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The Geek Speaks...

...another Geeky article by Cenay Nailor

18 WordPress Plugins I Can Not Live Without

I have been promising a list of my personal *must have* plugins that I install on any new blog. Today, that promise is kept.

These are the plugins I install on every blog I create, regardless of niche or specialty. There are a few that I add to certain types of blogs that will won’t be discussed, but you can get more information on these in my book, the Ultimate Guide To WordPress Plugins.

They are listed alphabetically, not in the order of installation.

Each of these plugins play nice with all the plugins listed here. No animals were harmed during the making of this list.

Add Signature

This plugin lets you display a custom signature at the bottom of your posts. Simply type the text you want in the options page and configure it to display on every post, or manually display it by adding the trigger text wherever you like. You can also add in author information using the included variables – login name, first name, last name, nickname, email address, website, and description/bio. And since this embeds the signature into the “content”, it is ALSO displayed if someone pulls one of your blog posts using RSS, so you still get credit and a link back to your blog (if you included a link in your signature).

Version: 1.32
Plugin Location: Dagon Design Add Signature

Advanced Excerpt

This plugin adds several improvements to WordPress’ default way of creating excerpts.

  • It can keep HTML markup in the excerpt (and you get to choose which tags are included) so that formatting isn’t lost when displaying an excerpt.
  • It trims the excerpt to a given length using either character count or word count.
  • You can customize the excerpt length and the ellipsis character that will be used when trimming to the specified length.
  • The excerpt length is real (everything belonging to HTML tags is not counted)
  • Possibility to ignore custom excerpts and use the generated one instead
  • Theme developers can use the_advanced_excerpt() for even more control

Version: 0.2.2
Plugin Location: Spare Pencil’s Advanced Excerpt

Antivirus for WordPress

Though this only scans your theme files for potential problems, it does a good job. If you are hacked and they inject code into your PHP files, one of the first places to be infected is your theme. This early warning system will monitor and clean your theme files.

Version: 0.5
Plugin Location: Antivirus for WordPress

CommentLuv

Comments are a wonderful thing to receive on your blog, with CommentLuv for WordPress and WordPress MU you can give something back to your community straight away by including a titled link for their last blog post or tweet on the end of their comment.

The plugin fetches the feed found at commenters site URL. While they type their comment CommentLuv extracts the last blog post title with link and displays it below the comment form. When they submit their comment, the last blog post link gets added on the end of their comment for all to see! If you are trying to encourage blog comments, this comment works wonders since it rewards the commenter with a “deep link” back to their site.

Version: 2.7.63
Plugin Location: CommentLuv For WordPress

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO. This file isn’t the sitemap you want to display for your visitors, this one is for the search engines only.

If you have an adsense or video “site” you want to tie to your blog, there is an option to “add pages” to the sitemap so Google can get to them all.

Version: 3.1.9
Plugin Location: Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress

Headspace2

This shouldn’t come as a shock to you if you follow any of my videos or posts about SEO for your blog. HeadSpace is a powerful all-in-one plugin to manage meta-data and handle a wide range of SEO tasks. 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. Need to know more about how to use it? Check out a few of the videos I have created to show how to get the most out of Headspace2.

Version: 3.6.32
Plugin Location: Urban Giraffe’s Headspace2

Max Banner Ads

Normally adding banners to your WordPress blog would involve either buying a premium theme that already contained code to display a banner, or breaking out your coding hat and updating your theme. Not anymore. With Max Banner Ads, you just copy and paste in your banner code/links or Google javascript snippet and then tell Max Banner Ads where to put it by clicking a link or two. Max Banner Ads gives you statistics like banner impressions and click through rates to let you correctly track how good your banner is doing.

This is ideal if you are adding new ads or banners to old post content since you don’t have to edit the older posts to get ads inserted.

