To be successful as a blogger, you definitely need a helping hand with some of the best free WordPress plugins which can help you leverage your efforts. Whilst it’s absolutely true that getting Google traffic is as easy as ABC, it certainly cannot harm your cause to leverage your efforts with the best free WordPress plugins out there.
Before installing WordPress and useful plugins though, be sure to find the best web hosting services possible to ensure a good experience throughout the process.
Here are the best WordPress plugins I fully recommend. These are free plugins which you can install directly from the WordPress plugins repository by simply searching for the title of the plugin (which I’ve listed below). There is no guarantee that every plugin listed here is compatible with your theme.
#1 WordPress SEO
This plugin has now surpassed All In One SEO as the only true All In One SEO solution for WordPress. This plugin is developed by a highly respected plugin developer called Joost De Valk who runs a blog called Yoast.com. Because you have this plugin, there is no need for you to use any other sitemap plugin such as Google Sitemaps or HTML sitemaps.
You can also enter the meta values for Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo! Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Tools. This just helps you to keep the installations tidy with the meta values available to you without having to recall HTML files from your server.
Yoast are now developing advanced modules which plugin to the original WordPress SEO plugin for video marketing and local marketing so watch this space!
This plugin which now comes as part of the standard core WordPress installation filters your comments and deposits comments that are likely to be spam based upon some conditional criteria. You definitely don’t want your blog to become a target for spam. You do however need to keep an eye on this filter as it could hold valid comments in the spam queue because it picked up on some keywords it considered as spam. You want to encourage as many comments on your blog as possible, so don’t annoy your readership by allowing them to believe you haven’t accepted their comment.
#3 W3 Total Cache
Step aside WP Super Cache, there’s a new (and improved) kid on the block. This plugin can massively boost the performance of your site. Since Google now takes into account the speed that your pages load to determine relevancy for its users, it would be a great idea for you (or the WordPress Gods you hire) to focus on speeding up your blog. Don’t allow it to be slow and painful to browse.
This plugin enables your images and more resource intensive media to be hosted using a content delivery network such as Amazon S3. This enables the media to be loaded within the browser faster since it is served from a powerful infrastructure, unless of course you’re the guys at Google or Yahoo.
#4 Google Analytics for WordPress
Another all in one Google Analytics solution developed by Joost De Valk. This enables you to exclude certain types of visitors from your stats. For example, you may have guest bloggers that log in to your WordPress dashboard and you wouldn’t want these visits to your site to be displayed.
#5 cbnet Ping Optimizer
Pinging is one of the great features of blogs as pinging gives search engines notification that your blog has new content to crawl. By pinging the search engines, you’re requesting them to crawl your content and index it. Gone are the days of waiting several months for your content to be indexed when GoogleBot was finally sent out to crawl a static website.
A good and frequently updated blog is indexed daily and often even more. Ping Optimizer prevents your blog from pinging the search engines every time you make an update.
If you persistently ping the search engines for every minor update such as a spelling mistake, then you’ll become a ping spammer in the eyes of Google which Google will hold against your blog.
#6 Broken Link Checker
This plugin does scheduled scans throughout your site to ensure that broken links aren’t being left all over your site. Your site will not be looked upon favourably by the search engines for having broken links as broken links affect the user experience of the visitor. Google is all about improving the user experience for visitors so rewards websites that give a positive user experience and conversely penalises websites that give a poor user experience.
Keep an eye on broken links and fix them as soon as you see them. You should also use the Webmaster tools provided by Google, Yahoo and Bing to check your site regularly. They give you valuable clues as to how you can improve your site in the eyes of the all important search engines.
If you use the premium WordPress plugin called ‘Digi Link Doctor’, you don’t really need this plugin.
#7 Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer
If you’re involved in affiliate marketing as an Amazon associate, then you’ll definitely want this plugin. It redirects the browser that clicked the link to the Amazon website which is in their locale.
For example, if a UK visitor clicks the link, the user will be directed to Amazon.co.uk rather than Amazon.com. This will improve conversions since people are immediately put off buying things from abroad due to delivery times, currency conversions, etc.
#8 My Page Order
If you routinely change the hierarchical structure of your WordPress pages, this plugin may well be your saviour. Ordinarily, WordPress is clunky to change the page order and setting parent/child relationships between pages. My Page Order uses an AJAX style interface to drag and drop pages around, or left/right to move further up/down the structure.
The screen capture below shows the interface for the arrangement of pages for the first module of Turbo Traffic Explosion which forms a part of The Profit Share Membership site.
#9 Newsletter Sign Up
This plugin enables you to gather email list subscribers as your visitors comment on your blog. This can be set up to thank the person for visiting and commenting on your blog, showing appreciation of their visit and presenting (soft sell) an offer that changes the relationship of your visitor into a subscriber. Use this plugin if you want to build your email opt in list with a service such as Aweber.
