Enhance Your WordPress Blog with 23 Plugins

March 9, 2009
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Photo credit: ranopamas
Responding to numerous questions about how such and such is enabled on my blog, I’ve whipped together a list of 23 plugins currently installed at AriWriter.
Note: Most of these only work with self-hosted WordPress.org blogs. Here’s a great explanation about the difference between WP.com and WP.org. If you want to take the next […]


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LandscapePhoto credit: ranopamas

Responding to numerous questions about how such and such is enabled on my blog, I’ve whipped together a list of 23 plugins currently installed at AriWriter.

Note: Most of these only work with self-hosted WordPress.org blogs. Here’s a great explanation about the difference between WP.com and WP.org. If you want to take the next step, Michael Martine outlines excellent steps to take.

  1. Akismet protects my blog from spam. Pre-installed with WordPress, new users need to follow directions on the Plugins page to sign up for a WordPress.com account, and copy the API code into the plugin management page.
  2. Better Comments Manager is an administrative tool, viewable only by me, that allows me to manipulate comments much easier than the default comment manager. With this plugin, I can edit, reply, view all comments from a single post, and other bulk actions with a single click.
  3. cforms runs the various forms on my blog, such as my contact form if you want to hire me as a consultant or speaker. The cforms plugin is customizable, runs on Ajax, and offers spam protection.
  4. Chat Catcher, created by Shannon Whitley, is responsible for every time you write a Twitter message with a link to a blog post, your Twitter message is transformed into a blog comment. Try it. Go to the bottom of this page, click the “tweet this” button (more on that farther down this list) and write a recommendation for your friends to visit this page. Then, come back in a few minutes and see how your message became a comment. Neat, huh? The plugin also works with FriendFeed, of which I see comments now and then. Did you read my review of Chat Catcher?
  5. CommentLuv is the reason why if you write a comment and include your blog in the appropriate box, your most-recent blog post will appear under your text after you hit the “submit” button. I recognize that everyone doesn’t have a blog; but for those that do, developer Andy Bailey and I want you to share your content with everyone else. This plugin enables that love.
  6. DoFollow is a piece of genius from Semiologic that removes the “nofollow” attribute that WordPress adds to comment links by default. In other words, if you do not have this (or similar plugins) installed, then every time a comment includes a link, search engines won’t follow it. The reason for this has been hashed over the years, but the end result is I want search engines to follow your links so I tell the robots to do follow you.
  7. Feed Pauser, from the folks at Techie Buzz (who also developed the Better Comments Manager), is a clever plugin that allows me to publish a post but pause its feed publication up to 20 minutes. If you are like me and usually make some typos, or don’t like how the final content is displayed, pausing feed publication is useful. (And on that note, if you’re not currently subscribed to my blog feed by RSS or email, here’s your chance.)
  8. Google XML Sitemaps is something else that runs behind the scenes. The plugin creates a sitemaps.org-compatible layout of my blog for search engine robots to “see” the landscape. Want to see the map?
  9. My BlogLog Recent Readers displays names and faces of recent website readers who clicked over from the My BlogLog social networking site. Check it out in the right sidebar of this page. If you mouse over their faces, you can click to their profiles.
  10. My Page Order allows me to change the order of my pages at the top of this screen. Posts are the stuff I churn out every day; pages are the more static content in the top navigational bar, such as to read about me, how to contact me, and perusing my blog archive. Without the plugin, the order would be determined by WordPress. With the plugin, I choose the order.
  11. Page Links To is used to redirect certain older posts or pages to newer posts or pages. I use this for a few pages, though you’d never see it as everything happens behind the scenes.
  12. Popularity Contest which ranks my posts by, say it kids!, popularity! It’s more for behind-the-scenes statistics, so I can see on a single page what posts are most popular in terms of comments and trackbacks. This helps me ascertain what topics and titles to use next time.
  13. RSS Footer is a plugin that enables me to add custom text to the bottom of every blog post you might read at Social Media Today, SocialMedian, or other sites that syndicate my content. I sporadically change the text, but it currently thanks people for reading my article, provides RSS and email subscription links, and a new link I just added to follow me on Twitter.
  14. Search Excerpt is something I recently installed but haven’t played with too much. I had wanted it to show a user a highlighted word or phrase if typed into the search box, but I might need to add something to my CSS file. Thoughts? Do you use this or something like it?
  15. Seesmic gives me a WordPress plugin to enable you to add a video comment if you have an account on the video sharing site. I haven’t seen anyone use it yet, if you feel inspired to create a trend.
  16. Sitemap Generator from Dagon Design works like the XML generator above, but whereas the XML sitemap is intended for search engine robots, this map is for people. That said, I haven’t placed it into action yet due to some coding conflicts I need to resolve.
  17. Subscribe to Comments is one of my favorite plugins, and one that I wish every WordPress blogger activates immediately; whether you have a WP.com or WP.org blog, you can activate it. This is the beef of why I hate Typepad. This plugin creates the opt-in box below the “submit” button, where, if you check it, you will receive email messages for new comments. I check the box all the time on other blogs.
  18. Tweet This by Richard Thripp is responsible for the interactive rectangular buttons at the bottom of every blog post. (If you’re reading this by RSS or Email, you have to physically come to my site to see this in action.) I currently have the plugin configured for Twitter, Ping.fm, StumbleUpon, and Digg. If you like what I have to say and want to share it with friends, this is how I make it easy for you.
  19. WordPress Mobile Edition shows you an easy-to-read mobile version of my blog, whether you’re accessing this from an iPhone, BlackBerry, or some other device. The EPA’s blog, Greenversations, also uses this plugin, for what it’s worth. It’s simple to set up (with the ability to physically tweak the PHP code if you choose, as I did) and I highly recommend this. Alex King, the developer of this and the above Popularity Contest plugin, rocks!
  20. WordPress Thread Comment allows me (or you) to reply to a comment in a threaded fashion, rather than everything being flat in a row. It’s very useful and adds to the interactivity that helps explain why visiting a blog in a browser, rather than RSS or email, is engaging.
  21. WP Ajax Edit Comments allows you to edit your comment, should you make a typo or want to change it.
  22. WPBook was conceived by my Newburyport friend John Eckman and enables you to duplicate your blog as a Facebook application. To see this in action, click to apps.facebook.com/ariwriter and you will see the same content as here, photos and all. The killer is you can comment on the Facebook page, and it will echo here! It takes some time to set up, and there’s some back and forth coding involved, but otherwise, this helps bridge the gap between WordPress and Facebook.
  23. WP Twitip ID, brought to you by Andy Bailey, also responsible for CommentLuv, collaborated with Roger Byrne to enable you to add your Twitter username when adding a comment. It’s further customized to work with the Thesis template.

If you compare this iteration with the last list of plugins I compiled in December, you can see I removed ShareThis in favor of Tweet This, removed Extra Comments Field in favor of WP Twitip ID, and removed Simple Tags. I also added many more.

I imagine more plugins are added and shifted around in the coming months, so you can be sure this list would be updated with a third post. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these!


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