When I first signed up for WordPress, one of the first things I missed was pimping out my site with some of the amazing plugins out there. I slowly started accumulating some good ones, both from research and doing recon on blogs I love.
Problem is, sometimes you never really know what plugins sites use if they’re not featured front and center and Googling “best WordPress plugins” gets you lists of the same generic garbage every other site is using.
So I thought I’d give you a look into the “back end” of my site and encourage you to take advantage of some amazing – and free – features out there!
The WordPress Plugins That Power This Site
Add To Footer – Description: Allows you to add anything to the footer of your WordPress theme.
Why I’m Obsessed: Because I like things to be as easy as possible, and when programs like Google Analytics or Apture wants you to confirm site ownership, Add To Footer is the easiest way to add in that pesky code.
Akismet – Description: Spam Protection!
Why I’m Obsessed: I get VERY little spam on this site. Without capcha. Without making readers sign in. Nothing fancy. I think WordPress usually comes with Akismet, but if you don’t have it and are having a spam problem, get on that asap.
AWeber Integration – Description: Provides a simple way to add AWeber email subscription form(s) to your sidebar and enable AWeber analytics.
Why I’m Obsessed: Again, it makes my life easier. See that fancy sign up form in the sidebar under my photo? All I needed to do was plug in a little code and we were good to go. Great for those of you with mailing lists. Don’t know about AWeber? It’s how I do all my newsletters.
Broken Link Checker – Description: Checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.
Why I’m Obsessed: I had no idea how many of links from earlier posts just didn’t work until installing this plugin. Turns out pages had been deleted, moved, or sites taken down. Having a constant notification of broken links means my blog never seems neglected.
Count Per Day – Description: Counter shows reads and visitors per page; today, yesterday, last week, last month…
Why I’m Obsessed: Yes, Google Analytics is the best tool for monitoring traffic, but Count Per Day, while not super accurate, is a quick way to get an idea of how a post is doing. My favorite bit is that when you click on the Posts tab you get the number of reads right next to the post information. No logging in or out of anything, just a way to keep tabs on your post’s progress without making yourself crazy.
Disqus Comment System – Description: Replaces your WordPress comment system with your comments hosted and powered by Disqus.
Why I’m Obsessed: I’ve written an entire post about my love for Disqus, but essentially, the plugin is easy to use, gives readers a notification of when you reply, allows for simple moderation, prevents most spam and you can keep track of all comments you leave. It’s the best plugin on my site.
Why I’m Obsessed: An easy way to get stats about your blog without logging into GA. While not as extensive as the Count Per Day plugin, the numbers are more accurate. (Thanks to Amanda of Violet Minded for turning me on to this!)
Google XML Sitemaps – Description: This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Why I’m Obsessed: I have no idea if this plugin helps search engines find me, but a good chunk of my traffic comes from Google searches, so I’m not going to mess with anything.
Like – Description: Lets readers quickly share your content on Facebook with a simple click.
Why I’m Obsessed: Easy way to remind readers if they like your post, they should “like” it. It means more traffic from Facebook with barely work on anyone’s part. Read my post about the importance of having easily shareable content.
LinkWithin – Description: Displays recommended stories and thumbnails from your blog.
Why I’m Obsessed: There’s just something about images that increases page views exponentially. This plugin does make your site slightly slower to load, but it’s worth it. The time folks spend on my site is now significantly longer and it means old posts get new life breathed into them.
Why I’m Obsessed: Again, having a way for folks to access old posts by highlighting their popularity or relevance means people spend more time on your site.
Sharebar – Description: Adds a dynamic bar with sharing icons (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that changes based on browser size and page location.
Why I’m Obsessed: I only recently installed Sharebar and it’s increased shares SIGNIFICANTLY without being obtrusive. Plus, I like that it’s on the side of my posts as opposed to infringing on the content itself.
Snazzy Archives – Description: Visualization plugin for your WordPress site which creates completely unique archive pages.
Why I’m Obsessed: I can’t remember the last time I used a blog’s archive page – mostly because I don’t care when they post but rather what they post. So I decided to try something a little different, and when my boyfriend introduced me to this beautiful (and scaringly easy to use) plugin I was hooked. It allows you to add images, descriptions of your year, etc. Just a little way to set your site apart from the rest while allowing folks to browse old content.
Tweet-stimonials – Description: Adds a Tweet-stimonials widget to your site – based on the concept of using Twitter favorites for automatic sidebar testimonials.
Why I’m Obsessed: The lovely Laura Roeder inspired this plugin and it’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve been using it for ages now and people always comment on it. The fact that these are quotes actually linked to Twitter means I obviously didn’t make them up or ask for them, they’re just “overheard on the web.” The plugin just pulls from your favorite tweets and displays them here. My only gripe is that you can’t rearrange the order, but otherwise, zero complaints!
WordPress Database Backup – Description: On-demand backup of your WordPress database.
Why I’m Obsessed: The ever-brilliant Jeffrey Pia forced me to install this because I was getting slack about backing up my files. This plugin makes it super easy to make sure you never lose everything you’ve worked on.
WP Minify – Description: Combines and compresses JS and CSS files to improve page load time.
Why I’m Obsessed: Another Jeffrey Pia recommendation. My site has been a little slow lately, but five minutes after installing this plugin and it was back to speed! Honestly, I have no idea how it does what it does, but it WORKS and that’s all that matters!
WP Super Cache – Description: Fast caching plugin for WordPress.
Why I’m Obsessed: Yet another plugin that helps speed up my site. I didn’t notice a huge difference after installing it, but I want to make sure nothing slows down the load time of the site, so it stays.
WP Tweet Button – Description: The WordPress implementation of the official Twitter Tweet Button.
Why I’m Obsessed: While not perfect, the WordPress tweet button is attractive, and the most accurate button I’ve found. There are currently works in progress to develop an all encompassing button, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one. My favorite aspect of this plugin though is that you can change it to say “via @MarianSchembari” as opposed to “RT @MarianSchembari.” This increases clicks because the tweet is easier to read, while still giving credit to the tweeter.
While my list is all well and good, I obviously want to hear from you. What are your favorites? What should I absolutely-positively download rightthissecond?