I’ve been receiving a few emails from people asking my advice about blogging (honest!), WordPress (a free blogging system used here) and also what plugins I use. So, although there are many other lists out there, I’ve tried to keep it simple with the most effective basic must have WordPress plugins:
This comes with a WordPress blog, and believe me after having a blog for any period of time you’ll be thankful this plugin works like a dream. Simply prevents comment spam, and like a junk mail filter you have the opportunity to train it if it’s wrong. There are other systems too, but I’ve always found this to be the best.
Link: Akismet plugin
WordPress Database Backup
Again, comes with WordPress by default. Backs up your database files and we all know how important it is to backup! Lets you choose whether to download the backup, save it on your server or have it emailed to you. Simple and superb
Link: WordPress Backup plugin
This plugin allows you to rearrange your sidebar(s) using drag and drop and to easily create new text blocks. Brilliant.
Link: Sidebar Widgets
Feedburner feed replacement
This will direct all of your old and new RSS feed traffic (read my post What is RSS and what are web feeds?) through Feedburner’s service. Feedburner is a superb (free and paid-for) site that allows to track your subscribers, the number of times your feed is accessed and how. They also provide the email subscription service for this site.
Link: Feedburner plugin
Google Sitemap Generator
Google sitemaps (the format of which can now be used to Microsoft and Yahoo) are .xml files of the structure of your website. This tells the Google bot which pages on your site to add to its search results. This plugin will automatically create a new sitemap when you create new content, and will tell Google about it automatically for you.
Link: Google Sitemap plugin
This plugin allows you top put Google Adsense blocks directly in to your post text. Coupled with a bit of css styling the advert can wrap nicely around the text (there is an example below). There is evidence that an advert inside the post is popular with visitors, and often provides them with somewhere to go once they have finished reading your post. However, some people don’t like them, so use it or don’t. If you want to it’s a great plugin that allows you to save different ad formats and adds a drop down box on your write post screen to allow easy insertion into your post.
Link: Adsense-Deluxe plugin
If you have a blog with multiple authors, this allows you to put their ugly mug at the start of each post. It requires a small change to your page templates and a folder with specifically named pictures, but once done it’s a nice feature.
Link: Author Image plugin
Social sharing websites such as Digg and del.icio.us can help increase exposure to your blog, as well as allowing people to share interesting links. This plugin adds some easy sharing buttons at the bottom of every post – look at any post on Life Goggles. There is an admin menu where you can select from over 25 different websites to make available to your visitors.
Link: Social Bookmarks plugin
When people arrive at your site from a search engine, this plugin gives them a little welcome and even more posts that they may be interested in. To see an example click on this link to Google and click on the Life Goggles link (which should be top). You will then see an extra piece of text at the top of the post.
Link: Landing Sites plugin
SRG Clean Archives
Simply creates a nice archive page. Create a new page and add one line of code after installing the plugin. You may have to install Exec-PHP first to allow you to run PHP within a WordPress post/page.
Link: SRG Clean Archives plugin
Optimises your title tag to more more search engine friendly, i.e rather than saying “Life Goggles >> Song of the Day”, it will say “Song of the Day >> Life Goggles”. For more features than this, you could also try this similar plugin although it is slightly more complicated.
Link: Optimal Title plugin
This plugin can be seen at the top right of this blog under Most Posted. Simply denotes the number of times you post under a certain category by the size of the text. Also links to all posts tagged with that category.
Link: Category Cloud plugin
Again, if you have a blog with multiple authors, like this one, it lists the authors and links to all posts by that person. See Read by Author on the right of this page.
Link: List Authors plugin
Similar in a way to the Landing Sites plugin mentioned above, however this can appear on every post. Creates a short list of related posts to the one being read. For an example, see the bottom of this post, where it says “Related articles other people have read”.
Link: Related Posts plugin
Seen in the title box of every post on this site, a nice AJAX plugin that doesn’t require any reloading of the page when someone rates your post. Give it a try on this page, you’ll see the stars above the author image.
Link: WP-PostRatings plugin
Allows you to easily insert an mp3 player into a blog post. Requires the URL of the mp3 you wish to play.
Link: WP-SingleMP3 plugin
SpotMilk Admin Theme
Doesn’t really provide any advantages to your blog, but is just a nice theme for the WordPress admin panel.
Link: SpotMilk plugin
The Mullet plugin
Like Recent Posts which comes with the Sidebar Widget plugin, this plugin adds a list of Recent Posts at the bottom of your page. It comes with an Options sub-menu (called Mullet) that allows you to control what your list looks like, and how long it is. See the link below for an example.
Link: Mullet plugin
Ultimate Tag Warrior
Tags or categories are a great way of organising our posts into relevant areas. According to the site “It allows you to add tags either through the Write Post page in WordPress in a tag box, on posts using an AJAXy box, and in posts using special syntax from external editors”. Requires a little reading to get the best use of it, but some people swear by it.
Link: Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin
This allows you to have a consistent home page URL/URI: “This plugin allows users to have more control over the uri in which their users access their blog. By doing so, you’re giving search engines and users a consistent link for accessing your content.” Simply it means you can easily point http://lifegoggles.com, https://lifegoggles.com/index.php, and https://lifegoggles.com/index.php all to https://lifegoggles.com/.
Link: WWW-Redirect plugin
There are hundreds of other WordPress plugins available, many of which are designed for a specific purpose (such as inline Google Maps plugin), so I’ve tried to cover off the more general useful plugins. If you have any others that you think should make this list, please let me know below.