Once you know how to install plugins, you’ll want to find some good ones. Before you go crazy (it’s easy to go crazy), I recommend you read my Plugin Tips. In short, plugins have a frustrating way of breaking sites so I aim to use as few as possible.
Below is a list of the plugins currently active on my site.
This list has been updated and the plugins I use have changed. I’m keeping the list of plugins I’ve stopped using at the bottom of the page for reference. I noted the reason why I stopped using a specific plugin when applicable.
To combat spam
These two plugins are active on my site, but they are not nearly as effective as turning off comments more than 30 days old. Now THAT has virtually eliminated spam.
Akismet is a great spam catcher as well. It’s automatically installed in new versions of WordPress but must still be activated. (Activation requires an API key from WordPress.com. Simply follow the prompts to get your key when you activate Akismet under Plugins–>Installed.)
Social Sharing Toolkit is what automatically puts sharing buttons at the end of each of my posts.
Send Email Notification To Only Parent Commenter sends a notification to someone when they have a reply to their comment.
For the backend
UpdraftPlus is the plugin I use to create automatic backups of my site. It’s free.
W3 Total Cache makes your site run faster and smoother by caching. Caching is basically keeping a copy of images and content that has already been seen so those things don’t have to be fetched from the server every time, which slows things down.
WordPress Ping Optimizer keeps your site from being marked as a ping spammer. What’s that? Have you ever published a post but found mistakes and had to update it? Well, every time you update a post after it’s published, your pinging services are notified. This plugin only pings them once when the post is published the first time. (Note: I have found varying opinions on this, namely, whether or not a plugin like this is required. So far I’m just leaving it as is.)
Genesis is the theme I personally use. These are plugins that make Genesis even more cool.
Genesis Simple Edits makes editing your byline (the bit of information like date and author name under your post titles) and your post footer (the bit of information like number of comments, categories, etc. at the end of your post) a cinch.
Genesis Simple Hooks is a plugin that is a bit more techy, but is a nice way to add elements to your blog layout (like banner ads under your header for example, or ads at the end of single posts, etc.).
Simple Social Icons allows you to add social media icons to your widgets in WordPress. It works great with Genesis. I recently removed my social media icons from my sidebar to keep traffic on my blog and not send people away. I may reinstate this one at some point, but for now, it’s deactivated.
Comment Reply Notification allows people who leave a comment to be notified via email if anyone responds to their comment.
WP Smush.it reduces the file sizes of images you upload to your blog, thus making your site run faster. I’d also recommend resizing your images. I just manually compress my images now. And I wasn’t hearing good things about this plugin after a while.
Google XML Sitemaps creates an automatic sitemap which helps the “bots” index your site more efficiently. This helps with SEO. I wrote more about it in How to Maximize Your Sitemap. Now I use Yoast’s SEO plugin for this.
WP Database Backup backs up your database (posts, comments, etc.) on a regular basis. Replaced by UpdraftPlus.
WP Maintenance Mode is handy if I want to make design changes or do other maintenance without confusing anyone. Basically, I can work on my site as usual behind a screen that lets visitors know the site is undergoing a little maintenance and will be back to normal quickly. This is a nice thing if you have a demo site or a client site. I reinstall it only if I need to do some work and then delete it when it’s done.
FeedBlitz Member Mail puts a check box at the end of the comment form, so anyone who leaves a comment can also subscribe to receive posts via email by checking the box. It’s an easy way to build subscribers. Now I use Mad Mimi for The Useletter and don’t send out posts via email.
FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend does the same thing, only for FeedBurner. In other words, it keeps all your subscribers funneled through FeedBurner.
Editorial Calendar is a great way to keep track of your posts by scheduling them. I have used this plugin only a little bit but didn’t find I used it enough to warrant keeping it activated.
What are your favorite plugins?
*There are affiliate links in this post.