WordPress plugins can extend your WP blog to do almost anything you can imagine. Think about WP plugins for your blog the same as apps for your smartphone; fine just the way it is, but more robust and powerful with the additional help. Throughout the year, I receive an occasional email asking what types of plugins I use to manage the site and have previously written about the top WordPress plugins I use here. With that in mind, I have decided to dedicate this post to 19 WordPress Plugins I Can’t Live Without.
How many WordPress plugins are too many?
You may ask ‘how many WordPress plugins are too many to use?’ That is a great question but very difficult to definitively answer. All plugins are not created equally since they are developed by thousands of different developers from around the world with a varying degree of skill sets as well as developed to perform different tasks.
The most common advice on WP plugins is use only what you need and if no longer required, deactivate and delete.
My list of 19 WordPress Plugins I Can’t Live Without
Akismet - The most important plugin I run! Spam comments are on the rise with no end in sight. I receive no less than 300 spam comments daily! Akismet blocks most, and the ones that do get through I can easily manage. While there may be other spam detection plugins, this is the only one I’ve used and have been completely satisfied with the results.
All in One SEO Pack - All in One SEO Pack is the gold standard of plugins to improve your SEO or search engine optimization. Allows you to quickly customize post, page, and site settings to improve search results. This is a free plugin, but a premium version with more powerful controls is available. You will find this plugin on most of the top bloggers today.
Amazon Product In a Post Plugin - Great plugin for Amazon Affiliates. Quickly add a formatted Amazon product (image, pricing and buy button) to any post by just using Amazon product ASIN (ISBN-10). Great for writing product reviews or descriptions to help monetize your posts and add content that is relevant to your site. You can also customize the styles for product data.
AskApache Google 404 - A 404 error page is displayed when users type in a bad page url to your site or the page cannot be displayed. We run into this problem from time to time. AskApache Google 404 displays unbeatable information to site visitors arriving to non-existent pages. Here is an example of AskApache Google 404 at work on my site if an incorrect url is used.
Broken Link Checker - Broken Link Checker is an invaluable asset for discovering broken or bad links on your site. If you have had your site running for any period of time, you understand what I’m talking about. Broken Link Checker checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you via email and through your WordPress dashboard if any are found.
WP-ContactForm - WP-ContactForm is another contact form plugin I use. I was experimenting using this one and Contact Form 7 to determine which one worked the best. I liked them both and decided to keep using each of them. Overkill? Perhaps, but they both work great!
Contextual Related Posts - Contextual Related Posts shows your visitors a defined number of related posts. There is a wonderful tool to display related posts at the end of each post you publish. Extremely easy to use. Just adjust the settings to your liking and activate. No maintentance or adjustments needed. Actually, I haven’t touched the Contextual Related Posts plugin since initially activating a couple years ago. Great for leaving breadcrumbs to other relevant posts for your readers.
Exclude Pages from Navigation - Exclude Pages from Navigation is a plugin that performs as the name implies. When you create a page, not a post, you have the option to select whether this page is displayed in your onsite navigation or widgets. I often create a page to provide information only and don’t want it to appear on the menu bar or side widget and I don’t want to publish this information in a blog post. By creating a page and excluding it from navigation, I can easily link to this page and hide it from public view.
Google +1 button automator - This is a simple social networking plugin that displays the Google +1 button on your posts.You can also customize it’s display methods.
Google XML Sitemaps - To get the best results on search engines, you need to have a sitemap which all them to easily index your site. This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your site. Here is an example of Google XML Sitemaps at work on my site.
Lazy Loader - Lazy-Loader is a great plugin for improving loading times for graphic or image heavy sites. Images on Lazy-Loader enable pages will only be downloaded as they come into view in the browser. For instance, if I have 10 images published in a post, the images are only loaded as the viewer scrolls down the page. Pretty cool.
PHP Speedy WP - To improve the loading time of your WP blog, the PHP Speedy WP plugin speeds up the display by combining your JS and CSS files, add far future expires to headers and GZIPing. For the non-techies out there, myself included, try it out and check the results for yourself. A great site to check your site speed, before and after installing this plugin, is Pingdom.
SEO Friendly Images - Adding alt and title attributes to your images is another important strategy in improving your site’s content on the web. If you have numerous images on your site without this data, you are missing out on a large amount of search traffic, since visitors find you from text and image searches. SEO Friendly Images automatically adds this information for you.
Simple Facebook Like - Another important social networking tool. Generates a Facebook Like button that appears on each post your publish.
TinyMCE Advanced - The TinyMCE Advanced enhances your WordPress visual editor. Perfect tool for those looking for more control in crafting your posts.
Whydowork Adsense - While the name of this plugin implies it’s a Google Adsense related plugin, this plugin allows you to easily manage the display ads or any other type of content throughout your site. Simply insert your code via the plugin admin section, define where you want the ads or content to appear on your pages, and the plugin handles the implementation. This plugin makes managing your ad campaigns a snap versus hard-coding the ads directly into a post or page.
WP-Optimize - WP-Optimize helps you keep your database clean by removing post revisions and spam with the click of a button. I use this plugin daily. This plugin also has more powerful features from optimizing your WordPress core tables.
WP Smush.it - WP Smush is a wonderful job of compressing your image file sizes. Once activated, this plugin handles the task of compressing each image you upload into your WP media library. While I compress most of the images used on this site in Photoshop prior to uploading them, this is still a fantastic tool to use.
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Hope you enjoyed the list above. If you are interested in reading a bit more on WP plugins, I have listed below a few plugins that I use regularly, but would not consider them as “must-have”.
Login Logo - The sole function of Login Logo is to display your logo or an image on your WordPress login page. Adds a nice touch to a boring login page and can make life a bit less confusing if you are managing more than one Wp blog.
wp-Table - I installed this plugin a few years back when tables were not readily supported in WP. Today, you can create tables from your enhanced editor. I still use this plugin since I have a few posts created with it and the custom controls
WPtouch - WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices. The admin panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance, and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to touch mobile visitors, without modifying a single bit of code (or affecting) your regular desktop theme. Since more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices, WPtouch is the perfect tool to transform your site into a mobile friendly online presence.
Polldaddy Polls and Ratings – The Polldaddy Polls and Ratings plugin allows you to create and manage polls and ratings from within your WordPress dashboard. You can create polls, choose from 20 different styles for your polls, and view all results for your polls as they come in. Creating polls and displaying rating is a great way for visitors to interact with your site as will as generating dynamic content for future visitors. While I don’t use this plugin often, it does add a nice touch to certain posts where feedback, other than comments, is desired.