12 WordPress Plugins to Supercharge Your Blog


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When I left law firm life to start an entrepreneurial venture, I learned that blogging, and not a static website, was the way to go. After a series of trial and many errors, I settled on the popular WordPress platform and never looked back. Self-taught smattering of coding made me more dangerous than useful. Help arrived in the form of plugins.

I discovered a massive community of generous WordPress developers who created a wide range of useful plugins to extend the functionality of my blog. But with over 16,000 plugins, a new round of trial and error commenced. It’s still going on. Here are a dozen can’t-miss plugins that emerged from that experience.

Behind the scenes

Akismet – Comment spam is an unfortunate price of website success.Used by millions, Akismet protects your blog by checking comments and trackback for spam and automatically moving them over to a spam folder. Aksimet dashboard shows statistics of your spam, missed spam, real spam and other variables. No WordPress blog should be without this plugin.

Google XML Sitemaps – A sitemap helps search engines to crawl your blog effectively. This plugin automatically generates a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.

W3 Total Cache – Speeds load times by delivering fresh blog data only as needed. W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site and reducing the download times.

All in One SEO Pack – Considered a WordPress essential, this plugin automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines. With it, you can give your page an SEO-friendly title (which shows up at the top of a Web browser), homepage description (which appears beneath your URL when people search for it via Google or other engine), and keywords related to your topic.

Enhanced functionality

WP-Table Reloaded – If you work with graphs and charts, this terrific plugin is a must-have. WordPress doesn’t work well with tables and spreadsheets, and WP-Table Reloaded allows you to create and easily manage tables in the admin-area of WordPress. A comfortable backend allows an easy manipulation of table data. You can then include the tables into your posts, on your pages or in text widgets. Tables can be imported and exported from/to CSV, XML and HTML.  A favorite of mine.

WordPress Database Backup – Data loss is a constant fear. Remove that fear by scheduling automatic or on-demand backups with this plugin.

Efficient Related Posts – The lifespan of a post has been measured in hours. Extend it by including links to related, helpful posts on your site. This plugin automates the process.

Clean-Contact – So many form generating plugins to choose from, many useful, but just about all quite complicated to get started. If you want a simple contact form to do just that, check out this no hassle plugin with advanced spam protection.

Look and feel

Add Post Footer – This plugin automatically places an optional custom block where you can add author bios, related links, advertisements, or other items for display at the end of every post.

WPtouch – Automatically transform your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices. It includes the ability for visitors to switch between WPtouch view and your site’s regular theme. A terrific plugin.

Widget Logic – A great feature of WordPress blogs is the ability to add columns with widgets to pages. But without diving into the code, those columns and widgets remain the same on every page. This plugin lets you control on which pages the widget will appear. Very useful

Maintenance Mode – If you’re like me and love to fiddle with the look and feel of your blog, this is a great plugin that adds a splash page that lets visitors know your blog is down for maintenance. Logged in administrators get full access to the blog including the front-end.

There are many other great plugins – free and premium –  to help you improve the functionality of our blog and provide an enhanced user experience for your visitors, but these free gems will help you get started. If you have a favorite plugin that I haven’t mentioned, please share in the comments section below.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatcanadiangirl/3556391164/)


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  • Good stuff Tim. As we’ve previously discussed, I prefer Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin.

    I also recommend that WordPress users check out: http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress

    Security is key and WordPress “out-of-the-box” isn’t as secure as it probably should be.

    I also like Sharebar, which brings up the nice little social sharing bar that you can see on Lawyerist.

    I’m also a fan of the Thesis theme builder and the Thesis Open Hook plugin.

    I love me some WordPress!

    • Thanks for the tips, Gyi. I’m glad you mentioned the Thesis theme which I also use. They claim that it’s maximized for SEO making plugins somewhat unnecessary. Is Yoast rather than SEO Pack a better fit?

      • Just completing a conversion to the Genesis framework and really liking it so far.

        • I’ve used Genesis and, depending on the child them you choose, it can be a great choice. If pushed, I’d still take Thesis.

        • Much of the WordPress premium themes comparison I’ve seen over the past couple of years have been between Thesis and Headway. I have both, but after spending the (long) time to learn and digest Thesis, I’m less than motivated to test out another. I’ve yet to give Genesis a go.

