Please know that these aren’t listed in any particular order (they’re actually mostly in alphabetical order) as I install each of them on any new site I put together (minus ones that I’ll put notes by below). If you see any below that you’d like more information or how-to articles or videos for, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW and I’ll put together a how to for you.
IF YOU HAVE ANY PLUGINS YOU THINK BELONG ON THIS LIST, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET ME KNOW WHAT THEY ARE!
Summary: If you’re doing niche sites with Google Adsense or other type of ad marketing, this will automatically insert ads into your posts/pages in specified spots
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ad-injection/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.reviewmylife.co.uk/blog/2010/12/06/ad-injection-plugin-wordpress/
This is a plugin I just recently came across and I have to say I love it. There really is a ton of functionality built into this plugin. You can set up a number of ads and you can customize how they appear based on whether it’s a page, a post, your homepage, etc. You even have the ability to A/B test your ads to see what gives you the best responses. There are a number of customizations which can seem a bit overwhelming, but if you spend a little time understanding the settings interface, this is a very powerful plugin that will allow you to place ads throughout your entire site with minimal effort.
Summary: A solution to completely backup your WordPress Site including your database and all files
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/backwpup/
Plugin Homepage: http://backwpup.com/
This particular plugin is an absolute must have. For obvious reasons, you’ll want to store a backup of your site at some given interval to make sure you don’t lose all your hard work. This plugin allows for setting up a cron job to run your backups at your specified interval – daily, weekly, monthly, etc. I do mine weekly and I have it set to only keep like 10-15 backups of my site at any given time. That way I’m not just wasting and at any given time I have about 3 months worth of backups. One of my favorite features of this plugin is the ability to save your backup to external sites such as DropBox (you get 2GB free if you sign up for an account) at www.dropbox.com, an external FTP site, SugarSync (www.sugarsync.com), Amazon S3, Google storage, etc. You get the point here – there are a ton of options for making sure your site is backed up to a number of different places so if something happens to your server, you can get back up and running fairly quickly. If there’s one downside to the plugin, it’s the lack of documentation, but I plan on putting together an article and some how-to videos in the near future. If an article or some how-to videos on how to use BackWPup are something you’d be interested in, please leave a comment below and let me know.
Contact Form 7
Summary: A quick and easy way to set up a Contact page without making your contact information public
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/contact-form-7/
Plugin Homepage: http://contactform7.com/
This plugin allows you to quickly create one (or more) contact pages where people can fill in their name, email and question/comments and have those sent to you via your email address. This plugin is fairly customizable and very easy to use and it’s a quick way to take care of placing a “Contact” page on your site (google really likes for you to have one of these).
Google XML Sitemaps
Summary – Creates a format that is readable by Google (and other search engines) to let them know about the structure of your website
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.arnebrachhold.de/redir/sitemap-home/
In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial plugins to have. Essentially what you’re doing with this plugin is telling Google what’s on your site rather than making Google try to figure it out. The XML file that is created is really just a listing of your pages that Google, Bing and other search engines can read. Now, the important thing here is after you set up this plugin, you need to go set up an account with Google so you can log into the google webmasters site and tell them where your sitemap is. You should do this at http://www.google.com/webmasters/. Again, if you’d like me to put together an article or some instructional videos, let me know in the comments below.
Summary: I’ve had sites hacked a couple of times, and this looks to be the ticket to slowing the bleeding
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bulletproof-security/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.ait-pro.com/aitpro-blog/297/bulletproof-security-plugin-support/bulletproof-security-wordpress-plugin-support/
I just found this particular plugin recently. Even though I haven’t had time to thoroughly test this plugin out, I’m recommending it based on a few things:
- It has been downloaded over 117,000 times and has a 4.5 positive review out of 5 with 90 ratings – if you’ve ever looked at other plugins, there’s typically not 10 reviews, let alone 90, and to have nearly a five star review is incredible
- The way it’s securing your WordPress site is the way that you should do it manually, by editing the .htaccess files and restricting access to directories to the users who should have access and lock others out – most people have no clue what permissions are or how to assign them so this is an elegant solution by doing things the right way and taking the tech-work out of the hands of the user
Again, from what I’ve seen here, this is how security should be applied. I’m a web-programmer by profession and this is the right way to do security if you’re not going to do it by hand – use the built-in functionality that Apache provides in .htaccess files and lock down directories individually.
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-policies/
Plugin Homepage: http://offlinemarketingtools.com/plugins/wp-policies-plugin/
Pretty Link Lite
Summary: Allows you to cloak your affiliate links and track the number of clicks
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pretty-link/
Plugin Homepage: http://blairwilliams.com/pretty-link
This is a nice plugin for hiding your affiliate links. If you’re like me, if you’re on a random site and you hover over a link that shows some absurdly long url with a bunch of affiliate garbage, I tend to avoid those because I know it’s popping me to another page. Well, in order to somewhat disguise this, you can install this plugin, put in your real affiliate link and tell Pretty Link what to make your new link. For instance, if you hover over the Bluehost banner on the right of this page, you’ll see that the link shows http://www.untetheredincome.com/bluehost/ but that really will take you to the bluehost site with my affiliate id in the url. The other super nice feature is Pretty Link Lite will track the number of clicks on your affiliate links so you can see how effective your banners or placement is.
SPAM Free WordPress
Summary: Absolutely one of the best FREE WordPress comment spam blockers
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/spam-free-wordpress/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.toddlahman.com/spam-free-wordpress/
I’ve tried so many SPAM blockers for WordPress that I’ve lost track of them all. I’ve used the Captcha’s (which I inherently hate), Akismet’s, etc. Problem is most of them are paid services (like Akismet if you’re trying to make a profit) or they just flat out didn’t work well. SPAM Free WordPress has literally cut back on 99% of the SPAM I receive on my sites. I used to get in upwards of 50 a day, and now I MIGHT get ONE every two weeks. I can live with that. The only thing I’ve run into with this plugin is the fact that it’s used in conjunction with the newer WordPress feature that became available as of 3.0 and up – the WordPress comment_form() function. If your theme doesn’t use this function to generate the comment form at the bottom of the page, then the password field won’t appear and people won’t be able to post comments. You can either manually replace the comments.php file code with the comment_form() function if you’re comfortable with PHP, or you can contact the developer of your theme and see if they can help you out. I am using the Catalyst Theme (which in my opinion is about the best thing out there), and they initially didn’t use the comment form – I put a post on their support forum inquiring about and requesting the change and they put the change in place within 4 hours of my request…now that’s customer service! So, that being said, with the right theme for your site and this plugin, you can rest assured that 99% of comments you get emails on will be legit.
Subscribe To Comments Reloaded
Summary: Another one of those HAVE TO HAVES! Allows visitors to subscribe to comment threads with our without commenting.
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments-reloaded/
Plugin Homepage: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments-reloaded/
If there was just a handful of plugins I would be allowed to install, this would be one of the very first. This plugin allows users to subscribe to comments on individual posts either with or without commenting on the thread themselves. If you’ve ever commented on a site or read a thread that interested you but they didn’t have a place to subscribe, you’d have to constantly check back for updates to see if any new information had been posted. The problem with this is you’ll eventually get tired of checking or you might even forget where you read the comments! Believe me, this has happened to me. So, this particular plugin allows users to stay up to date with any updates that have been made to the comments on a post. Users can subscribe to any replies, only replies to their comments, or they can unsubscribe. I did run into one problem with this plugin – the “virtual subscription management” page didn’t work for me. Fortunately, the developer has a section in his FAQ’s on how to set up a real page to work around this issue. I’ve tested this plugin out and I must say it’s an absolute gem and a must have.
