The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. Well, guess what? I’ll admit no such thing! I have no interest in recovering from my addiction to WordPress plugins and anticipate that it will only continue to get worse. It has been about a year since I was first introduced to WordPress. Since then I have immersed myself in creating sites and blogs that take advantage of all that WordPress has to offer – most notably, the functionality that its plugins provide.
So, without further ado, here are the WordPress plugins I simply cannot live without. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration…but my life with WordPress as I know it would cease to exist without these plugins and the ingenious developers that create them.
I’ll start with some plugins that take care of SEO:
- All-In-One SEO Pack – the name pretty much says it all. One of the most important functions of this plugin is that it provides you with the ability to create titles, descriptions and keywords for individual pages and posts manually. It also has a handy feature which allows you to add a NOINDEX tag to category, archive and tag archive pages which helps to alliviate any potential duplicate content concerns.
- Robots Meta – this plugin way more awesome than its simple name would imply. Of course, it allows you to alter the robots tags on individual pages and posts by providing index, follow; noindex, follow; index, nofollow and noindex, nofollow options. That’s just the beginning.
This plugin also provides you with the ability to prevent the indexing of your RSS feeds, search results pages, admin, login and registration pages, author archives and more. Is that it? No…that’s not it. It also provides you with the flexibility to add a nofollow function to a variety of links, including the outbound links on the site’s front page, links to comment sections, login & registration pages, etc. You can also add NOODP and NOYDIR tags to posts and pages.
It is important to note that I also recommend Platinum SEO Pack, but since changing my blog’s theme recently it no longer works properly – causing a fatal error on the individual pages/posts throughout my site (the only exception being my home page). This is the first time I have ever had such an issue with that plugin. I’m a bit of a code plebe, so I have no idea how to resolve the issue. I elected to simply go back to my original solution, which was to use All-In-One SEO Pack in conjunction with Robots Meta. Together they provide basically the same features as the Platinum SEO Pack plugin.
- Google XML Sitemaps – while creating a sitemap isn’t necessarily a make or break task with regard to SEO, it is certainly considered a standard best practice. This plugin not only creates a sitemap for you, it also does so automatically each time you publish a page or post. Sweet, huh? Yes…sweet indeed!Another great feature of this plugin is that it notifies the search engines when your blog has been updated. Did I mention you also have the flexibility to determine what posts, categories, etc. are included in the sitemap? Yeah…you can. Nice!
Okay…now, on to the stuff that is a little less “behind the scenes”. Here are my favorite plugins that impact the a user’s experience in some way.
- CommentLuv – why should people take the time to comment on your blog? If you’re hoping they’ll do so just out of the goodness of their hearts, you’re in for some disappointment. People these days are busy. You’re lucky if they take the time to read one of your blog posts, let alone take the time to comment. Why not give them some incentive to comment by using the CommentLuv plugin?This plugin automatically creates a link to their latest blog post based on the URL the provide when commenting. It’s a small thing that can go a long way to encourage people to comment. And you really have nothing to lose by using it.
- NoFollow Free – this subject is a source some of controversy for some bloggers, as illustrated by the comments I received on the post Why NOFOLLOW My Comments? in which I announced my use of NoFollow Free back in September. The plugin allows you to remove the automatically generated NOFOLLOW attribute from your post’s comment links.Many advise against this because of the potential for spam. I, on the other hand, wholeheartedly disagree. First of all, the plugin provides a lot of options for controlling which comments have the NOFOLLOW removed and which don’t (like the number of comments one must leave, whether registration is required, etc.).
You can also identify specific words, like…say “viagra” and “cialis”, that if included in the comment section will automatically revert the comment author link back to the default NOFOLLOW. As is my contention with CommentLuv, there is nothing to lose by using it – provided you properly configure the settings for the plugin.
