WordPress Plugins I use and why

January 5
2012 th

6

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Bloggers that use WordPress probably have their own little (or large) list of plugins that they must use and their own reason or using them.  I love reading what plugins other bloggers are using and why because it can help me know if I may need that plugin or if there is a better one than one I’m already using.

Here’s my list of plugins that I use and why.  Some are a must and some are just because.

Add New Default Avatar – I use this because I don’t like the choice of avatars you get with WordPress.  I like that they can be different for each person based on IP and/or email, but lets face it, I don’t want little monsters or weird graphics.  This one you can upload an image/point to an image and it’ll use that image for anyone who hasn’t bothered to set up a Gravatar account (it’s free, ya know!).

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

Akismet – This is a given, it helps keep spam from your comments.  It’s not always correct and you should still skim through both approved comments and those marked as spam, but it sure does help prevent a lot of spam comments.  This is a must for anyone who uses WordPress and yes, it’s free!

Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken links of any kind.  They can be within comments, posts, or your images.  You can fix them, remove the link, or just ignore them.  This is another must have but I don’t always keep it activated because it does slow down your Dashboard (at least it does for me).  I check about once a week or so for broken links.

CommentLuv – It allows your readers to place a link at the end of their comment.  Based on the URL they add to the comment form, it’ll grab the last comment (you can have it set so the reader can choose which post to use).  It’s a nice little feature to make it easy to see what their currently blogging about.

Contact Form 7 – It’s the best contact form plugin I’ve found.  There are others that work just as well or better but they all seem to cost money.  This one allows you to have multiple forms throughout your site and you can have it set up with whatever questions/information you want to be filled out.  It can be set up to email just you or multiple people if you want.  Must have if you want PR to contact you!

Custom Smilies – Love this plugin.  One of the very first plugins I ever got.  I love my smilies and I love having them in my posts.  I don’t always use them, but every once in a while you just want to put up a little smiley face. It’s easy to use and set-up and you don’t have to remember codes for your smilies you can just click on the smiley you want to use and it’s automatically put in your post.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

Executable PHP widget – Just started using this.  Need it for one of the ad networks I’m using so it can automatically insert the ads to my sidebar.  Since their code is in PHP you need this for the ads to work.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

FeedBurner FeedSmith – This is supposed to make sure that your feeds are redirected to FeedBurner so you can track all your subscribers.  Not sure if it works or not, it was one of the first plugins I started using and I just never uninstalled it to see if anything changes.

ETA:  I have decided to remove the FeedBurer FeedSmith plugin as I don’t know if it really does anything special.

FT Signature Manager – Adds my little signature to the bottom of my posts.  Yeah, I could just add it to the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin (next on the list) but I don’t like where it’s put with the Simple Hooks plugin.  Maybe one day I’ll remove this plugin and just use Simple Hooks.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

Genesis Simple Hooks – Awesome plugin if you are using the Genesis Framework.  In fact, it’s a must have! It allows you access to 50+ action hooks in the Genesis themes (according to the theme).  I don’t take full advantage of the plugin, mainly because I’m too lazy to figure it all out, but it’s nice to have to insert special codes into spots that you normally don’t have access to with the Genesis themes.

Google XML Sitemaps – Helps you get indexed with the search engines.  Does it really help?  Don’t know, but it was recommended by Google when setting up either AdSense, Analytics, or the Webmaster Tools, so I installed it.  Can’t hurt to have a sitemap set up, right?

Greg’s Threaded Comment Numbering – Love it, love seeing the comments numbered.  Made it awesome for getting winners on giveaways.  However it doesn’t work perfectly with the Genesis themes.  The numbering is off some because it counts trackbacks as comments so your numbers may be off slightly on each page.  I still use it just because it was set up to work with this theme.

Jetpack by WordPress.com – great for keeping track of your stats and it does some extra things too.  I don’t use all the features because I use other plugins for those things and I like the other plugins better.

jQuery Lightbox for Native Galleries – This is what I use when I’m posting images.  Not if I’m just doing one here or there, but when I’m doing reviews or posting lots of pictures.  You can have it set up to show little thumbnails and when you click on the image it’ll open to full size.  Only problem with this is it doesn’t seem to work with all versions of Internet Explorer.

LinkWorth – plugin for auto linking your ads with LinkWorth.  This way you don’t have to enter codes into your sidebar, just install the plugin, put the widget where you want the LinkWorth ads to show up and when you approve the ad it’s automatically inserted.

Official StatCounter Plugin – I love StatCounter for keeping track of my stats.  You have a lot of features with it and using the plugin makes it so much easier to keep track because you don’t have to log into their site, just click the StatCounter link in your menu of your dashboard.

Privacy Policy – Awesome plugin.  Creates your privacy policy for you and you can configure it how you wish.  Must have if you want to be AdSense compliant and want your readers to know your policy on their information.

ETA:  I have decided to remove the Privacy Policy plugin because you cannot edit your policy to include anything extra. Instead I now just have a page set up that I can edit at any time.

