What WordPress Plugins Should I Use?

What WordPress Plugins Should I Use On My Blog?

by Peter Anderson on January 12, 2011

One of the first things most bloggers do when starting a site is to realize that WordPress is super flexible, and that you can add a ton of functionality to your site by adding WordPress Plugins. The problem is, there are so many of them available, how do you know which WordPress plugins you should use?

Today I hope to take a quick look at some of the plugins I’m using, and talk about why I think they’re important.  While you may not want to use the exact ones I mention, finding one that is similar would be a good idea.

Don’t Use Too Many Plugins

Before we go any further, I want to put a word of warning out there for all of you newer bloggers. Plugins can be fun, and they can add a lot of wonderful functionality to your site, but you don’t want to go overboard.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

If you add too many plugins to your site, you run the risk of having some of the following problems.

  • Slowing down your site:  Too many plugins can mean too many database calls or processes that use too many resources.  It all depends on what plugins you’re using, and what they specifically do.
  • Security holes:  Some plugin authors may not have your best interest at heart, and plugins can lead to security holes in your site. Be careful about which ones you use – and make sure it’s from a trusted source.
  • Cause problems with your site, or conflict with other plugins:  Sometimes a plugin might have poorly written code, or doesn’t use server processes as efficiently as it should. This can lead to conflicts with other plugins, and with WordPress core files.  Worst case scenario, it could bring your site down.

Plugins I Use

You can find a ton of free WordPress plugins at the WordPress plugins depository.  Plugins that have a cost associated you’ll need to find via their creator’s sites as they won’t be in the repository.

Here are some of my favorite plugins that I use on most of my sites:

Akismet 2.5.1 Akismet
» Automattic (url)
Akismet is an anti-spam plugin for your comments on your site. If you get any kind of traffic at all, you will get spam comments.  While Akismet does have it’s issues, it’s worked fine for me.  There are several other decent anti-spam plugins available, and you should be using at least one of them.

All in One SEO Pack 1.6.13.1 All in One SEO Pack
» Michael Torbert (url)
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog that allow you to optimize your SEO including custom page and post titles, meta descriptions, keywords and more.  Some frameworks have this built in so you won’t necessarily need it, but if yours doesn’t, you should get it for sure.

Audio player 2.0.4.1 Audio player
» Martin Laine (url)
If you plan on hosting any .mp3 files on your site, you’ll need an audio player. This is one of the better ones I found.

BackWPup 1.3.6 BackWPup
» Daniel Hüsken (url)
Backup and more of your WordPress Blog Database and Files.  I’ve had some issues getting it to work correctly on sites with a larger database, otherwise it’s great.

BackWPup 1.3.6 BackupBuddy
» Daniel Hüsken (url)
Backup and more of your WordPress Blog Database and Files. No experience using it, but have been told it’s great.   You NEED to backup your site, so get this one, or one of the others listed here.

Contact Form 7 2.4.3 Contact Form
» Takayuki Miyoshi (url)
Contact form plugin so that your contact page will look nice and actually work as you want it to. You can also create custom forms if need be.

Executable PHP widget 2.1 Executable PHP widget
» Otto (url)
At some point you’re probably going to want to enter some PHP into one of your sidebar widgets. This plugin will allow you to do that.

Google XML Sitemaps 3.2.4 Google XML Sitemaps
» Arne Brachhold (url)
This plugin will generate a XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.  I use it on all my sites.

MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate 1.8.1 MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate
» MaxBlogPress (url)
Automatically convert keywords on your blog into money making affiliate links. Also manage, track, cloak and shorten unlimited number of affiliate links from one central location of Maxblogpress Ninja Affiliate.  Premium plugin, but worth it if you plan on making money from your site via affiliates.

No Self Pings 0.2 No Self Pings
» Michael D. Adams (url)
Keeps WordPress from sending pings to your own site. Otherwise, you’ll get a ton of trackbacks – every time you link to an old post, or another resource on your site.

Ozh' Admin Drop Down Menu 3.4.5 Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu
» Ozh (url)
Gives the admin site a nice horizontal drop down menu instead of links on the side. You may not need this, but I prefer the interface this gives me.

