My 12 Favourite WordPress Plugins

My 12 Favourite WordPress Plugins

My 12 Favourite WordPress Plugins

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

This plugin lets your blog use Google’s javascript libraries which can help improve page load speed and takes some load off of your server.

W3 Total Cache

This widely-used plugin is used to help reduce page load time and reduce server load by serving a cache of your blog rather than having every visitor query the database. It also had useful advanced options like minifying and compressing your HTML, CSS and javascript. It also integrates with multiple Content Delivery Networks such as Cloudflare and Amazon, although I don’t personally use one at the moment. Note: some people are experiencing problems with this plugin at the moment. With over 1.75 million downloads, that’s not very surprising. I haven’t seen any problems, and you can always disable the plugin if you encounter any, but I thought I’d mention it.

 WordPress SEO

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.

WPSocialite

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

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. :-)

 

About Neil_Shearing

I've been an Internet Marketer since creating and selling my first ebook in 1997. As a former scientist I like to test money-making ideas, then simplify and share them. Apart from this blog, I can also be found on many social media sites. Click here for a list.
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23 Responses to My 12 Favourite WordPress Plugins

  1. Don says:

    I’ve used 4 of these. I’m glad to see a free Backup option. Everyone has been telling me to use Backup Buddy, but I don’t like the concept of paying for it. Maybe I’m just cheap. Have you had to use the backup plugin? If so, how well did it work?

    • Hi Don,
      Yes, I use the backup plugin to make backups. It runs periodically, making a backup and sending it to dropbox. If I go to the “settings” page for the plugin, I can download the last backup. I can also see when it was made and when the next one is scheduled. I haven’t yet had to “restore” from a backup, thankfully.
      Neil.

  2. Thanks so much Neil! I am using all but 2 of these already. These are all great plugins.

  3. Ken McArthur says:

    Great job Neil! Thanks for posting your list of plug-ins. Quality all the way!

  4. Gary says:

    Hi Neil,
    I’ve had the misfortune to need the facilities provided by backup software in the past.
    More than once, it didn’t work.
    I now test my backup software by actually perfoming a restore.
    It’s a bit like insurance, you don’t need it till you need it.
    But, as you know, Murphy rules most of the time.
    I’m not saying that the plugin you talk about doesn’t work, haven’t tried it.
    I’m just saying.
    All the best.
    Gary

    • Thanks Gary, yes, I have manual backups too. I’m not sure about testing a backup live though… that seems a bit drastic to me!

      Neil.

      • Gen_A says:

        Hi Neil, I agree with what Gary said above. You should at least try to test restore a backup once. It’s happened to us recently where restoring the database from a backup made by a commercial software didn’t work.

  5. John Flynn says:

    Thanks Neil, great suggestions here, I use a few of these all the time. How about two more – Youtube White Label Shortcode (strips all the extra YT messaging from videos hosted on YT) and Fast Secure Contact Form which is a bit easier to set up IMHO than Contact 7 and able to interface with the Contact 7 database plugin (a child plugin to Contact 7). :-)

  6. Jan van Leeuwen says:

    After all plugins are loaded you will end up with a site that has 93.5% code and 6.5% contentwhich will make you drop on seo-scores.

    • Hi Jan,

      Well, I’ve been adding plugins at the same time as testing and improving my page speed. I did have to dump some plugins for lowering my page speed. I’m happy how fast the pages load at the moment, with all those plugins enabled. I did get test results saying my homepage loaded fater than 95% of all websites. Although, as luck would have it, I think there may be some network issues with speed at the moment, which isn’t something I can control.

      Neil.

  7. Dan says:

    Neil,

    Thanks for the list. I knew of some of them already (W3 Total Cache, WPTouch, etc.). But there are some gems in there that I didn’t know about (like the revision clearing).

    Appreciate you sharing this great info with us.

  8. Bill says:

    Thanks for that Neil.
    There’s a couple there that I have’nt used before, I’ll have to give them a coat of looking at.
    I have used the Contact form by Takayuki Miyoshi for years but I usually use his
    “Really Simple CAPTCHA” add-on to go with it.

    It would be interesting to see how the Backup/Restore plugin performs i.e. these things work ok, like a diode, one way, but do they always regurgitate the saved info correctly.
    I’m very wary using these devices. I use a proprietary plugin for this function but it sometimes hiccoughs !!!!

  9. Yoast’s wordpress SEO plug-in that you are using creates an XML map for Google so I would drop the XML map plug-in it becomes redundant.
    That plug-in also gives you a character count of how many characters in every post. So the word count plug-in becomes less important I also dropped that plug-in.

    A plug-in I would add is a video site map after testing many of them the best one that I have found is Yoast’s Video Sitemap.

    I would also have a social plug-in which distributes the content automatically a real timesaver I especially like WP Social SEO Booster
    it not only does this also makes it real simple to include all of Google’s rich snippets such as author rankings address and so on.

    Claude

    • Hi Claude,

      Thanks for your interesting comment. Yes, I’ve used the old “XML Sitemaps” plugin forever, so kept it despite Yoast apparently having the same function. I wasn’t aware of the character count, so thanks for pointing that out. I’ll look into your other suggestions which seem very useful. Thanks.

      Neil.

  10. Val Popescu says:

    Great post here Neil. Here are a few more free plugins to use: Subscribe To Comments (keep updated with latest comments on a post you contribute), Smush.it (reduce image file sizes), JetPack (tons of features), TinyMCE (must have), Akismet, WP Importer, Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, and anything related to post author/post reviews for Google (you know what I mean, right?), Google Analytics for WordPress, etcetera… too many to post here.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Val. I looked at Smushit recently, but it seems to be broken or abandoned by Yahoo. I ended up shrinking my blog images with some desktop software. I’ll look into the others. Thanks!

      Neil.

  11. Joe says:

    Hi Neil
    I see that the backup plugin only backs up your WordPress database. What do you do about backing up themes, plugins, files etc, etc.

    Is there a plugin which backs up everything.

    • Hi Joe,

      The easiest way to back-up your WordPress files is simply to download them to your local PC or online storage. WordPress say, “By default, the files in the directory called wp-content are your own user-generated content, such as edited themes, new plugins, and uploaded files.” So you only need to download the /wp-content folder, wp-config.php and your .htaccess file if you’ve edited it.

      Neil.

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