In addition to customizing the look and feel of your blog, you can also choose to add plugins to your WordPress blog that will enhance your website and work as extensions of the blog software that can make your blog more interactive as well as easier to manage.
In order to put these plugins to work for you, you simply download them from the developers website and upload them into your wp-content/plugins in the same way that you uploaded your themes.
And just like a theme, you need to activate each plugin from within your WordPress admin center before it becomes active and visible on your blog.
One example of a useful plugin is found at http://www.CodeBanter.com a site that features a free WordPress plugin that will instantly add an autoresponder opt-in box to your blog. Since it's important to start building a list, integrating this plugin makes capturing subscribers a breeze.
Plugins are exceptionally useful, especially when optimizing your website for the search engines. I have created a swipe file of the top plugins that I add to every blog that I create, and I suggest that you add these to a folder on your desktop so that you can use these on your websites as well.
Here they are, in no particular order:
All In One SEO Pack
This plugin ensures that your blog is well optimized for the title, meta description, and meta keywords. It should be a required plugin with every installation of WordPress.
Google XML SiteMap
With every blog you create you will want an auto-generated sitemap. This is important so that the search engines can get a clear guideline regarding the pages from your site that you would like indexed.
Related Posts Plugin
You can also explore other plugins at: