8 Plugins I Can’t Do Without
In the wonderful world of WordPress, thousands of plugins are available which have a myriad of functions. There are plugins which do some serious behind-the-scenes work while others simply add an appealing touch to blogs. When I visit other blogs, I always make it a point to check out which (visible) plugins are being used and if there’s one which may be handy for me. That’s how I made my latest (and biggest) discovery – an absolutely brilliant plugin – but more on that later.
I currently use 16 plugins on my Velvet Escape blog and 10 on Velvet Connect. I’m always careful about adding new plugins as they may make a blog pretty heavy and hence slow down the page load speed so I try to keep the number of plugins used to around 15 (though less is better). There are some plugins though which are indispensable as they add enormous value to blogs, either behind-the-scenes or aesthetically. I’ve listed below eight of my favourite plugins which I cannot do without:
1. Add to Any This plugin inserts a small bar under each post which allows readers to email, bookmark or share the post on a variety of social media platforms.
2. All in One SEO Pack Another must-have plugin that does great behind-the-scenes work. It optimises blog posts for SEO purposes by, among others, automatically creating meta tags. It’s perfect for blogger newbies as you only need to install it and it does the rest.
3. Google XML Sitemaps This plugin automatically generates an XML sitemap, hence making it easier for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to index your blog. Anything that makes it easier for search engines to find my posts and index them gets a thumbs up from me!
4. Ultimate Google Analytics enables Google’s famed analytics on your blog. It’s a great plugin that tracks traffic, external links, email links, links to downloads, etc…
5. WP Spam Free This was one of the first plugins that I installed. It helps to eliminate spam on blogs, both in the comment fields and the contact form. So far, it’s blocked almost 6,000 comment spam on my blogs!
6. StatPress Reloaded Ok, you might be wondering why I use two analytics plugins. The answer is simple, I’m just hooked on this plugin! This plugin’s biggest draw is that it provides real-time stats. It also features a graph which provides an insightful illustration of my traffic stats with just one glance. Oh, and there’s the Spy feature which shows who’s just visited my blog and it also tracks traffic generated through Google Images searches (and the search terms).
7. Broken Link Checker It’s quite annoying for readers when links stop working – they may get so annoyed and never return! This plugin continuously scans all links on my blog and checks if any link is broken. Any broken link is immediately highlighted on my Dashboard, prompting an action.
8. Ahhh… I’ve saved the best for last! I discovered this plugin a month ago and I’m totally blown away by its features and the enormous value it adds to my blog. It’s called Apture and I highly recommend it. What does it do? Gosh, where do I start? It allows you to easily search for relevant content (be it a map, an article, an image, a video, etc… on Google Maps, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, etc..) and either link to it or embed it in your blog post. You can also upload and embed your own content such as pdf’s, Powerpoint presentations, Word documents or Excel worksheets. I can’t stop raving about this plugin and I recommend you check it out. There are so many features, many of which are still unknown to me, but an article on Problogger provides a detailed description of this brilliant plugin!