what are the 10 plugins I find essential for my blogs?
1. Tweet Old Post
Tweet Old Post allows you to highlight old posts from your blog via a Twitter post. The plugin will post to Twitter every so often, linking to a random post from your archives. This is an excellent way to give old posts a new lease of life, and expose them to an audience who may have missed them the first time around.
Be careful not to flood your Twitter stream with links, though. Choose an update frequency that will balance nicely with the amount you engage with your Twitter followers.
Iíve written more about this plugin over at Weekly Blogging: Tweet Old Post.
2. Contact Form 7
This is a marvellous plugin that can be used to build a very simple contact form, or to build something that requires very specific information to be entered. The default contact form can be used immediately; you can also build your own forms as and when you need to.
One thing Iíd like to see from this plugin is a way to drag and drop the controls while editing the form, instead of relying on the shortcodes. But itís still a great plugin that most blogs should have a use for.
3. Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin creates a Google-compatible sitemap, ready for uploading via Google Webmaster Tools. This is a very good way to get all of your posts indexed by Google in a relatively short space of time, instead of waiting for Google to crawl your entire site. The sitemap gets updated when you post, which can help to get your posts on Google very quickly.
If youíre using the multi-site options in WordPress 3 or above, make sure you install the version of this plugin with multi-site support. Unsurprisingly, itís called: Google XML Sitemaps with Multisite support.
4. Revision Control
A simple plugin, but one I find essential. I donít like the way that WordPress saves post revisions every time I change a post, including when it auto-saves a post. So I use this plugin to disable revisions altogether.
Iíve heard many arguments about the use of revisions in WordPress (mostly when the feature was first added to the core). Sure, it may work well for some sites. But if you donít have a need for it, revisions do clog up your database with unnecessary data. This is more of a concern if you have limited disk space on your server. For me, disabling revisions decreases the size of my backups, which add up quickly considering the number of blogs I run at the moment. Which brings me nicely to the next pluginÖ
5. WordPress Database Backup
Simple and absolutely vital, backing up your blog is something we should all be doing. Donít wait to lose your posts before you start backing up. Do it now.
6. Subscribe To ďDouble Opt InĒ Comments
How many times have you commented on a blog, only to find that thereís no way to find out if someone replied to your comment? This happens to me from time to time Ė thankfully not on every blog I visit Ė but itís disappointing to find a blog that doesnít use this plugin.
Allowing commenters to subscribe to comments means they will read any replies that get posted. This encourages them to come back and add a further comment, and perhaps post more comments in the future.
If your first comment on a blog isnít one where you can subscribe, a lot of people wonít come back to comment again Ė often because they forget. Donít let this happen. Help people to be reminded when itís time to revisit your blog.
7. TweetMeme Retweet Button
Iíve never liked blog clutter, so I hate seeing loads of social links on every post. However, one I do like seeing is the retweet button from TweetMeme.
It reminds people that they can tweet your post, and gives them an easy way to do it. Also, it gives you an easy way to see how many people have tweeted a post.
I only recently added the TweetMeme retweet button to this blog. When I did, I was surprised to see how many of my posts have had loads of retweets.
8. Google Analyticator
This plugin gives you a quick way to add the Google Analytics code to your site, once youíve added the site to your Analytics profile. Pretty simple.
It also gives you a simple way to exclude admins from your stats, without worrying about blocking specific IP addresses. If you log in from more than one IP, this is a good idea.
The best part of this plugin? The stats summary on the WordPress dashboard. So the next time you go to write a post, you can quickly see your stats for the last month. Awesome.
If youíve ever moved domains, changed blogging platforms, or moved posts from one blog to another, this plugin is a lifesaver.
For the tech-savvy, you might prefer to edit your .htaccess file directly. Itís no huge issue. However, I ran into difficulties with this approach when I started using the multi-site options in WordPress.
Redirection makes this much simpler, and you can also keep track of how many times each link has been redirected. Handy stuff.
Iíve written more about this plugin at Weekly Blogging: Redirection.
10. NextGEN Gallery
Iíve tried several gallery plugins, but this is by far the best. Most of the others I tried had plenty of features, but they were really badly organised.
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