I have just spent the entire evening upgrading and improving a couple of my blogs. The first one is Geek Rants, where I get to rant and rave about my job, customers, and geek life in general. The second is a new one that I just setup that helps teach people how to edit their Wordpress blogs to make it into the site that they have always dreamed of. While getting these sites updates and in tip top shape I decided to post my top 5 recommended plugins for Wordpress. Yes, these are going on the new blog as well.

1) Pretty Link: This is a simple little plugin that lets you create 'pretty' versions of very long and ugly links. I use this for cloaking affiliate links, which works great because it comes with some basic stats tools

2) Contact Form 7: By far the easiest way that I have found to create a contact form natively in Wordpress. You can name it anything you want, lay it out using a special markup language, and put it on any post or page that you like. It even integrates with a CAPTCHA system, which brings me to...

3) Really Simple CAPTCHA: A great little CAPTCHA tool that integrates right into Contact Form 7. This is essential if you want to limit the amount of Spam you receive via your contact form. Be warned: make sure your hosting provider has installed the PHP GD and FreeType libraries or it won't work.

4) AddToAny: This is absolutely key if you want to get noticed on social networking sites. It allows your visitors to share your posts and pages with their friends via their social networks. Completely configurable with the option to add new networks as they come out.

5) All-in-one SEO Pack. This one isn't as flashy as the other plugins that I have mentioned, but it is really one of the best SEO plugins out there. It allows you to have precise control over the title, description, keywords, and meta data for each page and posting on your site. This is absolutely critical if you want to get ranked in Google for any specific keywords.

There are so many more useful plugins out there, but these are my top 5. If you have any recommendations for plugins, please let me know. Here are my other blogs again, in case anyone is interested:

Geek Rants: http://blog.verticalpenguin.com
How To Edit Wordpress: http://howtoeditwordpress.info

Have a great evening!