When you think about it, it seems that the best things in life come in pairs. Peanut butter and jelly… green eggs and ham… iPod and Apps… WordPress and Plugins. WordPress was designed as a blogging platform, but with the proliferation of plugins over the past 5 years, WordPress has evolved into a robust internet site development tool. There are now almost 24,000 plugins now available for WordPress and all of the plugins listed below are totally free. Finding a lightweight, functional plugin is a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Allow me to clear away some of the haystack and show you five plugins that you should be using.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Getting some love from the search engines will keep fresh traffic coming to your site. Understanding what these search engines are looking for can be difficult and the criteria seem to change every 18 months. This is where the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast comes in handy. There are 2 aspects of the plugin that I find extremely helpful. Firstly, a red/yellow/green stoplight indicator is shown in every single post, which tells the site administrator the degree of optimization (along with practical hints on how to achieve better results). Secondly, the plugin has a built in sitemap feature that updates Google and Bing on the site’s content.
IntenseDebate – Comments are an important feedback mechanism between a site and its audience. For those who find the default WordPress comment box seriously lacking in functionality and visual appeal, IntenseDebate is the plugin for you. This is a much smaller plugin than the more popular JetPack and adds much less lag time to your pages. The publisher of IntenseDebate is owned by Automattic – the same company that sells the ‘Akisment’ comment spam filter. There are 3 aspects of the plugin that are great – total control over the look and feel of the comments; nominal drag on your site, and the free price tag.
P3 Plugin Performance Profiler – Have you ever noticed that a brand new site will load very quickly, then over time, seems to load slower and slower? This is because some of the plugins being used are creating drag on the site. I discovered P3 by accident after my site slowed to a crawl. This plugin gives you the incremental load time for each plugin used by your site. If having a quick site for the convenience of your readers is not enough of an upside, load time is also a factor in search engine rankings. If you want a quick site that will earn online income, P3 is a must.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – Have you ever been on a blog and read a terrific post, then where shown a list of related posts at the end of the article? This is YARPP. This plugin uses an algorithm to search for other posts within your site and will present a Top 5 list of similar content. The plugin is easy to configure and works right out of the box.
Google Analyticator – Every site I run is registered with Google Analytics because of its superior tracking and data analysis tools. Having a solid understanding of how your users are interacting with your site provides incredible insight into what your audience prefers to consume. The Google Analyticator plugin links your site to your Analytics account, then provides a summary of key data within the WordPress dashboard. With the plugin, you can see 30-day traffic trending, key metrics (visits, page views, etc), 5 most viewed pages, Top 5 referring sites to your blog, and the 5 most used search terms that include your site in the results. Knowledge is power, and Google Analytics provides incredible information.