42 Must-Have WordPress Plugins
I was sitting here pondering what to post. I thought I would jump on my blog to check recent comments. Once I logged in, I saw I had a plugin update available and I did a mini-dance in my head. I love plugin updates because you never know what new features you are going to get. Then it hit me…why not do a post on my favorite WordPress plugins? So, without further adieu, here they are!
UPDATE: There used to only be 41 plugins listed (hence the URL), but when I updated the post to reflect changes in a few plugins I use, I added one. Updates appear on numbers 10, 15, 19, and 42. Happy reading!
- Advertising Manager by Scott Switzer, Martin Fitzpatrick
For those who are looking to monetize from their blog, Advertising Manager is for you. It allows for easier integration of AdSense and other ad network accounts by allowing you to easily place the ads either within your WordPress blog posts, or within your WordPress theme.
- After The Deadline by Raphael Mudge
Ever read a blog post that was just riddled with spelling and grammatical errors? Me, too. (by the way, if you notice any in mine, please let me know!!) After the Deadline adds an advanced spelling, grammar, and style checker to your WordPress blog. It is free for personal use, but requires registration. Give it a try, I have no doubt you will love it.
- Akismet by Matt Mullenweg
An absolute MUST HAVE for any WordPress blog. It is a free spam blocker that will generate a report of spam blocked on your site. It requires an API key, which you can get free by registering for an account. It keeps unwanted crap out of your blog without making your commenters go through additional steps.
- Broken Link Checker by Janis Elsts
This plugin checks and validates all the links on your blog and reports its findings on your dashboard. If it finds a broken link, you can open the report and, with a couple clicks, fix the broken link. No need to open the post, find the link, and then correct it. The in-post corrections are made for you! I have it on all of my sites. Definitely cuts down on your webmaster email traffic due to 404 errors! By the way, if you are having 404 errors, you need to see Redirection below.
- Blog Metrics by Joost de Valk
Have a lot of authors? Interested in who writes the most? Do you want to know how your stats stack up? With Blog Metrics, you won’t have to wonder. It displays all the stats. Number of posts per month, words per post, comments per post, trackbacks received, etc. It offers you, the administrator, a way to see which one on your team does the most work. Or, if you are like me, provides a way to justify the amount of time you spend blogging, “I know I was on the internet for 3 hours, but I wrote a 750 word article!”
- BM Custom Login by Ben Gillbanks
I don’t know about you, but I get sick of seeing that same old, tired, generic WordPress login screen. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I want my readers to have a unique experience. BM Custom Login allows you to create your own login screen. It even comes with a custom PhotoShop (.psd) file to make it easier. It is as simple as creating your custom image, drop it in the folder, and activate the plugin. You can see it in action at beachaddiction.com, one of my other sites.
- cforms by Oliver Seidel
Quite possibly one of the most customizable form designing plugins available. However, it is not the most easy to understand. There are so many options that it can become rather overwhelming at times. Nevertheless, this is another must have plugin, just be prepared to spend some time getting the hang of it.
- Chap Secure Login by Enrico Rossomando
Simply put, it encrypts login information before it sends from client to server. It is a very simple process, but an absolute necessity if you or your readers use a wireless connection. Your wireless should be secure if you followed the steps in my article on securing your wireless network, but another layer of security for you and your readers never hurts.
- CommentLuv by Andy Bailey
This plugin should be used by everyone. It allows commenters to automatically add a link to their most recent blog post to the bottom of their comment. Not only does this give them a trackback, but it offers your readers a glimpse into the life of the commenter. The only draw back I can see would be in the case of spam, but if you have installed some of the other plugins in this article, that should be kept to a minimum.
Easy Retweet by SudarTweetMeme Retweet Button by TweetMeme
We have all seen the button on other blogs, you know, the one that says “Retweet” on it and a number above telling you how many times the article has been retweeted. Now it is time to put it on your blog. Install, activate, select the type of button you want and you are done! Now, get ready for your page views to skyrocket as your readers give you that Twitter shout-out!
- Enhanced WP-ContactForm by Joost de Valk
I have incorporated this version of contact forms instead of the cforms listed above. It is far simpler to employ; however, it is nowhere near as customizable. Joost has listed on his blog that he no longer uses this plugin; he now uses Gravity Forms. Nevertheless, I will continue to use Enhanced WP-ContactForm because I do not feel like paying $39 for a plugin.
- Exclude Pages from Navigation by Simon Wheatley
The name says exactly what it implies. It lets you choose which pages to show on your main navigation menu and which to not. We all have pages that we do not necessarily need to let our readers know about unless they are looking for the information. With this plugin, you will have complete control over your navigation menu without having to learn .php and edit your header.php file. It takes the headache out of it.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith by FeedBurner
If you have a blog, you need readers. Most readers will not go to every blog they read every day, so you need to find a way to get your newest blog post to them so they do not have to come to you. The answer is an RSS feed. Now, most of you know what RSS is and how it works. Those who don’t should read this article. FeedBurner is one of the top RSS providers on the web. This plugin will allow you to easily integrate your RSS feed to the FeedBurner site for distribution. Another absolute must have.
- Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost de Valk
Any serious blogger is aware that to be successful, you have to know your readers. The more you know, the better off you and your blog will be. One of the best free ways to get the most information is with Google Analytics. The easiest way I have found to incorporate their code is with this plugin. Without it, you will have to delve into the code of your site and add the Google Analytics code snippet in the right place. With this plugin, you only have to activate it and enter your account ID. The plugin does the rest.
- Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold
Want to be listed in Google search results? Want the whole world to be able to see your post on African Llama Hair Braiding Techniques? Without proper SEO you will never get there. Without a Site Map, no SEO. Now, you can either hand write the .xml code every time you update your blog, or you can install this plugin and click a button. It is up to you. Google XML Sitemaps will automatically create your sitemap and keep it updated. You really can’t go wrong! Don’t forget to link to your sitemap in your footer!
UPDATE: This plugin works perfectly with WordPress, but not so much for WordPress MU. There are workarounds at postedpost.com and lichao.net, but it requires editing some code. I would not recommend it if you are not comfortable with .php. I have not tried it yet, but will post if I do. If you have done it, please comment below and let us all know how it went!
- HeadSpace2 by John Godley
Yet another SEO-minded plugin. With it you can tag your posts, create custom titles and descriptions that improve your page ranking, change the theme or run disabled plugins on specific pages, and a whole lot more. One of my personal favorites. It makes SEO simple!
- Maintenance by Robert Wetzlmayr
A simple plugin, that when activated, will show an “Under Construction” page to any visitor who is not logged in. The beauty of it is that you can show a 503 error to visitors, while remaining logged in for error/beta testing. Just activate when you need it, and deactivate when the problem is corrected.
- Mass Page Maker by Wes Goodhoofd
Have you ever been in the situation where you need to create multiple pages that are all formatted the same? If so, you know how big of a pain it is to have to create each one individually, check all the category boxes, select all the tags, type the repetitive data in the body, and so on, and so forth. Enter Mass Page Maker. This plugin allows you to create multiple pages all identical to one another, but with differing titles/addresses. Particularly useful when doing reviews on items that all require the same data sets.
MU Multi-Site by David DeanSimple Multi-Site Plugin by wpmututorials.com
This plugin is only for WordPress MU installations. It allows you to add/manage multiple top-level domains on one instance of a WordPress MU installation. Simply install
and activate, and you will notice a ‘Sites’ option on your ‘Site Admin’ menu. Click that and you will be brought to the add domain page where you can…well…add domains! Simply download the file, copy and paste the code into a new notepad document, and save it as mums.php (what you choose to call the file is irrelevant, just be sure it has a .php extension). Once that is done, upload it to your plugins folder and activate it in the site admin panel. You will notice a new option ‘Sites’ in your ‘Site Admin’ menu. Click it and add your domains.Once the domain is added, you will need to point the domain to the root install directory and WPMU will do the rest. Steps to accomplish this will vary depending on your hosting provider. This plugin is also featured in my Multiple Site Admin Permission Solution in WordPress MU…Kind Of post.
- Redirection by John Godley
Redirection will help you to track your 301 redirections and 404 errors as well as help you to set them up, if the need arises.
- RSS Footer by Joost de Valk
This handy little plugin adds a line of text to your RSS outputs. Best used to add something like “This post originated at thekruser.com” to either the beginning of the feed post, or the end…or both. There are a lot of sites out there whose moral compass is askew. They will steal your content and republish it as their own via RSS. There is little that can be done about those who manually copy and paste your work into their own post, but when it is an automated bot that steals your content via RSS feed and publishes it as their own, the text you entered in RSS Footer will show as well. That way, the reader knows where the comment originated and might come to your site.
