There’s no disputing that WordPress rules the blog hosting kingdom. In fact, according to Technorati, 48% of the top 100 blogs use WordPress as their content management system; and as of March 2012, WordPress is used on over 70 million websites. WordPress plugins are essential to the publishing application’s functionality and success.
WordPress plugins allow the user to enhance and customize their blog, but with over 20,000 WordPress plugins to choose from, selecting the most useful one for you can be a monumental task. So we uncovered six of the most useful plugins WordPress has to offer, each of which happens to be free. Whether you’re crafting your first blog post or you’re a blogging veteran, give these plugins a try and blast your blog to another stratosphere.
1. Akismet — This smart plugin can save you from the madness of spam by recognizing and blocking trackback spam on your blog. Akismet also compares blog comments to the Akismet web service and determines if they read like spam. If you’re looking for a spam spotter, we encourage you to try Akismet.
2. Google Analytics For WordPress — Installation is simple, and Google Analytics for WordPress easily connects to your Google AdSense and Google Analytics accounts. This plugin allows you to use custom variables, like views per author or post to track metadata.
3. Page Links To — This clever plugin allows you to point your WordPress page or other content to the external URL of your choice (versus its WordPress URL.) In seven easy steps, you’ll have this plugin up and running.
4. W3 Total Cache — This is the ultimate performance plugin. W3 Total Cache enhances user experience by caching every aspect of your site. Download time is reduced, visitor time on site and page views increases. We love how W3 Total Cache allows you to pump up blog performance without changing themes or content. This plugin is highly recommended by the most respected web hosting companies. We believe that as internet service speed improves, W3 Total Cache will diligently keep up.
5. WP Stats Dashboard — This plugin allows you to view your blog’s stats graph and social media engagement right in your WordPress Dashboard. WP Stats Dashboard can track over 50 social metrics and can export social trends to Excel.
6. Broken Link Checker — Save time and enhance your blog’s functionality with this no-nonsense plugin. As the name implies, Broken Link Checker will search for broken links on your posts and comments, as well as check for missing images. If any problems are detected, it notifies you via email or on your Dashboard.
Selecting the right plugins can do a lot to help your blog have an advantage over the competition, like making it more user friendly, as well as give you insightful statistics about your blog. If there isn’t already a WordPress plugin designed to meet your needs, you can create your own, which WordPress can host. You can find instructions for creating your own plugin on the WordPress tutorial.
Once you’ve selected the ideal plugins for your blog, periodically evaluate the effectiveness of each one. Your blog’s plugin needs will change as your blog grows and transforms and new plugins are developed all the time.
Which WordPress plugin have you found to be the most useful?
Andy has lived in several different areas of the United States, but always calls Utah home. He wrote articles for a local paper about outdoor recreation with pets before joining the USDish team in 2010.