Good content produced at the right time is at the heart of any successful blog. Good content often needs a helping hand courtesy of sensible promotion too. All of which is to say that fiddling with the technical details can be a tempting distraction from main business at hand, but it can make a difference even if it isn’t the main factor in success or failure.
One of the reasons I’m sure a fan of WordPress (as used by Lib Dem Voice, on my own blog and for my news aggregator) is that there is a wide-range of free or cheap plugins available. These make it quick (and cost-effective) to add the sort of features to a site that can take considerable time or money with bespoke systems.
Here’s my current top ten recommendations for other bloggers to try out. Cutting my list down to ten took some doing, and aside from those I chose not to include there are, I’m sure, good choices I didn’t even consider in the first place. So do use the comments thread to add your own suggestions.
My list of ten WordPress plugins
But first, here’s the top ten WordPress plugins list:
- Akismet – essential for blocking comment spam. It’s not infallible, but it does most of the work most of the time, leaving you more time to write posts or eat chocolate.
- All in One SEO pack – does what it says in the name, giving you a wide range of features to optimise your blog’s appearance in search engines.
- Amazon Associate Filter – automatically replaces all your Amazon links with affiliate ones. A neat way of saving time as you therefore don’t have to get the right affiliate version of each link you add. The plugin does the work for you. (By the way, don’t be worried about its age. It has been working reliably for me for years, including on the latest version of WordPress.)
- Google Doc Embedder – this plugin lets you easily embed pdf and other files into posts (see an example in this post of mine). It uses the Google Document Viewer to do so, hence the name. I’ve switched over to using this from services such as Scribd as this plugin is easier to use and gives a better result for mobile and tablet users.
- Jetpack – now a behemoth of a plugin from the WordPress team, this is packed full of so many features that the only sensible advice is to go and read about them all yourself.
- PopUp Domination – this makes it easy to configure, test and use not only pop-up boxes to get people to sign up to email newsletters but also to embed forms at the foot of posts and elsewhere. A huge range of features that I’m only starting to get to grips with and they look well worth the price – and much better than the alternatives out there (especially if you are running WordPress multisite edition).
- Post Templates – lets you create a set of templates for posts which commonly contain similar content. For example, my Local Liberal Heroes series all have the same basic layout, so using a template saves time when creating new ones.
- Safe Redirect Manager – makes it easy to redirect one web address for your site to another one. Very useful if, for example, you have a link coming in that goes to a page which has since moved. Rather than having to ask the other person to change their link, you can just redirect it yourself.
- WordTwit Pro – generates tweets when new blog posts are published. I’ve tried out quite a few such plugins over the years and settled on this one as offering by far the best combination of features and reliability. There is a free version too. I prefer the Pro version as it gives more nuanced control.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – this adds the “other posts you might be interested in” type links at the bottom of stories, which is a great way of keeping visitors on a site by providing links to other related content. That’s no substitute for carefully selected cross-links within the body of blog posts, but it is a useful and automatic supplement.
What’s your view on this WordPress plugin list?
Hate any of these WordPress plugins? Use a WordPress plugin and are amazed that it isn’t in this list? Share your views in the comments below…