#10 FD Feedburner Plugin
An often overlooked setup for many bloggers is configuring their RSS feeds. RSS feeds are a massively important part of any blogger’s setup since you can build a list of RSS subscribers that browse your content using their favourite RSS software.
A great online tool for browsing RSS feeds is Google Reader. If you prefer to read RSS feeds with desktop software, then FeedDemon is a great choice.
Your commentators are potential customers and they need to be told when you have left a response to their comments.
This plugin is a simple plugin which simply emails the commentator, lets them know their response and invites them back to respond again. You can also configure the email to present an offer to the commentator.
This can be used as an alternative to ‘Newsletter Sign-Up’ if you think that ‘Newsletter Sign-Up’ is too aggressive or pushy for your liking.
#12 Custom Tiny MCE & Tiny MCE Advanced
These plugins extend the functionality of the standard WordPress WYSIWYG editor. The default editor is a little restricting compared to what you’re used to with Microsoft Word or iWork.
These plugins contain a batch of plugins that you may wish to install depending on the functionality that you want for your blog.
#13 Duplicate Post
This is a neat little utility plugin that can just make your life so much easier when blogging, especially when you want to copy posts or pages that you previously used and make the next post or page inherit the properties of the previous one.
This plugin saved me hours of time when I built the backend membership to this site.
This is for those of you that are sticking with the default WordPress comments system. Since May 2010, which was when this blog started, I have tested the Facebook comments system and the Disqus comments system and returned to the default WordPress comments system. You can customise the comments system to look completely like your own, manage it from within WordPress and extend the functionality by using a series of plugins.
One such plugin is called CommentLuv which incentivises the potential commenter to leave a comment as it displays the last post that they made on their blog. If you can get a good volume of traffic to your post, then a commenter could benefit from receiving clickthroughs if they are thoughtful enought to add value to the original post, so that other readers think, “oh, that’s interesting. I’ll have a look to see what they do and have to say.”
#15 NoFollow Free
This next plugin can be debated all day with different SEO experts saying different things. Some will say don’t use it and keep all the link juice for your own blog and others will say use it, be generous and follow the natural pattern of the web. This plugin gives the blogger the choice of when to give dofollow links to their commentators.
All bloggers want to build a community on their blog but don’t want people just stopping by sniping for comments without providing any value to the blog and the blog’s readership.
This plugin gives you the choice to select how many comments the commentator must make before they are awarded with continuous dofollow links from the blog. This choice can help you to build a community, reward commentators for participation and protect your blog from backlink snipers for worthless comments.
#16 Landing Sites
Increasing the number of pages per visit is an important goal for any blogger. A blogger always wants their visitor to click around their site and benefit from more of their content.
For this to be possible, links that are relevant to the visitor must be presented to them at the point where they’re asking themselves where they should go next. If a visitor arrives at your blog using a search engine, then the pages that are suggested to the visitor should be related to the search terms that was used.
Landing sites is a plugin which does just that. It changes the related posts information based upon the search terms that were used to arrive at your site.
#17 SEO Smart Links
SEO Smart Links automatically links keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog which improves the internal linking structure of your blog which Google loves. Furthermore, SEO Smart links allows you to set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs.
You can use SEO Smart links to set nofollow attributes to external pages and open the links within a new window.
#18 SEO Power
This plugin keeps track of keywords that were used by visitors arriving at your site via search engines and adds those keywords as tags to the post where the visitor landed. The tags form the secondary keywords for a post and essentially the plugin sees an inbound visitor from a certain keyword as a vote for that keyword for that particular post.
The tag will only be created if the keyword exist in the content or the title to ensure that only relevant tags are created. The beauty of this plugin is it works entirely in the background ensuring you get better results from your secondary keywords for your blog posts. More traffic anyone?
StatPress is a comprehensive statistics package that tells you detailed information about visits to your page by both search engine spiders and human visitors alike. It gives details of browsers, locations and all sorts of other good stuff. Some of this is not included within Google Analytics.
#20 Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu
This one tidies up the default menu in WordPress to give a slicker looking drop down menu across to the top of your WordPress admin panel.
#21 Optimize DB
Geek alert! Data accumulated over time exists in a series of MySQL database tables on your server. These can become bloated over time and occasionally need to be optimised to speed up your blog. Blogs with faster speeds are rewarded by Google with a higher results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The pretty dull but totally necessary side of configuring plugins. This plugin could save you should the worst happen. You can set the plugin to backup the database tables within your WordPress installation and send you all the necessary files as a ZIP file to your email inbox on a scheduled basis.
Wow, looking back over that list, it’s clear to see the sort of leverage of effort that can be achieved through blogging.Download PDF Version
Think I missed something? Is there something which you think needs to be included in a best free WordPress plugins list?
Take a look at what I think are the Best Premium WordPress Plugins.
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