14 Plugins To Improve Your WordPress Blog

Plug WordPress is one of, if not the, leading blogging platform at the moment. It’s also an Open Source project. This means that anyone can contribute to its development. There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, to do almost anything you can imagine. However, this can get a little daunting.

Here are 14 plugins I currently use on DaveFleet.com and why you might want to consider using them.

Akismet

Akismet is the standard for preventing comment spam on WordPress blogs. There are other spam plugins available, but I’ve found Akismet to be more than up to the job.

Akismet comes packaged with your WordPress installation and it’s 100% worth the minimal effort required to activate it.

All in One SEO Pack

The All in One SEO Pack gives you a whole bunch of ways to easily improve the search engine optimization for your blog.

This plugin lets you quickly add meta data for your title, description and keyword fields, modify page titles and so on for your entire site, all from one place. It also lets you dig down and edit the meta data for each individual post. Another simple but useful plugin.

FeedBurner FeedSmith

If you’re not already using FeedBurner, I highly recommend you investigate it. It gives you easy access to some useful stats about your readers, while also providing some great tools for promoting your content.

FeedBurner FeedSmith automatically detects all the ways to access your site’s RSS feed and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed instead. It also offers an option to forward your comments feed, too. If you’re not sure about the quality of the plugin, FeedBurner recommends it.

Google XML Sitemaps

The Google XML Sitemaps plugin generates a “XML-compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog.” The major search engines all support this way of feeding them the pages you want to include in their indexes. Another useful tool; it has the additional benefit of stopping Google Webmaster Tools from whining at me about the lack of a sitemap whenever I click through its reports.

Login Lockdown

Login Lockdown adds some extra security to WordPress by restricting the rate at which failed logins can be re-attempted from a given IP range. Gives me a little extra peace of mind, which I appreciate.

Recent Posts

The Recent Posts plugin displays a highly configurable list of your most recent posts for your sidebar. Simple and effective.

This plugin comes packaged with a Recent Comments plugin. Both require the (simple) installation of the Post-Plugin Library in order to work.

Redirection

Redirection lets you easily manage 301 redirects, 404 errors and a whole bunch of other things without needing to mess around with your .htaccess file. Great for non-technically-minded people. Me? I just like its simplicity.

Subscribe to Comments

The Subscribe to Comments plugin allows your readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. I love this feature on other sites as I rarely check back once I’ve commented normally. I was thrilled to find an easy way to implement this on my site.

Twitter Tools

Ok, fine, I’m lazy. I don’t want to type in the one line of text to let my Twitter followers know I’ve published a new post. The Twitter Tools plugin does it for me. It also lets you post directly to Twitter yourself if you like (not that I ever have) and pull your “tweets” (Twitter messages) into your blog.

This one is a love-it-or-hate it plugin. Some people detest the idea of this; others appreciate it. One warning – be careful when you’re re-categorizing posts – Twitter Tools will post notifications of those posts as if they’re new. If you’re doing any work around page names, tags or re-categorizing posts, be sure to de-activate this plugin first.

WordPress.com Stats

The WordPress.com Stats plugin is one of the most useful tools I’ve found. Alongside Google Analytics, this lets me dig down and see what’s going on on my site. It tracks total views, post/page views, referrers (very useful) and clicks. I love it.

WordPress PDA & iPhone

WordPress PDA & iPhone is a wonderfully simple plugin. It takes the long, unwieldy and user-unfriendly homepage people would normally view on a mobile device and re-formats it to show post summaries instead. With a very simple installation process, this is a great way to optimize your site for people on the go.

WordPress Reports

I discovered the WordPress Reports plugin very recently.

WordPress Report complements the WordPress.com Stats plugin nicely, pulling data from FeedBurner and Google Analytics and formatting it clearly so you can easily see what’s going on on your site. While WordPress.com Stats focuses on today and yesterday, WordPress Reports gives you a seven-day trend on key information including “rising” and “falling” posts, popular content, pages per visit and so on.

WP-Print

WP-Print helps you link to a printable version of your posts. Alongside fitting them neatly onto the page, this plugin also creates a list of the URLs you’ve linked at the bottom of the post so hard-copy readers, who would otherwise miss out on them, can benefit from those pages too. Just install the plugin, paste one line of code into your template and you’re up and running.

Zemanta

Zemanta lets WordPress help you write your posts. It examines the content of your posts and suggests pictures, links and tags for you to add. I just discovered this one recently and haven’t had a chance to test-drive it fully yet but I’ve noticed a few other people, Jason Falls for example, using it already.


There you have it – 14 plugins that I use and which might help to make your blogging life easier.

Do you use any of these? If you do, what do you think of them? What are your favourite plugins?

(hat tip to Chris Brogan for sparking the idea for this post. Photo credit: ChrisB in SEA)

Update: For some reason I’ve been getting an obscene number of spam comments to this post, so I’ve closed the post comments.

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