Let’s face it, WordPress is a beast. It’s the premier blogging platform and CMS in the world. Hands down. It’s no surprise – it’s free, it’s open source, it’s simple to install and use, and there are literally thousands of plugins to help make it even better.
Today we’re going to take a look at some plugins that make WordPress better. We’re going to do this from a few different angles – SEO, speed, and security. The three S’s of WordPress mastery you could say.
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
This plugin is essential for any WordPress install. It does many things well, too many to get into in this blog post in fact. Essentially you’ll be replacing no less than 2, maybe more, plugins. This helps you reduce setup time, reduce configuration time, and avoid potential plugin conflicts.
Here is the feature list directly from Yoast:
1. Post titles and meta descriptions
2. Robots Meta configuration
5. Permalink clean up
6. XML Sitemaps
7. RSS enhancements
8. Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess
9. Clean up head section
If you know much about on page SEO that list is pretty fantastic. This will make your WordPress site even more likely to do well in the search engines.
Plugin Here – http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/
2. Dagon Sitemap Creator
Yoast’s plugin will help you create an XML sitemap which is great for search engine bots. This sitemap is different. This one is for humans (and bots). This will create a page on your site with links to every page on your site using the title of the page. This is great for internal link building as well as being useful for visitors.
3. Yet Another Related Post Plugin
This one is great for engaging your visitors and internal link building. When you engage your visitor you increase stick rates. Sticky sites rank better in the search engines.
This plugin is going to create a tiny little section of recommended posts by title. This creates a link to each post using the title as anchor text. Sweet link building!
Here’s an example of what it looks like in action (this would be at the bottom of your post)
You can have several recommended posts depending on how much content is on your site. There just happens to be one in this example
4. Facebook SEO Comments
This one is a bit trickier to get working than your average plugin. It’s worth it though. This plugin will integrate facebook comments on your site so that search spiders can read the comments. Other Facebook comment plugins put the comments in an iframe making them unreadable by search engines.
Fair warning though – you’re going to need to create a FB app. They’ve got great directions on how to do that here. It’s not hard it’s just one more step. Go on, just do it.
Plugin Here – http://www.plulz.com/wordpress-plugins
5. Google Analytics for WordPress
Tracking is essential to SEO and your promotion tactics in general. Google Analytics is one of the best – if not THE best. This is an absolute must have on any WP install. You’ll be able to track your visitors, keywords used to find you, site performance, incoming links, and so much more.
6. Rel Author Plugin for WordPress
This plugin will create an author box at the bottom of each post linking the name of the author to their Google + profile. With this link attribute your picture will now begin to show up next to your blog post titles in Google’s search results pages. This is awesome for getting more clicks and building your brand.
Google has a really helpful article on why this is important here
7. Broken Link Checker
The name says it all. Well, most of it. What it doesn’t tell you is that you can edit the broken links it finds in your posts, images, comments, right from within the plugin panel itself. Makes checking and editing for broken links on your site a breeze. And yes, this is useful for your SEO efforts in case you were wondering (but I hope you weren’t).
Plugin Here – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/
When you change a post’s url – any links pointing to that url then become useless. This plugin will help you solve that problem. You can monitor 301 redirections and 404 errors on your site with this handy tool. Very important for keeping your link love alive!
Plugin Here – http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/redirection/
WordPress Speed Plugins
1. HTTP Compression
Thanks to Neil Patel for sharing this one with me. This plugin does some seriously techie stuff in the background compressing your site. This can result in 60% – 80% reduction in the size of your pages. What that should say to you is – This thing seriously speeds up your site!
There’s a caveat though. You’ll need to be running the most recent version of WordPress to make this thing work right. You can check to see if you’re up to date on this site.
2. WP Super Cache
For you updated WP challenged folks out there, this is a great plugin for speeding up your site. It’s been shown to work very well even under very high traffic. But be warned – this plugin will not work with HTTP compression plugin above.
One more warning on this one. Turn this plugin off when you’re publishing and editing your sites content. Just trust me on that one – headaches avoided!
Plugin Here – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/
Over time, a WordPress database can become messy. It’s just the nature of WP and all of it’s features. The longer you’ve been a publisher the slower your site will get. To help combat this you should use WP-DBManager.
Again this one is a bit techie. So if you have never even heard the term “database” don’t use this plugin. It’s extremely powerful but could potentially mess something up. This could be devastating to your site.
Plugin Here – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/
WordPress Security Plugins
1. BulletProof Security
This plugin is a powerhouse of security. It will turn your extremely vulnerable site into a fortress hackers won’t want to bother with. WP is a highly targeted CMS by spammers and hackers. This plugin is the best I’ve used to stop the later in their tracks.
Still one of the best tools for stopping blog comment spam. Unfortunately they went to a paid model for businesses- making this the only paid plugin on the list. It’s still free for personal blogs up to a certain amount.
Plugin Here – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/
There’s really only one social plugin you’re going to need. ShareThis works well, is customizable, and gives you stats. Simple as that.
Plugin Here – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-this/
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress. This is just my “essentials” list for 2012.
So what do you think? Did I miss an essential plugin in this list?
Got any plugins you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments.