With the heavy increase of blogging in recent years, the ability for the average person to get involved in the blogosphere is unlimited.  WordPress offers unlimited features and plugins for users to generate their own personal blogging communities.  Creating a structurally SEO friendly blog from the start is essential to maximize your organic search traffic.  Whether your blog is for personal purposes, businesses, corporate, etc., below I’ve provided a list of essential WordPress plugins to help optimize your blog’s ability to take rake in more organic search hits.

All in one SEO Pack
By far the best SEO plug-in I’ve seen out-the-box for optimizing title tags, META descriptions, and META keywords.  When using the latest 1.5.7 release with WordPress 2.7.1 you don’t need to change any options, it works perfectly out-the-box.   It also includes the Canonical URLs feature, and is compatible with other popular SEO plugins like Auto Meta, and Ultimate Tag Warrior.

Google XML Sitemaps
This plug-in automatically generates Google complaint XML sitemap for your WordPress blog.  Simply login to your Google Webmaster Tools, verify you own the domain, and submit your XML sitemap.  Google sitemaps can be a great tool if you’ve already got a lot of pages that aren’t currently indexed.

Google Analyticator
An essential plug-in for following your blog traffic via Google Analytics.  Simply add your user code to the plug-in settings interface and you’re all set.

WP Super Cache
Increase your page load times by generating static html files from your database driven blog.  Once the html file is generated, your web server will serve this file as opposed to processing the PHP scripts and querying the database (which can be a resource intensive process as your visitor count grows).

301 Redirect
Easily 301 redirect any blog post or page to any other post or page.  This is key when changing post URLs, or redirecting users to a newer (more relevant) blog post.  301 redirects are ment to tell the engines (and people) that you’d like to see the ranking authority of one URL transfered to another, permanently.

Robots Meta
Easily prevent indexing of search results, sub pages, categories, rss feeds, comment feeds, administrator pages, homepage, and more.  You can also nofollow outbound links on your front page, category listings, and tag links.  This helps to prevent duplicate content issues and increase effectiveness of your link equity structure.

SEO Friendly Images
Easily update all your images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes.

Referrer Detector
A fabulous plug-in which displays a greeting message to visitors that come from different source URLs (known as referrers).  For example, you can welcome fellow Stumblers, and encourage them to vote for your story.  This increases chances of receiving social votes, and also helps increase interaction with you and your readers.

Sociable
The most user-friendly social networking plug-in I’ve seen thus far.  This plug-in allows you to add nofollowed social media buttons at end of your blog posts.  Easily drag and drop any sites you want to appear on your blog.

Similar Posts
Easily increase your page views and average time on site by adding a list of posts that are related to the current blog post.  This is customizable according to a post’s title, content, or tags.

WordPress Automatic Upgrade
This plug-in guides you through the steps to upgrade your WordPress version without leaving the WordPress interface.  This is essential for beginner users who aren’t comfortable with upgrading their WordPress and mysql databases manually.

SEO Mention: SEO Friendly URL Structure

Although this is not a plug-in, I believe its worth mentioning. By implementing an SEO friendly URL structure on your wordpress blog, you’ll be ready to begin the promotion phase of your blog campaign. Simply follow the provided tutorial, and you’ll be well on your way. And if wordpress isn’t your first choice for setting up a website or for blogging you can always check out our review of open source vs proprietary content management systems… Happy blogging!

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