Essential WordPress Plugins

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When I decided to start over with a brand new blog, one of my goals was to streamline the amount and type of wordpress plugins that I have installed and activated on my site. Just like with wordpress themes, there are so many cool plugins out there (with more coming out every day), that's it's tempting to use hundreds of them.

But, there is that old statement about Too Much of a Good Thing.

So, I decided to cut down to just the essential plugins that I felt I had to keep. Fortunately, since Justin Tadlock's hybrid theme includes quite a bit of built in functionality, I was even able to cut out a few that I previously considered must-haves.

So with out further ado, here are a few plugins that I just couldn't live without ...

  • CommentLuv - I’ve been using some version of this plugin since it first came out. When someone leaves a comment, it adds a link to their latest blog post. Not only is this a good way to “reward” people who take the time to join the conversation; but as a publisher it allows me to quickly spot interesting articles written by my readers.

  • Rob Marsh - I'm just going to link straight to this guy's plugin page, since I've installed 4 of his little creations. I've installed popular posts, similiar posts, random posts, and recent posts. Since this blog is still so new, and needs more content, right now I've only activated the recent posts. However I had used similar posts on my other blogs. What I really like is how easily configurable all of these plugins are.

  • Ping Optimizer - I don't know about you, but I've always had this habit of saving and previewing my posts multiple times as I'm writing them. What I didn't realize, is every time I updated the post draft, I was sending pings to every service on my list ... I was an unknowing spammer. This plugin ensures that services are Only pinged when a post is actually published or updated.

  • Google Reader Shared Items - Everybody enjoys a good "link luv" post. I personally always have good intentions, but don't end up writing them nearly as often as I'd like. This plugin is about as close as I've found to a perfect lazy blogger sharing tool. When I read an interesting article in my google reader, I simply click the "share" button at the bottom, and shortly thereafter it shows up here on this blog in the sidebar.

  • Short URL - If you have a nice short domain like, doesn't it seem like a waste to use a service like tiny url when you post a link on site like twitter? This plugin makes it easy to build (and monitor stats for) short urls on your own domain.

  • Twitter for Wordpress - There are definitely Twitter plugins out there with more functions, but all I wanted to do is display my latest tweets in my sidebar. And for that task, this plugin is simple, and it works. That's enough for me.

  • Ninja Affiliate Disclosure: I paid for this plugin, and the link to the left is an affiliate link. I don't know about you, but over the years I've joined quite a few affiliate programs. My problem is, even since I started using gmail labels, I still have a heck of a time keeping track of all the programs. Now all I do when I join a program, is drop the link into my ninja affiliate dashboard, and create a custom link on my domain. Now any time I want to insert a link, I've got a dropdown menu right on my post edit screen.

Obviously I use several addtional plugins, but most of them are fairly well known and widely used.

A couple of plugins that I used to use and really like, but didn't install here at ...

Well, that's about what I've got for now. What are some of the wordpress plugins that you just have to have on all your blogs?


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  1. Hi Todd,
    As you know, I'm a fan of Bad Behavior, and also the Do Follow plug in.
    I've got to check out "Ping Optimizer". I didn't know I was pinging when I saved or previewed a draft, which I do all the time... I don't want my drafts going public... I'll have to check that out. ~ Steve, the trade show guru

    steve, the essential trade show guru’s last blog post..Trade Show Exhibit Booths and SEO

  2. I personally try to use as few plugins as possible. Because many of my sites are making money with Adsense I'm a big fan of the Who Sees Ads plugin that will let you determine what kind of visitors that will see your ads. Besides that I use the most basic plugins on most of the blogs.

    Mikael @ RetireRichRoadmap’s last blog post..Being Effective Produces the Free Time We All Want

  3. Hi Todd,

    As we've discussed briefly on Twitter, I'm very interested in the CommentLuv plugin as a means to reward and promote reader's content when leaving comments, especially since I'm fed up with the do follow spammers reeking havoc on my blog and wasting my time. Plus, I like the added bonus of finding interesting articles written by other bloggers to read and pass along to others.

    I've debated about using a Twitter Wordpress plugin, like the one that allows you to leave your @ username that creates a link to your Twitter profile page. I haven't decided on that yet, but still looking and considering.

    Lin Burress @Telling It Like It Is’s last blog post..Swine Flu School Closings: Fort Worth ISD, Lewisville, Ponder, Plano, Frisco, Dallas, Carrollton, Denton

  4. Hey Steve,

    I've had bad behavior installed on a few of my blogs. I'm going back and forth about whether I need it here or not. Since this a new blog, and isn't on any of the "dofollow" lists, I think I'm good for now ... but at some point in the future, I'll most likely install it.

