7 must-have WordPress plugins I can’t live without! (p.s – they are all free!)

I’m a huge wordpress fan-girl, to be honest. Despite having learnt PHP, CSS, HTML (and a whole bunch more acronyms), wordpress has really come through for me. It allows things to be simple enough that I would recommend it to anybody, yet customisable enough at a coding level that I can change it up and design things however I like.

One of my favourite things is the ability to add Plug-ins. Now, if you’re using the free-hosting version of wordpress, over at wordpress.com, you won’t have access to these so don’t stress yourself out wondering where they are hiding! I will write a tutorial on self hosting & upgrading at some point, but for now, if it is something you are interested in doing, try a good ol google search, or signing with hostgator and following their step-by-step tutorials.

Here are 7 must-have WordPress plugins that I absolutely love

(useful tip: I’ve included the links here, however its much easier to log into your WordPress admin interface, click on ‘plugins’ on your left-hand-side menu, select ‘add new’ at the top next to the plugins header, then search for it there)

1) WordPress SEO by Yoast

[Visit WordPress SEO by Yoast website]

Yoast make excellent plugins. Clean, simple and easy to use. WordPress SEO is of Yoast’s most famous plugins, and it’s not hard to see why.

This plugin makes optimising your blog for SEO much, much easier. It covers a huge range of things and all with one simple click of a button. Of course there are is a lot more optimization you can personalise if you want to get deep with it, but at it’s surface level it is a really quick & effective way to ensure all the important bits, like URLs, XML sitemaps and meta descriptions, are all done properly.

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It also allows you to define your title, description and header individually for each post, as well as advising you on how good your SEO on each page/post is doing based on the keywords you want to optimise it for.

This is the first plugin I install on all my websites, and the first one I recommend when assisting anybody else too!

 

2) Akismet

[Visit Akisment Website]

Another absolute must for every website of blog – Askismet is the industry leader for spam blocking. To give you a bit of an Idea, sometimes my spam count gets into the thousands before it’s automatically cleared each week.

This plug in is fantastic for catching all those annoying, spammy posts. I haven’t found anything that compares. You need to install the plugin, and then register for an Akisment API number to enter in. If you are a wordpress.org member (which is helpful for #7, Jetpack) then you will have one of these already.

Akismet is by donation – so you can pay as much as or as little ($0 if you so wish) as you think it is worth.

 

3) Tweetily

[Visit Tweetily Website]

Using twitter for promotion yet? If not – get onto it! If you are, but don’t have the motivation to get on there and post every day (and to be honest, who does?) Tweetily will be your saviour.

This awesome plugin will update twitter for you using your old posts and/or pages. You can select if you just want ones from a certain category, tag etc, as well as if you’d like any additional text (for example, I often put {from the archives} on mine). It will then post for you at intervals of your choosing. It can also do other clever things like make # tags out of the posts categories or tags.

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Very customisable and useful tool for driving traffic to your older posts, as well as keeping your twitter account active.

 

4) WordPress Editorial Calendar

[Visit WordPress Editorial Calendar link]

I don’t know about your workflow – but for me, blogging comes in bursts. Somedays I don’t want to look at the thing, other days I could sit and write 5 posts in a row.  This is where WordPress editorial calendar comes in handy.

Whenever you write a post, you can pop it into the editorial calendar and schedule it to publish on that date, at that time. Super useful if you want to post regular features on, say, a Monday, but have a knack for completely forgetting about it come Monday morning.

 

5) Thank me Later

[Visit Thank Me Later website]

Have you ever commented on one of my posts? No? Go on.. do it now! You’ll find that a while later (the amount of time is customisable) you’ll receive a friendly email from me, thanking you for your contribution. Also pointing you to my Facebook to connect, or to anything else interesting I have happening at the time.

Thank me later is a great tool for staying engaged with your visitors. Added bonus – it won’t spam people! They can comment all they like and it will only send them that first email.

 

6) Child Theme Configurator

[Visit Child Theme Configurator website]

I love editing. Getting deep into the code and fixing things, getting the style of my blog just right. If you don’t have the same drive – skip onto number 7! However, if you are likely to make changes to your WordPress install, you will need to use a child theme.

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Why? Well because every time the designer of your chosen theme provides an update for you, you will loose all your changes. Child themes are clever things, they use the theme you like as a ‘backdrop’, so to speak, and then any changes you make to your theme will be ‘overlaid’ into your child theme.

If you are interested, there is a whole lot more info on child themes over at WP Beginner. Child Theme Configurator is my favourite plug in I’ve used so far – the biggest reason is because it lets you go in at any time and copy files over from the parent theme, at any time, without having to FTP.

 

7) JetPack by WordPress

[Visit JetPack by WordPress website]

Ahh.. lucky number 7. JetPack by WordPress has really taken off recently (err.. sorry for the terrible pun), and is worthwhile installing if only for the beautiful mosaic style image gallery it brings (see my photography page for a demo)

Aside from gorgeous galleries, JetPack brings so many different add-ons that you’d be silly not to give it a try. My other favourite trick is using JetPacks ‘visibility’ function on widgets to show certain things (e.g. Adverts, sign up boxes) on different pages. You can make things visible or invisible based on tags, categories, authors.. the awesome ways to use this are almost limitless.

Jetpack also brings loads of other cool tools and widgets for twitter, images and search boxes. I couldn’t list them all here but you should get it and get exploring!

 

That concludes my 7 all-time favourite WordPress plugins, have I missed anything? What is your favourite plugin? Comment below!

 

 

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