Which WordPress Plugins Do You Need?



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.

AkismetProtects 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 FollowDisables 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 SitemapsGenerate 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.

SexyBookmarksadds 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 YoutubeInsert 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 WidgetInsert 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 BackupOn 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-SyntaxDisplay 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

  1. ElaineElaine05-26-2011

    Sweet, I hadn’t heard of the WP Syntax code! That’s just what I need for one of my blogs. And I might just have to try out the SEO plugin you’re recommending, since you are by far and away the most knowledgeable SEO person I know. 🙂

    • CricketCricket05-26-2011

      I hadn’t heard of it either until a guest blogger told me about it. I love it!

  2. Tina ClarkeTina Clarke05-26-2011

    I have the backup and askismet and dofollow of course .. the others I don’t. Time for a revamp on those old wp tutorials on your site? The extra one’s I have arem one for a sitemap and one for a contact form the other two are security plugins. I was not sure about any of the seo plugins so left them alone but will be checking the above out.

    WP Security Scan
    Exploit Scanner
    Fast Secure Contact Form
    WP Archive-Sitemap Generator

    • CricketCricket05-26-2011

      It is way past time for me to do updates on my tutorial sites, but there just aren’t always enough time in the day to go back and do updates and still write new stuff. 🙂

  3. S. EmersonS. Emerson05-26-2011

    Not big on going plugin crazy. The overhead can really draw your blog’s performance down.

    Akismet – don’t use due to the problems you brought up. Use comment moderation, blacklist IPs and words and Cookies for Comments (tip from Matt Cutts smiles)

    FV Simpler SEO – altered my templates to use custom fields for the keywords and description meta tags.

    Sitemaps – don’t use. If your navigation is setup correctly the links should send your visitors and all bots to the internal pages. I do use Sitemap Generator Plugin for WordPress by Dragon for an HTML site map for now.

    WordPress Database Backup – Do my WordPress backups manually using FTP and the control panel of my hosting account.

    For related posts on one blog – Other Posts From Cat by Dragon Design

    Email – one blog uses Contact Form 7.

    If you want to know what Matt Cutts uses, watch the video here: Straight from Google: What You Need to Know. It’s long (45mins as I remember) so get a cup of coffee and a pen and paper to make notes.

    • CricketCricket05-26-2011

      I know you have some wonderful resource links for us. Until I can figure why they are not showing up in the comments we will start a thread in the forum. 🙂

  4. Gail GardnerGail Gardner05-26-2011

    Hi Cricket,

    Thank you for including a link to my GrowMap anti-spambot plugin (G.A.S.P.). I do encourage bloggers to at least read the page you linked in this post for more details. When you start getting 1000+ comments a day in your spam folder and among those are a dozen of your best commentator’s comments and you spend an hour or more trying to find them among that spam then you’ll know why G.A.S.P. exists. It blocked 940+ of every 1000 comments for me because those were all spambot comments and Akismet didn’t block them. There have been 7,957 downloads so far.

    If you’ve commented in any blog that asks you to check a box indicating you aren’t a spammer or spambot (the text is easy to change) you’ve seen G.A.S.P. in action. Almost all of the blogs I regularly comment in are using it.

    I agree that we want to minimize how many plugins we use but most of the bloggers I collaborate with are using far more than you mention. One I specifically want to share – especially since you included dofollow – is CommentLuv. Andy (@CommentLuv on Twitter) created the G.A.S.P. plugin for us but he is best known for CommentLuv.

    You’ve probably seen blogs using CommentLuv. It allows you to share one of your latest posts and that means you can get to know your commentators more quickly and follow interesting posts back to their blogs.

    For those concerned about having too many dofollow outgoing links do your commentators a favor and if you nofollow anything nofollow their name or use KeywordLuv and nofollow their CommentLuv link and dofollow the KeywordLuv link. The reason is that the most valuable links are the ones where you control the anchor text. That is what the KeywordLuv plugin allows and you can also do it by creating what Andy @CommentLuv calls default links.

  5. MikeMike05-28-2011

    Thanks for the tip on G.A.S.P. I used the word press Do Follow plug in a few months ago, and was thinking of not using it, due to the amount of spam I had to filter through. I just don’t have the 30 minutes you need to do it.

  6. Pat GearyPat Geary06-02-2011

    Our church blog seems to get hit with a ton of spam, a lot more than any of my other blogs. I started using Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin and have been very pleased with it. It adds a captcha field to the comment section and has cut the spam for the site down to more manageable levels. Another one I have found very useful is the Fast and Secure Contact Form.

  7. Tec ManTec Man06-06-2011

    Google XML Sitemaps I have been using for 2 years with out any problem but after change the server In Google Webmaster tools it does not accept, I dont know how to manage this

  8. JuloJulo06-06-2011

    I would rather replace the nofollow atributes myself in the code instead of installing some plugin for that. It’s so easy. I would recommend you to post an article about it. 🙂 Anyway good tips!

  9. GlyphTabGlyphTab08-23-2011

    Question: will Do Follow allow you to collectively make a link nofollow or dofollow or it makes all dofollow?
    BTW, is this blog’s template Karma template?

  10. koskos08-25-2011

    I also strongly recommend WebsiteDefender WordPress Security plug-in if you care enough to your blog’s security. (not because I work on it 😀 )

    here’s the link: http://www.websitedefender.com/news/announcing-websitedefender-wordpress-security-plugin/

  11. Some interesting looking plugins in that list that I haven’t heard of. The SEO one I will have a look at – I started off using All in One SEO, and now find myself gravitating toward Yoast as that improves. You don’t appear to have a caching plugin there, which I find once you get beyond a few plugins seems to be necessary to make the site nice and snappy.
    I also had KeywordLuv for a while, if only I could pass on the luv without having a massive backlog of spam to deal with – Akismet would fix that, but then it becomes a question of why we would pay to block something so we can pass on the link luv to the few who play the game properly…

    Thanks for the post!

  12. Yi?it ÖzdamarYi?it Özdamar09-10-2011

    DoFollow Plugin is really cool! It does give sense to my visitors.

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