- Social Profiles – I was instantly hooked on this plugin the day Sugarrae released it. This is yet another way to say a little “thank you” to those readers who take the time to comment. The Social Profiles plugin allows your registered users to input their usernames for popular social sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Twitter, etc.Why would they want to do that? Because upon doing so there will be links to those profiles added to their comments automatically. As the blog owner you have the choice of having text links or image links included. Here are examples of each:
- WordPress Thread Comment – this provides your users with the option of replying to a specific comment made, rather than simply having their comment added to the bottom of the existing comments. This is particularly useful for you, as the blog owner, in being able to reply to specific comments left on your posts. Even if you’re the only one who ever uses the reply feature, this plugin is well worth installing.
- WP-SphinnIt – this plugin is really only useful for bloggers in the search marketing industry, but most of my readership belongs to the search marketing community or are small business owners. Thus, this is among my favorite plugins. It allows your readers to easily submit or Sphinn a post on your blog, as well as providing you with the flexibility to decide where the button appears – top left, top right, bottom left or bottom right.
As with the original Sphinn button, it also displays the number of Sphinns the post has already received. Why not just input the code provided by Sphinn manually? I used to do that. Then I realized that every time I changed my theme, I had to input the code again. Why do that if you don’t have to? Exactly.
- AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget – this plugin makes it uber-simple for your readers to submit the post or page to a variety of social media, networking and bookmarking sources like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc. It also provides you with a large number of customization options for what sources are included in the drop down menu, as well as a “more…” option that opens in a separate window that includes virtually every social media, networking and bookmarking source anyone could desire. Are user-generated links always preferable to having to build your own?? :)
The following plugins fall into a “miscellaneous” category, I suppose. Some have a bit of a positive impact on users, but their functionality really applies to your ability to more easily and more effectively manage your WordPress site/blog.
- Customize Your Community – this is yet another offering from Sugarrae as a result of her collaboration with Joost de Valk. It prevents those registered as subscribers from being able to see the default WordPress pages which show the number of posts, pages, comments, etc. It is great for maintaining design & brand consistency, as well as limiting the amount of information seen by your subscribers on the registration, login, logout, lost password and registered user profile pages. A must for any blog owner who wants to encourage readers to register, but doesn’t want to allow them to see the default WordPress Dashboard.
- New User E-mail Setup – are you tired of your registered users getting a generic e-mail that includes their registration information? I sure was. This plugin allows you to create a custom e-mail to send to your newly registered readers. Mine looks like this (and you’ll get one of your very own when you register):
- Ultimate Google Analytics – this plugin does more than just inputting your personal analytics code into your blog. It provides a number of options regarding what should be tracked and what should not, including: external links, mailto links and links to downloads on your own site. Very useful.
- WordPress Automatic Upgrade – sometimes all you need to know is covered in the name. Anyone who has manually upgraded WordPress in the past can appreciate the ease of use and reliability of this plugin. Anyone who has never upgraded WordPress to a new version shouldn’t even bother attempting to do so manually. This plugin completely automates the process of upgrading and backing up your blog. I can’t fathom why anyone using WordPress as their CMS wouldn’t use this plugin.
- Widget Locationizer – this is my newest find. I must admit that using the word “find” is a bit misleading. My friend Kevin at at ToMuse sent me an e-mail recently inviting me to check out his latest offering. So, what’s so great about this plugin? The real question is what isn’t so great about it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been annoyed that the same sidebar widgets appear on virtually every page and/or post throughout my blog. Well, not anymore!
With Widget Locationizer your options are virtually endless. We can finally decide for ourselves what widgets appear on what pages. This happens pretty often with product or service reviews. If it is a worthwhile product or service, we may want to place an affiliate link in the sidebar. In the past doing so meant having to add that affiliate link to the sidebar of every page or post. This plugin changes all of that. Widget Locationizer gives you the flexibility to assign specific widgets to individual posts and pages based on tags, categories or even single page/post ID. FINALLY!
Well, there you have it…the core list of plugins I use on a regular basis. Did I miss anything? Do you have some favorites you’d like to share? Leave a comment! Don’t forget that I don’t just recommend the NoFollow Free and Social Profiles plugins mentioned above – I also use them.
And, if you need a bit of extra incentive to register, perhaps you’d should read my Reasons To Login Before Commenting post. Here’s a hint…the number of comments required to have the NOFOLLOW attribute removed from comment links is far less for registered users than unregistered commenters. I’m just sayin’… ;)