Top WordPress Plugins for 2010 (Part Two)

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In Top WordPress Plugins for 2010 (Part One), I offered five of the best WordPress plugins I think are must-haves for your site. Lets move on to part two for five more of my favorite WordPress plugins.

6. Improve Search Engine Rankings with All-in-One SEO

By default, WordPress is a very search-engine-friendly publishing platform. Likewise, so are most WordPress themes. Whenever we develop a new theme here at Solostream, SEO is a key factor in deciding how it’s put together. Still, you can never have enough SEO for your site, and the All-in-One SEO plugin offers a set of features that can take your SEO to the next level.

All-in-one SEO gives you complete control over two key elements of SEO. First, it gives you the ability to determine the Title tag for all the pages on your site, including your home page, individual post pages and individual static pages.

This is a crucial feature, because the words in your Title tag are what appear as the clickable link on search engine results pages (SERPs). And according most SEO experts, the Title tag is one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings.

The way most WordPress themes work, the Title tag is determined by the “Blog Title” field on your General Settings page or the post/page title used when creating a new post or page. And often, it’s a combination of the two. So, for example, the default title tag for this page would look like this:

Top Ten WordPress Plugins for 2010 (Part Two) | Solostream

All-in-One SEO adds a module at the bottom of your Write Post and Write Page console that allows your to use a different page Title tag for your page or post if you want to. So, if I wanted to use a slightly different title to show up in SERPs, I could easily change it via the plugin. In this case, I’m not going to change it, however.

The plugin also lets you control another key component of SEO, which is the meta description tag (click thumbnail right). The meta description includes the words that will appear in SERPs just under the Title. According to SEOMoz, the meta description serves 3 important purposes:

  1. To describe the content of the page accurately and succinctly.
  2. To serve as a short, text “advertisement” to click on your results in the search results.
  3. To display targeted keywords, not for ranking purposes, but to indicate the content to searchers.

Many WordPress themes don’t include the meta description tag. In such a case, the description that appears in SERPs is pulled from the content of the page or post. And that’s okay, but it really gives you no control over how the description shows up, so you really need to be using this plugin.

As for Solostream themes, we do not include the meta description tag in our themes. Instead, we encourage our customers to use a plugin such as this one so they can have complete control over their SEO.

7. Control the Order of Your Posts with PostMash (Filter)

As WordPress continues to mature from a mere blogging platform into a full-fledged content managment sytem (CMS), it’s becoming more important to be able to control how posts appear on a site. Currently, there are several ways posts can be ordered beyond reverse-chronological, which is the standard for most blogs. With WordPress, posts can be ordered as follows:

  • by post author
  • by post date
  • by post title
  • by date post was modified
  • by post parent
  • by post ID
  • random order
  • by post custom field meta_value
  • by post comment_count

That’s a lot of options. The problem is that you have to hack into the code of your WordPress theme to change the order. Further, even if you were able to do that, it still fails to give you complete control over the order of your posts.

What if there was a way you could see all your posts in one place, and simply drag and drop them into the order you want them to appear.

PostMash (Filter) allows you to do just that. As an example, look at the Tutorials category of this site. You’ll notice the posts are not in reverse chronological order. When I built this site, I wanted the tutorials to appear in an order that a new WordPress user would likely want to see them. If I didn’t know anything about WordPress, and I wanted to get started, I would probably want to see how to install it first, so I placed that post near the top of the category.

When you install and activate PostMash (Filter), a new page is created in your WordPress control panel. If you visit that page, you’ll see all your posts presented in reverse chronological order. You can then drag-and-drop the posts into whatever order you want then to appear (click thumbnail to see an example). You can order all the posts on your site, or you can order a specific category of posts as I did with our Tutorials category.

The one drawback I’ve found with this plugin is that if you change the order of a post in one category, you also affect its order in other categories (if the post is in multiple categories). Still, this is a nice little plugin, and as of right now, there are no other simple options out there to have complete control over your post order. At least none that I know of.

8. Create Your Site Navigation Menu with Menu Manager

With most WordPress themes, your site navigation menu is based on your pages. For each page, a link is created in the navigation menu, and the link text is based on the title you choose for the page. This method of creating a site navigation menu is inferior for many reasons, some of which are these.

  1. It doesn’t allow you to include 1 or more category pages in your nav menu.
  2. It doesn’t allow you to exclude 1 or more pages from the nav menu.
  3. It doesn’t allow you to include links to an external site in your nav menu.
  4. It doesn’t make it easy for you to control the order of the links in your nav menu.
  5. It doesn’t allow you to use navigation link text that’s different from the page title.

To deal with such issues, I’ve seen some WordPress theme developers who are building a custom navigation menu function into their themes. At first glance, this seems like a great feature to include in a WordPress theme, and I’ve considered it for Solostream themes.

Ultimately, though, I decided against it, because what happens when you decide to change your theme? Once you move to a different theme, your navigation structure is toast. It’s great for the theme developer, because you’re less likely to switch to a competitor’s theme, but it limits you as the user.

That’s what I love about Menu Manager. It gives you complete control over your navigation menu without locking you into using a specific theme. With Menu Manager, you can include or exclude any page or category you like. You can also create links to external pages if you like.

As far as the link text, you can make it whatever you want. So, if you have a page with the title “Learn a Little More About Me,” you can just use “About” as the navigation link. Further, there’s a drag-and-drop function that allows you to order you navigation links any way you choose.

9. Turn Your Site into a Social Network with Mingle

I’ve already talked about the importance of reader engagement and developing a community around your site, and this relatively new plugin can certainly help further that cause. Mingle WordPress is a plugin I recently discovered, and I have to say I’m quite impressed, both with it’s functionality and its ease of implementation.

Once you have Mingle WordPress installed and activated, your site has the potential to become its own social network. Imagine a scaled-down version of Facebook, only right here on your own site. Here some of the current features provided by the plugin:

  • Members can set up there own user profile page complete with a bio and photo.
  • Members can “friend” other members and communicate with them via direct comment to them on the site.
  • Member directory page.
  • Email Notifications for members.

For a full list of the features and an example of how a Mingle-powered site runs, visit WordPress Mingle, and set up your own user profile. As I said, this is a relatively new plugin, and I’ve heard talk that there will be additional features rolling out in the near future.

10. Increase Pageviews & Build a Relationship with your Readers via YARPP Related Posts

One reason blogs are such a powerful business tool is they can help you develop and nurture a relationship with your readers and/or customers. That relationship is created mainly through your content. So, naturally, the more of your content someone consumes – assuming it’s good, relavant content – the quicker and easier it is to develop and maintain that relationship.

When someone visits your site for the first time, it’s likely because they followed a link from a search engine or another site. They’re likely here looking for a specific post or article. And once they’ve finished reading that post, they’ll likely be on their way to the next site. That is, unless you give them a reason to stick around and read more of your content.

That’s where Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) comes in. YARPP will automatically scout out other posts on your site that are related to the post being read. It will then present those related posts at the end of the post being read. You can see YARPP in action at the bottom of this post. And with any luck, you’ll see something in that list that you may want to read beyond this post.

Five More WordPress Plugins Worth Mentioning

1. WP-DBManager – This is a great little plugin to help you back-up your WordPress database consistently and automatically. I already wrote about it in this post.

2. WP-PageNavi – A cool little plugin that adds page numbers to the bottom of your blog pages instead of the typical “next page, previous page” links.

3. W3 Total Cache – This plugin can help make your site run a bit faster through automatic page caching, database caching and minification.

4. Broken Link Checker – Don’t you hate to click on a link only to discover it doesn’t go anywhere? So do your readers. This plugin will scout out any and all broken links on your site, tell you where they are and help you fix them.

5. Google Analyticator – If you use Google Analytics (and you should), this plugin adds the necessary JavaScript code to enable Google’s Analytics on your site.

What Are Some of Your Top WordPress Plugins for 2010?

So, that’s it for me. Those are my current top ten favorite plugins (plus 5) for 2010. I’m curious though. What are some of your favorites? Just drop me a line in the comments below, and tell me what you’re using on your own site.

About the Author (Author Profile)

Solostream provides Premium WordPress themes that are professional and easy to use. Templates suitable for personal or business blogs, websites and online magazines.

Comments (49)

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  1. Sahil Kotak says:

    The first part was awesome and so is the second one. Thanks a lot for this plugin they’re all awesome!

    Sahil

  2. Filma says:

    really thanks!a great collecion there!will use some of the plugins for my site!

  3. Damian says:

    I must say all your plugin suggestions are great!
    I was wondering about the name of the plugin “Did u enjoy this post?”

  4. Michael,

    Thanks so much…that was really helpful. Am looking forward to your Best Plugins for 2011 !!

    Installed the SEO All-in-One Plugin and find it a bit overwhelming. I need a good tutorial on “filling in the blanks”. Your description was helpful though!

    Anita

  5. Submarine says:

    Hi !

    Thanks for your useful informations!

    Here is my favorite plugin :

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/category-icons-lite/

    You can display category icons in front of your post titles very easily !

    It’s a no-brainer plugin ! :)

  6. Clinton says:

    Hi, very nice post,

    Does anyone know what plug-in to use in order to show users which posts they have already read or watched so that it is easy to identify which posts they do not have to read?

