Some WordPress plugins are pointless, others are fun, but these 10 are needed by any blogger. It can be impossible to find the right ones, so I've collected a list of, in my opinion, the top 10 WordPress plugins, and responded to why they're helpful.
This comes with every recently installed version of WordPress, and rightly so. The only problem is some bloggers may not feel the need to activate it. Akismet is an open source spam-blocking plugin for WordPress. A spam blocker is a no-brainer for most website owners, but I still feel the need to stress it!
Every blog at some point has to deal with spam, and a lot of the time they're vulgar comments. On another point, besides saving your readers from some quite interesting material, you can save yourself some bandwidth and space as well. If you have 400+ spam comments (This has happend to me before, it can come from only one source, and show up in one day), it can significantly slow down your site's performance. With a handy spam-blocker like Akismet, you can delete them all in a single click, without them ever going live on your site.
This plugin automatically creates a compliant XML sitemap for your WordPress blog. What's the benefit of this? Incredible difference in SEO. A compliant sitemap works with top browsers like Google, MSN, and Yahoo, as well as thousands of others.
Even if you're already indexed in search engines, this will increase your page rank significantly. When I was trying to better optimize my blog, I tried Google Sitemaps because everyone seemed to reccommend it, and I see why now. You will notice a huge increase in website visitors, especially from search engines.
With this handy little plugin you can easily backup your database, which you may have guessed, provides a lot of benefits. Just to list the top three, you will be able to...
- Have a local copy of all your posts, themes, plugins and any other data your WordPress blog may hold, in case something terrible happens.
- Easily create or manipulate themes with a working version of your current blog, but without changing the live version until it is complete.
- Move your blog, in case you need to change hosts, working directories, etc. Backing up your WordPress database is the only way to do it.
4. Sociable or Add me Dichev
Both of these plugins are social bookmarking plugins, that you can place at the bottom of each post. They automatically do all the grunt work for you, so you can focus on writing the posts, and your readers can easily promote them for you.
Sociable is more widely used, and probably a bit more user-friendly for the blogger. However, I use Add me Dichev because it provides many more bookmarking options. They both feature the top bookmarking options, though, so there shouldn't be too much of a difference between the effects of both.
I use this plugin everyday to easily, and effectively, view my blog's statistics. This plugin manages website visitors, spiders, feeds, and any other type of website traffic you can think of.
Incredibly detailed, yet highly organized, this plugin allows you to analyze your blog traffic correctly. By using this plugin myself I've been able to see where I'm getting most of my traffic from, what people are looking at the most on my blog, and most importantly--where they are leaving.
This plugin does just what it implies: displays a list of your most popular posts. This is based on comments, page views, and the average daily views. It is also widgetized, so if you have a widgetized sidebar, it's incredibly easy to use.
So what's the benefit of this? Well, when someone is done reading your most recent posts, how are you going to keep them on your blog? By leading them to content they'll probably be interested in. Highlighting your most popular posts will allow the reader to browse through your content longer, giving a better chance of them returning in the future.
This plugin takes keywords in your content and automatically links them to tags and categories to other areas in your site. Not only will this allow your visitors to browse better, but it will also help search engines.
With more links throughout your blog your site linking to your own content, the search engine spiders can crawl your entire site more effectively, giving you higher search engine rankings, and better yet, more visitors.
This plugin displays a list of the most recent comments on any post, and is highly customizable. You can determine how many comments you'd like to display, the CSS behind the list, customized ordering, and various other features.
By displaying your recent comments, you can easily turn your readers into contributors. It adds a huge sense of community and participation on your blog, and will encourage readers to add their own comment, or respond to another.
This plugin allows you to easily create a contact form on your blog that can go straight to your email. It's easy to use and customize, and well, a very needed element for any website--blog or not. Contact forms make it easier for readers to contact you, allowing more interaction between you and the reader.
Another great feature of this contact form in particular is that it is closely related to Akismet. Before sending any message straight to your email, it goes through rigourous spam-blocking tests.
10. Digg This
Although Sociable and Add me Dichev already add a Digg button, I believe a Digg link deserves a bit more attention. If a highly ranking Digg member diggs a post you wrote, it can be an excellent source of permanant traffic. Besides being dugg by a popular Digg member, if more people digg your post at all, it will have a significant benefit.
This plugin can be inserted into each post, simply by adding a small code snippit where you would like it. It tracks how many times the post has already been dugg, and sends that back in the Digg image shown on the post.