The main reason I love WordPress besides being a great content management system, is the mass of cool plugins that are available for it.
The last time I checked there were over 26 thousand available and it would appear that it doesn’t matter what you want to do, there is normally a WordPress plugin to do it.
These amazing plugins keep optimising, maintaining and developing your blog easy, as they require minimal technical expertise.
However, they are not all great and I’ve lost many hours testing different plugins to see it they are worthwhile.
Below are my list of cool plugins for WordPress, that I think are worthy of being in this post.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Yoast has done an amazing job continuing to develop what I think is the best SEO plugin ever. Beyond what many SEO plugins include, title tags, meta descriptions and index or noindex.
Yoast plugin takes it to a new level with on-page SEO analysis based of a focus keyword, technical alterations controlling nofollow, noindex, noodp and noydir attributes for every page, category, tag and post, XML sitemaps management, Social integration, breadcrumb options (dependant on the theme) and RSS optimisation.
And for the more advanced users you can edit your .htaccess and robots.txt files, which are difficult to access for most newbies.
The number 1 Plugin to help avoid Comment Spam by filtering it against its own database of known spammers. The service is free to personal blogs and lets you review the spam it catches under your comments admin screen. You will need an Askimet.com API key which you can get with a quick sign up.
If you are looking to schedule content and have better overall visibility of your blog, days, weeks or months in advance, then try the editorial calendar plugin. Once installed in your dashboard you can view content for any month, drag and drop posts to new dates, pencil in draft titles for content to be written and manage all posts even if written by multiple authors.
Fancier Author Box
If you’re looking to give your posts an Identity or implement Authors on your blog, this great plugin makes it easy to an Author box above or below your posts with minimal configuration. Once activated your can include an Author Bio, a link to their website, their Social links and other posts written by them on your blog, styled to match your current blog theme.
This plugin is also ideal if you are looking to use Google Authorship and include a rel=author link to your Google+ profile.
Having tried many of the traditional related posts plugins I was looking for something that was more in line with subtle disruptive marketing tactics.
upPrev is triggered when a visitor scrolls down 75% (you can set the percentage) of the screen and pops out a nice box another posts title and excerpt for your visitors to read. The post displayed can be set to random, from a category, from a tag or previous post, allowing you control of what content you push to retain your reader.
Enhanced Text Widget
Content Aware Sidebars
This is a feature that many free templates and some premium ones lack, unlimited custom sidebars to place widgets, custom menus, offers and other calls to action in.
By installing Content Aware Sidebars you can now have this functionality on nearly any WordPress theme. Simply create your custom sidebar, add your widgets in the usual widget area and choose which pages you wish to allocate it to and you’re done.
For those who are worried about 404 errors or have concerns when making changes to your blog posts, pages or images that they might end up with broken links, this plugin is ideal.
404 Redirected records a list of all 404 links as they are discovered and presents the visitor with suggested categories, posts or pages to visit instead. It then allows you to put the relevant 301 or 302 redirects in place so in future any potential visitors are sent to the correct page and link authority is retained between pages.
Mashable was probably the first place I ever saw the floating sharebar and since then have loved it. DiggDigg is from the creators of Social sharing service Buffer and makes adding a floating share bar or static sharebar, above or below posts effortless.
It also caters for most Social channels including Twitter, Buffer, Facebook Share, Facebook Like, Digg, LinkedIn, Google +1, Reddit, dZone, TweetMeme, Topsy, Yahoo Buzz, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, Sphinn, Designbump, WebBlend, BlogEngage, Serpd, Pinterest, Pocket and Tumblr to name a few.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a great plugin for creating contact forms, optin forms and custom data capture forms which you can place on any page, post or in a text widget using shortcodes generated for each instance. (Ideal for online lead generation)
For increased functionality using the additional features field you can add code for custom redirects upon successful submission and custom tracking for Google Analytics.
Contact Form 7 also integrates with other plugins such as Really Simple Captcha (detailed below) to provide spam protection.
Really Simple Captcha
This plugin can be used in conjunction with other plugins, however we only ever use it with Contact Form 7 listed above. It integrates seamlessly to provide an anti spam deterrent for your contact forms, forcing visitors to enter characters for the captcha image before they can submit a form.
Avoid losing all your hard work by backing up your blog regularly! This plugin literally is a WordPress Database Manager as it gives you the functionality to backup, restore, optimise, repair, run queries and maintain your blogs database.
All In One WordPress Security and Firewall
WordPress depending on who installed it and what permission are set is a fairly secure system. However with cyber attack always on the rise there is no harm in doing what you can to protect your website. The All In One WordPress Security and Firewall is without a doubt the most comprehensive security plugin I have seen to date.
Focused around a points driven gauge on your dashboard you have complete visibility of how secure your website is based on the options you have available, the plugin will also recommend the most critical alterations to configure if it finds a variability in your setup.
Another great feature is that it logs all attempted and successful login activity so you know when someone last logged in or someone has been trying.
W3 Total Cache
Improve the performance of your blog and user experience by caching every aspect of your site. W3 Total Cache installs and operates in the background to reduce page load times, down load times and deliver your content quicker to the screen.
WPtouch Mobile Plugin
Most WordPress templates or themes today are designed in a responsive framework, however there are many that are not. This leaves you with a choice, you either change your theme to another theme that has a responsive web design, spend time and money employing someone to edit your existing theme to become responsive or install the WPtouch mobile plugin.
What WPtouch does, is take your existing blog content and displays it in its own template that works with most smartphones including Android handsets, Apple iPhones and Blackberrys. This allows your visitors to read and share your content at ease without having to scroll around the screen to read a simple line on text.
Analytics Dashboard for WordPress
If you are fed up going between your WordPress dashboard and logging into Google Analytics to check your visitor stats, then read on. This handy plugin brings all your Analytics stats and presents them inside your Dashboard keeping your traffic data at your fingertips. It is worth noting that this plugin does not place the Google Analytics code on your WordPress site, you need to use Yoast Google Analytics plugin for that.
As new plugins are being developed and discovered every day, if you have any suggestions that you like or use for a specific task in your business, let us know using the comment box below or tweet us @Mktg_Mavens