There are THOUSANDS of available plugins for WordPress that allow users to quickly and easily customize their blogs, so how do you know which ones to use? This is by no means a conclusive list, but between this blog and my shopping and deal blog I’ve tested at least a hundred different plugins and this is a list of my top ten favorite WordPress plugins that I rely on daily. If you use WordPress for a personal or business blog (if not you should read 7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog), then you might be interested in checking these out:
I’m amazed at the number of blogs that are filled with misspellings and grammatical errors and unfortunately I often find myself focusing on these issues instead of the content which might be terrific if I weren’t so distracted by misused and incorrect words. Nobody is perfect and I make these kinds of mistakes too so I rely on After the Deadline to proofread each post before it is published. Similar to the spelling and grammar checker in Microsoft Word, this plugin underlines questionable words and phrases after you hit the publish button and allows you to update or ignore them.
Most WordPress themes come with Akismet already included, but you need an API Key to activate and use it to benefit from the spam protection it provides. Akismet checks your blog comments to see if they look like spam or not. Comments that appear to be spam are filtered into a different folder so that you can review them separately and easily delete them in bulk. This is an invaluable tool that will save you tons of time in dealing with spam comments so be sure to turn it on!
This is a neat little plugin that checks your blog for broken links and missing images and lets you know right on the dashboard if any are found. You can click to check or repair the links from right there.
Google Analytics is an awesome free tool that tracks your web traffic with detailed information that you can view when logged into your account. Google Analyticator is a plugin that allows you to view a summary of that information right from your WordPress dashboard, including a graph of daily visitors, without having to visit your Google account.
Visitors to your blog can see the number of comments on each post, but the comments themselves aren’t numbered, nor are they numbered in the WordPress dashboard. Greg’s Threaded Comment Numbering numbers each of the comments and allows you to choose whether to use sub levels in your comments, which is especially useful if you have lots of discussion among your visitors. This plugin is a necessity for me on my shopping blog where I host a lot of giveaways so I don’t have to manually count down through all the comments to locate the giveaway winner.
If you use the same structure over and over for different posts then you could save lots of time and effort with this Post Template plugin. For example, if you post recipes often and use the same format repeatedly, this plugin allows you to make a template of that post that you can select from a drop down box to use over and over. Create as many post and/or page templates as you’d like. All of the other plugins in my fave top ten are free, but I paid a little under $9 for this one (price is 7 Euros) and it was DEFINITELY worth the money!
The Sociable plugin makes it easy for your visitors to follow you on a multitude of other social media like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, and many others. This row of links, including any of the icons you choose, will show up at the bottom of your posts – check out the options to print, email and create a PDF that we’ve also included in our Sociable bar below at the bottom of this post.
If your blog has an active Twitter community, or if you’d just like to encourage readers to tweet your posts, then you should really consider adding a TweetMeme button to each of your posts. You can choose the full sized button like this one or a compact button, and you can even decide whether to put the button at the top or bottom of your posts. I recommend top for short posts and bottom for long ones.
Named after marketing guru Seth Godin, the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin displays a custom welcome message to new visitors and another to return visitors. This plugin is useful for showing new visitors how to get around your blog or how to subscribe to it, and/or for giving repeat visitors other useful information. It displays a box with custom text at the top of any page or post for a defined number of visits – for instance, you can set it to display subscription information and links to your FAQs the first three times a visitor comes to your site.
As the name suggests, there are plenty of available plugins that allow you to display links to related posts at the bottom of each of your posts. I’ve tried a number of different plugins that do the same thing and the reasons I like Yet Another Related Posts plugin best are because it gives you more control over what content is displayed, its caching system is updated as the site is visited so it performs better on the backend, and the related post links also show up in the RSS and Feedburner feeds.