21 of the Best WordPress Plugins for New Blogs
UPDATE: I’ve updated this list here: 32 Essential WordPress Plugins
I have a confession to make. I’ve been holding out on you.
As someone that preaches being Radically Transparent, I’ve not been very forthcoming with the list of WordPress plugins we use on Marketing Pilgrim. By keeping them a big secret, I shamelessly thought I’d keep an advantage over competing blogs.
Well, no more! Consider this my Christmas present to you all. Enjoy!
Ad Rotator – rotate ads anywhere on your site
This is actually the newest plugin added to Marketing Pilgrim. It allows me to set up simple text files with multiple ads in each. I then reference the text files anywhere in the blog template and the plugin will rotate between the ads found in the text file. Before using this plugin, I could only offer advertisers the option to manually switch out ad creatives every 2-4 weeks.
Akismet – best comment spam filter ever!
This should already be installed for your WordPress blog, but you may need to activate it. It’s secret? It aggregates information from all Akismet users–which means it will block you from a spammer, even if they’ve never commented on your site before. The only downside? Sometime it produces false-positives, resulting in legit comments heading to spam-jail.
Author Image – smiling faces on every post
If you like seeing the smiling faces of Pilgrim’s writers, you can thank Author Image. If you hate seeing the smiling faces of Pilgrim’s writers, you can blame Author Image.
Best Contact Form – a juiced-up contact form
If you’d like to know more information about those that fill out your blog’s contact form–like, which keywords they entered on Google to get to your blog–then you’ll want to check out Best Contact Form.
CommentLuv – paying it forward
We love to reward our readers when they leave a comment. With CommentLuv, every commenter automatically has their last blog post displayed below their comment on Marketing Pilgrim.
FeedFooter – little messages at the bottom of your feed
FeedFooter has so many great uses. On MP we use it to display ads at the bottom of every RSS feed item. On other blogs I use it to place copyright information and backlinks–to try and stop spammers from scraping the feed.
Force Word Wrapping – ‘cos some words are too long
Have you ever seen a 40 character URL posted on a blog, stretch across into the sidebar. Looks ugly, doesn’t it? You won’t ever see that on MP, thanks to this plugin which forces word-wrapping.
Math Comment Spam – when Akismet is not enough
Even with Akismet, MP would still suffer from around 100 bot comments each day. When I installed Math Comment Spam protection, the number of spam comments dropped to zero. Effectively, only humans can leave a comment on MP, because even robots aren’t smart enough to figure out 7+11. Bonus: this form of comment spam protection is much easier for human commenters than those hard to read captchas!
No Self Pings – does exactly what it says on the tin
Here at Marketing Pilgrim, we inter-link our own posts heavily. Without this plugin, we’d have dozens of trackback/pingbacks from our own blog each day. This prevents them from showing up in our comments section.
Post Teaser – because I’m a big tease
Want to de-clutter your blog’s homepage and increase click-throughs to post pages at the same time? This handy plugin automatically creates a teaser of each post on the homepage, with a link through to the full post.
Redirection – when it absolutely, positively, must get there
I love this plugin! Not only does it automatically redirect post URLs–handy for when you click “publish” only to realize your misspelled a word in the post slug–but it also has a 301 redirect manager. How hand is that? A few months back a large email newsletter link to this blog, but had a typo in the page name. Instead of that traffic hitting a 404 error page, I was able to redirect it to the correct destination! Oh, and you should already know the SEO benefits of using this plugin.
Related Posts – don’t leave home without it
If you’ve read this far into this post, the chances are, we have other posts that you’d love too! With this plugin, I can automatically suggest other great posts–on the same topic–that you’ll likely love.
SEO Title Tag – “Professor” Spencer’s SEO home-run
If you care about SEO, then you should care about the TITLE of your posts and pages. I don’t always use this on posts, but for our “pages” this plugin allows me to override the TITLE that is automatically generated.
Show Top Commentators – just add water for instant comments
How do you get your readers to leave comments? Add this plugin and you can reward your most vocal commenters with a non-nofollowed backlink to the site of their choice. Options allow you to reset the list every day, week, or month and you can also decide how many to show. A word of warning. While this does help to kick-start the comments on your site, you WILL attract more spammers–hoping to leave comments as “Viagra” and such. You’ll need to police your list, but the plugin also allows you to filter out those commenters that abuse this plugin.
Smart Ads – smarter than the average plugin
Another recent find. Smart Ads lets me auto-insert ads before and after blog posts. OK, nothing new there. However, why I love it is that it allows me to insert the ads only after a certain number of days have past. For example, we have it set to only insert ads on posts older than 20 days. That way, regular readers are not inundated with ads, while we get to monetize our archives.
Subscribe to Comments – “you just keep me hanging on!”
I wish more blogs had this plugin installed. As a publisher, I love this plugin because I can set the defaul to automatically subscribe a commenter to receive an alert when a new comment is added. This brings them back to the conversation–btw, they can un-check the box to opt-out. As a commenter, I love seeing this option–especially if I leave a comment and would love to know if the author replies to my question/comment.
Theme Tester – behind the scenes theme switching
This plugin was a life-saver during our re-design. It allowed us (Admins) to view the new WordPress theme, while every other blog reader saw the existing design. The next time you test a new theme, you can do so without risking your audience see the experiment!
WordPress Database Backup – a life saver
You do back-up your blog, right?
WP-Cache – legalized speeding
If you ever expect–or even if you don’t–to get on the homepage of Digg, Slashdot or some other high-traffic web site, then you’ll be glad you had this plugin installed. In brief, it caches your pages so that they load faster–which is handy when Digg sends you hundreds of visitors a second. There are lots of features and only a couple of caveats. Once a month it doesn’t play nicely with my Math Comment Spam plugin–resulting in the question and answers not matching up. Also, if you make changes to your design, you’ll have to clear the cache, in order to see the changes.
WP-Email – you’ll be surprised how often this is used
When I first installed this plugin, even I was shocked at just how often it was being used by readers. If your readers find something interesting on your site, let them email it to a friend or co-worker–you might just get another loyal reader/subscriiber!
WP-Notable – share, and share alike
There are lots of “share this” plugins available. You know, the ones that allow your readers to submit a post to Digg or StumbleUpon. I’ve used this one for years, but it doesn’t matter which flavor you use, just use it!
OK, now your turn. Why not share the love by leaving a link to your favorite WordPress plugin? C’mon spill the beans on that one plugin you think gives your blog an advantage.