I’m not normal. I have an unhealthy need to do things for myself and it has caused me to waste a lot of time over the years.
Years ago I built my first websites using Notepad. Yes…Notepad. I actually taught myself some basic html and sat at my keyboard for hours typing in obscure html coding to create each individual web page. It took forever to get anything done and I was never really happy with the amateurish look of my niche sites.
Then one day I woke up and realized I needed to start working smarter instead of harder. I decided to install WordPress and my life has never been the same. Now, publishing new pages has never been easier and there’s virtually no coding needed.
Even better…there are thousands of plugins that you can install to add all sorts of functionality to your WordPress installation with just a few clicks of your mouse.
I use quite a few plugins on my blogs, but here are the 7 essential WordPress plugins that I just can’t live without…
WP Greet Box
Perhaps the biggest struggle that bloggers have is getting traffic to their sites. So you have to jump at any chance you get to turn a random visitor into a loyal reader. WP Greet Box displays a small message box at the beginning or end of your posts suggesting they sign up for your RSS feed or newsletter.
You can even customize it to display a different message depending on where the visitor came from. For example, if a Twitter user clicks through from Twitter they’ll receive a message asking them to retweet your post and follow you.
If there’s anything that should scare the hell out of a blogger, it’s the prospect of having months or years of work blown away in a heartbeat by a hacker or a server error. Backup Buddy is a premium plugin that allows you to backup your entire WordPress blog including all content and databases. You can then copy the backup file to a local directory or to Dropbox for safe keeping. If you ever need to reinstall you can literally do so with one click of your mouse.
Another thing I like about Backup Buddy is that it makes buying a site and transferring over to your own hosting account a snap. Just have the previous owner set you up with an admin login and install BB. Run the backup utility and then copy the backup file to your own hosting. Run the restore utility and you’ll be up and running in minutes.
Broken Link Checker
Having broken links on your site results in a poor user experience and it can also hurt your SEO efforts. Broken Link Checker monitors your posts, comments, and other content for broken links. You can then edit or delete them right from the plugin’s dashboard.
Be aware that this plugin is a major resource hog and it could slow down your site a bit. Rather than running it continuously I simply activate it once a month or so to search for any broken links and then deactivate it again.
Growmap Anti Spambot
Spam comments and trackbacks are a major problem for blogs of all sizes. A reliable anti-spam plugin is an absolutely essential weapon in your blogging arsenal. The default choice that comes pre-installed with WordPress is Askimet. It is easy to set up and use…but I hate it.
Askimet lets a lot of spam get through its filters and that’s bad. But even worse is the false positives. I’ve seen too many legitimate comments from real bloggers (including myself) get falsely labeled as spam.
Spam is virtually non-existent since I started using Growmap Anti Spambot, which requires commentors check off a box to prove they are in fact human. I don’t see any legitimate comments getting marked as spam either so I’m not planning on going back to Askimet any time soon.
If your blog is strictly a hobby and you have no interest in making any money from it, then you can skip this plugin. But if you want to monetize your blog using AdSense or other types of advertising then Quick AdSense is essential.
Quick AdSense is an ad management plugin that lets you quickly add AdSense or other ads into your blog posts. The interface is very easy to use and you can choose to have your ads appear exactly where you want them or you can let them appear randomly.
Of course you can use it for more than just ads. Try adding an AWeber subscription form and watch your email list grow too.
SRG Clean Archives
When I stumble onto a new blog, I want to be able to poke around and explore their older articles to learn more about them. But some blogs make this virtually impossible. It’s like they’re trying to hide all of their old posts where you can never find them. And if I can’t find them quickly I’m not going to stick around for long.
SRG Clean Archives displays your archived posts in a clean format all on one page so readers can browse and explore all they want. Click here to see an example of what it looks like on Wealthy Turtle.
Sometimes you want certain elements to appear on specific pages of your blog but not all of them. It could be a mortgage rate widget that you only want to appear on articles related to real estate. Or perhaps there is an advertisement that you only want to be visible on the home page. Widget Context allows to easily specify and adjust visibility settings for widgets with just a click of your mouse. It’s a neat little plugin that you’ll use more than you would think.
Those are my 7 favorite plugins and I use them all the time. Which plugins do you recommend?