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11 Essential WordPress Plugins

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For the new WordPress user, plugins can be like iPhone apps. There seems to be a plugin for every purpose imaginable and there’s nothing more exciting than testing them all out. We’ve seen people who have 60 or more plugins installed and activated. This is not only unwise but can be detrimental to your site, causing it to lag, crash, and even compromise its security.

If you’re serious about your online presence and are looking for that edge over the competition you only need a handful of WordPress plugins, –but they need to be the right ones. With well over half a million new blog posts published daily the competition is fierce for readership.

Content is certainly a key element for any WordPress blog, but when you add the right plugins you can bring your site to that level of awesomeness and performance that put you far above the crowd. Here’s the list:

Functional & Performance Plugins

  • W3 Total Cache – Every second counts when you’re online. Potential customers clicking through to your site are an impatient bunch and statistics prove that page load time greatly affects your bottom line. According to KISSmetrics.com 47% of web browsers expect a page to load in under 3 seconds. A delay of just 1 second can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. That’s money right out of your pocket, just for slow load time. W3 Total Cache is a powerful caching plugin with the ability to increase page load speed up to ten times. You can have the ideal product and a well put together site, but without speed, many potential customers will never wait around.
  • WP Touch – Making your WordPress site mobile friendly should be top priority for any site owner. According to Google studies on smartphone usage, nearly 80% of consumers use their phones for shopping and shopping-related activities. By 2013, more people are expected to use their mobile phones than PCs to access the Internet. With this in mind, a plugin that can make your WordPress site smartphone compatible is not an option. WP Touch transforms your site within seconds of installation. It’s really that good. WP Touch even has built-in advertising options so you can capitalize on all your new mobile traffic.
  • Social Metrics – Did you ever wish you could track how well your posts actually perform on Social Networks? Now you can. Social Metrics gives you a dashboard inside your WordPress interface that instantly displays how well you’re doing on Twitter, Facebook, Google +1, StumbleUpon, Digg and LinkedIn. By being able to easily track and compare post performance, you’ll be able to direct your focus on the topics that are assisting you with conversions.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Other SEO plugins have come and gone, but All in One SEO Pack remains the most reliable, simple, and most of all, –well maintained and frequently updated plugins. All in One automatically optimizes your posts by allowing you to easily include meta-tags for each page and post on your WordPress site. Perfect for the SEO newbie. This plugin is dead simple.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard – A streamlining must-have. Instead of logging into your Google account, access your Google Analytics data right in your WordPress dashboard.
  • WP Database Backup -Losing your files will cause you not only a migraine, but time and profits as well. Backing up your blog is vital.  WP Database Backup allows you to schedule backups and send the files to your email. If you are a Dropbox user, install WordPress Backup to Dropbox instead.

Awesomeness Plugins

Okay, we’ve given you our essential list of practical plugins. Now, on to the fun. The following plugins will give your site that “wow” factor you’re looking for.

  • Digg Digg – There are social media sharing plugins, –and then there’s Digg Digg. This floating share bar is simple, doesn’t clutter up your page, and best of all, it’s on top of the latest social media sites. Digg Digg has all the options you’d expect (Twitter, Facebook Like, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, etc) but it also has share options for Buffer and Pinterest. This is our hands-down winner for social sharing.
  • Hello Bar This unique and highly useful plugin allows you to add a simple line of text at the top or bottom of your pages or posts. The possibilities are endless here. Use this space to promote products, make announcements, or direct readers to other parts of your site. The Hello Bar is used by some of the most experienced bloggers out there, including Tim Ferris. The most impressive part of this plugin is the analytics option which allows you to track the clicks your line of text receives.
hello bar
  • Custom Contact Forms – There are many contact form plugins available, but none that we’ve found are as intuitive and customizable as this one. Perfect for the seasoned WordPress user but simple enough for the beginner with its drag and drop features. Custom Contact Form is an excellent way to build your mailing list, which allows you to continue to interact with your readers.
  • Facebook Comments Feedback is important for the growth of any website. Comments are still a sign of a healthy, lively, and well-read blog. A lot of valuable comments can be lost if it isn’t an easy process. You’ve probably been on one of those sites. You read the post, you’re excited to leave feedback, –and then the comment section takes you around in circles asking for credentials or wanting you to log-in to some account you’ve long forgotten the password to. After a few seconds you decide it’s more trouble than it’s worth, so you move on. Facebook Comments solves this problem. With this plugin anyone logged into Facebook can easily leave a comment using their Facebook profile. Problem solved. 
  • Post Ender – Add your own unique message to the end of each post or page, –think email subscription, a call to Tweet your post, an invitation to take advantage of a product or sign-up for an upcoming webinar. The possibilities are endless, and this plugin forces you to keep your thoughts toward marketing with every post.

There you have it. Our essential (and very purposeful) list of WordPress plugins. Combine these with killer content, and you’ve got a recipe for certain success!