Version: 1.3.6
Plugin Location: MaxBlogPress’s Max Banner Ads

Max Ping Optimizer

Getting found by Google, Yahoo and MSN requires you to let them know every time you post new content. But edit the post more than once, and you run the risk of pissing them off and being accused of *ping spamming*. Yuk.

With this plugin installed and set properly, you can throttle back the pings to once per hour, or once per day, or even once per week. (Tho why you would only ping once a week I can not imagine). This plugin allows you to correct WordPress’ built in *bug* of pinging when ever anything changes.

Version: 2.2.5
Plugin Location: MaxBlogPress’s Max Ping Optimizer

Ozh’ Who Sees Ads

This sweet little plugin allows you to decide who sees your ad’s, and who doesn’t. Want to display ad’s to your one time visitors that came from Google, but not a returning visitor? This plugin will allow you to do that. Want to place an ad only once the post is 20 days old or more? Or until an ad has been display [X] times, or if the visitor is logged in.

And it offers these features for more than just ad’s. Any valid HTML can be displayed conditionally. And while he offers you a lot of choices to use, if there isn’t one that matches what you want, any valid WordPress code will work — ie: On a category page, or a single page (for example).

Version: 2.0.2
Plugin Location: Planet Ozh’ Who Sees Ads

Psychic Search

One of my favorites, this plugin allows you to figure out what your visitors are looking for on your blog, and not finding! Once installed, this plugin tracks every search done on your blog, and lists all searches that yield no results. Want to impress them with your psychic ability? Try posting a new post that exactly matches what they just looked for yesterday.

As you can tell, I really love the plugins from MaxBlogPress because they are intuitive, stable and work every time. I highly recommend most of the plugins you will find here.

Version: 2.0.4
Plugin Location: MaxBlogPress’s Psychic Search

Redirection

Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This is particularly useful if you are migrating pages from an old website, or are changing the directory of your WordPress installation. It also works well if you just change the post title or category since changing either will make the original link invalid.

I created a couple of videos that do into a lot of detail about how to stop losing the search engine optimization on your site with this plugin.

Version: 2.1.24
Plugin Location: Urban Giraffe’s Redirection

Reveal ID’s

Many of the functions or options settings in today’s newer premium themes require you to know the category ID or page ID, but finding those can be a little trying. With this plugin, the ID’s are added to the edit list so you never have to wonder again.

Version: 1.1.2
Plugin Location: Reveal ID’s for WP Admin

SEO Post Link

Automatically make your post link (URL) short and more SEO friendly by removing unnecessary words from the post slug. You can adjust your settings, add words to be removed automatically and establish a limit on the page slug length. This is great for building SEO optimized URL’s.

Version: 2.0
Plugin Location: MaxBlogPress’s SEO Post Link

Subscribe Remind

Designed to help you increase your readership on your RSS feed, this plugin places a reminder at the bottom of each post (or page). You can customize the message with a little HTML knowledge. This is a no-fuss plugin that simply reminds your readers (after they finish reading your great post) to grab the RSS feed to get more like the one they just read.

Version: 1.1
Plugin Location: Trevor Fitzgerald’s Subscribe Remind

Thank Me Later

Automatically send a ‘thank you’ e-mail to those who comment on your blog. This plugin engages the visitor by reminding them to check back for responses or new blog posts. The plugin is highly configurable with multiple messages, variable delay and restrictions. You can also add the last [x] posts to the footer of the message so they are tempted with the titles of your latest content.

Version: 2.0.0.1
Plugin Location: Brendon Boshell’s  Thank Me Later

Tweetmeme

The TweetMeme button plugin allows you to easily integrate the TweetMeme button into your WordPress blog. The plugin will put the button into both your content and your feed.

Using the TweetMeme Button you allow visitors to discover your new content and tweet about it. The button provides a fully integrated URL shortener and the title of the story or page. Each link which is posted on Twitter adds one to the tweet count for that story.

