In the first version of my blog I had about 27 plug-ins, and boy, did they slow everything down…
When I redesigned my blog I had a goal in mind: No more than 5 plug-ins. Only the absolute musts! And here I am today, with 16 plug-ins and counting. Seriously, I’ve tried… But sometimes you just can’t resist the ease, the functionality, the simplicity So here’s my rule of thumb for you, my friends, the next time you’re considering a new shiny plug-in. Ask yourselves: “Do I REALLY need this functionality?” If the answer is yes, take it for a spin. If it messes up your blog’s layout, slows down your site or interferes with other plug-ins – give it the boot. If it delivers on its promise, keep it but try not to have more than, say, 20 plug-ins or your site will slow to a crawl. Not fun
I hereby present you with the list of the 17 plug-ins I’m using right now. Kudos to my man Garin Kilpatrick whose plug-ins list formed the ground base upon which I’ve developed my own plug-in ‘portfolio’.
Oh, by the way, all of the plug-ins below are free, except for Akismet. Some plug-ins, like WPtouch, have pro versions which are paid.
Absolute must have plug-ins
1. Google XML Sitemaps
This plug-in, alongside All-in-one SEO Plug-in has gained foothold as one of the essential plug-ins for WordPress. The reason is that it solves a critical SEO issue – Creating a sitemap for your blog. This free tool not only creates a sitemap for your site, but it also keeps it up to date and notifies the major search engines of any changes. There’s also an option to download the .xml sitemap file, in case you need to manually upload it to Google Webmasters or to other search engines. Plug-in site.
The good old All-in-one SEO pack is great and over 7M downloads would testify for this. However, since that plug-in was introduced things have moved on and there are tools with far more advanced SEO features. SEO Ultimate is one such tool. This all-in-one SEO plugin gives you control over title tags, noindex/nofollow, meta tags, rich snippets, slugs, canonical tags, autolinks, 404 errors, rich snippets, and more. There are 24 modules which you can easily enable or disable to fit your needs. SEO for your blog has never been easier. Plug-in site.
3. Google Analyticator
Whether you’re building your blog to flip or using it to grow your own business, adding Google Analytics to is a must. The GA plug-in makes this task a walk in the park, and also gives you lots of neat features. You can avoid tracking certain user roles, such as Admin or Author, so you get more accurate results. You can also track your Google Adsense information, but the coolest feature is the blog Analytics preview you’ll get in your dashboard whenever you log-in to your site. Plug-in site.
4. WordPress Database Backup
This plug-ins makes it super-easy to maintain a regular back-up schedule of your WordPress tables. The core tables – including wp_comments, wp_links and wp-posts and more – will always be backed up. You can choose additional tables to back-up, how frequently and where to send the files to (your email, server etc.). Luckily I haven’t had a data loss disaster yet, so I’m not sure how helpful this backup is. But right now, it’s the best remedy I’ve found except for keeping the actual article Word files backed up. Any suggestions? Plug-in site.
It’s probably a no-brainer and WordPress comes pre-installed with Akismet (and owned by the same company, surprisingly enough…), but I’ll mention it anyway. Up until recently I’d been putting off activating this anti-spam plug-in, but yesterday I went on and did it. And I’m glad I did. I don’t have time to moderate comments and I hate censorship anyway, so $5 a month for not having to worry about Viagra and gambling comment bots sounds fair to me Plug-in site.
This neat little fella denies automated spam bots access to your PHP-based website. In other words, it prevents the bad guys from even getting to your blog. It’s no Akismet replacement but can be used as an extra layer of protection. I’ve just checked my statistics only to find that BB has blocked 62 access attempts in the last 7 days! Sounds good to me… Plug-in site.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that mobile is huge. In fact, mobile Internet is predicted to take over desktop Internet usage by 2014. If you’re not setting your website for mobile devices, you’re setting online business for failure. That’s why I’ve included WPtouch in the Must Have list. This nifty little plug-in will allow you to create a mobile version of your site in a few clicks. There are CSS customization options as well as a choice of icons to use, information about mobile plug-in support, to name just a few features. There’s also a pro version with advanced features such as iPad support and child themes. If you want to see the plug-in in action, try to access my blog from your mobile phone. Go to ProBlogger to see the pro version in play. Plug-in site.
8.Facebook Social Plugins
These days having a Facebook Like box and buttons on your blog is pretty standard. This handy plug-in allows you to easily integrate Facebook’s social features on your blog and it saves you the headache of messing around with Facebook’s clunky developers’ section. Facebook blog integration has never been easier. Plug-in site.
This plug-in makes it a breeze to add social icons to your blog. You can add Facebook, Twitter and DIGG icons with counters as well as icons of dozens of other social bookmarking services and social networks. WP Socializer gives you full control on where you place those icons, ie on top of your content, below your content, in pages, archives and so on. You can also customize the CSS to control the placement and appearance of the icons. The new beta version looks promising and supports Google+. Plug-in site.
Much, much has been written about this little gem by Andy Bailey. This plug-in visits the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieves a selection of their last blog posts, tweets or digg submissions which they can choose to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit. CommentLuv has been proven to increase comments and the community spirits of the thousands of bloggers who have installed it. With this plug-in installed you will appear in the blog search engine on the ComLuv Network and you get the option to guest post and display your own posts on this high-traffic blog portal. In short, if you want more comment love, get CL… Plug-in site.
11.Thank Me Later
Comments are cool, we’ve already agreed on that one, right? Well, Thank Me Later takes commenting up a notch, by sending a quick thank you email to the commentator, encouraging them to come back soon. You can edit the default message and control the number and frequency of the messages. Plug-in site.
The idea behind Do Follow is simple – Remove the evil nofollow attribute that WordPress adds in comments. Why would you want to do that? To encourage comments. Some commentators use tools such as SEO for Firefox to spot unfollow attributes and give your site a rain check if you’re not using DF. Besides, there are many other reasons to vote against nofollow attributes. Could using DF result in more spam? Maybe. But you’ll get spam anyway once you get a substantial amount of traffic to your blog. So… back to #5☺ Plug-in site.
The ability to comment and to respond to readers’ comments is one of the key features that set blogs apart from regular sites. The comments help keep the flow of the conversation which is now so natural with the growing use of social media and forums. They help you communicate with your readers and grow your own little community around your blog. But here’s the thing – WordPress’ native comments are pretty, well, basic… And that’s where other commenting systems come into play. While there are a few viable options around it seems like Disqus is the most popular. Which is why I’m going for Intense Debate☺ What I love about ID is, except for the super-cool name, the ability to integrate other plug-ins, such as CommentLuv, into it. Moreover, ID duplicates all your WordPress comments, so in case you switch to other systems or stop using their service, you still own all your comments. Finally, as their name implies, using the system does convey a feeling of a heated debate going on, which can spice up your blog and encourage more comments. Plug-in site.
14.Efficient Related Posts
You may be familiar with Related Posts plug-in. The benefits of RP are huge. Not only does it improve your site’s SEO by building internal links, but it also improves the reader’s experience by keeping him in the loop and helping him find more relevant content after reading your post. This, in turn, means your visitor is likely to spend more time on your site. Bliss! Well, not quite… It turns out, that there’s an issue with good old RP. Aaron D. Campbell, the creator of Efficient Related Posts goes to great detail about it. I’ll spare you the long read though. In short, RP can potentially slow down your site to a crawl, because of its architecture, while ERP is super snappy. You be the judge… Plug-in site.
Audio & video plug-ins
If you’re like me, you like to include interviews or other audio files on your blog. Well, with PowerPress doing that is a breeze. You can choose between over 5 different players, some of which are also compatible with video. Other options include iTunes integration, feed enhancement and control over the player’s appearance. Blubrry even gives you the (paid) option to store your media on their servers. This is a professional plug-in, made by podcasters for podcasters. Plug-in site.
We all know how important video is these days. Now although you can now integrate videos in WordPress easily by pasting the embed code in your post, Video QuickTags gives you so many more options. You can add videos from over 10 of the most popular video services, to include YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler and more. Heck, you can even upload your own video files. Changing the player dimensions and color are a snap. (Thanks Justice for the recommendation) No more excuses for video skeptics Plug-in site.
17. W3 Total Cache
This performance plug-in is described by its developers as the fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin. W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your blog by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download time of your theme and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. The plug-in is trusted by many popular blogs like Mashable.com, Freelanceswitch.com & Yoast.com.
In my test W3TC made my site load x3-x4 faster. The only rant I have is that while fiddling with my theme’s CSS file I had to deactivate W3TC. Having the plug-in on meant I couldn’t see the styling changes when refreshing my blog pages. But considering the importance of site speed for better user experience & SEO, that’s a small price to pay, isn’t it? Plug-in site.
How about you?
What are your favorite WordPress plug-ins?
Are you using any paid plug-ins in your blog?
Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Let’s compile the ultimate marketer’s plug-ins list together!
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