Do you ever get tired of plugins not working with the latest update of wordpress or find yourself wondering whether there are any plugins that might improve your blog? I know I do. At the time of posting this, I’m using WordPress 2.7.1 and I’m fed up with having to hack my code to make things look right and do what I want. It just takes too much time that could be spent on actually helping people. So, here is the fruit of my research: 36 great plugins you should consider utilizing, plus a few at the end that I couldn’t get to work for me. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.
Sure this spam filter comes standard with WordPress, but if you’re not using it… well, that would be a mistake IMO
This improves WordPress’s native blogroll, giving you more formatting options, including the ability to add images.
3. Bookmark Me
Gives you a widget for your sidebar to allow easy bookmarking of your site. See my sidebar under “Spread the Word”. There are 39 bookmarking services listed along with a couple of other options.
This plugin makes the navigation element you see in this post just above the title of this post. It has a number of useful features, but also a “core” plugin that’s just a no-brainer.
This creates the option box you see below the comment box. If checked, it goes to the the website your reader put in the comment box, looks for the latest post, if available, and inserts a link to it. Try it for yourself. For best effect, use the “dofollow” plugin (see #7).
This plugin is useful if someone puts a nonsense or offensive web address in the comment box, but have otherwise written a useful comment and you’d rather not delete the comment. Don’t use this if you’ve got Keywordluv installed – it changes the author’s name.
7. Do Follow
Simply put, this removes the “nofollow” attribute from comments on your blog. Nofollow will still work in your posts and widgets. While this may be an invitation for more spam, Akismet will catch most of it (just moderate the rest), and your readers will generally be more keen on commenting on your blog.
If you want to use php in your sidebar without hacking sidebar.php, you should use this plugin. It works in the same way as the text/html widget, but runs php as well.
This enables easy integration of your Feedburner feed into WordPress. You DO have a feedburner feed… don’t you? If not, get one. It makes your feed more universally accepted and is free. Feedburner is also owned by Google, so there’s another way for Google to notice your work.
You have the choice of 4 translation engines and 20+ languages. Your reader can click a flag representing their language and have your blog translated into that language. Not being fluent in any other language, I can’t speak to how good the translation is. It also optionally integrates with your Google XML Sitemap (see #12), presumably making your site more visible on foreign language search engines.
This makes it super easy to include your Google Analytics code in your blog, without editing footer.php. Why use Google Analytics? It’s the best free site traffic analysis software out there at the moment.
Automatically create a sitemap compatible with google, yahoo, msn, ask, etc.
13. Maintenance Mode
When you’re doing upgrades to your site and you don’t want to make your readers feel like they are on a rollercoaster, with menus flying everywhere, pages disappearing, then reappearing, etc, you should set this plugin to “enabled”. You can activate it and just have it sitting in your admin area until you need it. It will display a page to all visitors apologizing for the delay and giving an estimated time of completion, which you set.
14. Mybloglog Widget
Create a widget in your sidebar which can help you build a community around your blog.
15. Nofollow for Posts
This is handy for those few times you want to nofollow a specific link in your post. Just check the box that says “NoFollow”. This only works if you are using the Visual (WYSIWYG) editor in WordPress. If you write your posts in html code, don’t worry about getting this.
16. No Self Pings
This should be called “no self trackbacks”. It stops trackbacks from your posts to other posts on the same blog. It just keeps things cleaner.
17. Optimal Title
Anyone serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should consider installing this plugin. It changes your <title> tag from “Mike Haydon | How To Be NoFollow Free” to “How To Be NoFollow Free | Mike Haydon”, which tells the search engine that your keywords are more important than the name of your blog (which it almost always is).
This is a cool little plugin that turns the WordPress 2.7+ menu into a drop down, which saves time in reloading pages. The settings are accessed from the plugins menu (a little unusual). I recommend checking the box that says “Shrink top level links down to their icons” for even easier use. You should also set the menus to “break” on more than 10 or 15 entries: you’ll have lots of entries in the Settings menu and you don’t want to have to scroll the page looking for them.
19. Photo Dropper
You can easily search for and insert photos from Flickr, together with the proper creative commons licensing code, using this plugin. I have a fuller review here.
Set the importance of views and work out what are your most popular posts. There are also lots of options to display the results, like down the bottom of my blog, where I have “Most Viewed” and “Most Commented” posts. You can also have, eg, most popular in xyz category, etc.
Creates the widget you see to the right titled “Top Posts”. I’m not entirely sure how it calculates popularity, but it’s another cool way of showcasing popular posts.
