I’ve had a few friends in the past couple of months start new blogs, which is great, but a big part of starting a new blog is deciding on what plugins should be installed as well. Instead of helping these new bloggers one at a time, I’ve decided to be a bit more efficient and will instead publish a list of what plugins I have set up on this blog.
Akismet – Spam Filtering
Akismet is the default tool WordPress uses to block comment spam. While not perfect, Akismet will block over 99% of spam from ever reaching your blog. You’ll need to make an account on WordPress.com to get an API key to activate Akismet.
Cforms II – Comment Forms
Cforms II is a very powerful tool that will give your blog readers the option of sending you messages directly that get sent to your email. It’s great for getting qualitative feedback, or to let your readers contact you directly without revealing your personal email.
Feedburner Feedsmith – RSS Subscriber Stats
One of the biggest problems of measuring visitors to blogs is that readers who subscribe through RSS aggregators and feed readers like Google Reader aren’t counted. Tools like Feedburner Feedsmith can help give you a better idea of your readership by going beyond just the numbers that Analytics tools give you.
Google Analyticator – Deep Analytics
Google Analyticator will help with inserting all the required code for Google Analytics on your blog. Two extra options that it provides that are useful is the option to enable/disable tracking on Admin pages, and as well to enable/disable outbound link tracking.
Google XML Sitemaps – Search Engins Updates
Not all small blogs need sitemaps, but if you post regularly, an XML sitemap will help make sure that pages that might be hidden deep within your blog are indexed by Google.
As a bonus, Google XML Sitemaps will update Google, MSN Live Search, ASK.com, and Yahoo when your blog is updated.
Intense Debate – Better Comments
Traditional commenting systems are a thing of the past. Federated comments, dynamic user profiles, threaded comments and video comments are some of the things new plugin platforms like IntenseDebate and DISQUS. It’s too early to say which platform you should be using, but encouraged by WordPress acquisition of the company, I’ve started to use IntenseDebate for WordPress on all my blogs.
IntenseDebate includes features such as:
- Comment Threading
- Commenter Profiles
- Reputation Points & Comment Voting
- RSS Readers & Tracking
- HTML Formatting
Share This – Social Sharing
Share This (and a similar tool Add This) are two plugins that insert bookmark tools at the end of your blog posts which let users easily share your post to any social network or bookmarking service they might want too.
Because this is more or less a tool to promote yourself you want to keep it accessible, but also as unobtrusive as possible to the visitor. That’s why I prefer tools like these instead of including the larger “Digg This” buttons on all my posts.
Twitter Tools – Twitter Integration
The Twitter Tools plugin is a great way to integrate your participation on Twitter into your blog. Twitter Tools helps your blog feel more active, and it’s a great way to share blog posts with your followers on Twitter.
WordPress.com Stats – Integrated Web Stats
WordPress.com Stats lets you use the web stats software from WordPress.com on your own hosted WordPress.org blog. You can’t dig into deeper analysis like you can using Google Analytics, but it is a fast and convenient way to see sources of blog traffic, key search terms, and daily view counts.
WP Super Cache – Digg Protection
WP Super Cache is great. I got dugg, received over 11,000% traffic over 2 days, and my site stayed up the entire time. Download it and never worry about your site going down from getting too much traffic ever again.
Zemanta – Semantic Blogging
Zemanta is a great tool that really helps with finding related articles to what your writing that can help you either share those other resources with your readers, or give you more content to consume and integrate in your writing. It also helps by pulling relevant images that you can integrate into your post, and it even suggests web links and tags to apply to your blog post.
What else do you recommend for new bloggers?