For those who are self-hosting their WordPress blogs (ie have own domain name and using paid hosting), there are a host of plugins to choose from.
Here are 4 WordPress plugins that I find indispensable for my blogs that are built using WordPress templates:
Function: Battle spam comments- automatically filter off spam comments for you.
This is a must have function for any blogs with comments enabled. Spam comments come in very quickly the moment your blog hits cyberspace. Akismet plugin is available by default in the Plugin tab of your WordPress. But to activate it, you need an API key. After activating this plugin, you save huge amount of time battling spam.
Read more: How to Activate API key for Akismet
2. Related Posts plugin.
Function: To display posts/articles that contains topics related to the current post. How the plugin ‘knows’ which post is related to which is via the tag word that you use on every post. You have to tag each of your post properly. Especially for a blog like this that covers different topics, I have to make sure that I use very relevant tags so that my “Related Posts” can help me group related articles together. And at end of every post, only posts that carry similar tags that I’ve assigned would appear under “Related Posts”.
Read more: How to get the Related Posts Plugin to Work if you have problem figuring out the plugin.
3. Clean Archives Reloaded
Function: To automatically generate an archives page of all your published articles.
The defaulted WordPress templates, much like Blogger’s only can archive according to dates and calendar. It is not able to display the name of the article and the date it is published. When I find a blog that I like to read, I always dive into the Archives page to go through past articles that I may like to read. The clean archives reloaded once downloaded and activated, would enable your visitors to see at a glance what are the articles you have according to date.
For instance, in http://about.yinteing.com/ where I list all my active blogs, I will provide a link for the complete article listing for visitors to click see the listing of all the articles published under that blog. An archive page that carries listing of the topics at one glance will help your visitors to determine if your blog contains articles that may interest them. It saves them the hassle of having to click on each month just to view the articles- if it’s that troublesome, they’ll probably move on to another blog or website.
4. Subscribe to comments box
Function: To enable visitors to click on an opt in to notify them of future follow-up comments after their comments.
How it works: A visitor comes to your page and decide to leave you a comment. Before submitting the comment, if you install the plugin, your visitor can have the option of checking a little box above the submit button to get email notification of follow-up comments. So if after visitor A comment, when visitor B comments or you (the webmaster) reply to the comment, visitor A gets a notification via email. This plugin is useful because when a visitor receives follow-up email on the comment, it will encourage him/her to revisit your blog again. Without the plugin, a visitor who has place a comment may not come back to check on your response (especially most visitors tend to be surfing the net and may not even remember your blog).
The above are 4 of the must haves for my active blogs which I find it to be very useful.
Plugins for self hosted WordPress can be found at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/.
Note: If you are hosting your blog using the free wordpress.com, you would not be able to download and install plugins.