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I’ve been blogging for nearly two years now (can’t believe how time flies!), and while I would not consider myself a pro at blogging, I have discovered quite a few plugins that have made my life easier. Maybe they will help you out as well.

Here they are:

©Feed

This plugin lets me insert a header into the bottom of each post in my feed. This is how I inserted the Creative Commons Non-Commercial License, and it also lets you place a unique ID that you can then search for using any search engine, which helps you to see which sites are scraping your feed.

I also use it to add the “Comment on the blog” tag, by adding this code into the ©Feed settings in “Start of copyright notice”:

<strong><a href="%permalink%#respond" title="Leave a comment">Comment on the blog</a></strong>

AddToAny: Share/Bookmark/Email Buttons

This is what I use to add that “Share/Save” button on every page. I found it helpful to add the following in the “Additional Options” box:

var a2a_config = a2a_config || {};
a2a_config.templates = {
    twitter: "Reading: ${title} ${link} by @InvestItWisely #Yakezie"
};

This sets a custom template for Twitter so that my Twitter username (InvestItWisely) and the Yakezie hashtag are added automatically.

All in One SEO Pack

This helps to take care of SEO automatically. I’ll admit that I don’t micromanage SEO at all. This plugin is intended to help out by taking care of the management for you, such as setting page titles, descriptions, and keywords based on opti0ns that you set.

Bad Behavior

This helps out a lot with blocking spammy comment submissions and forms. I did find it to be a bit overzealous, so I had to disable it on my contact form with the following steps:

  1. Get file access to your web server and find the “bad-behavior/whitelist-sample.ini” file in your WordPress plugins folder (located under /wordpress/wp-content/plugins/bad-behavior for me), and copy it to “bad-behavior/whitelist.ini”.
  2. Comment out everything else and add the following entries at the bottom (adjust for your own site):
    • url[] = “/contact/index.php”
    • url[] = “/contact/”
    • url[] = “/contact/*”
  3. Be careful! Your whitelist file may be erased if Bad Behavior is updated, and an incorrect file could screw up everything (if that happens, just delete it and try again). The guys behind Bad Behavior should really implement this feature through a user-friendly interface, and make a good plugin great.

Categories to Tags Converter Importer

This sort of plugin is not used too often, but it has been very useful whenever I’ve needed to switch categories into tags, and vice versa.

Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress

This plugin is an absolute LIVESAVER. Akismet has a horrendous problem with false positives and you will lose a lot of valuable comments if you rely solely on Akismet! The way Conditional Captcha works is that spam comments get a “second chance”, by entering a captcha. If they can do so successfully, they’ll be placed in moderation rather than being sent directly into the spam (exactly what happens can be configured by you). Because just about every spammer does not fill out a captcha, and because just about every legitimate commentator DOES fill out the captcha, this makes your job as a blog manager MUCH easier, and makes your readers much happier, too!

Unlike a traditional captcha, this captcha only shows up if the user was about to be sent to the spam anyways, so it won’t place any additional inconveniences on regular users. This plugin is also compatible with TypePad AntiSpam.

Fast Secure Contact Form

This is what I use on my contact page. It seems to work well and it’s easy to setup and use, but I do occasionally get complaints that my “contact form did not work”. Some of these errors were related to Bad Behavior being too aggressive, and my above fix helped to reduce that problem.

FD Feedburner Plugin

Another great plugin. I’ve also configured my Feedburner account to automatically ping Twitter whenever a new post comes in on the RSS feed.

Google +1 Button

Like the “Share/Save” button, but just for Google+.

Google Analytics for WordPress

This plugin enables easy tracking with Google Analytics on your blog. You’ll need to have created an account at Google Analytics, first, and once you have your tracking code this plugin makes it a pinch to add it in to your site.

Google XML Sitemaps

This is another good Google-related plugin to have, which helps Google to index your site. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve added the sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools.

Hello Dolly

I don’t really “use” this plugin; it just happens to come with WordPress by default, and puts some cheerful messages on your admin pages!

SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam

I use this plugin to add a mandatory captcha on my contact page and login page. This is great for deterring spambots. I don’t use it on the comments since I am using Conditional Captcha there.

Subscribe To Comments

This is another very useful plugin that lets your commentators subscribe to updates by email. When someone posts a reply to their comment or a new comment on the same post, they’ll get a reply by email. I’ve always appreciated this feature whenever I’ve left comments on other sites.

