A WordPress widget easily allows you to edit design elements on your website by simply clicking and dragging their positioning. You can enable things like “recent comments, categories, etc.” and any other variety of widgets to make your design easy to navigate and/or make content easily accessible.

A WordPress plugin on the other hand add functionality (both on the front-end and back-end) of your site. There are literally hundreds of plugins out there that you can download and install.

Here, we wanted to showcase some of the more popular ones that we recommend for your WordPress installation on your Real Estate Blog.

18 Essential WordPress Plugins:

Spam Protection Plugins

AkismetAkismet comes packaged in every new WordPress install. It’s an awesome spam protection plugin that functions on the back-end to fight against spam comments without annoying readers with Captcha codes.

Search Engine Optimization Plugins

WordPress SEO by YoastWordPress SEO let’s you set templates for titles and meta descriptions for all types of pages, so you could come up with a template and not have to think about it, or you could use the WordPress SEO meta box to completely optimize your post title and meta description, using the snippet preview functionality to see what it would look like in Google.

All-in-One SEO Pack – The All-in-One SEO Pack allows for unique title and meta tags for each page and post.

HeadSpace2 SEO – Controls almost every aspect of your site’s meta-data, including advanced tagging, Analytics, and dozens of plugins.

Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.

Database & Backup

WordPress Database BackupThis plugin is pretty straightforward. Just download and activate the plugin, and then you’re set to backup your core WordPress database tables (and other tables in the same database).

BackupBuddy (paid – starting at $45 for two sites) – BackupBuddy does exactly that. It backs up your entire WordPress install. Perfect for restoring your WordPress site or migrating a WordPress site to another domain or server easily.

Social Plugins

WP Facebook “Like” – This plugin makes it easy to integrate both the Facebook Like & Send Buttons on your WordPress posts.

Sexy BookmarksThis plugin adds a bookmarking menu to the end of your posts and/or pages so your readers can easily submit your articles to numerous social bookmarking sites.

Tweetmeme – This plugin adds a button which easily lets readers retweet your blog posts and provides a live count of how many times your post/page has been retweeted throughout Twitter.

GetSocialThis plugin adds an floating social media sharing box on your blog posts that includes social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, and Stumbleupon.

Comments

Disqus – The Disqus comment system replaces your WordPress comment system with your comments hosted and powered by Disqus (pronounced “discuss”). I like the following features: threaded comments & replies, notifications & reply by email function, and aggregated comments & social mentions.

Intense Debate – Much like Disqus, Intense Debate is also a great comment platform that includes custom integration with your WordPress admin panel making comment moderation a breeze. Features also include comment threading, reply-by-email, user accounts and reputations, comment voting and Twitter integration.

Subscribe to CommentsSubscribe to Comments allows commenters on an entry to subscribe to e-mail notifications for any subsequent comments. It’s a quick and easy way to let users keep up with new comment notifications on your posts.

Top Commentators Widget – This is probably one of my favorite WordPress plugins because it allows you to hi-light (and in a way reward) active blog commentators. It adds a sidebar widget to show the top commentators on your site. We use it here on the Diverse Solutions Blog to reward top commentators 🙂

Other

Print Friendly & PDF ButtonThis plugin automatically creates printer friendly and PDF versions of your pages without the hassle of having to know CSS. No coding, hacking or programming skills required. Just download and activate the plugin and choose from the settings in the dashboard to set your desired look and feel. This will add a print/pdf button to the end of your posts so users can print or download a PDF for later reference.

Editorial Calendar – We’ve written about taking control of your content with an editorial calendar before. This plugin does just that. It makes it possible to see all of your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog.

W3 Total Cache – According to the plugin authors (and many of you might agree), the W3 Total Cache is “the fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin.” Once installed, it easily optimizes the speed and user experience of your site with caching.

Over to you…

What are some of your favorite (and “must-have”) WordPress plugins? What do you like about ’em (what function do they serve for you)?