My Top 10 Favorite WordPress Plugins

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I love using WordPress plugins. WordPress users can install and upload plugins to complement their blog with a few simple clicks.

When I first started blogging, I made the mistake of downloading every plugin and widget I could get my hands on. My list of plugins was over 20, and my WordPress software suffered from the long list of php call functions. Thankfully, I came to my senses, and now my plugin lists stands at only 12.

The important thing is to download essential plugins that enhance the user experience. If your readers cannot benefit from the widget, then you need to ditch it. Can’t decide what to keep and what to trash? I present the 12 plugins I use on a daily basis.

#1 Akismet

This WordPress plugin is the biggest time saver out of my lineup. Akismet simply filters your comments, picking out ones that look like spam. It then separates malicious comments from genuine feedback, and you can delete all the spam comments at once. It’s always a good idea to quickly review the spam comments because a legitimate comment may have been tagged as spam by accident. This is a must have because it saves you time, and keeps you blog fresh looking. No one likes a blog filled with spam comments. You can download Akismet here.

#2 Dean’s Permalink Migration

When I first launched Investor Trip, I was oblivious of SEO techniques and strategies. Like many bloggers, I adopted the standard /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ structure and forgot about it. This is a huge mistake. All those numbers before your keywords makes it harder on search engines to search and pinpoint your content in their rankings. You want search engines to favor your site, which helps readers find your content easily. The /%category%/%postname%/ structure is easier for search engines to handle. If you know anything about 301 redirects, then you could play with your .htaccess file. Instead, you can download the permalink plugin, and automatically forward your permalinks to an optimal link structure. For more on site optimization, refer my previous post, How to Invest Time and Money in your Blog.

#3 Feedburner Feed Replacement

This plugin forwards 100% of your feed’s traffic to your Feedburner Feed. For example, no matter which feed URL you click (RSS 2.0, Atom, or RDF) on Investor Trip, you will be forwarded to my Feedburner Feed. Then you can track all your feed’s stats at Feedburner. Grab the Feedburner Plugin here.

#4 Google Sitemaps

Create an html sitemap for the Google bot to read with this plugin. This makes you site “Google Friendly,” which increases your chances at higher web rankings. Download the Google Sitemap plugin here.

#5 Related Posts

This WordPress plugin calls a function, and returns up to 10 related posts for every entry. It’s an easy way to show your readers related information with ease. You can view Related Posts in action just below this post. After installing this plugin, my page views immediately. This is a must have. You can download Related Posts here.

Tip: Add this plugin to your RSS feed. It works the same way as it would on your blog.

#6 Share This – Social Bookmarking and E-mail Extension

Share this places an unobtrusive image and link just below every post, so readers can bookmark or e-mail your entries around the web. I currently have mixed feelings on this plugin because I haven’t noticed any direct effect since installing it. It calls 2 javascript functions per page, which can slow up your pages a lot if you have 56k connection. This plugin is optional, but if you have loyal book markers visiting your site, then go ahead and install it. In truth, if you write high quality content, people will bookmark your site anyways. You can download Share This here.

Do social bookmarking icons enhance the user’s experience? I’ve come across blogs that really abuse the use of icons.

#7 Show Top Commentators

Show Top commentators displays the most frequent commentators on your blog along the sidebar. This does two things: lets you know who interacts with your blog, and rewards their comments with a hyper link back to their blog. This is especially important for SEO because Top commentators has the rel= follow tag, meaning search engines will index the top commentator’s URL. It’s a free link back to your blog. If you’re trying to build traffic for your blog, leaving comments on blogs that display the Top commentator’s plugin (like this one) will increase your search engine rankings (SERP). You can download Show Top Commentators here.

#8 Text Link Ads

This plugin displays any link ads you have sold through Text Link Ads (aff). It requires zero management, except for the initial download and activation. Another easy way to make a few more bucks from your blog.

Ultimate Tag Warrior

Ultimate Tag warrior tags pages and certain sections on your blog, so you can organize these tags for later use. Once you activate the plugin, it displays a tag input field along with Yahoo! suggestions just under your Write Post page. Other great features include Meta keywords extensions, where your post tags become meta keywords tag for that particular post.

My UTW tags are just below my post titles, and if you right click on this post and select View page source, you’ll notice that my keyword tags are the same as my post tags. Google doesn’t place much weight on keyword tags, but search engines like Altavista and MSN heavily rely on meta keywords. Download Ultimate Tag Warrior here.

#9 WordPress Database Backup

Database backup saves a copy of your blog as a zip file for downloading onto your desktop. I backup my blog weekly, but I’m sure some big time bloggers save their thousands of pages daily. I believe this plugin comes pre-installed into newer WordPress versions. If you do not have it, you can download it here.

#10 WP-Cache

This is the most powerful WordPress plugin I’ve seen so far. Once your php page loads in a web browser, WP-cache saves a static copy of that page for exactly 1 hour (you can adjust this setting in the options menu). This is essential for blogs that get dugg, slash dotted, or stumbled upon on a consistent basis. You don’t need dedicated hosting if you have a high traffic blog. Equip your blog with the proper tools, and you can survive massive traffic loads with this plugin.

There’s one downside: you must remember to delete your cache regularly. WP-cache downloads all the caches files to your web server, and after a while, the cache folder becomes full. So what happens next? Well, your server has to manage all these files, which slows down the speed of your blog and administration page.

If your WordPress software is running slowly, try deleting the cache. I had the same problem last week, but deleting all my old cache files sped up the blog a lot. You can download WP-cache here.

Note: Deactivate G-ZIP file compression before activating WP-cache or the plugin will not work.

So there’s my list. What’s your favorite WordPress Plugin? My favorite is Akismet. It zaps spam efficiently, and saves me lots of time!

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