  5. Hi Mikael,

    Yes, I use who sees ads on some of my other niche sites. But since this blog really doesn't really have any advertising, no real need for that plugin

  6. Hi Lin,

    Yes, I think you'll like commentluv. You'll still get comment spammers who specifically search you out ... but, since you can see the post title they are linking to, it actually makes it easier to spot em ... before you even approve the comment.

    As for the twitter one, I think Andy has a plugin that adds a space into the comment form. It didn't work on my old blog with the theme I was using. Suppose I could try it here. I like to know people's twitter names.

  7. I haven't decided yet about the twitter plugin because I don't really get a lot of traffic at all from social media networks like twitter. Most of my traffic is search engine visitors, but I would also like to know commenters twitter names to find fellow tweeps to follow that actually participate on my blog and that engage/interact on twitter. We'll see.

    Lin Burress @Telling It Like It Is’s last blog post..Swine Flu School Closings: Fort Worth ISD, Lewisville, Ponder, Plano, Frisco, Dallas, Carrollton, Denton

  8. Hey Todd, that ping optimizer looks really good, I didn't know I was doing that with every draft save.

    I actually have another plugin that you may be interested in, just follow the link that commentluv will leave. Basically it allows it's members to keep track of updates of those blogs they decide to follow so that every time they publish a post it sends out a DM via twitter. Now if they are also subscribed to your blog they will also be DM'd when you publish a post. You don't even have to be following them on Twitter for this to work.

    So, essentially you may have 10,000 twitter followers, but have only subscribed to your 10 most favorite blogs, so every time these 10 bloggers publish a post, you will be DM's via twitter and also via email if you so choose.

    Sire’s last blog post..A Twitter Service You’d Be Crazy To Miss Out On

  9. Hi Sire,

    I read about that plugin on your site. Sorry, doesn't sound like my kind of thing. If I want to keep up with a blog, I just subscribe to their feed. Why would I want to get More twitter DMs?


  10. I suppose one advantage is that you can be the first to leave a comment which has it's advantages. I subscribe to feeds but unless I have my reader running, which I rarely do, I seldom check the feeds. Too lazy I reckon, so for me this is ideal.

    Sire’s last blog post..Reflections Of Sydney

  11. Sire, I'm with Todd on this plugin idea. I already get plenty of DM's on Twitter, and if I were to start getting DM's like you describe, I wouldn't be very happy.

    IMO, it comes across as very spammy, and those automated Twitter DM's already create enough havoc for my inbox, so much so that I often unfollow and sometimes block people on twitter for those ridiculous DM's to "check out my blog" yadda, yadda.

    In many cases, Twitter has become the place for spammers (or totally clueless newbies) to spam the heck out followers with DM's. Because of that alone, I unfollowed hundreds of Twitter users in the last two weeks.

    This plugin you're talking about isn't my thing either, sorry.

    Lin Burress @Telling It Like It Is’s last blog post..Swine Flu School Closings: Fort Worth ISD, Lewisville, Ponder, Plano, Frisco, Dallas, Carrollton, Denton

  12. Sure, I understand your view, but it can be configured so that you don't get the email, just the DM, and if you only keep track of, say your 10 favorite bloggers, I don't see it creating such a hassle, especially when you see some twitterers following thousands of people.

  13. Hey Sire,

    Yea, that must be the difference. The two websites I have open pretty much constantly are Gmail and Google Reader.

    When it comes to twitter, I'm against just about anything that's automated ... especially as it relates to promotion ... way to ripe for abuse.

  14. In regards to spam, unless you follow a spammer this is not an option. I think that a lot of people are under the impression that this plugin will open up the floodgates of unnecessary DM's. Not so. Let's say the Lin followed Todd and Todd followed Lin, you would only get DM'd when either one of you did a post. It has nothing to do with any of the other people on Twitter that you are already following, even if they have the plugin, as you have not subscribed to their blog.

  15. It's all good mate ... if this plugin works for you, cool beans.

    To me, it just seems like overkill. Like I said, I already have plenty of ways to follow blogs that I like. I'd rather use twitter for "tweeting" :-)

  16. No worries mate, I just wanted to clear up any misunderstanding. That's the last you will hear of it from me, at least on this blog anyway. :D

    Sire’s last blog post..Wassupblog Update On Google Video Adsense Video Unit

  17. Hi Andy, I would probably just use Wp-spinner ... mainly because I already own it, and use it for other things, but I know that it works well for ad rotation too. That being said, if you click on "Add New" under plugins on your wordpress dashboard, then type "ad rotation" into the search box, it looks like there are at least 3 or 4 free plugins that appears to do exactly what you're asking.


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