In the WordPress universe, there are almost 12,000 free WordPress plugins available for you to download and install it along with your WordPress blog. Most people who are serious about working from home and earn a living with a WordPress blog will agree with me that it is important to install good plugins to make the Internet business more effective and efficient. Today, I will share with you my “secret” list of must-have WordPress plugins which I will almost always install for all my WordPress websites.
Plugin #1 – Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin is one of the most important plugin you will need to install on your blog if you are serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process to improve a website or web page’s organic ranking in search engines results pages (SERPS).
What this plugin does is to that it will generate a special XML sitemap which will help the major search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Ask to index your blog. What this means is that the sitemap makes it very easy for the search engines’ robots/crawlers to see the complete structure of your blog. It will also automatically notify all the major search engines each time you publish new content in your blog.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/
Plugin #2 – Dagon Design Sitemap Generator
However, since the previous plugin only creates a sitemap in XML designed for the search engines, you will need to generate another sitemap in HTML format for your human visitors. The are differences in the two formats because XML and HTML were designed with different aims. While XML was designed to transport and store data with focus on what data is, HTML was designed to display data with focus on how data looks. In other words, HTML is about displaying information, while XML is about carrying information.
This plugin will automatically display all your links in multi-level format. Other features include support for category/page exclusion, multiple-page generation with navigation, permalink support, choice of what to display, decide what order to list the links, show comment counts and post dates.
One important point to note is that each of your blog post can only be linked to one-single category. Linking your post to more than one category will crash your sitemap setup.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sitemap-generator/
Plugin #3 – All in One SEO Pack
This is another very important plugin if you are serious about SEO and want your website to have a chance to rank well on the SERPS. Some of the key features of this plugin are:
- Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines
- Generates META tags automatically
- Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
- For beginners, you don’t even have to look at the options, it works out-of-the-box. Just install.
- For advanced users, you can fine-tune everything
- You can override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
Plugin #4 – FD FeedBurner Plugin
Feedburner is a service Google provides for free and it is also the most popular web feed management system people use for Really Simple Syndication (RSS). It allows you to share your content through Feedburner’s suite of tools to automatically publicize your feeds and to allow your readers to conveniently subscribe to your blog’s newsletter using email.
With this plugin, you can convert your WordPress blog’s default RSS feed into a Google Feedburner feed and make use of all the features.
One important point to note is that you will need to create a Google account before you can activate the Google Feedburner. If you already own a Google Gmail account, it can be used to activate Feedburner without any need to create additional accounts.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feedburner-plugin/
Plugin #5 – Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics is another free service offered by Google and it works by generating detailed statistics about the visitors profile of any websites which are embedded with Google Analytics codes. As one of the most popularly website statistics service in the world, it is definitely a service any serious work from home bloggers would want to incorporate into your websites.
In the past, many webmasters and bloggers will need to figure out how to access the HTML or PHP codes of their websites before they can insert the Google Analytics code into the pages. This useful plugin allows you to simply copy the Google Analytics code provided by Google into the plugin via the WordPress Dashboard interface, without a need to touch or mess with any of the core WordPress codes.
One important point to note is that you will need to create a Google account before you can activate Google Analytics. If you already own a Google Gmail account, it can be used to activate Google Analytics without any need to create additional accounts.
Video Step-by-Step Guide to Use Google Analytics Plugin for WordPress
Plugin #6 – WordPress.com Stats
Automattic, the company behind WordPress, also created this plugin to provide you with the ability to monitor the most popular metrics a blogger wants to track, all within your WordPress Dashboard interface. It will collect and present information such as your pageviews, which posts and pages are the most popular, where your traffic is coming from, and what people click on when they leave. While it is not as powerful as Google Analytics, it is a convenient tool to monitor your blog’s traffic quickly.
I usually monitor this plugin for unusual trends before accessing my Google Analytics account to drill into the detail analysis and reports.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/stats/
Plugin #7 – Akismet
Akismet, another free tool from Automattic, is a spam filtering service. Akismet is included by default with your WordPress installation and it’s purpose is to filter link spam from blog comments and spam TrackBack pings. The filter works by combining information about spam captured on all participating blogs, and then using those spam rules to block future spam. Once a commentator is flagged as a spammer, all comments made by the commentators will be sent to the spam queue for your approval or deletion.
I love this plugin because my WordPress blogs tend to attract many spammers and Akismet saves me tons of time by automatically filtering out unwanted spam.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/
Plugin #8 – Front-End Editor
However I use the plugin to allow me to edit my posts and pages very quickly from the front-end of the blogs, i.e. from the homepage. This is particularly useful when all I need to do is to correct some simple spelling or grammatical errors, or to make a quick update on one of the existing posts.
One important point to note is that if you are using the WP Super Cache plugin, you have to disable caching for logged-in users.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/front-end-editor/
Plugin #9 – Advertising Manager
For any work from home Internet businesses, you need to find easy ways to monetize your websites. Many bloggers begin your online businesses by trying to earn money using cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) ads. More advanced bloggers choose to display your affiliate ads or banners. The default free WordPress Twenty Ten Theme allow you to place the ads at strategic locations if you know how to use the WordPress Editor to modify the PHP codes.
To insert your ads into the relevant section of your blog post, you could access the WordPress Editor (Admin panel > Appearance > Editor), select Single Post (single.php), and insert the following codes at the relevant place. (Updated: 20 March 2011) After the latest WordPress updates to version 3.1, you will now have to access the Loop-Single page (loop-single.php) instead of Single Post page to make your edits.
Remember to replace YOUR-AD-NAME with the name you have defined for your ad.
<?php advman_ad(‘YOUR-AD-NAME’); ?>
I insert the codes after <div class=”entry-content”> and </div><!– #entry-author-info –><?php endif; ?>
Alternatively, you can use this plugin to manage all your ads and banners, and use the “shortcodes” for the plugin to insert your ads anywhere within your blog posts, just like what you see here at Blog Towkay on this page. You would notice that I have placed an ad block just under the title of the post and towards the end of this post. There is no need to mess with codes and you can control precisely where you see the ads. Another powerful feature of this plugin is that it allows you place multiple banners and rotate them on the same spot with a pre-determined weightage to control the frequency of display.
Plugin details: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/advertising-manager/
Plugin #10 – Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
Many bloggers like myself like to encourage our readers to stay on our blogs longer and explore the different posts we written previously. Instead of manually choosing which posts to show your readers, this plugin automatically display the most relevant posts at the end of the current post. The relevant related posts are determined using various factors such as post titles, content, tags, and categories. You may choose the threshold limit for relevance though I would recommend that you leave the default settings alone.