If you want to enhance your blogging experience, you should consider using certain Plugins. Plugins are, simply put, extensions that enhance the way WordPress works. Every plugin has certain function that is not available with the default version of WordPress.
There are a million Plugins out there and everyday new Plugins are created by programmers and developers. While you cannot use each and every plugin, you can and should use a certain handful of them. Today’s chapter will cover the recommended and popular Plugins in the blogosphere. Click on the name to visit the respective sites to download the plugin.
Akismet: This is a plugin that comes together with the WordPress Installation. This is basically an anti-spam plugin and the most powerful among all the anti-spam Plugins. Akismet requires a API key to work. You can get one by signing up at WordPress.com. Once confirmed, they will email you your personal API key.
Advanced WYSIWYG Editor: WordPress comes with a basic word editor that has limited features. This plugin enhances the editor functions and adds a lot of styling options. I would never do without this plugin.
All-in-One-SEO: I covered this plugin in the previous post. Make sure you get install it. One of the best SEO Plugins I have come across.
Challenge: I treat this plugin as a companion to Akismet. While Akismet catches most of the spam, there are some well thought out spasm that get through to my blog. The Challenge plugin simply challenges the bird brain of the spammer by asking him “did you pass math” and posing a 5th grader question. Obviously the spammer fails in answering the question as he hasn’t passed 1st grade yet.
Contact Form: When you run a blog, you obviously want a contact form through which people can contact you and possibly build relationship. This plugin can help you build a contact form with the least hassles and zero coding.
Feedburner Feedsmith: In layman’s terms, this Plugins make sure that you do not lose any potential subscribers by getting them to land on pages other than the subscribe page. In the long run, this plugin will definitely save a lot of pain.
Firestats: A very powerful visitor statistics plugin. It is
Google Analytics: If you are a blogger, you will be using Google Analytics for visitor statistics. In case you are not, and I don’t know, go ahead right now and sign up for an account. Google Analytics will provide you a tracking code that you have to add to every page of your site to be tracked. I know, it is a very daunting task. This Plugins makes the job easy. You paste the copy in the admin panel of this plugin and it automatically replicates the code in every page of your blog as they are created. Cool huh?
Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo. Sitemaps are very essential from a Search Engine optimization point of view. This plugin not only creates the sitemap, but also pings the Search engines successfully.
Got Banners: Though I am mentioning this plugin here, you should think about getting it only when your blog is ready for monetization. This plugin is a widget based tool to display banner ads in the sidebar of your blog. It not only displays the ads, but rotates them randomly every time the blog is refreshed giving equal exposure to every banner.
Lucia’s Link Love: This is a do-follow plugin. If you want to reward your blog commentators with a backlink that Google can follow and count, then you need this plugin. All no-follow links will turn to do-follow and will be counted as an active backlink. I will explain this in a separate post. Do not crack your head now.
Maintenance Mode: Once in a while, we all perform maintenance activity on our blog. Be it database optimization, theme modification or some other activity, it can interrupt the visitor’s experience in your site. At such times, it is best to use this plugin. As soon as you activate it, it will show a maintenance message on the homepage with a time of 60 minutes or whatever you set. This way your visitors will know there is serious work in progress and to come later.
Subscribe remind: See the Subscribe request message in the footer of every post in my blog? It is the work of this plugin. It places a footer message in every post reminding them to subscribe. A marketing tactic indeed.
Subscribe to comments: This plugin allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted after their comments to an entry. This is just a way to keep the readers connected to the blog and its activities. Another marketing tactic.
What Would Seth Godin Do: This plugin displays a custom welcome message to your first time visitors. Alternatively, you can set the number to zero and the message will be shown always. You can place a message asking your visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed.
WP-Sticky: Have you ever wanted to highlight a particular post or keep it at the top of other posts for a longer time? This plugin does just that. It adds a sticky post feature to your blog’s write section. Whenever you want to highlight a post, enable the sticky option and it will stay there for as long as you want it to.
Wp-table: This plugin helps create tables easily. Whenever you want to present statistical data or information involving numbers, this is the plugin to bank on. It creates tables without you having to dirty your hands with coding.
Apart from Firestats, I use each and every plugin stated above and so I can tell you they are very reliable and highly recommended. Let me close this part here. In the next part, I will cover how to upload and install Plugins as well as custom themes.