CyanogenMod (and technically any 3rd-party ROM) is not legally able to include Google’s proprietary apps (aka, gapps). This includes the ability to add your Google account, the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, etc. CyanogenMod actually got a cease and desist letter from Google back in September of 2009 from Google to stop distributing their proprietary apps with the ROM.
To combat this, you are able to flash the gapps package separately within recovery. This can be done right after installing CyanogenMod, without any reboots required. This package includes the necessary files to allow you to add your Google account and get on the Play Store to install the other Google apps. Since the Android 2.3/CM7 days, the gapps package only includes a minimal amount of Google Apps. Since many of the apps are consistently updated through the Play Store, it doesn’t make sense to have the apps installed twice (the “system” version and then the subsequent updates).
Also, there have been times that previous gapps packages are incompatible with newer Android/CM versions. Because of this, it is always best to install the gapps package that was designed for your Android/CM version. If you follow the link below (and view it on a desktop browser), there is a table there that will show what is the latest gapps version for your Android/CM version. All previous versions of the gapps can be found in the directory listing below that.
If some Google apps (gmail, youtube, etc) continue to crash or show odd behavior, try to uninstall them and then reinstall them from the Play Store.
If you continue to have issues with the Play Store, try removing and re-adding your Google account. Settings -> Google -> your_account -> Menu -> Remove Account
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Where Is My Google Account Stuff? / Why Does Play Store Crash?
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