WordPress in itself is a decent system but it can be made into a rock solid blogging beast. Adding top WordPress plugins can make WordPress into the Swiss Army Knife of blogging: just pull out whatever functionality you need for your specific blog!
Many people have asked me for my list of top WordPress plugins. Of course I’ve written quite a few WordPress plugins myself, but I’d thought I’d share with you what I use and recommond as the top WordPress plugins for just about any site I build, analyze & optimize.
- W3 Total Cache
I seriously cannot live without this plugin, as it makes the sites I build perform to my expectations, instead of slowly crawling. And yes, I think every site should be cached to get the maximum performance for each and every user, not just when you start hitting social sites.
- Google Analytics for WordPress
While it’s my own plugin I seriously recommend everybody use this for tracking their blogs visitors, it does “standard tracking”, but it helps as well with analyzing 404 errors, seeing how authors perform, and much much more.
My site uses a lot of pages to get the site structure I want, and sometimes you want to move around some pages. The default WordPress way of doing that is hard (you have to give each page a menu order by hand) but pageMash is excellent for that, with a nice Ajaxy interface in which you can just drag and drop pages. Have a look (click for larger image):
I’ve been using PageMash for years, in fact it was in my original Top WordPress Plugins post back in October 2008. On some sites though, I’ve replaced it with CMS Tree Page View, which also has a great interface and was a bit easier to work with on sites with even more pages.
Adding in redirects in WordPress is, well, impossible. Redirection makes it possible and for that sole reason is with me on most of my sites. After having some issues with it at first with 3.0 it seems to be working flawlessly again, and I couldn’t imagine running a blog without it yet.
Not only is this plugin perfect for doing automated backups, it can also do things like database optimization and the admin pages for it allow you to do the occasional query from within WordPress!
I used to rely on all sorts of top WordPress plugins to do my security, now I just rely on VaultPress. It makes backups of your blog, checks your site for weird anomalies and fixes them as you go along happily blogging. If you make money from your site and / or it’s worth a lot to you, don’t miss this one.
- Clean Notifications
There are a couple of things in WordPress that have annoyed me from the start and one of them are the emails it sends out for comments, pingbacks etc. Clean Notifications, another one of those top WordPress plugins that has been with me for what seems like ages, cleans those up nicely and turns the emails into nice readable emails without clutter.
- Comment e-mail verification
I don’t like adding hoops for people to jump through when they’re leaving a comment on my site, but I have recently started requiring people to verify their email address once they leave their first comment. It’s helped me heaps in controlling spam on my blog, and the comment e-mail verification plugin is the plugin that allows me to do that. Read more on my comment flow here: preventing anonymous comments in WordPress.
One of those top WordPress plugins that you never “see” but should always be quietly there, doing it’s work, is MediaRSS. It adds MediaRSS tags to your RSS feed, making the first image in the post the thumbnail for services that support it and other things. A simple one without any configuration needs: install, and go!
- Blackbird Pie
So many conversations get started on Twitter these days that you often want to refer back to them in your blogposts. Just linking to a tweet is such a bland method of doing that though, when Blackbird Pie makes it really easy to do it so much smoother. Check out this tweet about my WordPress SEO plugin, for instance:
— Luke McDonald (@thelukemcdonald) December 15, 2010
That looks pretty darn cool, don’t you think?
- WordPress SEO plugin
Last but not least is my own WordPress SEO plugin. While it’s still in beta and will do far more when it’s completely done, it’s already the best SEO plugin out there, in my own humble opinion of course. I use it literally everywhere.
Note: if you think: there are a LOT of comments on this post, that’s true. The original version of this top WordPress plugins post was published in 2008, I just decided to update and re-post, as there are more and more WordPress plugins and a list of top WordPress plugins can really not stay the same all that long!