41 Essential WordPress Plugins – Everything You Need to Run a Blog Like Mine
May 30, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park
One of the most frequently asked questions I get here on Winning the Web is “what WordPress plugin are you using to do X?”. I’ve been pretty generous in responding to emails and giving away my plugins, but unfortunately it does tend to take up a lot of my time. So rather than constantly answer your plugin questions, I thought it would be much more efficient and helpful for you all if I created a comprehensive list here. I’ll update it regularly so you get the latest scoop on the best plugins I’m using.
Action PopUp ($47)
Displays an unblockable pop-up overlay with an opt-in email form. Everything is customizable, including size, color, delay, and frequency. You can even have the popup show up on page load or when the user tries to leave the page. I recently implemented this plugin for The Winning Way book launch and have seen GREAT results so far. The plugin costs $47 but is worth every penny. It also comes with Action Comments, which allows you to add blog post commentators to your email autoresponder.
Checks new comments on your blog against the Akismet web service to look for spam patterns. It then catches spam comments and holds them for review. Akismet comes with every default WordPress installation and works very well. You still have to go in and manually approve/disapprove spam though. Thanks to Akismet, I’ve prevented thousands of spam comments from getting through to the blog.
All in One SEO Pack
Allows you to easily edit post titles and descriptions and configure your blog for maximum SEO benefit. This is definitely a must-have to get your site optimized for the search engines.
Adds favicons and iPhone icons to your blog. Pretty simple, but makes your blog look nicer in the browser.
Breadcrumb Navigation XT
Adds a breadcrumb navigation showing the visitor’s path to his or her current location. I’m a huge fan of breadcrumbs (for both usability and SEO benefits) and highly recommend you implement this.
Brian’s Threaded Comments
The new version of WordPress (2.7) already has threaded comments built in, but I started using threaded comments a while back and I’m using this plugin to keep all of my old comment threads in tact. Threaded comments is extremely effective because it keeps the flow of conversation much more manageable.
Broken Link Checker
Checks your posts for broken links and missing images. You should also run a Xenu crawl once in a while to find errors on your site. Checking for broken links is a hassle to do manually, but these tools and plugins make it easy.
Adds rel=â€canonicalâ€ links to the head of your site. If you don’t know what a canonical tag is, check this post to read about the benefits – canonical tag to reduce duplicate content clutter. Basically the tag tells the search engines the original source of a page and prevents the negative effects of duplicate content.
Sends out a short thank you email to users who comment on your blog for the first time. The message is completely customizable and is a great way to connect with new visitors. However, this plugin does put a strain on your server so I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you have a VPS or dedicated server.
Crawl Rate Tracker
Logs every visit by the search engines, determines crawl rate, and displays a nice graph of the frequency. Why is this important? I’ve mentioned that crawl rate is the PageRank in SEO. The more the crawlers visit, the greater the authority of your site. This kind of stuff is worth monitoring.
Dagon Design Sitemap Generator
Generates a fully customizable HTML sitemap, which allows search engines to more easily crawl all of your site’s content and users to find old posts in your archives. You can see mine in action here – Winning the Web Archive.
Executable PHP widget
Allows you to place PHP code in your widgets. This is useful when you want to use a separate PHP script in your widget. For example, I place the Feedburner feed count code in one of these bad boys to display the number of RSS subscribers for Winning the Web.
If you have a blog, Feedburner is a must-have service to track your subscribers and dive into statistics. This plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.
Force Word Wrapping
Prevents long words and URLs from horizontally stretching the page. Doesn’t it annoy you when a long URL messes up your template? This plugin prevents that from happening.
Global Translator PRO ($69)
Automatically translates your blog posts in 41 different languages using online translation engines from Google, Babelfish, FreeTranslations.com, and Promt. The translations aren’t 100% accurate but more content means more search engine traffic. You’re also able to reach new audiences in different countries. Both free and paid versions of the plugin are available. Tip from All Things SEM.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your blog with settings that allow you to track extra search engines, click outs, and downloads.
Google XML Sitemaps
Generates an XML sitemap for your blog used by search engines Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask. What’s an XML sitemap, you ask? Basically it’s a file that tells the search engines which pages on your site are most important and which they should crawl on a regular basis.
MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate ($97)
Automatically converts keywords on your blog into links of your choice – including affiliate links. You can also manage, track, cloak and shorten an unlimited number of links from one central location in your WordPress backend. The plugin costs $97, which is expensive compared to other plugins, but if you’re looking to make money with affiliate links it’s worth the cost.
