Hi there! This information has been updated,

so you may want to head over to 2017 Recommended WordPress Plugins Guide

Below is a list of plugins I currently recommend to my Master WordPress Administration students to meet various needs.

Essential & Fundamental Plugins

  • Askimet — spam-control filter; comes pre-installed, but not activated, with WordPress
  • Google XML Sitemap Generator — creates & maintains an XML sitemap for Google and other search engines
  • Google Analytics for WordPress (Joost de Valk) — Allows you to easily integrate your GA Tracking code & create more detailed tracking reports (*May want to wait and see if it incorporates the Doublclick demographics tie-in change)
  • A Social Media plugin — Adds Facebook, Tweet, & other social media sharing buttons to promote your site; there are many and it depends upon whether you are using any specific tracking services (see Jetpack, AddThis, ShareThis, Feedburner)
  • Add Link to Facebook — currently best solution to cross-posting WP posts to Facebook, although some just use Jetpack Publicize
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast (Joost de Valk) — Includes automatic event tracking with solid, manageable SEO features

Additional Plugins and Features Recommended

  • A Contact Form — Protects your email address from spammers; there are several & some themes specify specific ones for automatic integration
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com — offers a number of features and capabilities in one plugin; some free & some requiring a service agreement
  • Post Type Order — Allows you to order your posts in ways other than chronological
  • Video Sidebar Widget — Actually allows you to integrate several forms of video widgets from random videos to post-specific videos from various sources
  • Simple Responsive Slider — If you are looking for a basic slideshow/slider feature. Personally, I feel that a slideshow without links to deeper content is a waste of valuable screen space, so I like the URL integration and simplicity of this alternative.
  • Next GEN Gallery — If you don’t happen to like the built-in gallery feature of WordPress, this is the most popular alternative. It  providess more advanced photo gallery, slideshow, image viewer features than built-in WP Gallery.
  • A WordPress Backup plugin or service — If you don’t want to pay for Backup Buddy, there are a number of WordPress backup programs that offer different features like backing up to your Google Drive or Dropbox, selecting which files to backup, and so on. There are also backup services, but these do cost. BackupBuddy by iThemes  is a Premium (i.e., commercial) plugin to backup, restore and move WordPress sites.
  • bbPress — If you are looking to integrate a discussion board or forum on your site (note: recommend a theme that supports bbPress).