Written by Hirsch Fishman on February 25th, 2009
WordPress is one of the most popular and versatile blogging platforms and content management systems used on the web today. The variety of available plugins is one of the contributing reasons to that, but how do you tell which plugins are essential to use, and which aren’t?
I thought it might be insightful to give you a list of the plugins that I use on this website, and that I commonly install for clients when I build a website for them in WordPress. They fall into four basic categories – commenting, SEO, administration, and content.
See how many of them you use on your WordPress website or blog or have heard about. If you don’t have some of these installed, give them a shot and see if they help improve your website or blog in some way.
One note – all the plugin links below are to that plugin’s page in the WordPress plugin directory. By going there, you can download each plugin, but you can also find out more information about installing or troubleshooting it.
Want to make it easier for people to comment on your posts? Try some of these plugins, which help accomplish that goal.
- Subscribe to Comments – Lets commenters sign up to receive an e-mail notification when another comment is made to the post they commented on. The plugin also includes a subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, change their notification e-mail address, and more.
- Better Comments Manager – Allows you, as the blog administrator, to respond to comments from within the admin panel rather than by going to the website.
- No Self Pings – A pingback (or trackback) is a notification you receive when someone links from their website to a post on your blog. If you’re writing a post and include a link to another one on your own blog, there’s not really a point in notifying yourself about that.
Seach Engine Optimization (SEO)
These plugins help you accomplish some of the simple steps to incorporate SEO into your website or blog, as I’ve written about previously.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Automatically creates XML sitemaps of your website, which you can then submit to the search engines to help them crawl your website easier.
- All-in-One SEO Pack – Lets you optimize your title and META tags with content and keywords of your choosing, while also helping you avoid the duplicate content found on WordPress websites.
As the administrator of a WordPress website or blog, there is plenty to think about in addition to just the content. These plugins help you with some of those essential tasks, making administering it easier and less time-consuming.
- Database Backup – Allows you to back-up your WordPress database in case something catastrophic happens to it. You can have the backups e-mailed to you or saved automatically to your server, and can schedule how often the back-ups should take place.
- WP Super Cache – Helps you speed up your WordPress website or blog significantly by reducing the workload on your server when someone visits it.
- Akismet – Checks your comments to see if they look like spam or not. You can review the spam it catches in a separate section from your regular “Comments” admin page. If you have commenting enabled on your WordPress website or blog, this is an absolute must to install.
You have a website or blog because you want to share content with your visitors, right? These plugins can help you do that in ways that emphasize the usability of your website – something I’m always in favor of.
- Similar Posts – Displays a list of posts that are similar or related to the current post. How the list of similar posts is determined can be customized in many different ways, but the basic way similarity is judged is according to the post’s title, content, and tags.
- Popular Posts – Displays a list of your blog’s most-viewed posts. This plugin was created by the same people that made the Similar Posts plugin, so you can use the same options to customize how this list is displayed as you can for the Similar Posts list as well.
- ShareThis – Provides a quick, simple to use, and unobtrusive way for users to either add your post to many social bookmarking sites or e-mail the link to someone.
- Lightbox – Creates a sharp, modern-looking overlay for images on the page, useful when you have thumbnails of an image and want to allow your visitors to view an enlarged copy. This looks much better than having the enlargement open on a blank page.
- WP-Pagenavi – Adds a more advanced page navigation system to your blog archives for when you start to accumulate a lot of posts over time.
- GD Star Rating – Allows you to set up a rating and review system that lets your visitors provide feedback on how useful a particular post, page, or comment is. There are many different options you can set for how the rating stars should be displayed and how things are rated.
What did I miss?
If you have a WordPress website or blog, or design them for clients, what plugins do you use that I haven’t listed here? Let everyone know by filling out the comment form below!