Looking at the basic installation of your first WordPress blog you may wonder what comes next. You heard that you must have WordPress plugins to expand the functionality of your WordPress site. But before you go ahead and install just everything that is available, have a look at the WordPress plugins I use and recommend.
Here’s my list of must have WordPress plugins:
Even if you just started your new blog and published a couple of posts, it won’t take very long until you receive the first comments. At first you might be surprised and be happy about all these people that found your blog and enjoyed your writing style. I know some guys who even reply to comments left by ‘flip-flop shoes’ or ‘Nike trainers’.
But very soon you will realize that these comments are not coming from real readers but from people who just want to have a link back to their often spammy content.
Now you can check and evaluate all those comments manually or leave it to a WordPress plugin that knows how to deal with it.
One such a plugin is Akismet. It checks comments left on your blog against its web service to check if it looks like spam or not. Comments identified as spam are filtered out and can be reviewed manually in the admin area.
As we are talking about comments, sure that you love them. Every blogger does!
Comments are one of the ways for your readers to say thank you for the time and effort you have put into your work. But comments also can add information and thus contribute to the content of your post.
The free version of the CommentLuv plugin is a way to entice your readers to leave a comment and reward them with an additional backlink to their latest blog post. The premium version offers even more features that could help your posts go viral.
People who left their first comment on your blog made a big step from being just a reader to someone participating in your community. Usually they stay on the same page although you have all their attention.
This is where the Comment Redirect plugin comes in. It allows you to redirect first time commenters to any page of your choice, where you can offer them to subscribe to your newsletter or like your Facebook page. You can see an example here or when commenting below.
If you want your readers to share your content you need to offer them the possibilities to do so. Digg Digg adds a floating bar wit all social sharing buttons to your blog. You can choose which buttons to show and where. You can see an example of the Digg Digg sharebar on the left hand side of this post. Also you can click some share buttons to try it out.
As the name already suggests, a sitemap is a map of your site, or in other words a list of all the posts and pages on your blog.
Google XML Sitemap creates your sitemap automatically every time you create or update your posts and notifies Google and Bing about the changes. This helps the search engines to know about all your posts and pages when crawling your blog.
If you are satisfied with a form asking for name, email and the visitors comment then you are fine with any form generator. But if you want to have more then you need to look at GoPro Form.
With GoPro Form you can create all kind of forms from a short contact to big surveys and control over the post submission process. Whether you want just to display a message, content from another webpage or redirect your visitors to another URL. You just define it in the form settings and you are done. On top of that GoPro Form integrates with the major autoresponders AWeber and GetResponse.
Did you know that in average 30,000 websites are hacked each day?
Plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords, standard usernames like ‘admin’ or obsolete software can be wide open gates for gremlins. Don’t let it be you and protect your WordPress blog from attacks. iThemes Security helps you to identify and secure your website in more than 30 different ways.
The Jetpack plugin by WordPress is a plugin that offers you different powerful features which were available before only to WordPress.com users. This plugin integrates features like stats, social sharing, email subscriptions, contact forms, automated posting to your favourite social media networks and much more in one simple to install plugin.
Previous versions of WordPress, before version 3.5, had a link manager installed that often was used to build blogrolls or any other kind of blocks with related outgoing links. Since version 3.5 this useful plugin is disabled by default. The Link Manager plugin makes it available again.
The List Building Feedback plugin is a premium WordPress plugin that comes with a lot of amazing features and right now it is only available as part of the IM VIP Training.
Basically it is an exit splash plugin, but different than any other. Rather than just pushing any offer to people who intend to leave your page, it asks them what they want. You can use it to build your list, promote your social media pages, ask for feedback or anything else that comes to your mind.
This plugin can be fully customized, offers multiple exit splash pages and works with all autoresponders.
Did you ever wonder if someone comes back to your blog after they left a comment?
The Thank Me Later plugin helps you to attract those readers back to your blog in sending them a thank you message that will be emailed after a certain time. This can be 10 minutes, 3 days or 2 weeks and can be specified in the admin area.
The message can be completely customized. You can send readers who previously commented back to your blog, ask them to add your RSS feed, invite them to join you at social media sites or send them a special discount for your latest offer. It is up to your and your creativity.
W3 Total Cache will help you to improve your site’s loading speed, a major SEO factor. Once installed the plugin guides you through the necessary steps to take in order to get the best results.
W3 Total Cache supports browser, page, object and database cache and offers optional minify and content delivery network support.
I hope you are doing regular backups of your blog. Although most if not all providers claim that all data on your hosting account will be backed up, there have been many instances where all data were lost.
Like data stored on your local computer, you also should backup everything on your blog regularly. WordPress Backup to Dropbox does scheduled backups of your complete website including media files and database dump to your Dropbox account automatically.
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and have some posts prepared for the days when you are short in time. Just recently a friend of mine was hit by man flu and wasn’t able to post at all. Luckily he had a couple of posts scheduled, so that his blog got still updated with fresh content.
WordPress offers a scheduling feature already, but it is very basic and with some more posts in the queue it isn’t comfortable doing changes. The WordPress Editorial calendar offers a calendar based overview where you can drag and drop posts to rearrange the schedule. It’s really a must have WordPress plugin if you are writing many posts in advance.
Whether you plan to buy traffic in future or to drive free traffic to your website, you shouldn’t neglect SEO as an integral part of your traffic generation strategy.
Although WordPress by itself is already a great platform for SEO, it still can be further improved. WordPress SEO by Yoast helps you, even if you don’t know anything about search engine optimization, to write better content in analyzing your page on the fly. It gives you a preview of how your posts will appear in the search results and gives you useful tips for improvement.
To increase your page loading time even more, you can reduce the file size of your images. This can be done lossless in various ways, such a stripping meta data, optimizing the compression etc.
The WP Smush.it plugin does all this automatically with running your images through Smush.it behind the scenes. As it is running in th background there’s nothing for you to do different.
Just recently I came across the WP Social SEO Booster plugin when reading a post about getting article rich pins.
The free plugin adds Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Card and Google Rich Snippets to your site. In the admin area it can be configured for general use, but also you can customize it within each post you create.
Which of these WordPress plugins do you use on your blog? Did you find the 17 must have WordPress plugins useful? Do you have some other plugins that you would recommend to have? Let me know in the comments below.