The 8 WordPress Plugins I Use On This Blog

by Tory McBroom

PluginI’m a minimalist at heart.  You wouldn’t guess it if you walked into my house and saw the amount of toys my kids have(waaaay too many – thanks grandparents), but everything I do and touch has a sort of simplicity to it.

Take this blog, for example, which has a clean some-what minimalist design and only uses 8 plugins, which is the focus of this post.

Now to some, 8 plugins might seem like a lot, but I have very little programming or web design experience so the ease of downloading a plugin and simply activating it to get the desired effect is hard to pass up.

Now, when I create a website it’s for a very specific purpose.  And every element on that site, from the opt-in form to the facebook like box, is there for a specific reason – to either gain a follower, decrease bounce rate, make a sale, etc. (Besides maybe my Random Fact widget in the sidebar, that’s just for fun, and perhaps to increase time on site)

This holds true for the plugins I use, as well, as each one has a very specific purpose. So, without further adieu, here are the 8 plugins I currently use on this blog (and the majority of my sites, as well):

  1. WordPress SEO: In my opinion, the best SEO related plugin out there right now. This plugin, by Joost De Valk, is actually like a gajillion plugins in one.  It creates a Google sitemap, breadcrumbs, easy editor for your robots.txt and .htaccess files and obviously has a ton of SEO features.  If you’re using All-In-One SEO or Platinum SEO, I would recommend making the switch.  It even lets you import your configurations for those two plugins into this one, so making the switch is painless.
  2. Ninja Affiliate: This premium plugin from MaxBlogPress makes handling affiliate links a breeze.  It creates professional looking redirects, inserts affiliate links into your blog automatically and gives you the option to no-follow them and cloak them if you like, amongst many other options.
  3. CommentLuv Premium: If you’ve ever made a comment on this blog then you probably noticed that I use the CommentLuv Premium plugin.  This is actually the first blog I’ve used this plugin on and it’s more of a test to see what it brings to the table.  The whole point of this blog is to give back to people and I feel that this plugin helps do just that.
  4. Broken Link Checker:  Exactly as the name says, this plugin periodically checks your blog for broken links, missing images and redirects.  It will display the results in your WordPress dashboard or you can choose to have them emailed to you.
  5. JetPack by WordPress.com: Jetpack is essentially 8 different plugins in one.  I believe it comes preloaded with new installs of WordPress.  Honestly, of all the plugins I use, this is one I could probably do without, since I really only use the stats feature, but it’s nice to quickly glance at the site stats within the WordPress dashboard every day.
  6. W3 Total Cache: Probably the most complete performance plugin out there.  A good caching plugin is necessary to improve your server performance and reduce download times, thus improving the user experience.  Plus, W3 Total Cache makes it easy to integrate your CDN.
  7. WordPress Popular Posts: This is a highly customizable plugin that allows you to display popular posts on your blog and sort them by comment view, views or average daily views.  I like this plugin because many of the others only sort posts by most comments, which wouldn’t work for this site since I use Facebook comments.  If I could find a good piece of code that sorted posts by views then I might just get rid of this plugin altogether and use the code.
  8. Quotes Collection: As I stated above, the random facts on this site are more for fun than anything and this is the plugin I use to display those.  It helps you get to know me a little better and I suppose may increase time spent on this site, or perhaps make you leave faster…who knows! 🙂  Anyways, if you like to add quotes or facts to your site then this is a nice little plugin.  It’s ultra simple and displays a clean looking quote or fact.

There are certain elements of my site where I could have used a plugin, like the related posts section at the bottom of my posts or the facebook like box in the sidebar, but why use a plugin when I can simply drop a small piece of code into my custom functions file (even I can do that with no coding experience) to get the desired effect.  This way I don’t have to worry about the plugin developer abandoning the plugin and so on.  And if you use the Thesis theme, many popular functions come included, which is why Thesis is my theme of choice!

What plugins do you find necessary?