I received and email from a frugal user who mentioned their appreciation for my ‘Hosting’ page, saying it was helpful to have that kind of information available. They continued to suggest that I also share my knowledge about WordPress plugins and which ones I prefer. So I figured I’d turn this into a blog post so I could not only share my thoughts on the matter, but then you guys can share yours. I’m certain to miss some useful plugins, so feel free to share insight into your favorite WordPress plugins and why you use them.
Let’s Start With Some SEO Plugins
A great way to enhance your search hits is to properly optimize your WordPress website for the search engines. Here is what I’m currently utilizing:
- Google XML Sitemaps: This little gem of a WordPress plugin automatically generates sitemaps for your entire site and submits them to the major search engines on a regular basis, always keeping them up to date. This plugin really makes your life easier and your WordPress website or blog that much more accessible to the search engines.
- All-In-One-SEO Pack: Another excellent WordPress plugin, this one makes optimizing your entire site for search engines a breeze. Meta tags, titles, descriptions, etc… can easily be added to enhance your sites SEO.
- Meta Robots WordPress Plugin: This one is great for filling the SEO holes in your WordPress website or blog. The more you read about search engine optimization, the more you’ll hear people talk about ‘Link Juice’. The stronger your link juice, the more potent your page rank becomes. Basically, the links that come to and from your site can be both good and bad. If Google isn’t told which ones to follow and which ones not to follow, it will just follow them all and this can create link leaks. So this plugin makes it easy to plug some of these leaks and tighten up your links for better overall SEO potency. (Does that make sense? )
- More great WordPress SEO plugins to peruse: This is an excellent post from Mashable that covers their top 20 WordPress SEO plugins.
Anti-Spam WordPress Plugins
Without these, you’re blog would be overrun with links and ads to some not-so-respectable websites. So to keep things clean you may want to consider some of these WordPress plugins:
- Akismet: Where would we be with out our beloved Akismet anti-spam plugin? It comes stock with WordPress and takes care of about 99% of the junk that tries to make its way into our comments. An absolute MUST!
- Bad Behavior: Can be used for a comment spam filter, but is also great as a general gateway to your site, preventing link spam. I don’t currently use it, but it is a great tool if needed.
Video and Image Plugins:
From embedding videos to creating attractive flash slideshows, these plugins help you make the most of the visuals on your WordPress website.
- Viper’s Video Quicktags: This one is a great catch all solution for embedding flash videos from most any video site like YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler and many more. It integrates with your WordPress post editor and adds a 3rd bar of embedding goodies. Just place your cursor in the desired embedding location, click the corresponding video icon in the editor bar and paste your embed code for the video to be displayed.
- Flashfader: Brought to my attention by Jill, over at MyWPDiva.com, this near perfect WordPress plugin is the idea solution for simple, clean, no-fuss flash slide shows of your specified images. Just upload the images, pick the desired dimensions of the display area and paste a snippet of code into the location and your done. Thanks for the tip Jill!
- Featured Content Gallery: Another great slideshow solution, this WordPress plugin is quite robust in its presentation possibilities. A great feature is the ability to add ‘Read More’ style text to the images and then have them link directly to a specific post.
- Lightbox 2: This plugin is perfect for showing off images in a feature focus kind of way. You can create thumbnails of an image and then have the full sized version pop up into a slick featured fashion with a single mouse click. Then your visitors can scroll through the images one at a time, all showing with a darkened background to help enhance the images.
- More great Image focued WordPress plugins: A top 10 list of some of the best out there.
Great WordPress Plugins For Comments
If you’re utilizing the great blog features of WordPress, these plugins should be looked at. (Be sure to include the above anti-spam plugins to this list.)
- Subscribe To Comments: A simple solution for allowing your blog readers to subscribe to your blog comments. They can subscribe on a post by post basis so they’ll only receive email updates for the posts they choose.
- WP Ajax Edit Comments: This plugin allows your readers the ability to edit their comments for a few minutes after they post them. It also gives you the ability to edit, spam or delete individual comments without having to login to your WordPress Dashboard.
- CommentLuv: Allow your commenters to gain some link love by automatically displaying a link to their latest blog posts.
Miscellaneous WordPress Plugins Worth A Look
These are some great WordPress plugins you may be interested in.
- Clean Archives Reloaded: If you want a quick and easy way to create an Archives page that looks super clean and provides easy access to all your past posts, this is the WordPress plugin for you. Simply activate this plugin and then add a single snippet of code into your desired location (a page called ‘Archives’ maybe? ) and you have a nice, neat presentation of all your archives.
- Page Links To: This plugin just adds a text area in your WordPress Page Editor that allows you to link a WordPress page to any URL of your choosing. For example, let’s say you wanted to create a page called ‘About Me’, but you already have a perfect blog post that shares the appropriate information about yourself. With the Page Links To plugin you could just create a page called ‘About Me’ and then paste the URL of the mentioned blog post into the Page Links To Section of the editor, and then that page will now take your visitors to that post. So you don’t add any content to the newly created page, as it just points to some URL on your site or somewhere else entirely.
- WordPress.com Stats: A perfect partner for your Google Analytics, the WordPress Stats plugin shows you real time results as you watch visitors. You can see where they came from, what they may have searched for to land on your site, what they clicked on and so on.
- WordPress.com Popular Posts: A quick and easy way to display your popular posts on your WordPress blog.
- GoCodes: If you display affiliate links on your WordPress website and want the actual link to be either masked or just presented in a more attractive fashion, this WordPress Plugin provides an easy solution. You just tell it what you want the main permalink to be (like http://mysite.com/go/[your-affiliate-link]/ with ‘go’ being the specified sub page, or it could be http://mysite.com/ads/[your-affiliate-link]/ or whatever you’d like) and then add the affiliate URL’s. Then your new, cleaner URL’s will now redirect the visitor to the affiliate URL location. I think I just made it sound more complicate than it is. Just check it out.
- WP Unformatted: If you ever need to post code snippets to WordPress site or blog and want the code to actually stay in tact, this plugin is a perfect solution. This is what I use to post my affiliate links in my Affiliates page.
- WP Supercache: This WordPress plugin provides an excellent solution for caching your site’s pages and cutting down on some of the load on your web server. Just keep in mind that if you’re working on your WordPress theme design and are trying to see the changes, you’ll need to either delete the currently cached files or temporarily turn off the plugin. Otherwise your changes may not show up.
That covers a pretty good selection of quality WordPress plugins, but I know there a lot more out there that are certainly worth a look. Often times it just comes down to what your site is about and whether or not you need that added functionality. Just keep in mind the fact that too many plugins can certainly slow down your site. Just Enough, should be the mindset you have when adding plugins to your WordPress website or blog.
What about you?
I hope this was a helpful post of possibly useful WordPress plugins, but I’m sure I missed some great ones. Do you have any plugins that you can’t live without, that I failed to mention? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.