- SEO Friendly Images by Vladimir Prelovac
I don’t know about you, but when I started blogging, I did not know much about SEO (let’s be honest…I didn’t even know it existed). As I posted more and more, I began to learn the intricacies of SEO. I realized that I had to go back and start adding some things I had forgotten, like meta data (I know…who would have thought?). I later realized that I needed to add ALT and TITLE data to all of my pictures. Talk about a huge undertaking! It wasn’t until I was almost done with hundreds of photos that I found this plugin, and as is par with my life, I had done all that work for nothing. There is a plugin that will do it for you! Get this plugin, you will not regret it!
- Serve Default to IE6 by Nathan Rice
For those who still live in 2001 with Internet Explorer 6, you need to read this article. IE6 is riddled with problems. Enough problems for someone to write a plugin to serve a basic theme when someone accesses your site with IE6. Simply download the file, copy and past the code into a new notepad document, and save it as ie6sucks.php (again, what you choose to call the file is irrelevant, just be sure it has a .php extension). Then upload the file to your plugins folder of your WP installation and activate it. Done! Now those using IE6 will be able to see your site!
- SimpleModal Contact Form (SMCF) by Eric Martin
I truly enjoy this plugin, however, I cannot get it to work with WPMU. Works fine with regular WP, though. Once you install and activate the plugin, simply add
class="smcf-link"to your ‘Contact Me’ anchor tags. When a user clicks the link, it will open a slick-looking contact form over the page they are on. They enter their info and click send. Simple.
- Sociable by Blogplay
If you blog, you want readers. Isn’t that the point? Now, how to get readers. Thinking…thinking…I GOT IT! Provide a simple way for your those who already read your posts to quickly and easily share your posts. Enter Sociable. You know when you are reading others’ posts they have that area at the end with all the icons (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Del.icio.us, Stumbled Upon, etc.) that you can click to add the link to your feeds? Sociable gives you all of those…and then some. If it does not have your platform of choice, they have made it easy for you to add any one that you want. Unless your theme has this functionality built-in (and even if it does!) you simply must have Sociable.
- TAC (Theme Authenticity Checker) by builtBackwards
We have all installed a theme with has hidden code that calls the random (and unintended) pop-up for your users. Or, perhaps it is just me. Either way, TAC solves the problem. It scans your themes and identifies rogue code and hidden links. A simple-to-understand user interface makes identifying the problem themes simple and easy. Just install, activate, and TAC shows in your ‘Appearance’ menu. Click it and discover the themes that are giving your readers problems. Particularly useful in WPMU where you have to install themes to appease your users.
- Thank Me Later by Brendon Boshell
One of the most important part of running a successful blog is interaction with your users. If you do not engage them when they comment, they will stop reading. Like in business, it takes 10 happy readers to counteract the effects of a single disgruntled one. Think about it. How often do you rave about a blog that you read to your friends? Now, (honestly) how likely are you to bad-mouth one that irritated you? Thank Me Later automatically sends an email to a commenter at an interval you choose ranging from seconds to weeks. It also allows you to set up multiple custom emails so that the same email address does not receive the same email twice. Now, this does not take the place of personal interaction with your visitors, but it gives you a way to make contact with them at a predetermined time to re-engage them and get them to come back. Another MUST HAVE for the serious blogger.
- Toggle Admin Menus by D Sader
For WMPU only! Anyone with a WPMU installation has considered the possibility of an inexperienced user changing something in the admin menus that will result in hours of corrections. Here is your answer. Toggle Admin Menus hides the options you choose from the WP roles that you designate. Completely customizable, you can set whatever options you want for whatever roles…be it an inexperienced user or a deviant friend that you know will mess things up as a “joke”! Ha, ha…very funny (insert deviant friends’ names here)! Now you can’t do that again!”
- Twitterlink Comments by Andy Bailey
Another nicety for your commenters. It allows them to add their Twitter link to their posts. I don’t know about you, but I am 10x more likely to comment if I know I will get something out of it (i.e., another Twitter follower)!
