It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>
This week I asked our panel of experts a question that I've been thinking about lately.
“This question is about blog plugins. We all know about Akismet and All in One SEO and the other commonly known favorites.
Of all of the plugins that you've got installed on your own blog, tell us about 1 or 2 gems that you use that aren't as widely known.”
Shannon Cherry of List Building Promotion Secrets says:
Plug-in. Plug-in. Who's got the Plug-in?
I will admit I am almost as addicted to plug-ins as I am domain names. And why not? There are more than 10,000 of them out there to pimp out your blog. But if I had to narrow down my favorites, here are my top three:
- Thank Me Later. This one allows me to email first time commenters automatically. You can write up the email to remind them about your RSS feed or just to invite them to connect with you personally. (I do both!)
- SEO Scribe. This is a subscription based plugin (meaning you have to PAY for it). It works with All In One SEO Plug In to analyze each blog post for the best SEO. It finds keywords and event backlinks you can use. Best of all, the subscription can be used on multiple blogs at once (currently I use it on 4 of them).
- WPTouch iPhone Theme.This plugin will instantly make your site optimized for mobile browsers, while keeping your normal theme for people browsing your site on their PC. If you don’t use a heavily customized theme, then this plugin will be perfect to you.
Now there is ONE plug in I don't get that comes with the WP install: Hello Dolly! Can someone please tell me why that's in there?
Mark Mason of MasonWorld.com says:
This is an easy one for me.
I have 36 active plugins currently installed on MasonWorld.com, but the one I like the most is W3TotalCache (W3TC). I was previously using WPSuperCache, but I was having some page load time performance problems, particularly right after sending my list to my blog. So, I did some research and switched to W3TotalCache.
According to the W3TC people..
W3 Total Cache is the fastest and most complete WordPress performance plugin. Dramatically improve the speed and user experience of your site. Add browser, page, object and database caching as well as minify and content delivery network (CDN) to WordPress.
The cool thing is that W3TC uses Amazon S3 and Cloudfront (that the CDN thingy referenced in the blurb) to host some of the more frequently downloaded files on my site, and that helped performance a lot.
Kelly McCausey of Work at Home Moms Talk Radio says:
I'm utterly dependent on the Broken Link Checker plugin. I have several WordPress sites with thousands of pages of content going back five years or more. Dead links are going to happen and I love how easy it is for me to remove or update them with this plugin. This is especially important with affiliate links that have gone dead but cleaning up dead links in general is important if you don't want to annoy your web visitors.
I'm using the WP-Invoice plugin on one of my service based websites where I often work long term with clients. The WP-Invoice plugin allows me to simply issue a web based invoice for monthly retainers and incidental projects. My client can then easily pay via PayPal. I love that I'm able to view pending invoices right within my WordPress site.
Lynette Chandler of TechBasedMarketing.com says:
Alright, I'll admit I'm partial to plugin since we developed it:)
1. List Authors Plus – this allows finer control over how authors are listed. You can display authors using the plugins' template tag or using sidebar widgets. Really handy when you have a bunch of accounts on your blog but not all account holders warrant a mention on your authors listing.
The rest of the list were not developed by us though we have more in the works 🙂
2. WP-Invites – allows you to create an invite code and only those who enter the correct invite code will be able to successfully register on your blog. I love this (and similar plugins) because we often request guest posts and we like to have our guests create their own account for both their convenience and ours. But at the same time we do not like to have the blog open for others to register either this stops unauthorized people and spammers from creating accounts yet still automates the author's account creation process.
3. Syntax Highlighter and Code Prettifier Plugin for WordPress – I'm not sure not many people know about this but certainly not many non-techies know how to use this. I find WP-Syntax great for affiliate sites – as in sites where affiliate managers post updates and codes etc. One of the problems with WordPress is, when you try to post a text article inside a textarea, you will get unexpected results with the line breaks. In short, it doesn't make easy copying and pasting. This allows you to create boxes for code and copy/paste text and also
makes it easy for people to copy and paste.
4. WP Mobile Edition – Pretty self explanatory – allows you to display a mobile version of your blog/site to those who are viewing on mobile devices.
5. Header-Footer – Don't you hate it when you have to install a gazillion plugins just to add a code to the header or footer of your site? Many don't realize, you don't have to. This allows you to add any type of code into your headers and footers and cut down on the number of plugins too, reducing that plugin mess (yay!)
6. RunPHP, PHPExec, PHP Execution – lets you add PHP code into your posts, pages. While true it works well only if you know what you're doing with PHP but oh it can help you do a multitude of things. Like automatically add your affiliates' ID to your products links on the page. I've used it many times to do that and am sure affiliates appreciate the extra help.
7. ThemePerPost – love this. Lets you use different theme for a post or page http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/themeperpost/
I'd have to end this by a small advise to do your due diligence on any of the plugins mentioned. While we have run it without problems and have not encountered rogue code in them but our servers may be configured differently than yours and also files on download pages change from time to time.
Got some feedback on Twitter from Warren Whitlock:
Denise O'Berry of DeniseOBerry.com says:
It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, small business owners had to struggle with learning how to code html or php if they wanted to build their own website. WordPress has made life so simple for do it yourselfers.
And it continues to get better and better as the platform matures and those cool techie folks out there create plugins that make our lives simpler.
Like most small business owners, my websites have the standard plugins to battle spam and allow for social sharing. But one of my favorite plugins — that's not so common — is Add Sig, a plugin that allows you to add standard and custom signatures at the bottom of your posts. You can find it here http://www.dagondesign.com/articles/add-signature-plugin-for-wordpress/
I've used this plugin to add guest blogger bios, affiliate products, email list sign up forms and many other options. It's simple and takes just a few minutes to enter or change without requiring a ton of technical knowledge.
Connie Ragen Green of ConnieGreen.com says:
I have found that less is more when it comes to plug-ins, so I choose them carefully before installing them on my blogs. The ones I'd like to share are
the broken link checker plug-in and the drafts dropdown plug-in.
I include links in most of my posts, and I always check them before I publish them. However, things beyond our control often happen, resulting in broken links and unhappy readers. The cure for this is the broken link checker plug-in, which lets you know when a link on your blog is no longer active. This gives you a chance to correct it, replace, it, or simply remove it.
I post regularly to two blogs, so I tend to write partial posts and save them as drafts. The drafts dropdown plug-in makes it so easy for me to choose
which draft I want to work on, saving me lots of time.
Pat Flynn of The Smart Passive Income Blog says:
Here are a couple of gem plugins that most people probably don't know about:
- Broken Link Checker: this plugin is great because it will automatically detect any broken links on your WordPress blog, either links that you type in yourself that were just not typed in correctly, which happens from time to time, or links that used to work but do not anymore because the page that it points to is no longer available.
- Robots Meta: this plugin, which is a bit more advanced, allows you to choose a number of settings for your WordPress blog as far as what the search engine spiders can and cannot crawl through. So for example, if you want to create nofollow links for your comments or for your archive page, it's just a click of a button away. Also, each new page or post that you create has a setting where you can choose whether it should or shouldn't be indexed by Google, which comes in handy when you are creating more private type pages, such as landing pages for lead magnets for opting into an email list.
Alice Seba of Contentrix says:
I'm pretty old school when it comes to marketing. I don't look for fancy marketing tools or plugins for every little thing. However, I am a big fan of saving time and automating things where it makes sense. With that in mind, I have to make a little plug for my own plug “Speedy APLC Publisher”. It is designed for our members at allprivatelabelcontent.com and it allows them to instantly load their PLR articles into WordPress. But the cool thing is, it can be used for any content. Whether it's PLR you bought elsewhere, articles from a ghostwriter or stuff you wrote yourself. As long as it's in .txt format, it can be uploaded.
It allows you to:
* Mass upload of articles in .txt format
* Schedule imported articles for publication e.g. Every 1 hour, 24 hours, 72 hours, etc.
* Upload the articles as drafts if you want to edit them before they are published.
* Choose your categories. Publish all articles in one category of your choice or individually select a category.
* Choose your authors. Assign all articles to one author or individually assign articles to author(s) of your choice.
It's a great timesaver, even if you plan to edit the content. All you do is upload the zip, make your setting and everything is ready for you to work your magic.
Here is a video showing how the publisher works.
Denise Wakeman of Blog Squad Tips says:
Great question, Nicole! I usually go for plugins that make things easier and automate tasks.
I especially like …
- Viper’s Video Quicktags: Super-easy way to add videos from YouTube and other video sharing platforms to your posts.
- Photo Dropper: Lets you easily find and add creative commons licensed photos to your posts from Flickr.
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
I currently have 25 active plugins on my blog, but amazingly I don't have the broken link checker. I'll have to add that one today since it sounds really handy. Then have my Virtual Assistant go through the broken links for me and fix them. 😉
As for my favorite plugins, it was easy for me to choose mine, and I was surprised that they hadn't been mentioned yet.
My absolute favorite three WordPress plugins are:
- WordPress Editorial Calendar
- Datafeedr Random Ads V2
- Page Links To
I also depend on Podpress to keep my podcast running, but I didn't think that was really a “hidden gem” so I'll just mention it in passing as my other most favorite plugin.
Here's a bit about each one so you can see why I love them.
1. WordPress Editorial Calendar.
Their description says:
The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog.
The Editorial Calendar is basically a way to organize and manage your blog posts.
I've found that it's especially useful if…
- You're a visual person
- You like to plan your posts and promos in advance
- You're outsourcing
- You have guest bloggers or a community blog where others are contributing to your blog
- You have theme days (like I do these Expert Briefs)
- You're doing a challenge or contest of some sort (like my month-long Computer Butt Challenge)
Here's a screenshot that I took on Monday (the 15th) of my blog calendar. You can see that I already had two blog posts scheduled for Tuesday, ready to post.
If I didn't have this plugin, I think I'd have gone crazy(ier) by now. 🙂
Click on the image if you'd like to see it full size.
2. Datafeedr Random Ads V2
Their description says:
The Datafeedr Random Ads plugin is a free plugin which allows you to simply and easily show random ads anywhere in your template files or using widgets.
Here's a video to show you how I use it on this blog. I have it installed on several other blogs, but thought you'd be most interested in seeing behind-the-scenes here.
3. Page Links To Plugin.
Their description says:
Allows you to point WordPress pages or posts to a URL of your choosing. Good for setting up navigational links to non-WP sections of your site or to off-site resources.
The easiest way to show you how this works is to point you to my navigation above. If you go to the top navigation where it says “Tools I Use in My Business” – hold your mouse over those words and you'll see a list of sub-pages.
If you click on some of the pages that display, you'll be taken to pages here on my blog. If you click on others, you'll go directly to other sites where you can learn more about the tools. I didn't have time to create pages for each tool yet, but wanted my readers to know what I personally use in my business, so I started to list them there.
Here's what the plugin looks like when you're using it. This is my settings for my “Contact Me” page under “About Nicole” on my top navigation.
It's Your Turn.
So, now, I'll pose this question to you. What are your favorite lesser known plugins? I'd love to hear what you have on your blog!
PS. I have created brandable reports from several of the previous Expert Brief columns that you can use to earn commissions by giving them away.
If you’re new to expert briefs, don’t miss these favorites: