The presence of plugins is one of the reasons why I migrated from Blogspot to WordPress. This whole stuff really helped me in building my sites.
In a sea of WordPress plugins, a blogger like me is indeed a having a hard time choosing essential plugins that will provide needed functions for my self-hosted blogs. It is because there are some plugins that have different names, have actually the same purpose or benefit. It could be for Search Engine Optimization, caching, blog security, contact forms related, social sharing and many more. Therefore, good selection here is highly recommended.
On the other hand, the price of the plugins could be one of the factors to consider. It would be more practical if the plugins that we will install will not cost us even a single cent, right? So I prepare a list of useful “free” plugins which I think are ideal for your self-hosted blogs for a better blogging experience!
Remember: You do not need to run many plugins because sometimes it may boggle down your blog or you might end up to a disastrous result.
10 – WP Contact Form
If you want to generate revenue and collect feedback and information from your blogreaders, WP Contact Form plugin will help you. This is an easy-to-use plugin by BestWebSoft that will allow you to add a contact form to a post or a page. It requires WordPress 2.9 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.
What make this plugin more interesting are its features.
- Actions: You can choose where to send the messages – this can be any user and any email address.
- Actions: You can add a field for file attachment.
- Actions: You can add a field for sending a copy of the message to the user who fills out the contact form. A copy will be sent to the email address specified while filling out the contact form.
- Label: Ability to change a label when the fields are displayed.
9 – LinkWithin
To have sufficient blog traffic is one thing most bloggers wanted to achieve. One way to do this is through installing LinkWithin plugin. It is an easy and quick to install widget that automatically links to your related posts of your blog. Unlike other plugins, it doesn’t just display the links of your posts’ titles but also conspicuous thumbnail pictures.
This plugin is available not only for WordPress (self-hosted) but also for Blogger, Typepad and for others. It can be found underneath each post. For the design, you do not have to worry because it is clean and minimally styled and you have the option to blend in with your site.
8 – WP-Copy Protect
Do you want to protect your blog from an unauthorized copying? Then WP-Copy protect plugin by Chetan Gole is for you. It is another easy to install plugin that is very useful in protecting your original works on the web from inevitable plagiarists who don’t even care to put any credits or sources on their posts. This plugin requires WordPress 2 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.
Some of the features that come within this plugin are as follows:
- Disable selection of text – Now those n00bs cannot copy your content easily.
- Disable right click on your blog – Disable right click with popup message or without popup message.
- No side effect on SEO – Search engines can read your content without any problem.
- User specific setting – Apply above settings to all users or specific category of users like Admin.
7 – Quick Adsense
If you consistently published blog posts, then displaying Adsense contextual ads is certainly one way to drive additional income. You will make money from it every time a visitor clicks the display relevant text or image ads on your blog. However, it is also important to know the best practices for ad placements. For this one, Quick Adsense plugin by Toddynho and Phillip Ze will help you for easy ads management. It offers a flexible way in inserting Adsense or any Ads code into a blog post. This plugin requires WordPress 2.5 or higher and compatible up to 3.5.2.
Furthermore, some of the highlight features of this great tool are as follows:
- Absolutely NO author revenue reward or revenue sharing from your Adsense or that kind of features.
- Default Ads positioning: Assign Ads to the beginning of post, assign Ads to the middle of post, assign Ads to the end of post, assign Ads after ‘more’ tag, assign Ads before last paragraph, assign Ads after certain paragraphs (3 options available) & assign Ads after certain images.
- Flexible Ads placement, insert Ads specifically or randomly anywhere within a post.
- Simple configuration interface, requires no coding knowledge: Just copy and paste AdSense code, tick & select options, the plugin will then do the rest for you.
- Support any Ads code, not limited to Adsense code only.
6 – WP MashSocial Widget
Since most people all over the world have accounts in different social networking sites, then creating profiles for your blog as well has become a necessity. This will help you to update and connect with your readers or post some important announcements and information.
And to help you organize your blog’s social networking profiles, WP MashSocial Widget by Ahmad Awais can be a beautiful plugin to be used in sidebar. It also offers a subscription form, one of the essential things your blog must have. This plugin requires WordPress 3.0 or higher and compatible up to 3.4.2.
Meanwhile, below are the social networking/ sites supported by this mashable-inspired plugin:
- Google Plus Profile and Page
5 – Simple Share Buttons Adder
A plugin for social sharing plays a vital role on your self-hosted blog. This will help you spread your post to different social networking sites and make it viral. The moment that someone visits your blog and read some of your posts, that person has the power to like, share and tweet it on their timeline or wall. Thus, it can be seen and read by their friends, and will be shared again until it created a wider audience. Hence, this is another great way to increase traffic to your blog.
One of the best plugins for share buttons is Simple Share Buttons Adder by David Neal. It has customization features and eye-catching social media icons. This plugin requires WordPress 3.5.1 or higher and compatible up to 3.5.2.
4 – WP Super Cache
Speed really matters to WordPress users. So if you have problems in speeding up your self-hosted blog, WP Super Cache plugin by Donncha O Caoimh and Automattic is one of the best plugins to install. This caching plugin produces static HTML files and will be served to your website users rather than processing the more expensive WordPress PHP scripts. It requires WordPress 3.0 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.
3 – Google XML Sitemap
Google XML Sitemap plugin by Arnee is an awesome and a recommended tool when you are building a site. This will help different search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your site. It also allows you to add it to your Google Webmaster tools with ease. Moreover, this plugin requires WordPress 2.1 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.
A little background, a sitemap is a list of pages of your blog accessible to crawlers and users. One of its popular versions is XML sitemap, a structured format that a user does not need to see but it tells the search engines about the pages in your blog.
2 – All in One SEO Pack
Having knowledge about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help your posts to show up in the first page of search engine results. Thus, it brings stream of new visitors to your blog. To help you with that, I recommend All in One SEO Pack plugin by Michael Torbert. It is easy to use and a great plugin with a huge set of functions to make your blog optimized. This plugin requires WordPress 3.3 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.
Meanwhile, below are some of the highlight features of the said plugin that are useful and will add even more functionality to your blog:
- Google Analytics support
- Advanced Canonical URLs
- Built-in API so other plugins/themes can access and extend functionality
- ONLY plugin to provide SEO Integration for WP e-Commerce sites
- Automatically optimizes your blog for search engines
- Generates META tags automatically
- Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
1 – Akismet
It is frustrating for a blogger how much spam every day his self-hosted blog will get. However, worry no more! Akismet or Automatic Kismet by Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Boren, Andy Skelton, Michael Adams, Tellyworth, Joseph Scott, Lessbloat, Eoin Gallagher and Automattic is one of the best options to constantly combat all that spam comments from even needing to be moderated. This user-friendly plugin requires WordPress 3.0 or higher and compatible up to 3.6.