  7. Which plugin are your using for your “Did you enjoy this post?” section? I’ve been using Add to Footer with a Feedburner account, but I’d like something better. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Hello Michael,

    I found your article very useful. I will be installing Google XML sitemaps and the Polldaddy plugin on my site asap.

    Thanks again,

    Cesar

  9. Justin Paul says:

    Your list is pretty good but many plugins are unnecessary except for WP Super Cache. I installed that plugin and got a whole grade boost in YSLow, from Grade C to Grade B and I was actually very surprised at this because most speed boost plugins for WordPress or even modules for Joomla don’t work very well.

    Another thing I wanted to point out is adding plugins such as the DB backup for instance is completely unnecessary because for every plugin you add, you also add more stress to your visitors waiting time. Just get SQLYog which I highly recommend and you can schedule your DB backups from there. Also you can take 10 seconds out of the day to click download on all your files from the FileZilla FTP Program.

    Great post though Michael and keep’em comin’

  10. Thanks for this post Mike!

    Menu Manager looks great, but requires editing header.php Not working out for me so far.

  11. leon says:

    i think wp backup is missing .. a must for everyone ~

  12. Awesome Michael, truly awesome. The web and blog world needed this :) I feel some great choices here and some beautiful selection. Thanks. My favourite is probably mingle, not because I’ll use it necessarily, but because it’s a really really cool idea.

  13. Michael thanks again..great info as usual.

    I had installed Super Cache before but I deactivated it due to problems i had with the plugin. Thanks for recommending W3 Total Cache which I installed.
    With the naked eye I don’t see much of difference but I take it, it’s doing its job.

    Thanks again Michael.

  14. Rob says:

    hey – thanks for the list.

    I’ve found that postmash doesn’t seem to work with wordpress 2.9.2. Sad, because it used to be very helpful!

  15. The “Broken Link Checker” would be a great resource, but when I install their current version 0.8.1 on Solostream theme WP-Vybe 2.0 Basic with WordPress 2.9.2, I get nothing but problems.

    Both the WP Dashboard back-end and the front-end sites slow to a crawl.

    Often both time out with a “500 Internal Server Error – The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.”

    Any ideas?

  16. Leah Raeder says:

    Thanks for your recommendations, Michael. Menu Manager and PostMash are new to me, and quite useful.

  17. Patricio says:

    Is the thumbs up/down use here a plugin?

  18. Rashmi says:

    thanks for sharing the info

  19. vijith says:

    Hi Michael,
    I am using Solostream WP-Clear with few modification in my site http://www.digitify.com . I used to search a lot for plugin, but I trust your words specially you have designed my theme. i am using most of these plugins you have mentioned without fear. hope you will continue to updates on good and trustworthy plugins in future. Thanks for this information.

  20. Mikko Saari says:

    Tired of the way the default WordPress search sucks? Try my search plugin Relevanssi. Of course I love it, because I needed a better search for my CMS sites and none of the existing options were good enough (wpSearch was almost there, but not quite). So, I had to make my own and I’m very happy with it.

    Relevanssi can index tags, categories, custom fields, comments and trackbacks. It sorts results based on relevance, not by date, and can create custom excerpts to show and highlight the search terms in the results page. All in all, it’s a pretty snappy package. I recommend you try it out. I’m biased, sure, but the general response has been pretty good so far.

  21. Matt Goulart says:

    Huge fan of WP to Twitter

  22. Cliff says:

    I found this 2 part article very informative. There were a few plugins I did not know about. Thanks for posting this.

  23. cheri riley says:

    I was using WP.com stats and then this latest upgrade to both their product and wordpress totally bogged down the site..login and navigation of the dashboard was really impacted. Removed it and replaced it with W3Counter which is free for one site. Enjoying it so far. The geographical locator is freaky…it pinpoints on a map very nearly where the visitor came from and pops up the page/post they visited. I won’t go back. Have GAnalytics as well.

    • The geographical locator is freaky‚Ķit pinpoints on a map very nearly where the visitor came from and pops up the page/post they visited.

      That is freaky. Very cool though. May wanna check that one out. Thanks Cheri.

  24. David says:

    Thanks for this post Mike!

    Menu Manager looks great, but requires editing header.php Not working out for me so far.

    Any chance for a “how to” by Michael Pollock??

  25. Craig Lewis says:

    Where’s the link for Menu Manager?

  26. Martin says:

    Great round up of plugins in both posts. This is a list of 10 plugins I find very useful and use on most of my sites.

    Akismet
    SCF2 Contact Form
    Google XML Sitemaps
    WordPress.com Stats
    All in One SEO Pack
    WP Super Cache
    Comment Form Quicktags
    WordPress Database Backup
    Chunk Urls for WordPress
    Subscribe To Comments

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