footer at the bottom of your posts via the RSS feed. That means those who duplicate your content will be using a couple of links on each posts (with specific anchor text) to help you generate some additional web links.
Text Control Search engines can comprehend special characters with ease.
Get rid of special characters within the body of your text. Convert " into " and not &@#$ (or whatever it is.) This ensures there are no keywords mucked up with special characters. (This doesn't help in the titles though.)
WordPress Mobile Plugin
One thing with WordPress is you can extend your reach to different audiences easily. This plugin enables you to facilitate mobile visitors. A mobile friendly version of your blog displays. The best part, you can get you own Admob advertiser number and start making money from the ads (since the developer included Admob within the plugin).
I don't like this plugin anymore. Most mobile browsers have enough power to view the full page. This plugin started entering the index too which I didn't appreciated.
We don't use WP cache often, only when traffic climbs, but this plugin is supposed to return a cache version of your page instead of calling the server each time.
Heres is a solution for pagination on your blogs. Trying to get some pages out of the supplementals? Well this will help pass Page Rank from your homepage to some deeper archive pages. Read the full instructions on how to apply.
Are you signed up at Feedburner? You should be because it offers a wide array of analytics information about your feed subscribers. This plugin enables you to maintain your own feed on your own web site, redirecting to your feedburner feed rather than forcing you to replace it with your own.... EDIT, Feedburner and WordPress work together so this plugin is unnecessary.
JH 404 Logger
This tool enables a panel to show in your Dashboard depicting current 404 errors on the blog. Fix your errors fast as broken links and code are one of the major detriments to ranking well.
This is a good way to give people an idea of what's popular on your blog and hopefully encourage them to stick around and read some more. A good tool to build a sense of community.
Although you can do the same thing with .htaccess, many people do not have the skill to edit the file safely. This ensures that not only will your blog redirect http:// to http://www., but index.php redirects to /.
WordPress Database Backup
On-demand backup of your WordPress database. easy to install, easy to use if you're permission are right. This comes with the basic wordpress install.
Used to incorporate adsense (or any ad type) within each blog post. However, it is now deprecated so use at your own risk.
This was a rundown of the plugins we use on most of our blogs. WordPress is now the defacto leader in blogging CMS. As such, there are countless plugins to do all sorts of neat things. Picture galleries, great contact forms, even ecommerce solutions, all of these now have robust options.
If you have a favorite plugin include it here. Hope this helps you run a successful blog in the future!