- Twitter Profile Field by Jayj.dk
Allows the user to add their Twitter name to their profile for others to find.
- Twitter Tools by Alex King
Twitter Tools is a whole suite of…well…Twitter Tools. It allows you to automatically tweet your posts as well as create unique blog posts from your tweets. It comes with Twitter Tools – Bit.ly URLs, Twitter Tools – Exclude Category, and Twitter Tools – Hashtags, which are explained below.
- Twitter Tools – Bit.ly URLs by Crowd Favorite
Creates a unique bit.ly short URL for your posts. Requires a bit.ly API key, which you can get free here.
- Twitter Tools – Exclude Category by Crowd Favorite
Simple, lets you choose which categories of posts that Twitter Tools ignores. Trust me, no one wants to read your personal blog post about the stains in your underwear!
- Twitter Tools – Hashtags by Crowd Favorite
Gives you the option to add either an automatic hashtag to all posts or a unique one to individual posts.
- Vote It Up by Nicholas Kwan (multippt)
A simple way to allow your readers to vote up or down on a post, similar to Reddit or Digg. It also comes with a widget you can display if you so choose.
- WordPress Database Backup by Austin Matzko
Do I really need to explain? When WordPress releases an update, you are insane to not backup your database first. Without this plugin, you have to either initiate a backup from your hosting provider, or manually log in to your ftp server and copy the files to your computer. Huge pain in the ass. With it, you click a button. Which would you rather do?
- WordPress Mobile Pack by James Pearce, dotMobi, and team
For heavens sake, don’t get me started on mobile device integration. There is nothing more irritating (I wish you could see my face as I type this…I am actually snarling) than clicking a link in an RSS feed or tweet on your mobile device and the site not automatically loading a mobile friendly theme. I could absolutely beat the ever-loving shit out of someone when I click a link and it bricks my BlackBerry because of all the excess crap my phone is trying to load. COME ON!!! It is not that difficult to serve me (THE CUSTOMER!!!) a mobile friendly page without me having to go to m.yourdomain.com or mobile.yourdomain.com and having to search for your post. I will send you hate mail and trash talk you every chance I get. I can actually feel my blood start to boil and my blood pressure rise just typing this. Do yourself a favor. Get this plugin. It will appease your readers who access your site(s) on their mobile device by serving a mobile theme.
- WP-Cumulus by Roy Tanck
This fun, little plugin creates a revolving “cloud” consisting of either your tags, your categories, or both. It adds some movement to your page and draws attention. Your readers will surely notice it and might see a tag that interests them. Not really a necessity, but it does add a unique eye-catcher.
- WP-Slimbox2 by Greg Yingling (malcalevak)
The best slimbox plugin I have found yet. Mainly because all you have to do is install and activate it. It will automatically group the pics in a post and display them in a lightbox-esque pane. The reader can click the right or left side to go back and forth. It has loop functionality as well as the ability to regroup the pics in a way that you determine. Again…necessity? Probably not, but it definitely adds a level of professionalism to your site that most people overlook. The only drawback is that, by default, it only recognizes .jpg, .gif, and .png files as pictures. This rather easily fixed, but involves delving into a little .php code. See my post on how to accomplish this here.
- WP Security Scan by Michael Torbert
Something you SHOULD NOT be without. It scans your WP installation for security vulnerabilities such as passwords, file permissions, database security, version hiding, and WordPress admin protection and security. You will not regret this one!
- Yoast Breadcrumbs by Joost de Valk
One thing I think should definitely be an option with the WP installation itself. Breadcrumbs. There is little as annoying as not having the ability to see, at a glance, where you are in a site. Again, it requires some .php code altering, but there are step-by-step directions listed on the download page.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin by mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine)
This plugin adds a section to each post that lists related posts. The amount of options provided by this plugin surprised me. One would think it would simply add the list, but you have options! Include/exclude categories, limit age of posts that appear, customize how the plugin relates posts to one another, customizable appearance…the list goes on and on. To see it in action, just look below!
There are some of the plugins I currently use. I think they will help you in your quest to dominate the internet. Happy blogging!!
Did this post help you? Do you have any other plugins that you would recommend? Is there a plugin listed that does something that your favorite plugin does better? If so, please leave a comment! Your comment will help others in the WordPress community find that perfect plugin for what they are trying to do. Thanks for visiting!
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