5 Essential WordPress Plug-ins You Should Be Using

  • February 21, 2012 by Caleb Wojcik
  • 43 Comments

There are over 18,000 WordPress plug-ins. How are you supposed to know which WordPress plug-ins you should be using? 

That’s what we are going to help you with in today’s post. All of the below plug-ins we use ourselves and we highly recommend that you use them too.

Let’s dive right in.

Backup Buddy

What if you woke up one day and all the work you’ve done on your website or blog was gone? Talk about worst nightmare.

The most important WordPress plug-in that we use (and you should too) is Backup Buddy. It is not a free plug-in, but it is worth way it. It can save you a ton of time and headaches if something goes wrong with your site.

This plug-in will backup through WordPress the different parts of your website daily. 

Editorial Calendar

How often do you sit down at your computer with no plan on what you are going to write, spew something out in an hour, and publish just because your audience expects an article that day?

Why not create a plan for your upcoming posting schedule, with a cohesive theme, and stick to it? When you are trying to have your own unique selling proposition, you need to plan out your content further ahead than 24 hours.

At Expert Enough, Think Traffic, and on my own site Pocket Changed, we use an essential plug-in for WordPress called Editorial Calendar. With this plug-in you can set drafts or scheduled posts and view them live on a calendar within WordPress. You no longer have to keep a separate content calendar.

Akismet

If you want your blog to have a professional feel to it, the last thing you want is spam in the blog comments. The plug-in that we use to control this is Akismet. Without this plug-in we would get 50 to 100 spam comments a day on Think Traffic.

This plug-in will automatically mark comments as pending or immediately puts them in the trash based on your specific settings.

For example, you could automatically put comments that have more than two links to other websites into pending or the trash. You can do the same thing with specific words or phrases too.

Yes, it will catch some legit comments, but you can still moderate them to ”approved”. Install this plug-in and take the time to set it up correctly and you won’t regret it.

Pretty Link

When you create a pretty link, an ugly URL that is super long or clearly an affiliate link can turn into yourdomainname.com/yourtexthere.

Pretty Link will also do two huge things.

1. Allow you to track how often people click on specific links.
2. Save you a ton of time.

Pretty link tracks each time each of your links was clicked. For example, you could create 10 custom links to the same URL and place them in 10 different places and track which one is clicked more.

Let’s touch on part two now. If you place an affiliate link on a blog post, resource page, in your side bar, and a ton of other places, what happens when that URL changes?

Instead of having to manually go through and first find, then update all of the links, you can just update it within Pretty Link. Major time saver.

W3 Total Cache

Everyone wants a huge influx of traffic from going viral, but how many people’s websites and web hosts can actually handle it?

W3 Total Cache can be the difference to keep your website up and running when you have get a huge influx of traffic (think StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, etc.).

***

What WordPress plug-ins are essential to you and your website? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Cheers!

Written by . Caleb Wojcik is one of the 3 C's at Think Traffic and Fizzle.co. He writes at CalebWojcik.com and hosts the Cubicle Renegade Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @CalebWojcik.


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Sprichie February 21, 2012 at 5:52 am

I use many different plugins but think I’m going to start using Editorial Calendar. I get scattered sometimes when planning the day. I like the “Link Within” plugin for showing related posts and “Simple Social Icons” for linking to social media.

Ben Norman February 21, 2012 at 5:53 am

Editorial Calendar looks great, something I’ve never come across before. Currently I have a note app in my phone which syncs with the internet for jotting down post ideas. Editorial Calendar Seems like a much better way to go about things, shall have to check it out.

Cheers

Luke February 21, 2012 at 6:09 am

Great List.

I really need to pay out on a decent back up solution. I currently have a script which is scp’ing over the an S3 bucket. I think I should go with Backup Buddy as I have now heard a few people recommend this.

I used to like Akismet, but not so much now since a lot more spam seems to get past them now.

I use ‘Growmap Anti Spambot plugin’. Another great piece of work from Andy Bailey, the same chap that gave us Comment Luv. I wrote a quick over here http://www.prointernetincome.com/wordpress-anti-spam-plugin/

Another great plugin is ‘login lockdown’ – to many sites are getting hacked and this denies a lot of wannabe website wreckers. I have seen a few unknown IP’s now pecking away at my sites, so its really saved my bacon a few times now!

Luke

Gregory Ciotti February 21, 2012 at 6:42 am

Familiar with (and enjoy) them all except the editorial calendar, will definitely be checking that out, it has to beat my old system of using Google Calendar and manually publishing, heh.

Tung Tran February 21, 2012 at 6:56 am

Me too :D . This is the first time I heard abour Editorial Calendar.
For me, the first plugin I always install is Google XML Sitemap :D .

Lora Sasiela February 21, 2012 at 6:48 am

Thanks for the great suggestions! I All in One SEO Pack is one I’d add to the list. Recently added Thank Me Later and curious what your thoughts are about that one.

