Traveler bloggers tend to go crazy with plugins, those little add-ons to WordPress, when first setting up their blogs. Plugins are easy to install and there are thousands of them out there. It can be difficult to choose which ones are worth the installation and hassle of configuration. These are some of my recommended plugins for your travel blog and why.
- All In One SEO Pack – A highly configurable plugin designed to tweak your website, pages, and individual posts for search engine optimization (SEO). If you aren’t running this plugin and Google PageRank and traffic numbers are important to you, it’s an essential add-on. To further improve your site’s SEO optimization, change your permalinks. (Download All In One SEO Pack)
- Google Analytics – There are many WordPress plugins designed to give you a variety of statistics about your readers but in my experience Google does it the best. You’ll need a Google Analytics account setup for this plugin to work, and it removes the need for you to tweak any code. If you’re obsessed with statistics, you can also try the Popularity Contest plugin. (Download Google Analytics)
- Google XML Sitemaps – Creates an XML-sitemap compliant sitemap which makes it easier for Google, Yahoo, and Bing to ‘read’ your entire blog. It updates automatically and submits the sitemaps to each search engine for you. (Download Google XML Sitemaps)
- Login Lockdown – By default it locks out any IP address from where 3 bad login attempts are tried within 15 minutes. The lockout lasts 1 hour and makes it much more difficult for someone to try and ‘brute force’ your blog password. Use this plugin as one of the ways to keep your travel blog safe. (Download Login Lockdown)
- Maintenance Mode – This plugin creates a nice little ‘Under Construction’ page for your site when you need to take it down for an update or make some coding changes to your blog. It’s very customizable and easy to use. (Download Maintenance Mode)
- Spam Karma – Although it’s no longer officially supported, this spam filter adapts and learns based on each comment and those you flag. It can be set for a number of levels to be more or less skeptical depending on the volume of comment spam you get. (Download Spam Karma)
- Subscribe To Comments – One of my favorite plugins, it emails people who leave a comment of any follow up comments. It’s a great way to generate discussion and comments on your travel blog since most people who leave a comment don’t come back to look for replies. (Download Subscribe To Comments)
- TinyMCE Advanced – Adds a number of icons to your post editing screen that were lost a few WordPress updates ago. It makes it easier to insert video, adjust pictures, and change font sizes. (Download TinyMCE)
- Whydowork Adsense – If you use Google’s Adsense to make some money with your travel blog, this plugin makes it easier to put ads within posts. You can even configure it to show ads X number of days after a post is published or in random spots. (Download Whydowork Adsense)
- WP-ContactForm – I’ve been coming across a number of travel blogs lately where getting in touch with the author has been difficult. Even though you’re on Twitter or Facebook, email is still the most common way people will want to get in touch with you. Use WP-ContactForm to create a contact page like this and place the ‘Contact page’ somewhere visible on your travel blog. It also comes with a built-in spam filter. (Download WP-ContactForm)
- WP-DBManager – Although WordPress comes with a built in database backup utility, this plugin lets you create backups at intervals of your choice and can be configured to automatically optimize your database every month. Extremely versitile and yet another good way to backup your blog database. (Download WP-DBManager)
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – Adds a number of related posts to the bottom of each post and in your RSS feed. (Download YARPP)
- Yoast Breadcrumbs – Allows search engines and readers to more easily navigate your site. (Download Yoast Breadcrumbs)
There are a number of other plugins that I use across my blogs but are specific to certain functions wouldn’t apply to many of you. One thing you should do as your blog grows is monitor the plugins you install, keep them updated, and deactivate any you stop using. Running plugins takes resources and can each one can slightly slowdown the loading time of your blog pages. Use the ones you need and do some spring cleaning on the others.
I’d be very interested to hear from you – what are your favorite WordPress plugins and what do they do? Are you using any from this list above? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments and subscribe to them as well.