If there is one thing that bloggers can’t resist, it’s reading about the essential WordPress plugins that other bloggers use!
It’s almost like if you’re a professional chef and someone shares a killer recipe… you can’t just look. Or a woman sharing a tidbit of juicy gossip; other ladies can’t ignore.
It’s taken me the past 10 months of actively trying to improve my blog to come up with this list. This isn’t just some list that I Googled and haphazardly through together; this is every single active plugin that I have on my blog right now.
Enjoy my list of essential WordPress plugins!
One of the most basic plugins for any WordPress user. If you’re not using this, you’ll be sifting through thousands upon thousands of unwanted spam comments. This plugin takes out the garbage, so you never have to see it!
All In One SEO Pack
Does all the crazy annoying SEO junk for you. It gives you a simple form to fill out with each post (title, description, tags) and automatically optimizes it. I love this one because my descriptions show up on Google the way I want (and they rank FAST).
Broken Links Remover
This one can be a lifesaver. On blogs with dozens or even hundreds of posts, it’s a tall task to click on every link and make sure they’re still going where they should. This plugin gives you a list of every single link on your site that’s not going anywhere. Another must-have!
Cabinet Ping Optimizer
So, every single time you update your blog, it automatically sends a “ping” (basically an update) to the search engines. This lets them know to send back their “bots” and index the new content.
But, if you’re updating a lot, your site is sending out many “pings,” and the search engines might think you’re just spamming them to get your site indexed. This plugin helps to optimize your pins and make you appear less “spammy.”
A Very cool plugin that promotes a more social, interactive atmosphere! Basically, when someone leaves a comment, they also leave their website URL. This plugin goes to their website and automatically picks up their last blog post and shows it in the comment they just left. People are much more likely to leave comments if they’re getting love back to their own blog.
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When someone leaves a comment, they’re automatically taken to a page of your choice. You can take them to a thank you page or (if you’re bold) straight to a capture page… it only does this for the very first comment they leave, so it’s not annoying.
Puts all those cool little share buttons at the top of each post. It gives you a list of several social media sites, and you pick which ones you want to show up. Also, it displays how many times your post has been shared, so your readers can see some proof that you are indeed popular.
When you want to include a “secret” page within your blog that you don’t want the general public to see! You can create a page that is only accessible with a direct URL; it doesn’t show up as a post, tab, or even in your site’s navigation. Perfect for exclusive content you only want to share with certain people.
Fast Secure Contact Form
Not only an easy way for readers to send you a message straight to your email inbox but it gets rid of the spam robots from leaving you messages as well.
It puts a little image on the tab in your browser. It gives your site a little more personality and a little more recognizable as well. Plus, when a reader leaves a comment, it puts up a little image of them as well. I couldn’t find this plugin in the back office of WordPress, so click on the title for the download page.
FD Feedburner Plugin
When a visitor wants to subscribe to your feed, this plugin redirects them to Feedburner.com. Within Feedburner, you can add pictures, allow your readers to share certain content, and customize other features. It helps your feed to stand out among others that your readers may be following.
Feed Subscriber Stats
Shows on your dashboard how many people are subscribed to your feed through Feedburner.
Google XML Sitemaps
This is another SEO plugin that most humans don’t understand, but Google and Yahoo look over it. Basically, it makes it easier for search engines to index your blog. That’s always good.
Keeps track of which posts are the most popular according to your visitors’ behavior. You can even change up the values to make commenting or visits more heavily “weighted” when figuring up the most popular after you install this plugin, head over to the widgets and drag the “Popularity Contest” widget wherever you want it.
My favorite and one of the essential WordPress plugins that I use! It creates that awesome-looking pop-up opt-in form that comes up on my blog. It allows for very easy customization and even allows you to decide exactly how often it pops up for each visitor. It costs $47 but well worth it to get higher opt-ins.
Pretty Link (Lite Version)
A very, very useful plugin! It lets you cloak links and then tracks how many clicks have been made. It’s not a super-detailed tracking system, but it’s free! It’s useful if you have some long, ugly affiliate links that you want to track as well. Your links are your domain, followed by whatever ending you want to put in. For example, mine looks like who-is-erin-smith.com/FP or whatever else at the end. Pretty nifty (plus, people are more likely to click on it if the link looks like a blog.)
Related Posts Thumbnails
This one is great for keeping visitors on your blog much longer. At the end of each post, pictures and descriptions for six other related posts are displayed. I’ve had many comments from readers that they couldn’t leave my blog because they kept clicking on those thumbnails and jumping to other posts.
When someone leaves a comment, they have an option to be notified of follow-up comments. Normally, this means they will be notified of every single comment that comes after theirs. But, with this plugin, they are only notified if someone replies to their specific comment. Help keep your visitors from receiving a bunch of unwanted mail and only receiving one or two useful messages when they get a reply.
Another boring SEO plugin… It just cleans up unnecessary junk.
SEO Friendly Images
Zzzzzzzzz… more SEO. It helps your images get found by search engines (like in Google Image Search)
Another SEO plugin… but NOT boring! Probably an essential plugin I have because it makes all the “on-site” SEO stuff super duper easy. It makes a list of all the things you should do inside your post to make it rank (like certain tags, keyword density, no follow links, etc.) and gives you a percentage out of 100. This one costs $37 for one domain or $97 for unlimited domains… It has been worth every penny for how many posts I’ve had rank on Google.
BORING! (but darn useful) Cleans up the URL for individual posts (takes out words like “a” “and” “an”) so the search engines like it better.
SexyBookmarks (by Shareaholic)
Comes up with a bazillion different share links to social media and social bookmarking sites. They show up at the bottom of each post, and they look snazzy.
Thank Me Later
This plugin automatically sends out a Thank You email to everyone who leaves a comment. It allows for some variation in the message. Overall, great for reader satisfaction and keeps them coming back!
More SEO junk. It takes the category out of the post URLs. It makes it look cleaner, plus it focuses more on the keyword in the post URL.
WordPress EZ Backup
ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL WordPress PLUGIN!! Sorry for all caps… but one of the worst days I had last year was when I went to my blog, and all that was there was the shell. All my posts, pics, videos, EVERYTHING was gone. It helps you recover a disappeared blog in no time flat. Help keep blood pressure down, too.
WordPress Thread Comment
Allows you to reply to a single comment. When you find a specific comment you want to reply to, your reply will show up in the same box as the original comment. Basically, it makes it obvious who you’re talking to.
WP Frame Breaker
Have you ever clicked through from a 3rd party site to a blog, and the 3rd party site’s header takes up half the page? Well, you don’t want that happening to you. This plugin eliminates the frames that referring sites sometimes put on your blog when sending visitors through.
WP Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a tracking resource that keeps track of everything you want to know about your visitors: where they come from, what posts they enter and exit on, how many unique visitors, and a million other things. This plugin makes it easy to incorporate Google Analytics into your blog.
WP Greet Box
Another “reader satisfaction” plugin that basically greets every visitor who shows up. It puts up a different message depending on where your visitor came from. If they found your site on Google, a message pops up saying something like “Welcome Googler…” You can edit these messages.