You see a lot of posts on websites about the Best WordPress Plugins where they list a variety of, well, the best wordpress plugins separated by various categories.
However rather than some generic list of over 100 plugins with a brief one sentence description, I thought I would write about every plugin that I personally use, and my thoughts on them, good or bad.
This list is in no particular order – I’ve basically went through my sites one by one and listed off all the different WordPress plugins that are installed:
All in One SEO Pack / Headspace2
These are both SEO plugins, and used to make SEO for your website a lot easier to manage. They are highly configurable and have a lot of options. I used to use All in One SEO Pack all the time, but switched to Headspace2 and have been a lot happier – particularly with its ability to offer relevant tags for articles. That’s one thing I have used it for often – meta stuff like using the tags for keywords, and the excerpt as a description, as well as customizing the titles of a lot of my posts and pages.
I honestly haven’t scratched the surface in terms of configuring either of these however, and have generally turned off a lot of things the plugin does until I can be sure it is going to be beneficial. There are quite a few SEO gurus that I respect, such as Michael Martinez, who have questioned the purpose or need of these plugins. I think if you are going to use an SEO plugin for WordPress, you should spend a lot of time sitting down and figuring out everything that it does, and whether or not you actually want it to do that. Installing out of the box and leaving the default options is a disaster waiting to happen.
Broken Link Checker:
This is an excellent little plugin, as it checks your website periodically for broken links and reports it in your dashboard. When it tells you that you have a broken link you click on it, and then have the option of visiting the post with a broken link, or quickly editing or removing the link. You can also set a custom style for broken links that the plugin finds so that until you deal with the problem, it won’t inconvenience your visitors by clicking through to a link that doesn’t work.
I should note that it has given me the occasional false positive however, but these are few and far between.
If you have WordPress users on your blog, this plugin allows you to automatically e-mail them when there is a new post. You can also send out a mass mail to them at any time. It’s a very simple and easy to use plugin, and I use it here on PAB when sending out an e-mail letting subscribers know that there is new articles. I’ve found it to process everything very fast, and have been very happy with it. There may be better alternatives out there, but I have never felt the need to look for any.
See the flags at the top left of PAB, under the heading “Translator”? That’s what this plugin does. It automatically converts your website into a variety of different languages. There are about 40 languages to choose from, and it is easy to customize.
I should note that the translations on these are horrible – and that’s putting it lightly. Please do not use these on a serious note. These are best used on websites with small articles that are written in basic English, or for testing purposes to see what markets based on keywords you should get professional translation done for. (Check out Superior Word for the best professional translation services). There has also been a LOT of maintenance required with this – I have it installed on three sites, and it’s died on every site bringing up a ton of errors, requiring a lot of chmodding, maintenance and even sever changes. If you’re wondering why I still have it on PAB – it’s because I expect it would be an SEO nightmare if I attempted to remove it.
It’s not all bad however, and has brought me a lot of visitors from countries I wouldn’t normally get traffic from with an English-only website, which has led to conversions. Just be very careful with it, understand what it does, and possibly run tests on a couple of websites beforehand so you can weigh up the positives and negatives of installing it.
For those curious, the top 20 countries that visit PAB are in order: USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Russia, Romania, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, India, Finland, France, Brazil, China. The bounce rates for English speaking countries is 15%, while for non-English speaking countries it is around 50%-60%.
Google XML Sitemaps:
A plugin that I highly, highly recommend and it’s usually the first plugin I install on my websites. This plugin generates sitemaps for you in sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz format. It’s incredibly easy to setup, and automatically creates a new sitemap for you every time you make a post.
It also notifies the search engines every time an update is made to your website, allows you to set automatic or manual priority of articles, and allows you to pick and choose what you want included in the sitemap – like categories, archives, tag pages etc. You can also exclude certain categories if you want. This is a plugin I believe every WordPress website should have.
