At the start of this new year 2013, I would like to share the WordPress plugins I used last year and I would be using in 2013. There are tons of plugins available out there. For different work, for different people. For instance, there are many plugins for SEO or WordPress Security but sometimes it gets difficult to decide which one is good or which one will suit our blog and our needs. So, I will be sharing what I use for SEO, Security and others on my blog.
One tip I would like to give to all my readers is to deactivate and delete the plugins you don’t use or use only sometimes. Plugins never slow down your site, only poorly coded plugins slow down the site. So if you are not an expert in coding and stuff, better to use FEWER plugins with good rating and reviews.
I think, this should be our first priority when we make a WordPress blog. There are plenty of security plugins to mess up your blog easily. So, you need to be careful when choosing a security plugin for your blog and also when installing and configuring it.
This is the security plugin I use on my blog. I have written a detailed review about it on my blog as well. It is a very flexible and effective WordPress security plugin. It doesn’t only secure your blog from basic attacks like brute force and all but also gives you many other useful options in the same plugin. Here are some useful options, I love the most, in this plugins:
- Away Mode: It disables WordPress backend on the specified timing. Well, I don’t need my my WordPress backend while I am sleeping.
- Database back up: You can schedule database back up within this plugin. The back up will be sent to the email provided or directly to one of the directory in your WordPress. So you don’t need a separate plugin for back ups (eliminates one plugin need).
- Hide Backend: You can change Login, Register and Admin URL. A good step for securing your blog.
- Login Limits: Block users, hosts if they repeatedly do wrong login attempts. (Eliminates the need of 1 plugin)
You get emails and notification for all suspicious activities, lockout notifications, wordpress files modifications.
NOTE: I would recommend you to follow the instructions I have written on my blog and DISABLE the plugin when installing any new plugin.
After securing the blog the next plugin one should consider installing is a SEO plugin. Again, there are plenty of SEO plugins there in the WordPress Plugins library and it might be tough for you to choose one out of them. Here I am mentioning some of the best SEO plugins out there in market.
This is one of the top premium SEO plugins. It works like a charm, easy to use and very effective. It shows you a checklist in the right side bar of post editor and reminds you of various important SEO tasks which you should do in your post. The plugin checks if you have keywords for your posts or not then it checks that the keyword is present in H1, H2 and H3, keyword is in your post title, images – if the alt tag is there or not, if you have internal links or not, and a few more SEO tweaks.
The plugin keeps giving you SEO suggestions as you write your post. But if you don’t have a budget to buy a paid plugin there here’s another very good SEO plugin for you:
WordPress SEO by YOAST
I am currently using this plugin. And it has shown me great result for my blog in search engines since I started using it. A really great plugin, gives you instant results just after you finish entering all SEO information. The plugin gives an in-depth analysis of the page, also which includes SEO information such as number of outbound links, images alt tags are there or not.
Other features of this plugins are: Webmaster tools integration, XML Sitemaps, and a few more.
All In One SEO Pack
If you have seen, tried the free seo plugin I mention above and didn’t like it or I would say, if that didn’t work for you well then you can try All-In-One SEO Pack. I did try it at the beginning. It is also a very good SEO plugin and is recommended by most of the bloggers out there. Main features of this plugin are: it has Google Analytics support, it automatically optimizes your titles for search engines, generate meta tags automatically.
SEO Friendly Images
I have already mentioned the importance of ALT and Title tags with your images. If you didn’t know that it is important to add alt and title tag in your images and already have put lots of images in your posts then you can try SEO Friendly Images plugin. The plugin automatically updates all the images without ALT and TITLE tag on your blog with appropriate keywords according to the settings you have set.
Social Share Plugins
Digg Digg is very popular plugin for social share buttons. It has share buttons for all the popular social network and communities. Have different option to place the buttons, the very popular is floating display, which can be seen on this page.
WP MashSocial Widget
Can you see first widget in my blogs sidebar which shows my G+ page, my facebook fanpage, twitter, subscribe box and other subscribe and follow options? That widget is WP MashSocial Widget. Very useful widget to put all the subscribe options in one place with on plugin/widget.
CommentLuv is a very popular plugin to increase interactivity on your blog. When someone comments on your blog, CommentLuv adds a link to the most recent post of the commenter’s blog. This attracts more readers to comment. The premium version of CommentLuv has some more interesting and useful options like protecting blog from spams, encourage readers to hit +1, Like, Tweet to show more recent posts from their blog’s feed.
Although, if you are not ready to spend money on the premium version, you can get the basic free version of CommentLuv for your blog.
Comment Reply Notification
I personally love this plugin. The plugin sends an email notification whenever a comment gets a reply from anyone. I like it because my readers don’t have to subscribe to all comments and get an email for each and every comments that my article gets. They just receive a notification whenever someone replies back to THEIR comment.
Tip: Don’t install that THANK YOU for your comments plugin which sends an email every time you comment on the blog. It is one of the most irritating plugin in my list.
Anti Spam plugins
These plugins have really helped me save my blogging world. I was just mad because of the spam I was getting on my blog.
Growmap Anti Spambot plugin (GASP)
It is a very simple yet effective plugin to stop spam comments. It adds a check box under the comment section of our blog and user have to check it before hitting the comment button otherwise the comment won’t be published. Bots won’t see this box, so there will be no bot comments.
SABRE (Simple Anti Bot Registration Engine)
This plugin prevent all bot registrations (I was having tons of). It has different CAPTCHA options like text captcha, math captcha to put on your registration page and prevent spam registrations.
Simple Trackback Validation
I was also tired of spam trackback on my posts. This plugin was good enough to eliminate all of those spams. The plugin eliminates spam trackbacks by (1) checking if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the web server the trackback URL is referring to and (2) by retrieving the web page located at the URL used in the trackback and checking if the page contains a link to your blog.
Site Speed Optimizing plugins
Who’s gonna stay on your site if it takes hours to load a page? Okay, not hours but more than few seconds. Optimizing blogs loading speed is really necessary if we don’t want our readers to go back without even reading for what they had come.
You can check your site speed by Pingdom Full Page Test. (I would suggest you to test the speed of your page, then install the plugins I mention and then again test your site to see the results.)
W3 Total Cache
Very popular and effective cache plugin. This plugin dramatically improves the loading speed, performance of the site. The plugin has different caching like browser, page, object and database caching. It also adds minify and content delivery network (CDN) to WordPress.
Tip: Go to Performance (left side bar) >General > Scroll to Minify and check Auto mode in Minify mode.
WP Database Optimizer
This is also a very effective plugin when it comments to increasing speed of your WordPress site. If you like to experiment with themes, plugins a lot, like me, then you may consider this database optimizer plugin to optimize your WordPress tables. You can schedule optimization of database with specific interval of days.
WP Smush it
This WordPress plugin reduces the size of the images you have stored in your media library and improve performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. Install and activate the plugin, then go to Media> Bulk Smush.it and it will reduce size of all the images WITHOUT reducing its quality.
Statistics and few more…
Basically, Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users. A very good thing about JetPack is, that it is from WordPress.com, so we can trust it better. JetPack is a very good plugin to see your blog’s statistics – pageviews, search queries etc on your WordPress dashboard. Along with stats, JetPack comes with a lot of very useful options (plugins) with in the plugin like:
- WordPress Stats;
- JetPack Comments - A new comment system from JetPack with social media login options;
- Subscriptions - Allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments to receive a notification via email;
- Contact Form – Allows you to insert a contact form anywhere in your site;
- Mobile Theme – Optimize your blog for mobiles.
- And there are so many other really cool and useful options, you must check it out. You don’t have to install any other plugin to activate all of these.
These were all the WordPress plugins I will be using in 2013 and I think, you should be using it too.
Do you think, I missed some important plugin which you would like to use? OR Any drawback of any of the plugins I mentioned above? I would be happy to hear from you.