As some of you know, I run 20+ blogs (here is some information on some of my other blogs).
And while setting up and running all these blogs, I have realized that there are some WordPress plugins that are quite critical to the success of your blog.
Here is a list of 9 WordPress plugins that I believe are essential for any blog. I also list some more that are not critical, but would definitely make your life easy.
The 9 Essential, Must-Have WordPress Plugins
Here are the 9 plugins without which I never start a blog. Most are free, but one is not – but believe me, it pays for itself many times over in terms of increased traffic and sales! So here we go…
1. All in One SEO Pack
If you have been blogging for even a few months, there is a good chance that you would have heard about this plugin.
This plugin for SEO has been around for a long time, and it is quite popular. And that’s for a reason – it has all the features you can ask for in a good search engine optimization plugin! Here are some of the features:
Ability to set the title, description and meta tags at post level
- Ability to generate meta tags automatically
- Works great out-of-the-box – awesome for newbies
- Options to tweak everything if you are an experienced WordPress user
- Many, many more features
I prefer using it over many of the newer SEO plugins, because:
- It is tried and tested
- Is actively updated
- Is compatible with many other popular plugins
- Many other WordPress plugins have been coded to work specifically with it because of its popularity
Read More / Download: All in One SEO Pack
2. WP Super Cache
Many bloggers – even experienced bloggers – do not pay much attention to caching.
Caching is the process where saved webpages are served to your blog visitors instead of generating them afresh fro the server. This reduced the load on the server, which means you can live with a less powerful and cheaper web hosting plan even for a large and popular blog!
Caching also improves the page load times. Increased page load times improve user experience, and also help you with search engine optimization (SEO) because Google and other search engines pay close attention to the speed of your blogs.
WP Super Cache is a time tested caching plugin that helps you drastically improve the page load speeds. This is another newbie-friendly WordPress plugin that works great out of the box.
Read More / Download: WP Super Cache
3. WP No Category Base
by default, WordPress inserts the category name / slug in the URL of the category. This is an unnecessary addition that just makes the URL lengthier, and makes your site less SEO friendly.
The “WP No Category Base” plugin removes this category base from the URL / permalinks of all your categories.
This plugin requires no setup, and works great as soon as installed.
Read More / Download: WP No Category Base
4. Google XML Sitemaps
I am sure you know how important XML sitemaps are for Google and other search engine spiders – they help define the structure and content of your blog, and help the spiders crawl your blogs efficiently.
“Google XML Sitemaps” is a sitemap generator plugin for WordPress blogs that automates the creation of XML sitemaps for you. It also has the ability to create compressed (gzipped) sitemaps fr better performance.
Read More / Download: Google XML Sitemaps
5. WordPress Database Backup (WP-DB-Backup)
Normally, things don’t go wrong with your blog. However, there are occasions where the files get corrupted, or you do some changes that need to be rolled back. Maybe, a new plugin installation corrupts your WordPress install.
In such cases, you need a backup of your WordPress files and databases that you can use to get your blog up and running again.
This is a WordPress plugin that makes the task of taking backups of your blog really simple for you. Using the “WordPress Database Backup” plugin, you can even schedule periodic backups that are emailed to you, giving you complete peace of mind.
Read More / Download: WordPress Database Backup
6. SEO Search Terms Tagging 2
Information is power – and it is even more powerful when it comes to information about your users! It is critical to know which keywords your readers are using to come to your blog and individual posts. This helps you tailor your content to your audience, so that you can get even more people to come to your blog!
“SEO Search Terms Tagging 2″ helps you do exactly this – it tells you which posts have been visited by using which keywords! This is really great data, and is not something that can be easily found in Google Analytics.
The plugin also provides you widgets that list the most popular, most recent and random search terms. You can put this in your sidebar or any other widgetized area.
Read More / Download: SEO Search Terms Tagging 2
When it comes to SEO, there are two main areas: Off site SEO and On Site SEO (or On Page SEO).
Off site SEO involves link building, commenting on other blogs, writing guest articles, publishing press releases, etc. Basically, everything done on other websites and blogs – something over which you don’t have much control.
One site or on page SEO, however, is completely under your control. This is something you do on your blog and on your posts. It involves factors like having keywords in the title and meta tags, keyword density, location of keywords, emphasizing keywords on the posts, etc.
All these things are seemingly easy, and in theory, can definitely be done on their own. However, practically speaking, it is difficult to remember each of these factors while writing and formatting every post.
SEOPressor is a WordPress plugin that semi-automates this task. Whenever you are writing a post, it automatically checks the post for all the important on-page SEO factors, and give you a score that tells you how good the post is from an SEO point of view.
Not just that, it tells you where the post is lacking – you can take care of these things to improve the post’s SEO score, which in turn improves its on-page SEO!
The plugin is really simple, and saves you a lot of time – the time that you can focus on doing other important things for your blog, like writing new posts or building backlinks!
In my opinion, this plugin is definitely worth trying – I assure you that once you try it, you would know how useful it is, and you would be hooked! No wonder it is powering 15,000,000+ WordPress posts and pages!
It comes with a 60-day, 100% money back guarantee, so you can always ask for a refund if you feel it is not right for you.
Cost: Starts at $7
Read More / Download: SEOPressor
8. Twitter Facebook Social Share
Integrating some social media elements into your blog is crucial. The least you need to do is to provide buttons for sharing your content on popular social media sites.
Till some time back, we saw blog toolbars that had sharing buttons from all possible social media sites, their number often running over 50! research has shown that too many choices like this just confuses readers, and they end up not taking any action at all.
The “Twitter Facebook Social Share” WordPress plugin takes care of this problem while giving an option to your visitors to share your content. Instead of presenting everything and confusing people, it focuses on the most important social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus One, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Pinterest.
You can choose which of these buttons to show – you can select them all, or you can decide which ones you want to show on your blog. You also get a lot of formatting options to customize the look of these buttons to suit your blog.
Read More / Download: Twitter Facebook Social Share
9. Artiss Code Embed
Read More / Download: Artiss Code Embed
Other Helpful WordPress Plugins
Here’s a little bonus for you – here are some more plugins that I have found very useful. The are not essential, but they really improve the functionality of your blog.
Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu
Although WordPress 3.3.1 has made admin menus much better to use, there is a way to reduce some clicks while working on your blog. This is especially true if you are using a earlier version of WordPress.
“Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu” makes your admin menu appear at the top instead of on the side, and makes the sub-menus fly out. This results in more space for you to work with, and it reduces your clicks.
Read More / Download: Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu
Recent Posts Slider
There are many plugins available that take some of the latest posts and present them in a visually appealing manner. Out of these, I have found the “Recent Posts Slider” plugin to be the most useful.
I especially use it on my review-type affiliate blogs where the homepage is static (talks about the product in general), and the posts are individual reviews. This plugin helps me highlight the latest posts on the homepage on these blogs.
The best part is that you can put the slider on any post or page through shortcodes!
Read More / Download: Recent Posts Slider
Genesis Simple Hooks
You might have a great layout and theme, but there are times when you want to display something at a really specific place. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this without messing with the theme files?
There is a solution – the “Genesis Simple Hooks” plugin. This plugin let’s you insert an HTML code, a PHP code or a shortcode at 50+ places on your blog – before the header, after the header, before the loop, before the sidebar, ad may many more.
You can use this plugin to your great advantage – how you use it is limited only by your imagination!
Read More / Download: Genesis Simple Hooks
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