I have used these widgets with great benefit to my blogs.  There are others out there that will also add functionality, but these are the basic ones that no blog should be without…

1. Widget Logic

Widget logic is a useful widget that allows you to control which pages your widgets appear on. It’s power resides in the fact that it can be implemented on a widget by widget basis. This gives you full reign over what kinds of content appears on what pages and you an further target your content to a much tighter topic. Widget logic can be found at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/widget-logic/ and is a free plugin. You will have to understand some simple WordPress conditional tag syntax, but it is very easy to pick up and once you have it, you are on your way to creating a truly unique website.

2. WordPress Signup Forms

WordPress signup forms are widgets that interface directly with your autoresponder, or mailing list software. The more popular emails list services each have their own wordpress widget, so the specific one that you would use will depend upon the service you have. Using these widgets makes it easy to add a signup box to all of the pages on your web site, which will help your mailing list grow more quickly.

WordPress signup form widgits include the following:

1shoppingcart – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/1shoppingcartcom-wordpress-signup-forms/

Aweber – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/aweber-integration/

Constant Contact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/constant-contact-api/

IContact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/icontact-widget/

3. RSS Feed

The RSS feed comes with the standard WordPress install and it allows you to bring in other feeds to place on your website. Using RSS feeds allows you to have content on your blog that is constantly changing. This feature will bring the search engines back to your site on a more regular basis, which will improve the speed in which your pages are indexed. When used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can incorporate several different RSS feeds into your site based on the topic, thus making each page on your blog more tightly focused to the topic, which will help it rank better in the search engines.

4. Text Widget

This widget is gives you extreme flexibility because it allows you to place additional HTML code on your website. You can use this widget to place ads on your web site and used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can highly target these ads as well. A cousin of this widget allows you to add PHP code instead of HTML code. For more highly advanced programmers, this will allow you to add an almost unlimited kind of functionality to your WordPress blog.

Just go into your wordpress admin panel and select the plugins settings.  Then you can click on the ‘add new’ link and search for these plugins using the name listed above,  if more than one shows up in the search results, then select the one with the same name you searched for and install it.

The text widget and the rss feed widget already come with the standard installation, so you don’t need to add them.