Rodrigo @ The Brave Man Blog February 21, 2012 at 7:07 am

Damn I will try the Editorial Calendar and Pretty link :D another one that I use for backups is the Wordpress Database Backups, it sends a copy of the database to an email you set up to, I created an email just for backups and I use that to get a backup every week :)

Dwayne@TWC February 21, 2012 at 7:10 am

Another one I really like is Wordpress Backup to Dropbox. It’s really convenient and you can schedule backups anytime you want.

Kids Ride On Vehicles March 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I just discovered Dropbox recently which is awesome so your recommendation is a timely find!! Thx Dwayne.

David
@RidingToyFan

Devesh February 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

Hi Caleb,

Great list and I’m already familiar with all the plugins. I’d rather consider using an premium plugin like Thirsty Affiliates or Ninja Affiliate for cloaking & tracking aff. links.

Andy February 21, 2012 at 7:53 am

Those are definitely 5 of my favorites. After my first day of using the Editorial Calendar I felt that it was so essential that it should be incorporated into the core of WordPress.

The one essential plugin I would add is WordPress SEO by Yoast. That is another one I couldn’t live without – even when using Premium themes that have SEO features built in. It also eliminates the need for a separate sitemap plugin which is nice.

Dror February 21, 2012 at 7:57 am

You forgot to add WordPress SEO by Yoast which in my opinion is also a must have plugin.

Benny February 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

Thanks for mentioned the Editorial Calendar plugin. Was just thinking about trying out a calendar for posts. Am going to try it out.

I would also add GASP for comment spam.

Paul Profitt February 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

I currently use about13 different plugins on my site. These include Pretty Link Pro,Comment Luv Premium, Premium List Magnet, and WP Super Cache.
Akismet is a plugin that I tried. But have now removed it. Because I have a better anti-spam plugin that came as part of Comment Luv Premium.

Jamie Northrup February 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

Editorial Calendar changed my “blogging life” last year when I started using it. Another great plugin is Article Templates, very practical if you do monthly or weekly features and want to use the same structure each time.

Loren Wade February 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

Just downloaded all of these for my new blog. The cost to go pro on some of these suck, but these look like great addons. Thanks Corbett.

Corbett Barr February 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

In most cases you won’t need to “go pro” on these. BackupBuddy is definitely worth the price though. Don’t screw around with losing your site :)

Dana Duncan February 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

That’s a great list of plugins you’ve put together Corbett! I use Pretty Links, W3TC, and Askimet for almost every WordPress site I create. Backup Buddy, even though it costs a small amount, is also essential for any site you don’t want to risk losing.

Doing a full backup of everything related to a WordPress site (content, comments, users, plugins, plugin data, etc) is actually a very complicated process. That’s why none of the free backup plugins I’ve found seem to get it quite right. Even compared to other paid plugins, Backup Buddy is by far the best WP backup plugin I’ve used.

The only plugin on your list I haven’t used yet is Editorial Calendar, which I didn’t know about. It looks VERY useful from what I see and I’m looking forward to trying it out on a few of my sites.

In addition to your list, there are a few other plugins I consistently use and would highly recommend. The first is WordPress SEO by Yoast. It handles almost all on page SEO optimization seamlessly. Once you activate and configure it, all that’s left is writing epic content (and having W3 Total Cache installed to handle all the traffic you’ll soon be getting)! Redirection is another essential plugin for easily handling 301 redirects. Perfect if you don’t want to, or aren’t comfortable, modifying your .htaccess file. Also, for any site with technical examples that include code (CSS, HTML, PHP, etc), there’s a slick plugin called “Preserve Code Formatting” that will make sure your code formatting is displayed properly. Finally, if your site starts seeing a lot of spam the best solution I’ve found to stop the spam bots is the “Growmap Anti Spambot” plugin. I’ll use this in addition to Askimet. It works like a charm and keeps your site spam free!

Sergio Felix February 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

Hey Caleb,

Well in addition for the ones you already mentioned, I also use:

1. cbnet Ping Optimizer
2. CommentLuv Premium
3. Google XML Sitemaps
4. WP Maintenance Mode
5. WPtouch

I use a few more than these but those are the ones I feel should be present in every blog.

(Number two -CommentLuv Premium- has G.A.S.P. inside which is a very robust combination with Akismet to deal with s.p.a.m.)

Sergio

Anshul @Nichesense Niche Marketing February 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Similar to backup buddy I use WP Lockup to add several layers of security on my blog against hackers. This includes customized admin login pages for your blog instead of just the “yourblog.com/wp-admin”, http authentication and captcha on the admin login panel. Just gives you that extra piece of mind.

Mike Reeves-McMillan February 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Personally I found Editorial Calendar more annoying than useful, but then I only post once a week.

I always install a sitemaps plugin (I use BWP Google XML Sitemaps because it works for multisite).

Broken Link Checker is useful, especially after you’ve been going for a while.

Google Analyticator, if you use Google Analytics, which I do.

Post Layout, which allows you to add bits and pieces after (or, I think, before) the post, I find useful on several of my sites.

