As I sat with my staff discussing WordPress plugins and talking with my staff about making a list of all the ones we put on the majority of WordPress sites we work on it stuck me, “I’ll bet,” I thought to myself, “that others might find this list handy as well.” That thought was well timed as it just so happened that I’d promised The SEM Post taskmaster Jennifer Slegg an article the very next day. What a happy coincidence.
Worth noting, this article isn’t about which CMS is superior (though feel free to discuss it in the comments below). This article is written assuming that many if not most of you work regularly on WordPress sites. Further, I welcome any additions to this list in the comments. Also worth noting, not all of these are SEO plugins but all of them help me and my staff do our job better.
An awesome spam filtering plugin. I initially learned about this one from Matt Cutts and thoughto to myself, if this thing can handle the spam he gets, it can certainly handle the spam that I and most of our clients get. I was right, it does a great job and saves me a lot of time. Billable time.
This plugin does exactly what it says, it checks all the links on your site, lists them all in one place and lets you either edit the target, unlink it, report it as not broken, dismiss the notice or recheck. It gives you the target status code so you know why in the list and repairs links with the same target collectively. Definitely a must have for those interested in retaining their internal link weight.
This handy plugin lets you run a search or search and replace through your database, selecting which fields and tables to query. Obviously you can’t use this one like you’re Captain Malcolm Reynolds (the sci-fi nerds in the crowd will get it … the rest of you can look it up, watch the show and thank me later for using the reference). That said it’s more convenient and a lot less intimidating than heading into phpMyAdmin for most and definitely easier when you need to make large-scale changes. Of course you’ll need to have a backup handy any time you touch your database. You can do this through cPanel in most cases or through a phpMyAdmin export or, if you’re not up for that, read about the Updraft plugin below.
This plugin has saved me a ton of headaches, gives me a bit of piece of mind and best of all, it’s easy to use. Essentially it’s a backup and restoration tool but my favorite part is that even with the free version you can upload your backups to Google Drive on a schedule effectively providing yourself with offsite backups. If your host goes down, getting your site back up and running is pretty much as simple as setting up a new host, installing the base WordPress install and Updraft and restoring. Voila, your site is up-and-running in a matter of an hour-or-so.
To make the plugin better (and pay attention my WordPress design friends in the crowd) they also have an add-on called Migrator that’s $30 for unlimited use. What it does is checks the database on a restore to see if the site address is the same. If it’s not (like … say … if you were moving a site from a test location to its live location) it goes through the database and makes the appropriate changes. After the first time I used it for this purpose I’d saved myself more in time than it cost. The rest is pretty much bonus now.
This plugin increases site speed by making use of caching. From caching the database to minifying posts and pages and scripts, enabling browser caching and more. It’s quite a powerful plugin. I did have some issues with pages pulling data from a new post not showing due to the caching but a quick purging of the data after a new post is done solves that well.
First off I’d like to give a big thanks to another SEM Post writer and my co-host on Webcology Jim Hedger for introducing me to this one. Essentially it’s a vulnerability scanner and firewall and wow does it do a good job. The system regularly scans your WordPress installation for vulnerability including comparing your themes and plugins against the repository looking for version changes. On top of that it allows you to set timeout settings for people who fail to login correctly after the number of attempts you determine. And all of this is in the free version. The professional costs a whopping $40/year for one site and goes down to $30 if you pre-pay 5 years (with discounts at each yearly increment). Whether you need or want this will depend on the types of issues you face. Fortunately Wordfence lets you see where the login attempts are coming from and block IPs if you feel so inclined.
There’s a fairly decent debate of which is better, WordPress SEO or All in One. I settled on WordPress SEO early on in my dealings with WordPress and have never found a compelling reason to switch. I have toyed around with All in One and it has many of the same features but the combination of preferring the layout and trusting the work of Joost de Valk (founder of Yoast) has kept me with WordPress SEO.
For those that don’t know what it does, the list is long and you’d do well to read the description but in short just a few of the things it does is:
- Check for all the common site issues (duplicate content for example)
- XML sitemap generation
- Helping you make sure your URLs are setup properly
- An htaccess editor for those who aren’t comfortable with FTP (though let’s be honest … if you’re not comfortable with FTP you probably shouldn’t be editing the htaccess file)
- And a bunch more
If you don’t have one of the two solutions, check them out. For those who use All in One … I’d love to read what you feel is better about it in the comments.
So That’s It …
Those are my favorite and most commonly used plugins, at least those that related to SEO or just doing my job better. And as noted above, if you feel so inclined I’d love to hear which plugins you love and why you like then. If possible, let’s keep it to SEO and productivity enhancers. Obviously I don’t work on any sites with only 7 or 8 plugins but I tried to avoid design-related ones as that gets to specific to a scenario.
OK … your turn …
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