When you’re building your first website with WordPress, there are a lot of decisions you need to make.

You need to select a web host, choose a flexible theme framework, and implement a backup strategy … just in case. You’ll also need to create lots of unique, quality content that appeals to buyers in your niche.

But one of the most daunting challenges you might face is selecting the right mix of plugins. The great thing about WordPress plugins is that they’re flexible, cheap (they’re often free), and easy to install. But there are a lot of them.

And selecting from the many plugins in the WordPress plugin directory can present a challenge. There are more than 13,000 WordPress plugins.

When you’re selecting plugins for your site, how will you know which plugin will provide the functionality you need?

I started here with a list of five plugins that provide essential features you need when you’re starting a site and working to generate traffic. However, this list is not comprehensive. (Most WordPress sites use more than five plugins.)

Google Analyticator

Google Analyticator inserts Google’s JavaScript code into the HTML of your WordPress site.  It eliminates the need to manually edit your site’s WordPress theme, which makes it easier to upgrade your site’ theme in the future.

In addition to installing your code, Google Analyticator includes several handy widgets for displaying Analytics data in your WordPress admin dashboard. This is a great way for you to keep up on your site’s traffic metrics.

Google XML Sitemaps

If you’re not using an XML sitemap for your website, you should be. An XML sitemap helps search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo do a better job of indexing your website and finding your new content.

This plugin creates an XML file that lists the entire structure of your site and notifies the search engines when you create new content. The search engines use this information to retrieve your content more efficiently. It supports WordPress posts and pages, and even supports custom SEO-friendly URL structures.

All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO Pack is an easy solution that automatically optimizes your WordPress site for search engines. It supports posts and pages, and makes it easy to set optimized, keyword-rich titles as well as META descriptions and custom titles that are specific to each page.

For instance, you can set your categories to automatically appear in each post’s title tag. This is a great way to optimize for your keywords without keyword stuffing your content.

FD Feedburner Plugin

If you don’t know RSS, it stands for really simple syndication. It’s a great way to deliver content without expecting users to visit your website daily. Google’s Feedburner is a service that aggregates thousands of RSS feeds. It helps users find feeds that meet their interests.

The FD Feedburner plugin makes it easy to redirect your WordPress RSS feed to Feedburner, which makes it more accessible to a wider audience. This can help grow your website’s audience and traffic. You’ll be joining a content network with thousands of other publishers. And that’s a great way to find new readers.

All existing feeds simply become Feedburner feeds seamlessly and transparently for all users. Just tell the plugin what your Feedburner feed URL is and you’re done.

AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget

The AddThis social bookmarking service is a quick way to promote your content to hundreds of the most popular social bookmarking and networking sites such as Reddit, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, Digg and Stumble Upon. The plugin creates a small widget that appears at the top or bottom of each of page and blog post, and prompts users to share your content using their social accounts.

The reason I prefer AddThis over other social sharing tools is its ability ( when you set up an AddThis account) to monitor how your visitors are sharing your content. I know which services they’re using to share my content and what pieces of content are most frequently shared. This helps me make better decisions about my content. I know what’s most popular, and I know how that popularity is driving my visitors’ conversation about your site.

When you’re just getting started with WordPress, these five plugins will give your affiliate marketing efforts a great kick start. In the near future, we’ll explore more plugins and give you some specific instructions on how to configure each plugin for maximum results.