This automatically inserts correct Alt or Title tags into the <img> code, based on your post title, or other settings you choose. An easy way of SEOptimizing your images.
23. SEO Post Link
WordPress creates the permalink for your post based on the title you give it. This plugin takes out the unnecessary words (as defined by you) like “the”, “and” & “a” to keep your permalink shorter. This is useful because if it’s too long, the permalink can get cut in half when someone sends the link to a friend and the search engines may also have difficulty processing it.
24. Share This
Adds an icon/link to allow your readers to easily and quickly bookmark your post to from within the post. It also allows posting to myspace/facebook as well as emailing to a friend. There are others out there that do the same job, but I like this one. If you’re already using something like this (try it at the bottom of this post – hint: it’s the green button with “share this” next to it ), you probably don’t need to change over.
25. Smart Update Pinger
“Ping spam” is when you keep pinging your RSS feed, even when you haven’t posted anything new. It’s not good and can get you banned from places like Technorati. Unfortunately, WordPress is set to automatically ping even if you edit your post. This plugin takes care of that and only pings when you have a new post. It automatically imports your current ping list.
This creates a checkbox underneath the comment box that enables the commenter to be informed when others comment on the post. It’s a great way to build a conversation between your readers.
27. Tweet This
This is one of the ways you can harness the power of the emerging phenomenon known as Twitter. It creates an icon at the end of each post which lets your readers easily post the story to their twitter account. It has lots of different icons to choose from and you can also add some of the major social bookmarking tools as well.
28. Twitter for WordPress
If you want to add a feed of your latest twitter posts to your sidebar, I recommend this plugin. Easy to use and customize.
29. WordPress Database Backup
With a few clicks, backup your database of posts, comments and settings, so if anything happens to your site, you won’t lose all your years of hard work. It emails the backup to you and also has a nifty automatic backup schedule. I consider this plugin essential.
Sure Gravatars are now a part of WordPress, but this plugin allows you to choose between Gravatars, MyBlogLog Avatars (like on this site) and OpenAvatars as well as a number of other options. I can’t get the author post avatar to work satisfactorily (inserts your gravatar in the first paragraph of each post), because it keeps squashing it and I can’t find the code to stop it. Otherwise, works well on all the themes I’ve tested.
31. WordPress Mobile
With the number of people surfing the net on mobile platforms like the iPhone or Blackberry, you should consider installing this plugin. It creates a simpler version of your blog that is more easily readable on these platforms. It automatically recognizes when a reader is using a mobile platform and serves the simple version. It doesn’t change your content and will still display pictures in posts, but it removes all other graphics and only has essential text navigation links.
Basically, this creates a list of related posts based on tags and inserts them at the end of each post. ’nuff said
This makes a button which links to a form that enables your readers to email the post to themselves or a friend. It’s a bit of a hassle to install, but I think it’s worth it. You’ll have to change the code in one of your core files (See post by MichaelH here). See the usage tab here for how to position the icon.
From the same developer as WP-Email, but less troublesome. This plugin gives the reader the ability to print your post without printing all your navigation, ads, headers, banners, etc, while making sure your copyright notice is intact.
Isn’t it annoying when you write a comment, hit the button and then realize you’ve made a mistake or want to say something extra. Using this plugin allows your readers to edit their comments for a short time after they’ve posted them. Cool, right?
36. WP Grins
This creates the clickable smilies you see above the comment box on my blog. They’re just cooler than having text smilies aren’t they? *note: they stopped working a few versions of wordpress ago and the plugin hasn’t been updated.
Two plugins that on the surface work, but are currently broken to the level that I couldn’t work out how to fix it are:
This caches fine, but when someone comments, it breaks the blog and displays an error message. It wasn’t the theme, because I tried it on the Classic theme. I think it would be very useful for a high traffic blog when fixed.
This is the new version of the classic “Simple Tags” plugin, which apparently doesn’t work past WordPress 2.5. This may work, but it wasn’t playing nicely with the tag pages (they showed up blank, even though the admin interface said the posts were tagged) and wasn’t compatible with my current posts. Means a whole lot of work going back retagging old posts for not much benefit.
I hope this review helped you. If you have any further suggestions or you think another plugin does a better job or is easier to use than any of the ones listed above, please share in the comments. The list above is by no means exhaustive, but should represent a good starting point. There are others I have heard of, like podpress, that would most likely be useful and are highly recommended, but not having used them, I can’t comment on them.