We all have a few, from SEO checkers to cache functionality and Like/Share buttons to WWSGD. Plugins, used to add functionality to a WordPress install without substantially changing the existing setup or programming much of anything yourself, are a great way for non-programmers to make their site more personal and useful.
But as many developers will tell you, more plugins isn’t necessarily better. The more plugins a site has, the longer it takes to load, which can turn off people quickly. The more distracting “functionality” a site has, the more likely a visitor will move on.
In researching this list, I’ve compiled the most useful plugins that have stood the test of Internet time (like, 3-5 years, which is forever). They are my favorites that have followed me from site to site.
WWSGD (What Would Seth Godin Do?)
This plugin may be from 2006, nearly as old as WordPress itself, but it’s one plugin that will never, ever not be installed on every blog I manage. For the non-programmer types, the WWSGD plugin lets you insert a few lines of text before or after (or both) pages and posts, with different text available for visitors up to 5 five times, and another for 5+.
It’s a customizable, personal way to introduce something like a signature to every one of your blog posts. From: “Thanks for stopping by, would you like to subscribe to my RSS Feed/Email list/Facebook page” to “Thanks for reading, you are awesome”, the WWSGD gives authors a great call to action in an unobtrusive way.
Programmer types will understand that this plugin can be used anywhere on the site, and it’s a great solution to display need-to-know, rapidly changing information.
SEO by Yoast
I’ll say it: SEO sucks. Meta descriptions, Google-friendly headlines, keywords…it’s enough to make most writers run screaming from the web. While there are plenty of people spending big money to make sure everything they have is search-engine optimized, most of us can do just fine using something as simple as Yoast’s offering. Beginning with general headline, keyword and description information,
the next tab has a post/page analysis,
followed by advanced options that most of us will never need to use, but should be glad are available.
While SEO by Yoast won’t automatically make every post you write appear on Google’s first page of results, it’s a big step in helping everyone, both computer and human, find and peruse your content.
Akismet should be the first plugin anyone with comments enabled should install. It is effective, it is dead simple, and using it helps create better comment spam filters for everyone. Why use Akismet? Well, it nearly eliminates comment spam, for one. Do you need another reason? There are few things more crushing to any of us maintaining websites to see a plethora of comments on a new blog post appear and then have to individually delete them. No big deal if it’s only a few, a much bigger deal if you don’t want to take the time or get double-digit spam comments on each new post.
Akismet works. It’s free and only requires a WordPress account. If you don’t install any other plugins, please do install Akismet. Your readers, and site admin, will appreciate it.
What are your favorites?