PopUp Domination 2.0 PopUp Domination
» Deer Digital (url)
If you plan on having a mailing list (and you should), this plugin will help you to increase your opt-in rate for new subscribers. Why?  Cause it looks pretty and is hard to miss.

RSS Signature 1.1a RSS Signature
» Brendan Borlase (url)
Add a customised signature or tag-line to your RSS feed(s).  I use this for adding in custom author signatures and sometimes an ad to the RSS feed.

Smart 404 0.5 Smart 404
» Michael Tyson (url)
Sometimes people get to your site through a bad url.  When content cannot be found, Smart 404 will use the current URL to attempt to find matching content, and redirect to it automatically. Smart 404 also supplies template tags which provide a list of suggestions, for use on a 404.php template page if matching content can’t be immediately discovered.

SRG Clean Archives 4.3 SRG Clean Archives
» Sean R. (url)
The built in WordPress archive page isn’t that great. This plugin will give you a nice neatly organized archive page.

Subscribe To Comments 2.1.2 Subscribe To Comments
» Mark Jaquith (url)
Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry.  Great for engaging browsers and getting them to come back to your site.

Thesis OpenHook 2.3.2 Thesis OpenHook
» Rick Beckman (url)
This plugin is great if you’re using the Thesis WordPress Framework as your theme.  It allows you to add content to your site without getting into the custom functions files or having to get deep into PHP.

W3 Total Cache 0.9.1.3 W3 Total Cache
» Frederick Townes (url)
You’re going to need a caching plugin – especially if your site is running on a shared server. W3 Total Cache is one of the better caching plugins available, although if you’re a beginning user, you may need some help implementing the more advanced features.

WordPress.com Stats 1.7.5 WordPress.com Stats
» Automattic (url)
Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks.  If you’re a blogger, of course you’re going to need to know your stats!

Wordpress Backup (by BTE) 1.8.0 WordPress Backup
» Blog Traffic Exchange (url)
Backup the upload directory (images), current theme directory, and plugins directory to a zip file. Zip files optionally sent to email.  This is good to use if you’re using a standalone database backup plugin, and still need to backup your site files.

WordPress Database Backup 2.2.3 WordPress Database Backup
» Austin Matzko (url)
On-demand and scheduled backups of your WordPress database. You MUST have some sort of backup plan in place.

Wordpress Download Monitor 3.3.5.2 WordPress Download Monitor
» Mike Jolley (url)
Manage downloads on your site, view and show hits, and output in posts.  If you plan on having downloads of any sort available, it’s nice to have to track downloads of your .pdf, .mp3 or other files.

WordPress Related Posts 1.2 WordPress Related Posts
» Denis (url)
Generate a related posts list that shows on your post pages. Keep readers engaged and reading other content on your site!

WP-Print 2.50 WP-Email
» Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan (url)
Allows the user to email a friend a version of your WordPress blog’s post/page.

WP-PageNavi 2.73 WP-PageNavi
» Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan & scribu (url)
Adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress blog.  Much better than what is built into most themes and WordPress.

WP-Print 2.50 WP-Print
» Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan (url)
Displays a printable version of your WordPress blog’s post/page.

WP-Table Reloaded 1.8 WP-Table Reloaded
» Tobias Bäthge (url)
This plugin allows you to create and easily manage tables in the admin-area of WordPress.  Have some tax rates you want to display, or a list of your favorite CDs? This makes displaying your table easy and pretty.

WPtouch 1.9.21.1 WPtouch
» Dale Mugford & Duane Storey (BraveNewCode Inc.) (url)
A plugin which formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors on Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.  Must have if you want mobile users to be able to easily use your site.

What Plugins Do You Use?

The list of plugins that I use isn’t exhaustive obviously, but the basics are here.  There are a ton of other great plugins out there that you can use, so at this point I’d like to open it up to you the reader.

What plugins do you use on your WordPress site?  What functionality does it add – and why do you think others should use it?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

slug January 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I switched to the Related Posts, Download Monitor, and No Pingback you recommended. This was actually quite helpful. I also use the WP Tweet Button plug-in as an easy way for my readers to Tweet my posts.

slug

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Peter January 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Glad you found it helpful! I use a manually coded twitter button on my sites, and as such don’t use a plugin. But a twitter button is a must! I actually use a social plugin on one site called ShareBar that allows your readers to share with a bunch of social media sites.

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