I am not a huge fan of 3rd party plugins for WordPress. Too many plugins can slow down your blog and increase the ways in which your blog can be exploited.
These risks can be minimized by limiting the number of plugins you choose to use, and by only downloading them from trusted sources.
That being said, there are a few that are wonderful tools to help bloggers.
Akismet – Protects your blog from comment and trackback spam.
On my personal blog, I really do not feel the need for tools that prevents comment spam. My traffic is such that I can moderate all comments and review them as they come in. With the amount of traffic that the V7N blogs receive though, that simply is not feasible so we use Akismet.
To avoid losing comments accidentally marked as spam, make sure the plugin is not configured to auto delete and check your spam comments on a regular basis. There has been a growing controversy about the use of this tool. GrowMap does provide an alternative to Akismet. I have not had time to test the alternative, so I will leave it to you to check it out and decide for yourself.
Do Follow – Disables the rel=nofollow attribute in comments.
Many people do not realize that the default setting for WordPress adds the nofollow attribute to links in comments, including the URL of the person commenting. If people are taking the time to interact on the V7N with quality comments, we want them to receive credit for a link to their site.
This attribute was created because of comment spam. Punishing those who are not in that category of people (or bots) just doesn’t make sense to me. We use this plugin to automatically disable the nofollow attribute but we do watch comments to avoid displaying spam or links to undesirable sites.
FV Simpler SEO – Simple and effective SEO.
Although WordPress is already fairly SEO friendly right out of the box, this tool can be very effective at avoiding duplicate content issues and gives you an easy way to help control the snippet displayed on social media sites such as Facebook by allowing you to add a unique Meta description tag to each individual post.
Google XML Sitemaps – Generate a special XML sitemap.
I am not all that excited by XML sitemaps. I see very little value in them unless your site is very large with less than stellar navigation. That being said, they can be set up in minutes these days so there is no real reason not to have one. If nothing else, it may help you monitor your site in Google Webmaster Tools.
SexyBookmarks – adds a (X)HTML compliant list of social bookmarking icons.
With the growth of social networking you really need a tool that makes it extremely easy for your readers to share your posts. Which one you choose really seems to come down to personal preference. I wanted one that was easily recognizable to the readers that would not make them concerned to click to share something and I didn’t want to fight the coding being compliant. This one fit the bill.
Smart Youtube – Insert YouTube videos in posts, comments and RSS feeds.
Okay, I admit it. I use this plugin because I was sick and tired of fighting the code not being valid every time I wanted to embed a YouTube video. This plugin takes the stress out of it and makes it display nice with a click of a button.
Social Profiles Widget – Insert social profile icons into your sidebar via a widget.
This is another one of those plugins that I use out of pure laziness. Yes, we could have just created our own widget and fought the code to make sure everything lines up exactly as I wanted it, or we could install this cool little plugin that takes all the work out of it and gives me to the icons to use too.
WordPress Database Backup – On demand backup of your WordPress database.
I can tell you a thousand times to keep your blog backed up, and you’re not likely to listen to me until the first time you lose the content of an entire blog. Memories of trying to rebuild a blog from the Google cache has made me almost anal about backing stuff up. Take my word for it and just do it. Don’t wait another minute. Find one that is simple to use and install it today.
WP-Syntax – Display code within your content.
I didn’t even know I needed this plugin until we had a guest blogger who wanted to display code within the content of his post for a tutorial. No matter how I tried to set things up, the code displayed horribly. If you ever need to display code in your posts, this tool is a lifesaver.
Now that you know which plugins are most important to me on the V7N blogs, I would love to hear your thoughts. Which WordPress plugins do you need? Are there some plugins you do not recommend using? Do you bother with plugins at all?
So what are you waiting for? Leave me a comment! 🙂
J. Cricket Walker of CricketWalker.com