Version: 1.7.1
Plugin Location: Tweetmeme

WP-dbManager

Most WordPress plugins that allow you to backup your precious database, only allow you to back it up. This plugin also allows you to schedule an optimization of the tables, send the backup via email or store on the server (or both). You can select either the normal backup method (an SQL file) or the popular gzip file (smaller file size).

This is one of the first plugins I install and one that I make sure is on every blog.

Version: 2.50
Plugin Location: Lester Chan’s WP-dbManager

WP-Greet Box

This plugin lets you show a different greeting message to your new visitors depending on their referrer url. For example, when a Digg user clicks through from Digg, they will see a message reminding them to digg your post if they like it. Another example, when a visitor clicks through from Twitter, they will see a message suggesting them to twit the post and follow you on Twitter. You can also set a default greeting message for new visitors (not matching any referrer URLs) suggesting them to subscribe to your RSS feed. Professional bloggers know that having these targeted suggestions on their blog increases their blog exposure and loyal readership. Best of all, this plugin is compatible with various WordPress cache plugins so you do not have to sacrifice speed.  Even Smashing Magazine is using this plugin.

Version: 5.5.1
Plugin Location: WP Greet Box

51 Responses

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  6. Cenay – Thank you for this focused list of plugins. I am a customer of your excellent :Ultimate Guide to Word Press Plugins” so I am already using several of these as recommended. I think this list serves as the perfect checklist for all bloggers to leverage many of the best plugins available. These will bring your blog to life!

    Awesome post!

    James
    .-= James Holmes´s last blog ..Links for 2009-11-16 [Digg] =-.

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  18. So sorry to all those that left comments here. Changing to the new theme broke my comment area or something. All the old comments cause my sidebar to disappear.

    New comments do not have the same effect. I know, I know… really strange.

    So, if you left a comment here before and want the inbound link to your blog back… then leave another comment. I always share the link love from Google…

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  27. Hi Cenay, I know I’m commenting a lot on your blog in one day today, but I hope you’ll indulge me as I’ve had your site open in my browser for a couple weeks waiting for the chance to go through it as it seemed I would enjoy the content, and today (Sunday afternoon) is the day.
    I remember about six months ago doing some research into Comment Luv and finding out that the same makers had also made Keyword Luv, which seems even more to the point in that it gives you a separate field to enter the keywords you want as anchor text. However, while I have seen Comment Luv is widespread, not so for Keyword Luv.
    Any insights?

  28. Hey Eric… thanks for taking the time to comment. And as long as the comments are legit, I never limit them, so comment away and add your voice to the conversation.

    As for Keyword Luv, I think one of the reasons it hasn’t taken off is the complex nature of the plugin and concept.

    People *get* that leaving a comment on a blog gets you inbound links back to your blog, but the whole concept of crafting your anchor text is just not a *newbie* subject.

    I think as the market place gets a little more adept, you will see it in use more and more, but I wouldn’t look for widespread use until a *guru* starts teaching the concept of crafted anchor text.

    Hmmm, do I see a potential blog post in there?

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  39. Thanks Cenay, some I use and a couple are new to me, but then it’s hard to keep up at times. It’s nice that we all can share our experiences both good and bad.
    I also use Login Lockdown to limit the times a person can attempt to login and file monitor that alerts you whenever any file is altered- just have to be able to decipher the updates from the hacks.
    I also added Odiogo for making my posts into audio ones. My low-sighted friends say that they like Odiogo more than the others.

  40. Thanks Cenay, thanks for sharing your WP experience. You’ve got a good overall handle and perspective on blogging…you’re also using a ton of plugins…how does this effect SEO performance? Google will penalize for slow page loads/cache, every plugin used adds to the loss of speed and in some cases conflicts with other plugins causing errors or crashes depending on theme and various other technical factors.

  41. @John, page load time is definitely a factor. In fact, I recently did a video on how to balance the plugins you use, remove those you don’t and see which one’s are causing a slow down so you can replace them as needed.

    Check out my Load Balancing Video here.

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