WP Plugins

Posted 3 August, 2012 by Amanda / 19 Comments

I have been asked enough times about WP plugins that I thought I might as well write my own post.  Before I get started, though, I do want to talk about plugins.  Here’s the thing: plugins are GREAT, but they also have the potential to crash your site.  It has happened to me.  That means you need to take precautions.

  • Always research the plugin.  Look at how many people have downloaded it, what kind of problems there have been in the past, etc.  Some of the best plugins I’ve found come at the recommendation from another blogger.
  • Just because a plugin works on one site doesn’t mean it will work on yours.  Your host’s server is different than others, and plugins can work in weird ways.
  • Be aware that plugins not working well together can crash your site.  Keep your plugins to what you need, only.
  • Just because a plugin doesn’t crash your site right away doesn’t mean it won’t later.  Anytime you update the WP core or another plugin, you have a possibility that your plugins will not cooperate with each other.  This means always back up your blog before you do something different.

Keep Everything Running Smoothly

  • Akismet:
    • This is a must.  This will catch the vast majority of spam (and trust me, there is a lot of it).
  • Antispam Bee:
    • I added this as an additional spam catcher.  While Akismet catches most of the spam, it dumps a ton of spam comments into the spam folder, and it can be tedious to comb through them and make sure that no legitimate comments have fallen through.  My solution was Antispam Bee.  Please note that this is NOT perfect.  I have had legitimate comments marked as spam and deleted with no way to retrieve them, so I eventually had to change the settings so that it doesn’t automatically delete certain comments marked as spam.  The biggest culprit for spam-that’s-not-spam seems to be server IP addresses, so these I get dumped into my spam folder.
  • WP-Optimize:
    • This cleans out drafts of your posts and optimizes the space on your databases.  I tend to have a lot of drafts (especially on posts like CR) so this is nice to get them all cleared out.
  • W3 Total Cache:
    • This plugin will keep your blog loading faster and keep your blog from overloading the server.  One note of caution, however, is that this plugin has also caused some of my blog issues.  I keep it, but sometimes deleting it and re-installing it is necessary.
  • Hotfix:
    • This little plugin in runs mainly in the background and will fix all the little bugs in your WP version without having to wait for the next core update.

Stats and SEO

  • WordPress SEO:
    • This little beauty helps you to mess with the SEO on your blog.  Since I started using it, I have seen more relevant search terms pop up in my search terms list.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress:
    • If you already have a Google Analytics account, this is the easiest way to get things up and connected.  I don’t use it often, but it’s nice to have.  If you like stats, you’ll want this plugin.
  • Feedburner FeedSmith:
    • All this plugin does is redirect your WP feed to your Feedburner one.  So, if people subscribe to onabookbender.com/feed, it will redirect that to my feedburner account so I can track how many people are actually subscribed to my blog.
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com:
    • MUST HAVE!  This gives you all the awesomeness of WP.com (like stats).  I use this mainly for stats and search terms, but I also use the contact form.   It also has other options such as social media sharing and editing.

Amanda’s Blogging Essentials

  • Broken Link Checker:
    • I’d say this is self-explanatory.  But it has been helpful to catch broken links.  And because I link up to a lot of things (especially through CR posts) this lets me know when something is wrong.
  • Duplicate Post:
    • I use this plugin to make my life so much easier.  I create posts that I use as templates, and then just create a new draft from that post.  There is a similar feature on WP.com.
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar:
    • While you can sort your posts by those that are scheduled, it only gives you a list.  This plugin allows you to see all your posts on a calendar.  It makes your posting schedule A LOT easier to visualize.
  • Comment Reply Notification:
    • Everyone is familiar with my comment reply emails, yes?  This is the plugin that will make that happen.  And yes, you can customize it.
  • ProgPress:
    • This plugin gives me progress bars.  They’ve been helpful for tracking my All Series, All Summer progress.
  • WP Tweet Button:
    • I like this plugin over the built in sharing option in Jetpack because it allows you to have the WP short links and add a “via @YourTwitterHandle” in tweets.
    • A note on auto-tweets: This is just my personal stance, but I am firmly against plugins that auto-tweet.  It’s why I have avoided plugins like tweet old post.  I find them spammy, especially as more people use them.  The only thing I have that auto-tweets my posts is dlvr.it, which isn’t a plugin.

What are other MUST HAVE plugins?


Filed under: Bloggy Business,


19 Responses to “WP Plugins”

  1. I’m definitely bookmarking this, and although at the moment I’m not self-hosted I may be at some point in the future. This will also maybe help with my work’s blog too :)
    Thank you!

  2. I’m afraid to switch over… Of course, blogger’s been good to me and I’m pretty lazy (especially since my attention is focused on school and lesson plans right now) but someday. Maybe.

    • Have no fear! (Also, it’s so much better/safer to hire someone to move you, or use a host that has one click WP install.)

      Then again, no need to rock the boat if you’re happy where you are.

  3. This is a great post, Amanda! I really want to do the self-host thing, but I’m just so scared! And I just don’t have a clue with internet stuff.

    One that I really do want is Comment Reply Notification … I love getting an email when someone replies to my comment!

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. This is a great post. Here are some useful (if not necessary) plugins that I use on my blog:
    LinkWithin – links to other posts in my blog that are similar to the one the visitor is already reading.
    NextScripts – a social networks auto-poster. I have it synced to my Twitter account, and whenever I post a new review or meme, it Tweets about it for me. Great time-saver, and it doesn’t spam your followers, unlike some plugins
    SI Captcha Anti-Spam – puts a CAPTCHA code in the comments form to weed out bot spammers
    Star Rating for Reviews – as its name suggests, this plugin generates stars for my book reviews
    Wordpress Mobile Pack – mobilizes your site to make it smartphone-friendly

    I apologize for any s

    • Oh! How do you like the Mobile Pack? I need to make my site more mobile friendly (as I’m sure you know if you were on your iPhone when you commented) but didn’t like the one that I had found.

      • I think that, all things considered, the Mobile Pack does what it’s supposed to: make your site mobile-friendly and readable. However, it does lack the customization that allows you to preserve some of your blog layout formatting, such as colors, headers, etc. It looks more like an RSS feed, but you can choose from four different colors to make it more eye-friendly. I personally don’t mind this because as long as people are able to read my site, I’m happy :)

        • I think the plugin I was using didn’t have very good commenting options. I think it was because it didn’t have the “notify me of follow-up comments” option. But I will definitely check this one out. Thanks! :)

  5. You know what I’ve noticed since I had to deactivate Jetpack b/c it interferes with the Calendar? I have to clean spam out of the spam folder daily, even with Askimet and Antispam Bee. I never had that problem before! *shakes fist of doom*

    Thanks for info on Hotfix, Feedburner FeedSmith and ProgPress!

    • I’ve been noticing an increase in spam comments lately, too, and I still have Jetpack going. Could just be a jump in legitimate-looking spam. I even had one spam comment get held for moderation. It’s been…weird. And not okay.

  6. Oh wow, fantastic post! Do you know I have been REALLY missing the “duplicate post” feature on wp.com and I had no idea there was a plug in to do it. Fab!