Here’s a collection of plugins that are essential for all WordPress bloggers! I use most of these on all my WordPress installations and websites I make for clients.. They will help reduce spam, improve SEO, and encourage subscribers and interaction on your site.
This plugin will protect your blog from spammy comments. With this feature enabled, there is no need for the dreaded CAPTCHA! Just turn it on and it will filter all the spam comments out of your blog and place them in a separate queue. You can then review the comments and either delete them or approve them (if they’re not actually spam).
No matter what kind of blog you have, this is a must-have plugin!
2. WordPress SEO by Yoast
What is SEO? Search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines’ “natural,” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
The tl;dr: it helps improve your search engine rankings.
The key thing that the WordPress SEO plugin does is allow you to set the title and description of all your pages and blog posts. The title and description is what will appear in the Google (or other search engine) search results. By setting your own titles and descriptions, you can ensure that they include popular keywords that will properly describe your post/page and help them appear in common searches.
If you enter a focus keyword, it also gives you an SEO rating for the post!
3. Amazon Reloaded for WordPress
This is a great one for all book bloggers (or other bloggers promoting products). First you have to sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program (or Amazon Associates). This program allows you to earn a small referral whenever someone clicks on your Amazon link and buys a product.
So what does this plugin do? It installs a little Amazon search bar on your Create Post page. You can search for products and get the correct product URL that contains your unique Amazon Affiliate ID! It makes adding Amazon Affiliate links to your blog posts super easy!
I actually find that this plugin often doesn’t work. When I search for an item I get an error message. But when it is working, it’s super helpful!
CommentLuv allows your commenters to include a link to their latest blog post! I love this plugin because not only does it ‘reward’ my commenters, but it also makes it easy for me to skim and read my visitor’s latest blog posts.
5. Official StatCounter Plugin
There are many similar plugins so this is just one example. This plugin adds your statcounter project to your website and keeps track of all the hits your website gets. If you use something like Google Analytics it’s not entirely necessary, but the nice thing about it is that it also provides you with a neat button you can include on your site that displays your pageviews. This is a great way to show publishers how much traffic your blog receives.
6. PS Disable Auto Formatting
This is one that I always install. I always use the HTML input when creating a post and if you do as well, check out this plugin. When using the HTML input, I find that WordPress often includes random paragraph tags or line breaks. This plugin just gets rid of those extra random tags that you didn’t put in yourself! This plugin also stops automatic formatting of WordPress (wpautop), and modifies the HTML source generated by the visual editor.
7. Editorial Calendar
This plugin allows you to see all your blog posts (published, scheduled, and draft) in calendar format. It’s like having a Google calendar straight in your WordPress dashboard! This makes organizing and planning posts such a breeze.
8. Comment Reply Notification
Every WordPress blogger needs this plugin! This plugin will automatically email a commenter on your blog if you reply to them. It encourages actual discussion on your blog, as opposed to one-time comments. Plus, everyone likes seeing how you replied to their comment, and this plugin makes it so easy!
WP Database Backup allows you to backup your WordPress database. You can schedule backups and choose where to save your backup file: the server, your computer, or sent to you via e-mail.
This plugin automatically generates a mobile site for you! Any visitors viewing your site on a mobile device will see this mobile version instead of the full version, giving them more convenient access to your blog on a small device.
11. Better WP Security
This plugin will help protect you from hackers! It hardens your WordPress installation to prevent people from trying to break in. It’s a must-have to increase security!
12. Google Analyticator
This is THE BEST Google Analytics plugin. Not only does it make it insanely easy for you to add your Google Analytics code to your blog, but it also shows your stats in a dashboard widget! You can easily check up on your page views, visits, and most popular pages without having to visit the Google Analytics website.
13. Tweet Old Post
You can configure this plugin to automatically tweet about your old posts. This is a great way to drive traffic to some of your older blog posts. Just make sure you use it sparingly. Don’t have it set to tweet about old posts once an hour! That’s a bit excessive. Just do it once or twice a day.
WP-Optimize will optimize your database tables and delete old post revisions. This is a great way to clean up and speed up your blog! I wrote an entire blog post about the benefits of the WP-Optimize plugin.
15. WP Super Cache
This plugin caches your website, meaning it creates static copies of the posts and pages. Caching is super important for WordPress blogs and can really help with page load times! Make your site faster by installing WP Super Cache.
You’re making me wish I was using WordPress – especially with the WPTouch plugin & Google Sitemaps.
I assume you’re using Blogger then? I’ve actually never used Blogger myself, but I keep hearing that people who switch from Blogger to WordPress never go back!! 😉 Hint hint!
WordPress definitely does have some awesome tools. All in One SEO is another awesome one that people love for boosting traffic from search engines.
Ashley… I love these WP tips.
I might switch All in one SEO. Is it easy to use? I’m using Yoast, and honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Also, what plugins do you use for malware?
I think Yoast has more features than All in One SEO, but All in One SEO is definitely simpler! Everything is easily configurable on one page and it’s all pretty clear. Yoast is a bit more intimidating. But both of them will do basic SEO very well. 🙂 So if Yoast is a bit intimidating for you, then give All in One SEO a try!
As for malware, I just use the AntiVirus plugin. Most basic security measures can be done without a plugin. If you follow these tips, you *usually* won’t have a problem:
* Always scan your computer for viruses.
* Hide the contents of your plugins folder (put a index.php file in the plugins directory)
* Hide your WordPress version (put remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’) in your functions.php file)
* Always update WordPress
* Only install TRUSTED plugins/themes. This means plugins/themes with high ratings and a high number of downloads (10k+).
* Make sure you have really long, complex security keys in your wp-config.php file! You can use this online generator. And make sure they’re actually filled out (sometimes they’re not!!!).
i ended up installing a couple of these, thank you! I was wondering…this post is about a year old…have you found more “must haves” or find that some of these don’t work or do what you want anymore?
For #2 I have now switched to use WordPress SEO by Yoast. All in One SEO Pack just recently did a major update that I didn’t like at all because they broke one of the “coding standard” rules of WordPress: which is never put your settings menu above “Posts”. And for something like an SEO plugin, where you use the settings ONCE and never go there again, it was absurd. So that’s why I switched.
#3 I have stopped using Amazon Reloaded because it was a little glitchy and it was annoying me. When it did work, it was awesome! But when it didn’t… urgh.
#4 I no longer use Google XML Sitemaps just because WordPress SEO by Yoast comes with sitemaps included, so there was no need for me to have it anymore!
#7 I no longer use this plugin only because I coded my own version of it (which is included in the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin). It’s still a good plugin, but I coded what I thought to be a better one, teehee.
And as for new ones I’ve discovered:
* Better WP Security
* Google Analyticator (for connecting your site to Google Analytics, if you use that)
* Login LockDown
* Tweet Old Post
* WordPress Editorial Calendar (MUST have for organizing/scheduling posts!!!)
i’m not getting notifications of your replies so very sorry I didn’t respond sooner. CommentLuv is brilliant, I’m using that one too. 😀 I’m trying to find a calendar plugin – not one for admin stuff, but one to display on the site to put in stuff like book release dates or a date when i’m posting a review. I’ve got one, but don’t like it much as it does some weird stuff. LOL.
Thanks for featuring our Google Analyticator plugin Ashely.
we have a pro version coming soon that will rock your world 🙂
Keep up the good work.
Oh yeah and how good is the Editorial Calendar ?
I love it! It’s a huge life saver for anyone who schedules posts far in advance. It makes it so easy to see my schedule and I love how you can add posts straight from the interface. The drag and drop post feature is neat too if you need to move things around.
I do wish it was a little easier to navigate between months (right now you basically have to click “next next next next” continuously), but that’s my only criticism.
And I’ll keep an eye out for that pro version of Google Analyticator. 😉
I’m a newbie to WordPress and just started my blog. Trying to get it up to par before starting to invite followers. Your article was very helpful. Thank you.
In assuming I saw this tweet today because you use the Tweet Old Posts plugin! I love it!! I obviously missed this post when you first wrote it… Or maybe I didn’t have WordPress yet? Either way this is awesome and I’m definitely going to check out this plugins PRONTO! Thanks, Ashley!
My pleasure! 😀 I’m glad you found it. 🙂
So I’ve done some research, and I’m still majorly confused. I know a bit of code, but not much. I know enough to create my own posts. Also, I do a bit of CSS. Currently, I have a .com WordPress blog, and it’s been brought to my attention that .org is better since you can install themes and plugins. I was reading about .com vs .org, and the website said that I have to transfer all my information on my .com blog and register my own domain or something?
I’m sorry, but can you tell me what this means? I’m literally so confused. I’m afraid I’ll screw up. I really want to be able to add plugins and such as well as change up my CSS coding and (hopefully eventually) be able to upload my own themes.
Also, if I make the switch from .com to .org, does that mean my url changes? Or can I purchase a .com url? This is all so confusing, not gonna lie.
Thank you if you can help me out! (: