A few months ago I discussed some of my free WordPress plugins, but this is obviously something I wanted to build upon since the Internet and blogging is a fast-paced and evolving every minute. New plugins are released every day, but not all of them will make it. I am always discovering new plugins that will make my blog easier as I compose, publish, and promote each of my posts.
Plugins also help the reader experience much more engaging and interactive. Do you see the social media icons on the very top of my right sidebar labeled "Let’s Connect"? That is a plugin called Social Media Widget! Each plugin that I use on MamaNYC has a purpose, or a specific function that makes either my life or your reader experience a lot easier.
I’ve decided to continue my previous post on the best plugins for WordPress since I have a lot of new favorites, or recently discovered some that really deserve recognition as a favorite of mine. Most of these are helping the performance here at MamaNYC, while others improve reader experience or my own ability to publish a blog post at a much easier rate.
Without further adieu, I am pleased to present a continuation of my favorite FREE WordPress plugins for bloggers!
SEO Rank Reporter: This plugin helps maximize your keyword usage by track your Google rankings every three days. Useful The SEO Rank Reporter plugin will actually track your Google rankings based on keywords you choose, and report the data in an easy-to-read graph.
As an Internet marketing consultant, I use this plugin to measure rankings as a major key performance indicator. This plugin was built to offer a simple ranking measurement tool for WordPress sites that is also user-friendly. View your ranking for different keywords right on your WordPress dashboard admin panel. Setup is very simple and easy enough for a beginner to figure out!
Personal Favicon: Personal Favicon is a plugin that enables WordPress users to easily upload, install, and customize a favicon. Simply upload a favicon for your blog into the Media section of your WordPress dashboard. Copy the image file URL and paste into the Personal Favicon plugin, which will be found under "Settings" once installed.
What is a Favicon? Take a look at the top of your browser and look at the tab for THIS blog page. Do you see the very small icon featuring the MamaNYC avatar character? That is your favicon! It basically personalizes the browser tab for your blog. Readers may be switching between tabs while reading your blog, so your favicon will help identify your brand in browser tabs!
Favicons are very simple to create and installing into Personal Favicon plugin took less than 3 minutes! Create an image file 64×64 pixels, which will be decreased to 16×16 once uploaded and placed as a favicon in your browser. We use 64×64 since 16×16 is nearly impossible to create an image sine it is much too small.
I love this plugin since it is tremendously simple to use and requires ONE simple step. All I had to do was paste the URL for my uploaded favicon file into the plugin, which I found under "Settings" — and I was done! It was literally that simple. I never have to use the plugin again unless I want to change my favicon. The best plugins are those that work for you without any maintenance or daily check in’s!
Redirection: This WordPress plugin manages 301 redirections and keeps track of 404 errors without requiring knowledge of Apache .htaccess files.
Why is this helpful? Beyond 301 redirects and 404 errors, Redirection will help you also tidy up and loose ends on your blog. Your blog should look neat and clean underneath the surface to improve PageRank and search engine status. This plugin is also useful if you are migrating pages from an old website, or are changing the directory of your WordPress installation.
Google XML Sitemaps: Gaining a spot on the search engines is no easy task, but your chances will greatly improve if you employ Google XML Sitemaps plugin onto your WordPress install. Search engines spiders require spidering and indexing of your articles in order to appear in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). Google XML Sitemaps will generate a site map multiple times each day, which will essentially provide data to search engine spiders to index all of your blog articles. This plugin is a MUST HAVE if you want a simple, easy, and reliable method to reach Googles SERP!
Contact Form 7: You have choices when it comes to creating forms, which may be contact or blogger sign up’s for events. Recently I have been using Contact Form 7 a lot more over Google Docs due to the capabilities. I am still in between, but this plugin is excellent for WordPress based shortcode forms.
This plugin is very simple to learn and user-friendly. Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms and also includes capabilities to customize the form and mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, and Akismet spam filtering.
Jetpack by WordPress.com: The question is what can Jetpack NOT do for your WordPress blog?! This plugin is an absolute requirement and useful for all sites using WordPress, whether you are blogging or hosting a business site.
Jetpack will supercharge your self-hosted WordPress site with features that will dazzle your expectations! Provides simple and easy to read traffic stats with no additional load to you server. Embeds a simple functioning shortlink for your blog posts through WP.me URL shortener. Comment Gravatars will display hovercard popups. Commenters can also subscribe to blog posts and post comments easily. Do you like to embed media from popular sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo? Very simply with JetPack!
CloudFlare: If you don’t know about CloudFlare – then you better ask somebody The CloudFlare WordPress Plugin ensures optimal performance for your WorldPress blog and speeds things up – securely. You will receive correct IP Address information for comments posted to your site; optimization of your server database; better protection as spammers from your WordPress blog get reported to CloudFlare, and many more performance based features. The purpose of this plugin is to avoid changing your originating IP’s, which is something you need to do if directly going through the CloudFlare website. Highly recommended!
There is nothing too complicated about the CloudFlare plugin. If you tried to give it a shot through CloudFlare.com and found yourself confused, I would recommend this one-click plugin for a much simpler experience. Performance improvements were visible nearly instantaneously and I have noticed drastic speed changes on MamaNYC thanks to this plugin!
Easy Content Templates: This is byfar one of the most used plugins that I use on MamaNYC. Things like giveaways, Blogging 101, or weekly memes such as Wanna Win Wednesday and Mixed Up Monday are repeated and I don’t have to retype all content every week. Simply create a template, give it an easily identifiable name, and open it each time you need to repeat a post! I am able to go into each template and personalize it for the specific day or event I want to post about!
Twitter Blackbird Pie: I have been using this plugin for a while on my web design/Internet marketing clients’ sites, but finally found the time to integrate onto MamaNYC. It simply adds an awesome looking embedded HTML representations of actual tweets in your blog posts just by inserting a simple shortcode! The intention is to hopefully encourage readers to Tweet your posts with an easy accessible embedded message box. You can see this plugin in action below all of MamaNYC’s blog posts!
Broken Link Checker: Imagine how many thousands of broken links exist on your blog comments! You would be very surprised. Many bloggers do not know the importance of checking for broken links, nor the power they will have influencing Google PageRank between a 3 or a 4. Having a few hundred broken links or redirects may influence a lower pagerank, so why risk it? Instead, I use this powerful and easy to use plugin to routinely check for broken website URL’s and notifies me to make the ultimate decision.
This plugin does not delete links for you, which you would not want in a plugin. Instead, I receive notification via. email and on my WordPress dashboard that there are links to go through. Although this may seem like a pain, I would prefer to handcheck links. Imagine one of your friends commented on your blog and her site is down for the day. You know this – because she told you. However, Broken Link Checker does not know and therefore it is flagged as "broken". Luckily, you can select "Not Broken" or let the URL sit in the query for a recheck in the next hour!
Feed Subscriber Stats: This plugin will show the number of subscribers according to FeedBurner/Google. Must have WordPress 2.7 and up installed. Very simple to setup by just entering your feed URL. Thereafter, sit back and watch your feed subscribers appear!
Revision Control: This plugin may not be the best option for your WordPress site, but I am very happy with it and noticed significant improvements to speed and performance. Ever notice the tremendous list of revisions underneath all of your blog posts? Imagine how many edits you make to each post and multiply that number by the amount of posts you have written. That’s a LOT of revision files!
Revision Control allows finer control over the Post Revision system included with WordPress. You can set a site-wide limit on the number of revisions that will be saved for each page/post. By default, WordPress will save ALL of your revisions. I decided to only allow for the last three revisions and noticed MamaNYC improved greatly!
Other Recommended Plugins:
I could go on and on forever, so I decided to include just a few more in the space below. These have various specific purposes and may not be entirely applicable or serviceable on your blog. Check them out individually and decide for yourself!
* Still on Blogger, but looking to transfer over? That topic will be addressed in the future, but did you know I can help you out? I am also a web designer and Internet marketing consultant! You can read a little bit more about my background and services, or send me an email with your project details! Bloggers can also take advantage of discounted blog design rates from MamaNYC, which includes WordPress Transfers, Graphic Design Packages, and many more services!
Want your question(s) answered next time around? Fill out my Blogging 101 Request Form and I will try and fulfill your request as soon as possible.