Let’s talk about the best WordPress plugins for a minute. As a blogger, plugins can quickly become your best friend. They basically do things to make your life easier, which is great, but there are SO many to choose from!! After our Blog Smarter chat last week, I was inspired to put together a list of some of the plugins that I use and share it with you guys.
Remember that these are NOT the only plugins out there…just some that I like. Also remember that I’m totally tech challenged and this is not my area of expertise…so I’ll do my best to explain them, but don’t judge me! You should be able to click on the plug-in names to learn more about it. If that doesn’t work, click “plugins” on your sidebar, then “add new” and then search the name of the plugin.
Ready? Here we go:
1. Akismet: In my opinion, this is a MUST to help reduce spam. It checks all the comments that come in and keeps them from publishing if they look like spam. You can easily remove comments from the spam folder if it makes a mistake, but it generally does a great job.
2. All in One SEO Pack: This is great for helping with SEO. It optimizes your titles for SEO and generates meta tags…and probably does a lot more things that I don’t even understand. But the bottom line is, it’s easy to use and does good stuff. Even just a quick read on the basics of SEO and you should be able to put it to good use by filling in the title, description and keywords for each of your posts.
3. Alpine Phototile for Instagram: This one takes a minute to set up because you have to authorize it through Instagram, but the instructions are super easy to follow. Basically, it displays your most recent instagram photos on your blog’s sidebar. You can customize how many pictures you want to show, and play around with different displays, sizes, etc. *Note, there’s also one to display your recent pins from the same developer….called Alpine Phototile for Pinterest
4. Blogger to WordPress: If you started on Blogger (like me) and now use WordPress, this is a must. It automatically redirects all those early posts that I wrote on Blogger to the same post on WordPress.
5. CommentLuv: One of my favorites. When I comment on other blogs, this plugin displays the title of my most recent post below my comment. If other people are reading the comments on that blog, they might be interested in your post title and click over to check out your blog! *Note, another thing you can do when commenting on other blogs is include your blog name in your name…so instead of just writing Lindsay, I always write Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean. This shows people reading the commets that you’re a blogger and they might click the link to your blog! (In the pic above, you can see Christine does the same thing, and then comment luv shows her most recent post “Why I won’t give up beer”)
6. Comment Reply Notification: Please use something like this. When you respond to someone’s comment on your blog, this sends them an email letting them see your response. Most people do not come back to check and see if you responded to their comment so this is a great way to increase communication with your readers, answer questions, etc.
7. Facebook Like Box Widget: It shows readers how many people like your blog’s Facebook Page and allows them to “like” the page right from your blog.
8. Google Analytics for WordPress: Google Analytics is one of the gold standards for tracking pageviews, etc on your site. This plugin allows you to see all that data without going to the google analytics website.
9. nRelate: This is one option for displaying links to related posts at the bottom of each post. I use Shareaholic for this feature, but a lot of people like nRelate. It will show thumbnails of related posts that can encourage readers to stick around and check out more of your blog posts. *Note- you can also check out nRelate Flyout which does something similar, but creates a pop-up box that “flies out” into the corner of your screen and shows a related post.
10. Pinterest Pin It Button For Images: If you have ever hovered over an image in one of my posts, you may have noticed the little “pin it” that shows up when you do that. That’s this plugin. It makes it super easy for people to click that button on whatever image they like and Pin it!
11. Shareaholic: Hands down one of my favorite plugins. This is what I use to make it easy for people to share my blog posts. It has several features: 1) When you scroll down on my posts, that black bar pops up at the top that allows you to easily tweet that post by clicking a button. 2) When you get to the bottom of a post it says “share and enjoy” and provides buttons for you to click to share to whatever social media site you want. You can customize what buttons show up, and you can also set it up so that when someone clicks the button, it automatically includes the title of the post AND your twitter handle. DO THIS!!!!!!! It makes it so much easier for people to share when they don’t have to dig for your twitter handle. 3) It shows the three related posts with images people may want to click on. *Note: If you want to check out some other sharing plugins, you could try Flare or Digg Digg. I haven’t use these, but they both allow you to set up a floating sidebar that show up on the side of a blog post with sharing buttons.
12. All in One Favicon: This allows you to create a little image that shows up to the left of your blog title in a tabbed browser. Mine is a little square with the stripes from my header and the letters LGB. I actually use Shockingly Simple Favicon plugin but it doesn’t look like it’s been updated for a while…the All in One Favicon should do the same thing and looks newer.
13. Tweetily: This is one that a lot of people ask me about. It’s the plugin I use to automatically and randomly tweet links to older posts throughout the day. Sometimes it chooses posts that are no longer relavent…like giveaways…but it also brings up a lot of old recipes I’ve posted and forgot about and it’s good for getting those posts more exposure on Twitter. You can choose how many you want it to tweet per day and what you want it to say before the post title.
14. Vaultpress: This one is not free, but I think it’s worth every penny. It backs up your blog in real time and gives you peace of mind. I learned about it from Katy Widrick. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can read her post about backing up your blog…and if you want to know if it really works, you can read about how it saved her blog. Thankfully, since I signed up over a year ago, I haven’t had to use it…but I’ll gladly pay the $15 a month to keep my blog safe!
15. WordPress Editorial Calendar: This one changed my blogging life. Seriously. It makes it so easy to layout all your post for the next several weeks and you can easily drag posts around to different days. I always have several draft posts saved and this makes it easy to lay them out and come up with a posting plan instead of just seeing them in a list.
16. Display Recent Tweets: I don’t actually use a plugin for this, I use a widget. I used this post to set it up and it was super easy. You can see how it displays recent tweets on my right-hand side bar and also allows people to follow me on twitter directly from my blog. *Note: If you’d rather have a plug-in, you could try Recent Tweets or search for others.
17. WP Smush.it: Automatically reduces image file sizes behind the scenes.
18. SEO Friendly Images: Adds alt and titles to your images to help improve your SEO
19. W3 Total Cache: I have no idea what this does, I just know I have it
Here are a few others that I don’t use, but that you might want to check out:
- Recipe Card: Makes it easy to create pretty recipes that readers can print and save.
- Easy Recipe: Another recipe plugin that makes them look pretty.
- WordFence: A security plugin
- Better WordPress Google XML Site maps: Helps google find your content
- Broken Link Checker: Helps you find broken links
- WPTouch: Transforms your site to be compatible on mobile browsers
- WP Greet Box: Displays a greeting to visitors depending on how they got to your site (ie twitter, fb, etc and can encourage them to subscribe in a reader or follow you on twitter or whatever)
- Fancier Author Box– A little bio about you at the bottom of each post. You can include your social media info as well to remind people to follow you.
And if you’re looking for even more, this article has tons of suggestions:
The Best WordPress Plugins
Remember, using too many plugins can slow down your site, so don’t go overboard! Pick the ones that will help you and your site out the most and be sure to keep them up-to-date!
Let’s Chat: Do you have any favorite plugins that aren’t on this list? Share them in the comments!