      • I think so. Yoast’s has some additional functionality. I also like being able to use the shortcodes for titles i.e. %title% | %sitename% will produce optimized title tags and also allow you to do some branding within the titles which can increase click through in organic results.

        • Thanks, Gyi, I’ll check it out. It’s remarkable and somewhat intimidating, the level of detail that SEO can potentially encompass.

          • Tim, that’s an interesting point about SEO, and makes me wonder to what extent we’re chasing after shiny new tools that only make a micron’s worth of difference in search over what we’re currently using.

            In other words are SEO tools actually getting better at SEO, or just easier to use?

            • I hear ya, Jay. To keep myself from drowning in SEO stuff, I’ve written down a core dozen or so practices which I keep refining and add a plugin and let it do its thing. Of course, ultimately, it’s all about current, relevant content.

  • Thanks, Tim. Great picks.

    Do you have any thoughts on the Editorial Calendar plugin?

  • i wrote a few years ago about getting an increase in traffic from just converting my clients’ lawyer sites from static HTML to seo-firnedly wordpress based sites. theres a screenshot of the traffic increase in the blog post i wrote on this, too – http://www.designedforseo.com/seo/wordpress-great-for-seo/ instead of all in one seo pack, i prefer headspace 2 – it’s generally for a more advanced user. one last plugin missing – “top level cats” to remove “/category/” slug from blog posts, so its just “/legal-blog/blog-post/” instead of “/category/legal-blog/blog-post/”.

  • Do check with your WordPress host about using the All-in-One SEO plugin — I seem to remember hearing other bloggers say some web hosts had blocked it because of server performance issues. It may be the plugin has improved since then.

    I personally vote for the Editorial Calendar plugin and BackupBuddy (backs up database AND files and can store backup files in the cloud or on your computer).

    I will definitely have to check out Hardening WordPress and Efficient Related Posts (I never really liked Yoast’s related posts plugin).

    • Good point about the All-in-One-SEO plugin, Deborah. The backup plugin that I use emails me with file attached once a week, effectively acting as a cloud storage backup. One note about the Efficient Related Posts plugin — it’s only as effective as your tags, so keep ’em clean and consistent.

  • A footer plugin. And here I tinkered with the code instead. ;) I love to tinker!

    I’m a fan of the WP-Table Reloaded plugin and WPTouch plugin. Will have to check out Widget Logic.

    I’ve heard of the editorial calendar plugin, but not much about its use. Be curious to hear opinions on that. Imagine it’d be useful/helpful for multi-author blogs.

    • I love to tinker too, Gwynne. It can get a bit dangerous :-) WP-Table Reloaded is one of my absolute faves…and the developer is responsive to suggestions and concerns. Yeah, Jay and Deborah also mentioned the editorial calendar plugin. I’m not efficient enough to have a bunch of posts scheduled to go out, but maybe this could help me get there. I’ll check it out, but would love to hear more about it too.

  • Tim –

    Great article. I’d second the Yoast’s SEO over All in one. Was a long time All in One user, but especially since Yoast’s recent stable release earlier this year, it is far more robust solution, and even takes the place of XML sitemaps, not to mention integrates flawlessly with W3TC.

    Only other semi-lawyer-specific plugin I’d recommend is WP Document Revisions. It’s a document collaboration and workflow management tool (think of it as an open source SharePoint) that a handful of law firms and bar associations have downloaded and tried.

    I’m the plugin author (and a law student), so if you do use give it a try, or have any feedback, I’d love to hear!

    • Thanks, Benjamin. I checked out your site and the video about the plugin. Cool stuff – useful for lawyers (and others) to keep track of document revisions. I’ve actually gone the other way for one of my blogs and installed the Revision Control plugin to get rid of the default WordPress revisions which can clog up space and slow down the site.

  • It was great to read your post because I started today my WordPress blog and my second post dealt with this same theme. You gave me some inspiration. Thanks!

  • I have to mention social media plugins for auto distribution such as WP to Twitter.

  • Jordan

    Good list. Also consider WordPress Backup to Dropbox which backs up the whole site AND creates a database dump – all straight into your Dropbox account.

  • John Galt

    I think Gantry is a much better framework !

    • It would be helpful to know why you think so.

  • Personally, I prefer Quick Cache over W3 cache. I find it is less labor intensive on the server, therefore runs quicker. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/quick-cache/

    +1 on Google XML Sitemaps

    I prefer Platinum SEO for an Meta Plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/platinum-seo-pack/