For the Shopping-Bargains Blog we use the WordPress blog publishing platform. WordPress is state-of-the-art blogging software that is very popular and free. WordPress is also very flexible, follows web standards and can be extended via a huge selection of plugins and themes. There are thousands of free and publicly available WordPress plugins and themes.
Listed below are five WordPress plugins that we recommend every blogger install when using the WordPress platform. While all five are free, some include options for making small donations (usually via PayPal) to the plugin authors to reward them for the development of their plugin. We encourage rewarding developers who have given to the blogging community by creating useful plugins like the following.
Comment spam is a big problem most bloggers are forced to address. Spammers have developed lots of ways to post links and bogus comments on other people’s blogs in an effort to boost the popularity of and traffic to their sites.
Askimet is a powerful tool that effectively and automatically fights this behavior. In my opinion, no WordPress blog should be without Askimet. It keeps an enormous amount of embarrassing and sometimes illegal “comments” off your blogs.
Security experts tell us we should backup our files and databases often. That advice is true for our blog databases as well. However, in spite of our best intentions, it’s hard to remember to backup data all the time.
WP-DB-Backup automates the backup process of core WordPress database tables. In fact, you can even configure this plugin to email you a copy of your backup at periodic intervals so you can archive it securely offsite.
3. All in One SEO Pack
We all write content on our blogs that we think is useful. However, if others can’t find our posts among the millions of other blog posts, then how will readers benefit from our wisdom? That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools come in. They help structure our blog posts in such a way that makes them more likely to be found and ranked by search engines like Yahoo! and Google.
The All in One SEO Pack plugin automatically optimizes your blog’s titles for search engines and generates META tags. This is a great help especially for those who don’t know anything about SEO or even what META tags are. Seasoned professionals, on the other hand, may want more control and they get that too with the All in One SEO Pack since it also gives you the option of fine-tuning these settings yourself.
4. Google XML Sitemaps
A great way to compliment the SEO plugin recommended above is by also installing the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. This plugin creates a Google sitemaps compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. Those geeky sounding words may intimidate most people but the process is highly automated and, once set up, occurs behind the scenes. Whenever you edit or create a new blog post the Google XML Sitemaps plugin updates your sitemap. This sitemap file is readable by all major search engines that support the sitemap protocol (including Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Ask).
One way to increase your blog’s search engine rankings and readership is for other enthusiastic readers to link to your blog and tell others about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy way to encourage this type of behavior? I’ve got good news for you — there is!
The ShareThis WordPress plugin provides a simple and fast way for your readers to add your post to many social bookmarking and networking sites (like Digg, Facebook, MySpace, del.icio.us, Twitter, Technorati, etc.) or send your post’s link to their friends via email, AIM and other popular options.
As an added bonus, blog authors using the ShareThis plugin can set up a free ShareThis account which provides a lot of cool graphs and stats about your blog and its readers. You can learn some interesting things about your readership (anonymously, of course) like what posts are most popular and how they are being shared.
We recommend these five WordPress plugins as a great start for all WordPress bloggers. There are a lot of other WordPress plugins we use for tasks like analytics, notifying readers of new comments, posting videos, adding polls and more that we hope to write about soon.
This post was last updated on July 20, 2023.
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