I’ve provided a list of must have WordPress plugins before, but here’s the thing: stuff changes. New plugins become available, and some plugins stop working. It’s an ongoing process, so I wanted to provide an updated inventory on the cool WordPress plugins I recommend for your WordPress business blog.
This list is specifically for business blogs, not personal blogs. For business the rules are a bit different. You should pay attention to security and performance. You want the content you provide to engage your audience and get the response you’re looking to achieve.
Clearly, nothing is going to replace good content, listening to your audience and hard work. We’re on the same page there, right? That said, a few key plugins can definitely go a long way toward making your life easier.
Must Have WordPress Plugins
I’d love to here if you think I’ve missed anything important! And btw, these are all free. No affiliates here 🙂
- Akismet: I still hear complaints about comment spam, and surprisingly there are a lot of people out there who don’t know about Akismet. For me, it rarely lets anything through. It’s blocked many thousands upon thousands of spam comments, and it continues to serve me well. This one is a no-brainer.
- Contextual Related Posts: I love this plugin and have used it for quite a while now. It’s recently improved and become much more customizable. It searches keywords on your site and provides visitors a customized list of related posts, keeping your readers on your site longer. Very nice.
- Google XML Sitemaps: This has been part of my arsenal from the beginning. It automatically generates, updates and submits a sitemap for you…an essential part of getting indexed rapidly and thoroughly in Google. You can create a sitemap manually of course, but why?
- Login Lockdown: Has you blog ever been hacked? If not, stick around a while. It will happen. It happens to us all. One of the most common forms of attacks is a brute force attack, where a hacker randomly tries passwords until it breaks through. This plugin shuts them down cold. When it comes to securing your blog, there are a lot of things you can do, and there is a great report on it here. This plugin is an essential step in hardening your blog against attacks.
- MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer: When you write new content to your blog, WordPress automatically pings search engines and directories for you, so they become aware of your new article. Cool, huh? When you edit an old post, WordPress pings em again. And if you’re the kind of person (like me) who is regularly going in and changing stuff, your blog will be pinging the directories left and right. It may sound cool, but directories are smart enough to know you’re not actually adding anything new, and abusing your ping privileges can get you banned. Few people know about this plugin, but I’m definitely an advocate for using it. It’s smart enough to know what you’re doing on your blog, so when you’re publishing something new or adding a new page, etc…it lets the search engines know. Otherwise, it stays quiet, keeping you in good graces with the search engines. I dig it, how bout you?
- Redirection: When you first start out, you likely won’t need this plugin, but you should go ahead and install in now anyway. What happens when you change the name of one of your pages? Or tweak the title of one of your posts? What happens when you change the name of one of your categories? You’re creating pathways to your 404 error page, that’s what’s happening. All of the links and bookmarks people have saved as a way of revisiting your blog still point to the old URL, but you’ve changed it. Having a custom 404 page is smart, but using a plugin like Redirection lets you go in and quickly forward the old page to the new one. You can do this by manually editing your .htaccess file, but who the heck wants to learn how to do that, right? I love non-techy solutions to tech issues, don’t you?
- SEO Friendly Images: Do you know what image alt tags are? Search engines can’t actually see images, you know. They just index data. This plugin gives your images relevant keywords for search engines to play with. So basically, the pictures you use on your blog may just be dead weight as far as search optimization goes, but you can change all that by using this plugin. This is especially relevant to anyone who uses a lot of images on their blog, like photographers, real estate professionals, etc. But it’s also a great little SEO tool for anyone. A nice little side benefit of this also comes into play if your content feed is going out by email. Images often get blocked when people read your articles in their email client. Instead of just seeing that ugly little red square where an image is supposed to be, this plugin can put keywords in it’s place, giving a reader an indication of what’s supposed to be there. It’s just more professional-looking in my opinion.
- SEO Smart Links: Internal link structure is important for both search optimization and user experience. Giving readers plenty of links in a post gives them lots of opportunity to be as click-happy as they want to be while staying on your site, absorbing more of your grand wisdom. Put in a keyword…let’s say “subscribe”. And then tell the plugin to link that keyword to your subscribe page. Then every time the word “subscribe” comes up on your blog, it will automatically link to your subscribe page. You don’t have to manually install any links; it’s all automatic. Of course this is an oversimplified example, but you get the idea. 🙂
- SexyBookmarks: This plugin gives your readers a way to quickly and easily share your articles with their friends. You like people talking about your posts and spreading them virally all over the universe, correct? Install this sucker and watch the magic. There are many solutions for installing share links on your WordPress blog of course, but this is my favorite.
- Subscribe To Comments: I never ran this plugin before, but readers were specifically asking why I didn’t have any way to subscribe to comments. After you leave a comment on my blog, there is a check box where you can select to receive an email with follow up comments. It encourages your readers to come back and participate in the conversation.
- TweetMeme Retweet Button: This is another new one I’m playing with, and I like it a lot. It gives you a count on how many tweets your post has received, and by clicking the icon at the top of any post, you can retweet the article.
- Twitterlink Comments: I like to give as much value to commentators on my site, and one thing a lot of people seem to be using is the Twitterlink Comments feature I have installed. By filling out your Twitter name, it automatically links to your Twitter profile when you leave a comment.
- W3 Total Cache: I’ve always used SuperCache in the past, and I’ve recently replaced it with W3 Total Cache. It delivers static pages to users instead of dynamically generated pages. Basically what the heck does this mean? It means your site loads faster. Visitors tend to hate clicking on a link and having to wait even a few seconds for a page to load. WordPress is awesome, but it’s NOT the fastest platform out there. I admit to still having speed issues from time to time, but this plugin has on average doubled the speed of Next Level Blogger. I switched from Supercache, because this plugin just has a lot more features and is a more comprehensive caching tool.
- WP-DBManager: Maintaining regular database backups and regularly optimizing your database is an important part of maintaining your blog. This can all be done manually of course, but this plugin automates it all.
I usually recommend keeping the number of plugins you run to a minimum. I’m running more than I have before, and I’m not having any issues. I think I have a total of 20 on Next Level Blogger currently, and I’m happy with that number. After installing Headway as my blog’s theme, I was able to get rid of some other plugins that I’ve used before like All in One SEO Pack. That is a plugin I definitely recommend if you’re not using the Headway theme. It offers some very essential SEO features.
Have I missed anything you consider essential? Anything on this list that’s new to you?
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