Thank Me Later

This one is also for your commentators, and it sends a thank you email out to them. I know that some people don’t like to be bugged incessantly, so I configured the plugin so that it sends this email out once and only once, the first time a new person leaves a comment. I found this was a nice added touch whenever I’ve visited and left comments on other sites.

I set it up to send the email once per commentator by going to the settings and checking this checkbox:

Send unique messages only

Top Commentators Widget

This is another way to make things a little bit more interesting for your commentators. It’s a neat feeling to see when you’ve been one of the top contributors to a site. Thank you to all of you who have participated in the community here at Invest It Wisely, adding so many great comments along the way! :)

TypePad AntiSpam

I switched to this plugin simply because I was disappointed with Akismet’s poor customer service and high false positive rate. It does just as good of a job (if not better) of keeping out real spam, while, in conjunction with Conditional Captcha, lets all of your legitimate commentators through. The downside is that it seems that trackbacks ALWAYS end in in spam, so you will need to manually filter those. This is still a much more manageable task than filtering hundreds of spam comments every day.

Widget Context

Ever wanted one of your widgets to appear for a particular page, category, etc… only? Just install this plugin and you’ll be able to do that. :)

WP-DBManager

This is another important plugin to have that lets you automatically schedule database backups, and send them to your email.

WP Super Cache

Unless you have very fast hosting, a cache is very important. I have my cache turned fully on, which greatly speeds up web access by serving pre-cached static web pages. This is much faster than running the PHP code every time.

The downside is that some plugins will no longer work correctly. If you have a plugin that relies on PHP code every time, such as a plugin that displays different ad sizes to different visitors, or a plugin that tracks visitor count via PHP, then you may run into some issues. Some plugins can work around this by embedding javascript code into the page that will call this backend code, whether the page has been cached or not. Of course, this also places more load on the server.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

At the bottom of every post on Invest It Wisely you’ll see a section called “Related posts:”. This plugin looks at the categories, tags, and keywords in your post and builds a list of related posts automatically. Simple, yet useful!

Zemanta

Last but not least, Zemanta makes it easy to embed images, link to articles, and add tags to your posts while writing them.

Which plugins do you use, and why?

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About

Kevin has left the office, and he is currently fighting the rat race by working on his own business. He enjoys exploring unvisited places around the world and gaining new experiences. He believes that by properly managing our energy and time, we can learn to invest our lives wisely.

24 Comments Kevin on Oct 21st 2011

24 Responses to “A List of Great WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Better”

  1. Thanks for the great tips. I use many of these already. I have also found Automatic SEO links good and handy as well as Social Media Widget. You should look into both.

  2. Suba says:

    I also have a firewall plugin, another security plugin and also a back up plugin that backs up the entire site to Amazon cloud. I have a few more plugins to include pretty tables and stuff like that, but I know I can do without them.

  3. I use all the same plugins but I also use sexybookmarks and social media widget. I make it easy for people to share my posts. So I can get juicy backlinks

  4. 101 Centavos says:

    Great post, Kevin. I’ve bookmarked it for later reference. I agree on Typepad antispam, much metter than Akismet.

    • Kevin says:

      Thanks 101! Funny thing about Akismet is even with the false positive problem, it would still let a lot of spam past the gates. Well, no more Akismet for me either.

  5. [...] A List of Great WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Better @ Invest it Wisely [...]

  6. Thanks for the list Kevin! I use a couple of these but I installed some more to make the user experience, well, better :) Hope it helps!

  7. Thanks for the tips. Every time I try and fiddle with my blog I screw something up and it stops working. haha….html, needless to say, is not my forte. Congrats on your two years, dude!

  8. Squirrelers says:

    Good post, Kevin. While I do use many of these, there are couple you mentioned that I should take a closer look at.

    How many plugins do you have?

  9. I really appreciate this, Kevin. I’m thinking of moving to WordPress & this is very helpful.

  10. Thanks! I’ve been looking for information like this. Zemanta is awesome!

  11. You got me to use ‘subscribe to comments’ ages ago, so thanks for that. I also use ‘homepage excerpts’ to set up my home page to have full content for my most recent post and excerpts for the rest that fit on the home page.

  12. [...] Kevin @ Invest It Wisely has a helpful blog post for blogging simpletons like me, in A List of Great WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Better [...]

  13. Aloysa says:

    Very timely post for me! I spent hours trying to remember what I used to use on my old blog. You just refreshed my memory on some of it and then added some more! :)