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How this blog appears on the iPhone using the WP Touch plugin.

1. WPtouch – Reading a blog on a mobile phone web browser can be a pain–teeny tiny print with links that even the most slender finger can’t pinpoint. WPtouch makes your blog easy to navigate when viewed on mobile devices.  This plug-in automatically turns your blog into an easy-to-read app-style experience when it’s viewed on certain mobile phones, including iPhone and Android. (see photo)

2. Akismet – A comment spam filter. Actually, more like the comment spam filter. You don’t want to go without Akismet. Unless you enjoy sifting through hundreds of porn spam comments. And if you do, I’d rather not know about it.

3. Share and Follow – This plugin places sharing buttons at the end of each post, so readers can pass along your amazing posts to their favorite social networks and/or social bookmarking sites. It can also create a sidebar that directs readers to your social accounts. I tried about a dozen social sharing plugins before finally settling on Share and Follow. What do I like about it? It’s incredibly customizable—there are dozens and dozens of options to turn on and off and it includes every single social sharing site you could think of, and about 50 you’ve never heard of. (Mister Wong? Plurk?)

4. CommentLuv – I resisted this plugin for a while, partly because I hate how they spell the word “love” and partly because I can’t stand the cutesy little hearts. But I’ve since gotten over the spelling thing and learned you could turn off the hearts. Sold. The best feature of CommentLuv? It automatically creates links to your commenter’s recent blog posts. This encourages bloggers to leave comments (what blogger doesn’t love to self-promote?) and it makes for a richer comment feed.

5. Google Analytics for WordPress – Most bloggers are curious about their readers—how many there are, how they found the site, what content they like best, whether they are redheaded women who live in Chicago and like to chew gum. Google Analytics tracks and shares this data (okay the hair color and gum are a stretch but surprisingly not that outlandish). Once you get your domain set up on Google Analytics, you’ll receive a tracking code to insert to your blog. Confused about where to put it? Let the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin do it for you. It also collects data with more accuracy and you can mess around with some advanced metrics like custom variables. Which, if you’re an analytics addict like me, sounds like super nerdy fun!

6. Quick Cache –  A caching plug-in can dramatically improve your site speed. And believe me, your blog loading time is very important. Blog readers are a very impatient bunch. There are other very good caching plug-ins, but Quick Cache is simple and easy to use. And I’m all about simple and easy to use.

7. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – I’ve written about best practices for ending blog posts, and one of my favorite tips is to install a related posts plugin. It’s a great way to encourage readers to explore your blog instead of hightailing it off your site. YARPP gives a written list of related posts, which it assembles using some kind of advanced algorithm (which you can tweak to your liking). I also like LinkWithin (actually a widget, not a plugin), which serves up related posts visually using thumbnail photos.

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18 thoughts on “7 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Blog

  1. Good to know that detail w/comment luv since I hated the hearts too. The 1st thing to come to mind is the “all in one seo pack”. Best thing ever.

    1. I knew someone would name that one. I probably should have included it. But I don’t actually use it, because the Headway theme comes with all that SEO magic baked right in.

  2. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for another great post! I use wordpress on my sites and I am always looking for great useful plugins. I love commentluv and analytics for WP.

    WPtouch is not one I have heard of but will check it out!

    Aimee

    1. Thanks! I learned about WPtouch at a conference a couple of months ago. I love in-person events for collecting trusted information. I think my praise for CommentLuv would hold more weight if I could get it to work properly on my site. :/

  3. So glad I saw this RT’d – I popped right over to check it out. 🙂 I just added WPtouch and YARPP to my site. I use Digg Digg as a sharing option – it floats to the left of my posts.
    I have 2 others I wanted to mention: the What Would Seth Godin Do? It displays a little message to new visitors to encourage them to follow my blog.
    Also I use a plugin called ReplyMe – it sends an e-mail to the original commenter if someone replies to their comment. I feel like it encourages people to come back and keep the conversation going.
    Thanks for sharing this article! 🙂

    1. Hi Jacque,

      I used to use Digg Digg and I liked it a lot. I specifically liked how it gave you a count for each sharing site. But when I switched web hosts a month ago, it stopped working. Weird.

      I’ll definitely check out the other two you mention — they sound right up my alley.

      Thanks!

  4. Solid review. I have Share and Follow on my site. It’s ok, but after the trial expires…..

    Another good one is awesome adsense if thats your thing.

    Thanks,

    Don

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