WordPress has thousands of plugins that you install on your blog for free. These range from very specific plugins that do one thing only, to larger plugins that provide extensive functionality in a certain area.
With so many plugins available, it’s hard to know which ones are good, and it’s all too easy to forget one of the really important ones. This list is here to help!
So, what are the 10 plugins I find essential for my blogs?
1. Advanced Custom Fields
I love this plugin! Some of the things I’ve used it for include:
- showing a “Tip Box” on my posts, with skill level, reading time, and action time
- showing a banner on some of my posts, which gives a prominent link back to the relevant category page
- simplifying the image credits underneath each post, and also making them 100% consistent
It takes a bit of time to learn, but it’s worth it.
2. Social Metrics Pro
Although the free Social Metrics plugin is great, the Pro version adds a few nice extras. I particularly like being able to sort by any of the metrics provided. I can easily see my most tweeted posts with just a couple of clicks.
I highly recommend Social Metrics Pro. (aff)
3. WordPress SEO
This free plugin from Yoast is brilliant. I resisted using it for a bit, but after some consideration, I gave it a try.
If you’re already using the SEO tools in the Genesis Framework as I was, you can migrate your data to WordPress SEO using the SEO Data Transporter plugin. Very handy.
Another benefit of the WordPress SEO plugin is that it will generate an XML sitemap for you. As a result, I was able to turn off the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.
You really can’t go wrong with the WordPress SEO plugin.
4. Google Analyticator
The first of three plugins that I carried over from the previous edition of this list. In that time, Google Analyticator went through a period of transition, as the creator wanted to pass it to a new owner.
During the transition, Google changed how the login authentication worked and this broke the plugin. Users were left wondering if we would ever see a working version of the plugin again.
Thankfully, when the new owner took over they kicked off proceedings by getting the authentication working again. They have continued the excellent track record set by the creator, in terms of frequency of updates and the reliability of the plugin.
Needless to say, Google Analyticator remains one of the most valuable plugins you can get for your WordPress blog.
Another plugin I resisted using for a bit, as I didn’t see a huge amount of point in it. However, after commenting on other blogs with the plugin installed, I finally decided to give CommentLuv a try.
It’s a decent plugin and is a great way to reward your commenters with a link to their latest post. Simple but effective.
I only have the free version. The premium version looks good. I may buy it someday.
6. Comment Reply Notification
A simple plugin that notifies commenters when someone replies to their comment. A good way to make people come back and continue a discussion.
7. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)
When I was looking for alternatives to Akismet, several bloggers recommended GASP, created by Andy Bailey (of CommentLuv fame). The free version is good and offers a method for blocking spammers. As with all anti-spam plugins it’s not perfect, but it does a good job.
Through checking out the premium version of CommentLuv, I can see that there’s an improved version of GASP and also a comment reply notification tool included. This is now very tempting as I’d be able to turn off two other plugins.
Let me know if you’re using CommentLuv premium!
A better way of banning repeat spammers from your blog than by using the default WordPress settings. Being able to see how each blocked IP address or IP range is performing in terms of spammer numbers is interesting; it helps to keep your ban list to the worst offenders. (Why ban an IP if your stats suggest it was a one-time spammer?)
As an improvement, I’d really like to have stats for the number of comments in the moderation queue or the spam queue with the same IP. Sometimes I have 100 spam comments in the moderation queue and I have to search for each IP to see if any other comments have the same IP.
I know I can go into the database, but it’d be easier to have stats right in the WordPress admin.
The second plugin carried over from the previous edition of this list. A very handy tool for addressing “404 not found” errors, moved posts or deleted posts. It’s also good for setting up affiliate links.
10. WordPress Database Backup
The third and final plugin from the original list. Backups are essential and you really should make sure you’re doing them on a weekly basis at least.
What are your top WordPress plugins? How many of my top 10 plugins are you using?