10 Top WordPress Plugins You Must Have

WordPress is a completely free open source blogging tool and content management system.  With the ability to install custom made plugins and themes WordPress can be used very successfully to create fully functional websites.  Make life easier by installing some of the top WordPress plugins available in order to add functionality and control over your website. I’ve lifted the lid to share some of my favourite top WordPress plugins.  They are based around these basic requirements of publishing a WordPress website-

  • writing the content
  • publishing the feed
  • commenting
  • social media
  • website performance
  • legal requirement

Top WordPress Plugins

lifting the lid on top WordPress plugins

 

1. WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast – this is by far the best all round SEO plugin available with a feature rich capability within one single plugin.

Post titles and meta descriptions – custom define each and every post and page for greater SEO

Robots Meta configuration – keep single posts/pages out of the index

Canonical – set the correct canonical for each and every page, category and tag within the site

Breadcrumbs – fully customisable breadcrumb taxonomies throughout the site

Permalink clean up – maintain clean URLs

XML Sitemaps – integrated so communication between plugin and XML sitemap is pure ensuring no sitemap errors

RSS enhancements – edit posts in RSS feed to add main URL and post URL so scraped content point back to your site

Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess – edit functionality direct from plugin

Clean up head section – remove bloated content from the head section

API Docs – API is freely available

The real pull for me to use this plugin is the real time preview of how the result will look in Google and the ability to tweak the title and description. Snippet Preview

 

2.TinyMSE Advanced -  Enables all the features the WordPress WYSIWYG integrated editor TinyMCE offers, allowing flexibility  control and formatting for all content.

 

3. Livefyre Realtime Comments - this comment plugin system helps dramatically reduce comment spam as the visitor has to log in to either Livefyre or their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ account in order to comment. Comments are real-time and can be shared and liked allowing the development of a truly engaged community.

Moderation can be carried out direct in the blog without having to go off to an admin panel.  Individual comments can be flagged, deleted or the user banned if they are abusing.  Comments can be liked but there is a level of security against abuse here in that the Livefyre user account is the link rather than direct to the spam site. In the early days likes could linked with a do-follow to the spam site, so this improvement is great to see.

Overall this is a terrific and robust commenting system that is being continually developed to enhance with new features and functionality.

 

4. WordPress Ping Optimizer – by default the pinging services you set are found in Settings >> Writing >> Update Services.  This neat plugin manages your list of pinging services and logs the pinging activities for review.  A great feature is an option to set a time allowed between each ping which is very useful if you are making several amendments to a page and updating.  Without this setting the post is pinged at every update and in some cases may cause you to be blocked if pinging is excessive.

 

5. WP Mobile Detector – As the name suggests this plugin detects whether a mobile or smart phone is being used to browse the website and loads a compatible mobile theme for each.  It claims to be the first plugin to tell the difference between the two types of phone and serve the appropriate mobile theme.  It can detect over 5,000 phones.   

 

6. Digg DiggA social sharing bar from Buffer that allows the visitor to share any content. The bar by default sits to the left of the page and can be set to float so as the visitor scrolls down the page the bar remains in focus ready to use at any point.  The configuration allows for multiple social media buttons each of which you give a ranking up to 100.  The highest ranked button will then sit at the top of the bar with lower ranking buttons appear on the bar in descending order, so it is fully flexible.

Twitter and other accounts can be configured in the admin area to tag on the @username when the content is shared, as well as a URL shortener.  Individual social media buttons can also be added direct to posts or pages.

The great thing about this plugin is its easy to install and configure.  The changing of button choice or position is simple and the bar remains intact and in position.

 

 

7. W3 Total Cache – This is a performance enhancing plugin that attempts to cache every aspect of the site  and offer transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration in order to provide fast loading pages.  The plugin minifies files like CSS and javascript where possible (it is possible that some will not minify but they can be excluded if the layout or functionality screws a little).  Pages are cached so they can be served rather than the content being dynamically constructed every time they are called.

 

8. WP Smush.it- Images that are not optimized can slow page loading speeds.  The WP Smush.it plugin works behind the scenes to optimize images in several lossless ways -

  • optimizing JPEG compression
  • converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs
  • stripping the un-used colours from indexed images
All you have to do is install the plugin and leave it running.  Every new image you introduce to a post will be run through Smush.it to optimize.

 

9. Social Metrics –  A great plugin to keep track of your websites performance across the social media platforms. You can quickly see which posts are having a significant impact socially and those that aren’t.  There are plenty of filtering options so you can drill down to the exact data you need.  If you want to track how your content is being shared then install this plugin – it’s as simple as that!

 

10. Cookie Warning – As from the 25th May 2012 the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as directed by the EU has implemented the ruling that all UK websites must give the visitor the opportunity to provide consent for cookies to be stored on their computer.  This neat and easy to install plugin does just what it says on the tin for a first time visitor.

For me these are my top WordPress plugins that I download and install to get going.  There are countless other brilliant plugins for wide ranging purposes but these form the basis I would then work from.

Please feel free to add to the list.

photo credit: EMMEALCUBO via photopin cc

Posted in Wordpress
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