W3 Total Cache
Summary: A plugin that caches your webpages so they don’t have to load from the database every single time and work more like static html pages
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.w3-edge.com/wordpress-plugins/w3-total-cache/
For those who don’t really know how the whole WordPress thing works, I’ll try and break it down really quick. Just think if you had to lookup a book title every time you went to the library. It’s a time consuming process. You’re either going to have to go to a card catalog or a computer, lookup the book location, and then go and find the book. Well, imagine if you had 100 books to do that for every time you went to the library. This would be a very time consuming process and requires quite a bit of work. Well, WordPress is the same way. Every time you request a page in WordPress, it has to go to the database (the card catalog) a number of times for each page and then it has to build all the information on the page. Well, with W3 Total Cache, WordPress will only do this on a scheduled basis or when a certain number of comments or information changes on a page. This way, rather than having to look all of it up, it’d be like walking into the library and the librarian just handing you all the books – you didn’t have to look anything up, it was just there. This is huge in the internet world because website visitors are impatient. Nobody wants to wait for a page load, so the faster your site is, the happier your visitors will be and the more likely they are to stick around.
Greg’s High Performance SEO
Summary: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin that allows you to take full control of your on-site SEO
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gregs-high-performance-seo/
Plugin Homepage: http://gregsplugins.com/lib/plugin-details/gregs-high-performance-seo/
SEO is probably the single most important factor in your website’s success on the internet. Many themes you’ll find for WordPress are focused on only one thing – appearance. This is all fine and dandy, but you could have the best looking site in the world and nobody to visit it. SEO is essential for making your website rank in the search engines such as Google and Bing and this plugin can help you do that. There are a number of other SEO plugins out there but I found that Greg’s High Performance SEO was super lightweight (meaning it didn’t make your page grow to insanely large sizes) and it had all the features you’d ever need or care to think about for SEO purposes.
NOTE: I recommend this plugin for people using WordPress with themes that don’t have good SEO options built in. As I mentioned previously, I’m a huge advocate of the Catalyst Theme for WordPress, and in my opinion, it has all the SEO you need. So, if you’re using Catalyst Theme, Thesis Theme or any number of other WordPress themes that have good SEO baked in, then you can and probably should skip this plugin. However, for MOST FREE WordPress Themes out there, you would definitely want to get this plugin and learn how to use it properly.
Summary: This is a more fully featured text editor for writing posts (and comments if you so desire)
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ultimate-tinymce/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.joshlobe.com/2011/10/ultimate-tinymce/
You may not even know what you’re missing with the built-in text editor with WordPress because admittedly, it’s pretty good. However, with Ultimate TinyMCE, you can take your article and page editing to a new level. This plugin gives you a host of new functionality such as the ability to put tables in your content visually (without knowing any HTML code), ability to customize how images display, etc. This really is a nice utility to have so you can help your pages stand apart from the regular content that you see on most WordPress sites.
Ironically enough, I went and found this plugin after I received some comments on this page. In your default WordPress install, any links in your comments have rel=”nofollow” attached to them, basically meaning that Google and other search engines will not give link credit to the URL. Because I monitor the comments on the site and only approve ones that aren’t deemed SPAM, I feel that if I approve a comment, the user should get link credit for their participation on my site.
Summary: A set of shortcodes that allow you to make your posts look like the professionals with a tiny amount of code
WordPress Plugin Page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/j-shortcodes/
Plugin Homepage: http://www.jshortcodes.com/
One of the real lacking points in free themes is that they don’t have the shortcodes that premium themes typically come with. With J Shortcodes, you can now make take any of your themes and give it that professional touch, for free. If you’re not familiar with shortcodes, take a look at the shortcodes examples that Elegant Themes provides with all their templates and you’ll have an idea of what J Shortcodes offers. This is another one of those plugins that you didn’t know you needed, but once you get it you won’t ever want to be without it. I’ve included a box shortcode just above the comments to tell you to check out my resources page.