When it comes to stats, I use Google Analytics on my websites, as well as programs like AwStats and Webalizer. However I don’t like to get bogged down with stats – if I load up Google Analytics to check something out, I find myself getting stuck there for an hour or two playing with everything. I usually prefer just doing a big stat checkup twice per month.
That’s why I use WordPress.com Stats Plugin – and I have it installed on I believe every one of my websites. It’s very easy to install, and it provides all the stats on the dashboard for you. It mainly covers search engine and referrer traffic, as well as lists of what pages are getting hits. It’s not a deep stats plugin by any means – but it’s good to get a quick overview of how your website is performing on that day.
WordPress Database Backup:
Honestly I will probably uninstall this plugin because I don’t really use it due to frequent server backups I do, and I’ve found it often does empty backups. However I have it set up so that it sends me an e-mail every day with a database backup, so it’s pretty convenient in that sense. I set up a gmail account specifically for these e-mails, then if my website ever has a problem I can choose a backup from any day I want and promptly restore it.
As I said though – I just do a lot of backups with my server so really have no need for this plugin.
This plugin is very simple – it offers the option on each post for users to print off the post. Scroll to the top of this article and look – at the top right it states “Print this Post” and has a printer icon.
It would be nice to see more functionality to it – like it listing what articles people choose to print and so on. However for what it does, it works really well and I’m very happy with it. Really there’s no reason not to install this plugin – there are no negatives, and it’s a convenience for any users who wish to print off any of your articles.
Alright, we’ve now went over 1300 words and I still have a TON of plugins to talk about, so probably best we split this article up. I’ve written the rest of this article and will have it up on the weekend.
Welcome to part two of my article on WordPress plugins. As I mentioned in my previous article, I am only listing plugins that I personally use, and will give you my honest opinion, good OR bad.
In the first part of this article, we talked about quite a few plugins. We mentioned SEO plugins like Headspace and All in One SEO Pack, Broken Link Checker, an E-mail users Plugin, and the infamous Global Translator plugin.
We also talked about Google XML Sitemaps, WordPress.com Stats, WordPress Database Backup and WP-Print.
Alright, onto WordPress plugins:
Breadcrumb trails are something that can be very important for websites and for user navigation – they basically present a hierarchy or trail from your homepage up to the current page, and are very important for navigation if you have multiple folders or categories. I don’t currently have it on Poker Affiliate Bible, but I utilize it on my latest site Casino Answers.
If I had it on Poker Affiliate Bible for example, and you were reading the Full Tilt Affiliate Program review, it’d go something like this:
Poker Affiliate Bible > Affiliate Program Reviews > Full Tilt Poker Review
With Poker Affiliate Bible and Affiliate Program Reviews being clickable, and taking you to the homepage and reviews section respectively. Something like this takes up pretty much no space at all – and again, there really is no reason NOT to implement this on your website, as it just assists the user when it comes to navigating your website.
This one is really customizable too. You can choose your home anchor, block anchor, prefix, suffix, max title length, whether you want the homepage in the breadcrumbs, what separator you want, and a million more options. They’ve really went all out with this excellent plugin, and I would highly recommend it, and will be implementing it on all of my sites in the near future.
(Note: Every time I visit that page I get a 403 error, but if I reload it works fine. If you have a problem accessing the site try reloading it)
This is a great plugin by my friends at Flytonic themes, and is very simple to use. If you blog a lot about poker, or write articles where you reference hands, then this is a must. Let’s say you are talking about a hand where you get dealt pocket kings. You would write:
The next hand I got dealt :kc::kd:
And the plugin would change that into:
The next hand I got dealt
It really spices up your articles, and offers both a default deck and a 4 colour deck. I should note that while the plugin is free, they do require a link back.
I love WordPress, I really do. But there are some things about it that really suck. One of those is the wordpress search. I never noticed how bad it actually was until I launched my newest site Casino Answers. This website relies HEAVILY on the search engine, and the results I were getting back were horrible. I believe the WordPress earch engine simply matches any keyword, and then sorts the article by date. Sorry, but if someone searches for blackjack rules they shouldn’t have to sort through 45 different articles to find my Blackjack rules article, simply because I wrote “Blackjack” and “Rockbet Casino rules!” in my Rockbet Casino review.
