Note: This post was written before I updated my website design. So, I no longer use some of these plugins. However, they did work well for me before my update to a custom, premium theme.
As a blogger and a consultant, I get asked a lot about how I manage my blog. Being in the middle of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and having some extra eyes on my blog (hi there!), I thought I would blog about plugins I use.
I have utilized WordPress as a platform for about 5 years now. I find WordPress to be easy to use and rich with features. Real functionality, however, comes with the plugins you install on a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Following are my top 15 favorite / most essential WordPress plugins. I share to help my readers and clients, and so that you may also share your favorites with me. I’m sure many of you can add to this list, and I hope you do!
(Also, feel free to use said plugins to share this post, connect with me and/or to subscribe to the RSS feed. Thanks!)
Akismet protects your WordPress blog from comment and trackback spam. Period. It’s easy to set up and works pretty well. I don’t monitor / approve comments on this blog, and I haven’t had any problems.
- All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack provides, as they put it, “out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.” This plugin allows you to add your own keyword rich page title (which appears at the very top of your browser) that can be different than your blog post title, a simple description that will appear in search engines and social networks when sharing, as well as your own keywords. All excellent tools for optimizing your website/blog for search engines.
CommentLuv allows you to “reward your readers” by automatically adding a link to their last blog post at the end of their comment. They can even choose which post to link to. It’s a pretty cool plugin that helps you promote what your readers are writing. Always nice to give another blogger some love.
- Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a simple contact form plugin that can be easily customized. It’s a nice option if you don’t want to publish your full email address on your site, or if you are trying to get more/specific information from your audience.
- Facebook Likes You!
Facebook Likes You! is simple plugin that adds a Facebook Like button and a Google + button on the top or bottom of your posts. I have mine on the top. Go ahead and click them, if you’d like. 🙂
- FeedBurner FeedSmith
The FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin redirects your WordPress feeds to your Google FeedBurner feed. Managing your RSS feed through Google Feedburner allows you to track your subscribers and how they subscribe, among other features. I like this. A lot.
- Google Analytics for WordPress
The Google Analytics for WordPress plugin makes it easy to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog. The plugin adds the code for you. All you need to do is set up a Google Analytics account. While the Jetpack plugin (see below) provide great stats, Google Analytics gives you much richer information about your readers, how they get to you, where they are coming from, etc.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
Jetpack allows you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to “use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.” Essentially, this plugin gives you some nice stats on your most popular posts, keywords your readers are using to get to you and other information. Not as much stats as Google Analytics, but you don’t have to leave your WordPress dashboard to see the stats either.
LinkWithin displays recommended posts, along with their associated images, from your blog. You can have up to 5 other suggested posts show up at the end of your blog posts. I have 3 displayed and see lots of good referral traffic from this plugin.
ShareThis is one of the many plugins available to allow your visitors to share a post or page with others. The ShareThis plugin supports e-mail sharing and posting to all the social bookmarking / networking sites. With the popularity of social media, all blogs should have some sort of sharing tool for readers. I like this plugin because it has a simple, clean look and it’s easy to use. You can customize the icons as well.
- Social Slider
While we’re on the subject of social media, the Social Slider plugin adds links to your social networking sites’ profiles in a box floating at the left side of the screen. So, I use ShareThis to allow readers to share my posts, and I use Social Slider to allow readers to connect directly with me on various social media sites.
- Subscription Options
Subscription Options adds – you guessed it – subscription option icons for your RSS Feed, your FeedBurner Email Service, your Twitter account and your Facebook page. The options appear as a widget on your blog, and you can customize the colors and look to match your site. Just another way for your readers to subscribe to / keep up with your blog.
- WordPress Database Backup
The WordPress Database Backup plugin gives you “on-demand” backup of your WordPress database. You back up your blog, right? I get a backup of my blog emailed to me weekly. Just in case.
- WP Greet Box
I’ve seen WP Greet Box on other blogs and just installed it on mine. The plugin shows a different message to your visitors, depending on which site they are coming from. So, if visitors come from a Google search, a box will appear at the top of the post that welcomes them from Google and asks them to subscribe to your RSS feed. You probably saw a greeting when you got here. I’ve heard others say it improves sharing and subscribing. We shall see.
The WPtouch plugin formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors who are reading your blog on their smart phone. With so many people using smart phones, this plugin is essential, in my opinion. Works with Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.
Those are my top WordPress plugins for my blog. I’m sure there are a ton more out there that make bloggers lives easier. What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Please share, so we can compare notes!