As I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different plugins recently, to increase the page speed and generally improve the “end user experience”, I thought now would be a good time to share which ones I like best. If you think I’ve missed a glorious plugin, please let me know by leaving a comment. If you find this blog post and video helpful, please use the share buttons at the bottom, thanks!
Note, I don’t generally like having a huge number of plugins. I suspect that the more plugins you have, the more they clog up your WordPress database like too much software on your desktop machine slows it to a crawl. So, if I have a plugin active, you can be fairly sure it’s doing a good job. So here’s the list… firstly in video form, then text.
Broken Link Checker
I really like this plugin. You can download it from WordPress here. What it does is spider your blog for links, then checks them all. I hadn’t done anything to check my links since starting the blog in 2006, but I was surprised to find thousands of broken links. Just imagine how that looks to Google or your blog visitors when you present them with a bad link. Not good. I was amazed at the number of links I had, both within blog posts and blog comments where the domain had expired, the site had moved or the site had changed its link structure. Fortunately, Broken Link Checker will let you edit or “unlink” each broken link, or simply bulk “unlink” them. It was simple and painless. Finally, you can run Broken Link Checker whenever you like, manually, or set it to auto-run.
Contact Form 7
OK, there’s not much to say about this one. Get it here. It’s one of the simplest ways to add a “contact form” to your blog, and I use it here. I should sort out a captcha for it, but haven’t done that yet.
Flash Video Player
This is a plugin that lets me stream Flash .flv files from my blog. I use it a lot less nowadays as I prefer to embed Youtube movies after uploading the .flv files there first. However, I still have some old .flv movies on the blog which the Flash Video Player lets me stream, and if I ever record a movie that Youtube don’t want to host, or for any other reason, I know I can use this player to stream .flv files from my server. Get Flash Video Player here. Note: most of the time, I try to recommend up-to-date plugins, but this one is old and hasn’t been updated for a long time, so you may want to skip it.
Google XML Sitemaps
Not much to say about this mainstream plugin. It’s a simple and easy way to add an XML sitemap such as this one to your blog. Google checks for the sitemap often, so why not add it to your blog in a few clicks with this plugin?
Minimum Word Count
This is a plugin I used recently to check on the length of my blog posts. The idea is that longer posts, like this one, are preferred. The Minimum Word Count plugin adds a column to the WordPress admin area listing the word count for each post. It’s then easy to see which posts could use a bit of extra content, or could be merged with others, or even deleted if they provide little value. Most of the posts I made early in the life of this blog were very short, I treated it a bit like Twitter, so a few have been axed and I could well merge others.
Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
This is the plugin that helped me shrink my WordPress database by over a THIRD in just a few clicks. As I gave a detailed description of it, along with a video, here, I won’t repeat myself. Hopefully a more efficient database means the blog will load faster and won’t be prone to errors.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
There a lots of plugins to help you back-up your WordPress database. What I like about this one is that it automates the process and can back-up to a variety of places. I use dropbox, so my backups are regularly sent there without me having to manually schedule it.
Use Google Libraries
W3 Total Cache
This plugin by Joost lets you maximise the SEO advantages of WordPress. You can force Title re-writes, add your own meta descriptions, get a snippet preview of how your Title and description will look in a search engine’s results, have the plugin give each post an SEO score, and more.
I really like this plugin, which I use for the “social sharing buttons”. Unlike a lot of social media plugins, which load the images along with the page and make loading slow to a crawl, you can set WPSocialite to load the images when a visitor scrolls down a page. While it sounds simple, the effect is dramatic because the social sharing buttons are NOT loaded when the initial page loads, which makes the page load much more quickly. If a visitor doesn’t scroll down your blog post to read the content, they’re unlikely to share it, right? So if they’re not going to share it, why load the images?
I found that ONLY having the sharing buttons at the bottom of individual posts, and set to load on “scroll” events, got rid of the problem of loading social buttons with each page of the blog.
WPtouch is the plugin I use to serve mobile-friendly blog posts to mobile devices. I made a video about it here, along with what to do to get it to work with W3 Total Cache, so I won’t repeat myself here, but I really like it and it seems to work well.
So there you have it, my “dozen plugins”. What do you think? If you liked the post, please share it using the buttons below. If you think I missed a great plugin, please leave a comment and let me know.