Insert Relevanssi. It improves WordPress search like you wouldn’t believe, and is very customizable. It sorts articles by relevance, and allows you to increase the value of certain items, like the title of the article or the tags, so that they are deemed more relevant.
It also has a variety of other options, including the ability to exclude certain categories and posts, create custom excerpts, enable search highlighting, and oh so much more. It also lists popular queries that people use.
Basically if you have a search engine box anywhere on your website, you’re crazy not to have Relevanssi on there. Fantastic plugin, and if I had a list of “must-have WordPress plugins” then this would be top 5 easy.
This is another excellent search related plugin. What this does is track everything that people search for on your website, how often phrases are searched, and how many results they got. This is a GREAT way to give you tips for building content.
For example – I run one website where we post daily DVD deals. We have the plugin installed on that website, so we get to track what people are searching for. Here’s a screenshot of some recent searches:
So based on that, I can build content by posting deals for How I Met Your Mother, The Shield, Toy Story and so on, or even just make posts about these items stating where the best price currently is. Also note that you get ideas for keywords – for example if I am to post about a deal on James Bond movies, I should include the phrase “007 series” in it. You have no idea how much content I have built purely thanks to this plugin, or how many more keywords I have came up with.
For the majority of affiliate portals, your goal is to get the visitor in, and then get them off to a poker room or casino as quickly as possible. However what if you can’t do that? What if they’ve read an article on your site, but not clicked away? Well – the last thing you want is for them to close their browser, so you should be linking to other pages on your website, in the hope that they stay on your website rather than close the tab, and give you another chance at making a sale. This is also very good for Search Engine Optimization.
However on some of my bigger sites I find that hard to maintain, so I tried out a few related post plugins. What these plugins do is basically scan your article, compare it to all the other articles on your website, and then list articles that they deem relevant to the current article.
I tried various plugins, and I finally settled on Similar Posts, which I find to work great. A lot of work has went into this plugin. It is very customizable. You can choose a maximum amount of posts to show or if you want to show static pages or attachments. You can also help it with the algorithm, by setting it to match the current posts category, or match the current posts tags, or match the current posts author.
You can choose how it outputs, filter out categories and posts, and set up the importance of content, title and tags for all articles. For example, I use this plugin on my Casino Answers website, and I am very specific about the tags I use on that website. I only use 2-3 tags, which relate directly to the article. So I have it set for tags to be the most important at 40%, the title to be 35% and the content to be 25%, as I use a lot of the same keywords in many items in the content, so that usually isn’t as relevant.
To see the plugin in action check out this article: What is Roulette? And then scroll down to the “Related Questions” section and you’ll see what articles it deems as related.
I’m sure I don’t have to lecture you on the importance of social networking tools like Twitter, and Twitter Tools is an invaluable plugin to have. I don’t even make use of much of its functionality to be honest. What I use it for is simple – auto-posting to a Twitter account.
Here’s an example – I have my NBA Tips website. Go there, and see the daily NBA tips that I post. Okay now here’s the NBA Tips Twitter(with totally awesome background I must say). This is what Twitter Tools does for me. I basically set it up then completely forget about it, and it does the work for me. Every time I make a post on NBATips.net, it makes a post on Twitter with the title of that article, and a link to the article. If the article and title are too long for Twitter, it uses a url shortener.
Twitter Tools does a lot more than that though. You can set it to go the other way – your tweets can appear as articles on your blog. You can archive your tweets, create daily/weekly digests of your tweets, post tweets from your sidbar and many other options. A phenomenal plugin, and it really is one of those plugins that you use and then sit back and think “I can’t believe this is free”. Yet it is. (Although they have a donation link that you really should use if you get value out of it).
Alright, over 1600 words and still got a few plugins to go. It looks like this will be at least a trilogy of articles. We’ll end this article now, and be back with Part 3 shortly.