Socialize – Best plugin to use for social bookmarking.  There are many out there, and I’ve used many of them. This is very configurable and it’s reliable!  Must have!

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin. It was interfering with another plugin and wasn’t putting the social bookmarks where they should have been in all posts.  I now use the social media part of Jetpack for this.

W3 Total Cache – Honestly I’m just checking this one out.  I’ve heard that many bloggers have been required to install this plugin from their host because they were using too many resources or whatever.  Honestly, I think it’s a sham and isn’t needed, especially when you are using a host that says you have unlimited space and usage.  Probably won’t keep it, as it seems to slow my site down for me.  Use if you want.

ETA:  I have decided to remove the W3 Total Cache plugin as I don’t get much use out of it and it seems to slow my site down.

Whydowork AdSense – great for putting ads wherever you want within your posts. If you don’t want ads to show up on your posts until they are so many days old and you want the ad to be at the top/bottom/middle of the post, this is the plugin to use. You have spots for 10 ads (I think it’s 10), then you just tell it which ad to use in which spot and if you want it always there or after the post is X amount of days old.  You can even have it change the ad based on the number of days.  Works with all ad places, not just Google AdSense!

WordPress Automatic Upgrade – This is a given, if you are using WordPress than you want/need this plugin.  It allows you to automatically upgrade your site when a new version of WordPress comes out just by clicking the auto upgrade instead of going through all the prompts to back-up, save, this, that, and the other.

WordPress Database Backup – Backs up your database on-demand.  You tell it how often to backup and where to email you the backup.  Best backup plugin to use because not all will allow you to backup as often as this one does.  However, this plugin does have it’s flaws, it doesn’t always work (which is why I use another backup plugin too).

WP-CommentNavi – Gives you nicer page navigation for your comments.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

WP-DBManager – Allows you to backup and manage your WordPress database.  Use only if you know what you are doing, you could lose everything.  I started using it because the WordPress Database Backup plugin doesn’t always seem to work.

WP-PageNavi – Basically the same as the WP-CommentNavi except this is for your pages/posts rather than your comments.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

WP-Polls – what I use if I want to include a poll to a post.  I used it for picking out Xavier’s name and I think for one or two other polls I recently took.  This allows you to set up a poll for your readers.  It has a lot of options.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin.

WP-PostViews – Allows you to see how many times a post has been read/viewed.  Doesn’t work on old posts except from the time it was installed, but works great.  Love it and consider it a must have.

WP Smush.it – reduces the sizes of your images to improve performance.  You never want to use too much space for your images, could slow your load time down majorly if you are loading huge images.

ETA:  I have decided to remove this plugin. Last time I checked this plugin was not working properly.

WPtouch – puts your site in mobile mode for those viewing your site from a mobile device.  You either like it or you don’t.  I could go with or without it.  Not very customizable but it’s nice on load times when you are on a phone viewing a site.

ETA:  I have decided to remove the WPTouch plugin as I don’t get much use out of it.

[de77] No Follower – Automatically ads the rel=”nofollow” to posts in chosen categories.  For instance if you do not want certain links to be followed in your Giveaway categories, just set it up and any links on those pages will be nofollow links.  This is supposed to or could help your Google ranking, but I haven’t noticed a difference yet.

So those are the plugins I’m using.  Are they the best? Do they work? Should you get them?  Well, sure!  I mean, they work for me or at least seem to.  Some I definitely think are needed and you should get, but it’s really up to you.

I have added many new plugins and removed several from above.  I will eventually write a new post with the updated plugins I use.

About Shawn Ann Griffith

Shawn Ann Griffith is a born and raised Michigander and a soon to be single mother to hurricane of a boy (2005) and a toddler boy (2011). She is also a 2010 Baker College graduate with an Associates degree in Business with a concentration in Accounting / Computer Information Systems. You can view my About Me page to learn more.

Comments

  1. Melanie Johnson says:

    This is a LOT of plugins. You might consider downsizing for several reasons. Plugin’s like smileys and gravatar’s can significantly reduce your site’s speed for one. The most important reason is you are setting yourself up for back end hacking. The more plugins, the more ways to hack in. Especially if you are using an outdated plugin or have not updated it. I personally would limit it to what is crucial for running your blog efficiently.

    • I never have outdated plugins, all of my plugins are updated the moment I log in and see they need updating. I don’t wait around for that.

      Yeah, I could do without a couple of these plugins, but none of them are hurting my site right now although the ones I don’t take advantage of wold be the first to go, not something I use all the time.

  2. Thank you for posting these! These explanations are great and I think I may add some of these to my blog!

  3. The Akismet for me is annoying. It blocks the comment from the pure blog commentator. I experienced this many times and I am very annoyed why AKISMET is not perfect.
    Lowela most recently posted… provillus reviews

    • Yes, it isn’t perfect. No plugin really is. There’s always going to be a flaw, especially in a plugin that is meant to keep spam away. I have one reader that it almost always puts their comments in spam, even though they’ve commented a bunch of times either for giveaways or just commenting on a post. That’s why it’s best to always double check your comments, both approved and spam.