No Self Pings
Keeps WordPress from sending pings to your own site. This is pretty self explanatory. Why send pingbacks to your own posts?
OIOpublisher Direct 2.0
An all-in-one ad management system that integrates into WordPress. I’ve been using this plugin for about a year now and recommend it highly to everyone selling direct blog advertisements. It completely automates the ad buying and tracking processes and has saved me a lot of time. This plugin costs $47 – definitely worth it considering it’s an integral tool in making more money with your blog.
Optimizes your WordPress database by eliminating unused data fields with just one click.
Enables ranking of your posts based on popularity factors: comments, links, and views. You can then display a list of popular posts on your blog using PHP code (using the PHP widget plugin mentioned above). This is a great way of automatically leading your readers to your best content.
Generates â€œteasersâ€ of posts in the main, archive, and category pages, with a link underneath to the full post. I’ve written about the benefits of post excerpts before and this plugin does the job very nicely. It even allows you to generate a word count, image count, and an estimated reading time for each post.
Displays a list of the most recent comments which you can easily customize to your liking. I use this for my sidebar and it’s a good method of showing others that your blog is interactive. The plugin requires the Post-Plugin Library.
Allows you to add all the appropriate robots meta tags to your pages and feeds, disable unused archives, and nofollow unnecessary links. The technical aspects of SEO can be confusing for newbies, but this plugin makes it all very easy.
Adds a line of content to the end of your RSS feed posts. I use this to add a copyright message and a link back to the original post (to combat scraper sites that steal my content).
Show Top Commentators
Displays a list of top commentators with links back to their sites. I like this feature because it rewards those who are active and frequently leave comments on your blog.
Displays a list of related posts based on post categories and word usage in the content, title, or tags. You can even display a list of related posts in your feed which is a great way to urge readers to explore additional content on your blog. The plugin requires the Post-Plugin Library.
Inserts YouTube videos in posts, comments and RSS feeds. You can always do this manually but this plugin makes it so much easier. Now if only I got around to shooting some more videos…
Adds social media icons and links to your posts, pages and RSS feed. You can choose your favorite social bookmarking sites and fully customize what you want displayed. Social media can drive huge amounts of traffic to your sites and a social bookmarking plugin like this one increases your chances of an article “going hot”.
Subscribe To Comments
Allows commentators to receive notifications of new comments on an article (checkbox option in the comments form). This is a great way to get people back to your site and continue the conversation.
Lets you test new themes without making them visible to your blog visitors. If you’re looking for a new theme, use this. You don’t want to drive your readers nuts by changing the theme every 10 minutes.
Adds a â€œTweet This Postâ€ link to every post and page and shortens URLs in advance through a variety of different services (e.g. bit.ly). As you know, re-tweets on Twitter can send A LOT of traffic and this plugin works wonders.
Controls widgets with conditional tags. With this plugin you can specify when a sidebar widget should and should not be displayed. For example, I use Widget Logic to prevent my “The Winning Way” ebook widget from being displayed on the actual book description page.
WordPress Backup (by BTE)
Backs up the upload directory (images), current theme directory, and plugins directory to a zip file. You can save the file to your hard drive or web server or have it emailed to you directly.
WordPress Database Backup
Same as above but backs up your WordPress database (holding all of your posts, pages, and settings). Don’t take these plugins for granted. You won’t realize their importance until it’s too late.
Adds an AJAX poll system to your blog. You can easily include polls in your posts, pages, and widgets and dynamically display the results. Implement this feature if you want to collect data on your readers or add some interactivity on your blog.
WP Contact Form III
Adds in a simple contact page on your blog with a form for name, email, website, subject, and message. This one isn’t as fancy as the other contact plugins out there but it’s simple and easy to use.
WP Greet Box
Shows a welcome message to your visitors depending on which site they’re coming from (e.g. Google, Digg, Facebook, etc). You can see an example at the top of this post. I use the plugin to promote my RSS feed and it works very well. For more info, check out my post about the 8 prime locations to promote your blogâ€™s RSS feed.
WP Security Scan
Performs a security scan of your WordPress installation. With hackers running rampant these days, you can never be too safe.
WP Super Cache
Caches your posts to save database resources and to speed up your site. WordPress works by calling the database each time a page/post is accessed. If you have a big influx of traffic (social media traffic) this can put a heavy strain on your web server. To prevent crashing, use this caching plugin – it works like a charm.
Hopefully this list is helpful and leads you to discover a few new plugins you can install on your blog. I’m constantly on the look out for more so if you have any others that you think I should be using, leave a comment here and let me know. What are your favorite plugins? Which can of them can you not do without?If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.