Welcome to the third and hopefully final part of my WordPress Plugins article. While other websites like to tell you the “Best WordPress Plugins”, I much prefer just listing plugins that I’ve personally used.
Let’s see what we have in this batch…
Whew, quite a lot of plugins covered, and there’s still more to talk about. Let’s get right to it:
This was a plugin I used for awhile, but stopped using. It’s actually pretty slick – it adds links to social bookmarking sites like Facebook, Twitter & StumbleUpon at the end of your posts. Then people can recommend the site on these social networking sites. This is something which – at this current time – isn’t used as often as you’d like, but the more websites that add an option like this, the more it encourages the reader to check it out and start using it.
However when I did use it I found it to be really easy to install and setup. If you have pages you think should be shared, then be sure to check out Sociable.
WordPress Mobile Pack:
There’s a lot of different types of mobile themes and plugins out there. I really like this mobile pack, as it is easy to set up, works with practically every mobile device, and is easy to customize.
I’ve got it installed on Casino Answers right now, and here’s two screenshots when I browse the site from my Blackberry Bold:
It’s very easy to set up out of the box, with little tweaking to it. I do also have to mention the WPTouch iPhone Theme – I haven’t tried it out yet, but it looks really pretty and I am going to look into it when I have time.
Have a look at your web stats sometime – I’m sure there’s at least a few hits from mobile browsers. Mobile browsing has the potential to be the next big thing – be sure to get in early, with a fully functional mobile site. For the majority of you that run websites – there’s no reason not to.
Small plugin that allows you to execute PHP code in your posts, pages and text widgets. Works great, and I use it for NBA Tips when I want to call in the live odds function.
PHPBay Pro is a great plugin where you can add a list of ebay auctions to your website. It can take a bit of time to understand, although it ships with a huge manual that details everything, but once you get the hang of it it is really great, and has made me a bunch of money. It probably won’t work out on the majority of gambling sites, but if you are looking to get outside of gambling, this is a must-have plugin.
Let’s take a DVD Deals website I run for example. Someone searches for The Big Bang Theory(Great show BTW), and they find the page that lists the second season for $28.99. Here’s what they’d get:
So they see that season two is $28.99, maybe too much for them. Then they see that they can get it on ebay for cheaper. That’s actually a standard trick of marketing too – you try and sell someone something for $20, and they say no. But you have a regular price of $25, and sell it for $20(either a special deal, price error or whatever) and people jump on it.
The only concern is I get a better percentage at Amazon, so I don’t want people buying off ebay as opposed to Amazon. What I will often do is just use the plugin when it comes to older items, and when deals are expired. If someone clicks through that link and sees the deal is expired, that it’s back to $35.99 or whatever, there’s less chance they’ll buy. So I’d much prefer in that case to send them to ebay.
Theme Test Drive:
My programmer hates me, because when I do any editing or design work on sites I never do it on a local website. I always do it live. It’s just the way I’ve always been. The Theme Test Drive plugin has caused less fights between us.
Basically with this plugin, you can set up a specific theme for any user to see, or for admins to see. So if I am switching themes, or making big upgrades to the current one, I just upload the new theme or make a copy of the current one, set the theme that I am to see to that one(while my users still see the default one) and hack away.
WordPress Popular Posts:
Handy little plugin, that you can use as a widget or place anywhere in your templates with a simple PHP call. It shows the most popular articles on your website. It’s highly configurable, and you can see it in action at Casino Answers.
The key feature for me is it stores the data up to 30 days, and you can clear the cache with a click of the button, very important if you have it in a premium spot. Let’s say you run a sports website, and betting on the Superbowl is a hot topic. Well you generally want your “Bet on Superbowl” page to be one of the most popular, but if the data is recorded as all-time most popular posts then it most likely doesn’t stand a chance. But you can clear the cache, and basically have it list the most popular posts within the last couple of days.
Whew – and that is IT when it comes to WordPress Plugins that I personally use. I hope you enjoyed this series of articles, and that it helps you run your WordPress sites.