WordPress is my site building tool of choice. Once you learn how to use it, you find that you can create highly professional looking websites, quickly, easily and without the help of an expensive designer. What makes WordPress even better is the plug & play system of plugins. Plugins extend the basic functions of WordPress (not that WordPress on it’s own is basic ) allowing you to add all manner of features. In this article, I want to highlight my favourite WordPress plugins.
OK, first confession. I cannot narrow my list down to a top 10.
BTW; if there are any plugins that you think deserve to be on this list, please leave a comment at the end with your suggestions.
In no particular order, here are the must-have WordPress plugins.
I like this plugin for a number of reasons:
- It doesn’t do anything crazy “out of the box”.
- Can handle all of the on-site SEO that I need.
- Will create XML sitemaps and give you fine control over what is included on the sitemap (although I personally still use Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold).
This is a fully featured, yet simple contact form solution.
This helps prevent spam. It doesn’t eliminate all spam, but at least it ensures a human is there submitting the comment and not some software program.
4. Pretty Link
This plugin allows you to create nicer looking links that can be tracked for clicks. For example, if you have a long unwieldy affiliate link, you can create a much nicer, easier to remember “pretty link”.
This caching plugin does a pretty good job out of the box, which is good as it’s quite complicated to setup manually. To see how well this works, go over to GTMetrix to test your site speed. Now install the plugin and select the defaults. Open your homepage in a browser (so it is cached by the plugin), and then go back to GTMetrix and re-measure your speed. If you want instructions on further boosting the speed of your blog, Shane Melaugh has created an excellent tutorial on speeding up WordPress.
This is a really useful plugin as it allows you to create custom sidebars for different pages, posts, categories etc of your site. Want an advert for blue widgets to only appear on posts in your blue widgets category? No problem. Want a sidebar widget to only display on the homepage? Easy. This plugin allows non-techies to control what is in their sidebars using a graphical interface. For those requiring a little more control, there is a code editor as well that is easy to use if you know a little PHP.
Automatic backups of the WordPress database emailed to me on my schedule. Enough said.
A great plugin for adding a related posts section at the end of posts. Configurable, so that you really do get “related” posts, and not just a random sample.
9. Ad Injection
One of the better tools for adding ads into your web pages. I love the fact that you can specify when to start or stop ads. If I want to add an advert right before the final paragraph on the page, but only if the page is more than 1000 words, no problem. Highly configurable.
Removes the built in comment form from your site and replaces it with a more socially interactive Facebook comment system.
Despite mentioning earlier that Yoast’s fabulous WordPress SEO can handle the sitemaps, I still use Arne’s plugin. I love the high level of control over each element of the sitemap. On my next new site, I’ll be trying out the sitemap feature of Yoast’s plugin, so this plugin may not be here when I create my next top 10 WordPress plugin list .
This plugin helps protect your site from hackers by protecting important sections of your WordPress install.
This plugin is not cheap, but if you own a lot of sites it could save your bacon. You can take entire backups of your site that can be used to recreate the site with a point and click interface if it were ever damaged beyond repair by hackers or web hosts that fry your site. It’s also great for moving a website to a new domain entirely. You can read my full review of this tool in my newsletter under the section “How to Make Your Site Hacker Proof”.
Are there any plugins that you use on all of your sites?
Maybe there is a plugin that you prefer to one listed above for a particular feature?
I’d love to hear your feedback and your top 10s. Please leave them in the comments section at the end of this post.