Secure Wordpress to prevent hacking.

Sociable or something similar for social share buttons.

And Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for automatic internal linking.

I’ll check out Wordpress Backup to Dropbox, I’ve got a ton of spare capacity there. Thanks!

PR February 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm

You should be using Relevanssi, a thousand times better than your regular WP search.

Shaun @ Money Cactus February 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Nice list, like the calendar idea Try using conditional captcha with Akismet to prevent the wrong people ending up getting listed as spam.

The Steaming Pot February 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Outbrain for internal post linking – I like their thumbnail display and that they show recommendations based on more than contextual similarity. Works well for my site.

Get Post List With Thumbnails – for a visual Index page.

WP-PageNavi – for numbered page navigation.

Must check out Backup Buddy, thanks for the recommendation.

Janus February 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm

A useful list, I’ll definitely check out Editorial Calendar and W3 Total Cache.

I also use some of the other WP plugins including All-In-One-SEO Pack, CommentLuv, AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget, and Subscription Options. I find them very useful.

Andrea Hypno February 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I’ve never heard about pretty link, seems a very interesting plugin. I use w3 total cache and akismet but I’m thinking about moving to GASP. For Seo I use Seo Ultimate as, imho, it’s better of both All in One Seo and Wordpress Seo.

Have a great day!

William February 22, 2012 at 5:19 am

Another suggestion: “CMS Tree Page View”. Pretty useful if you use wordpress as a cms. Also: “One Click Close Comments”. Useful if you don’t want people to react on some of your pages. To make sure my site stays alive when I hit a traffic jackpot: “WP Super Cache”.

I aM Naji February 22, 2012 at 9:21 am

Just wanted to add one plugin I use on my sites it’s called Wassup and it’s totally free. It tracks all traffic to my site in real time and there are fukters to see jyst spiders or SEs or External links etc. There’s lots of tracking plugin but this one’s just makes it easy to see what’s really happening at your blog.

Thomas Frank February 22, 2012 at 9:50 am

Thanks for the tip on Editorial Calendar! I admit I’m guilty of just sitting down each day and picking a random topic from my idea list to write about. I’m going to try this out and see if I can’t start establishing some weekly themes.

Steve February 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm

What is an example of what might happen or has happened if you don’t use a W3 Total Cache like plugin & why? How has it saved your bacon & have you seen noticeable increase in speed, etc.? (I’ve been to their site and of course it sounds essential)

Trung Nguyen February 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I only used 2 of 5 WP plug-ins above, I will install more, specially is Editorial Calendar. Thanks for the share, it’s really helpful for me and many others as well.

steve February 29, 2012 at 8:05 am

Corbett- what has been your success with the Hello Bar plugin at the top? Gaining leads, etc.?

Chris | Sminso February 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I use 3 of the 5 plugins on this list! The one I really should be using but am not is Backup Buddy. I have just been making site backups from my host, works, but would be quite hectic if something was to go down.

Another plugin I have been using is All in one SEO pack. Very simple and easy to use, helps a lot with the on-page SEO!

Ryan Wesley Smith February 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Literally using all of these plugins. Love em!

Sonia March 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Editorial calendar is by far my favorite. It helps me coordinate my posts and helps me stay on target with post series. Now that I have more contributors on my blog it helps them see what is scheduled and avoid overlap.

Kids Ride On Vehicles March 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I was still getting a lot of spammy comments even with using Akismet.

Adding CONDITIONAL CAPTCHA was a game changer as I now RARELY get a spam comment ever. Highly recommend this WP plugin

@RidingToyFan

Austin March 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

You mentioned you’re using Quick Cache in your latest traffic report but you mention W3 Total Cache here… which is better?

Thanks!

Also, what are you using for the comment subscription options? It’s way better being able to subscribe to replies only to my comments or just to subscribe without even commenting! I’d love to know what you’re using for that. Thanks again!

Caleb Wojcik March 7, 2012 at 9:02 am

Hi Austin,

Both are good, but we just switched to Quick Cache which is better in our opinion.

As for comment subscription we are using a plug-in called “Subscribe to Comments Reloaded”.

Caleb Galaraga April 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

Seriously…the Editorial Calendar plug-in is heaven-sent! No need to messed up my Google Calendar! Lol.

Lauren June 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm

This is a great list! I found it when searching google for an internal calendar, so I like your suggestion! It seems to be a real hit with everyone else, too. Thanks for all the suggestions in the comments, guys! Looks like I’m using the right kinds of plugins, but I’m glad to have a couple new ones!

igbalaye Olayemi December 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Great lists and i used many of the plugin for my blog and they are really doing wonder. the two plugin i like most from the lists are W3 Total Cache and Akismet plugin. thanks for sharing this post.

Loren Wade February 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

Yeah, agreed. Which is why I need to save up the money so I can shell out the money… I know you know that I’ve put a bunch of money into Unlifer already. Haha. :)

Always value your advice Corbett! Thank you.

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