Some time has passed since I wrote my 13 recommended WordPress plugins for travel blogs and while I can still vouch for a few of those, in many cases it’s time for an update. WordPress itself has extended its functionality to incorporate what once required plugin support while savvy coders have expanded their plugins to encompass others. All of this means that some plugins aren’t useful or needed any more while in other cases it’s better to simply add a bit of code directly into your WordPress site itself.
All In One SEO PackWordPress SEO – I perform extensive SEO testing on a number of WordPress websites and since I updated this list last, the results have strongly favored WordPress SEO. Although it’s prone to conflict with other plugins you may have running and not exactly intuitive to set up, putting some effort into a careful install plus brushing up on proper configuration can markedly improve your travel blog’s search engine visibility. (Download WordPress SEO)
- Google Analytics – I can still recommend this plugin but it’s incredibly easy to simply add the Analytics code to your WordPress site. Avoiding plugins when possible makes your site more efficient plus reduces the potential for conflicts and security vulnerabilities. (Download Google Analytics)
Google XML Sitemaps– It’s now integrated into WordPress SEO plugin, killing two birds with one plugin stone.
- Login Lockdown – I still highly recommend 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. It’s customizable, easy to use, and should only be activated as needed. (Download Maintenance Mode)
Spam KarmaAkismet – Spam Karma is no longer updated but Akismet does a great job of replacing it. Bundled with every WordPress installation, if you’re not already using it, you can download Akismet here.
- Subscribe To Comments [Reloaded] – Picks up where the original Subscribe To Comments left off after development was abandoned. One of my favorite plugins, it emails people who leave a comment of any follow up comments on the thread or specifically to replies. 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 Reloaded)
- TinyMCE Advanced – Adds a number of icons to your post editing screen that were lost a many WordPress updates ago. It makes it easier to insert video, adjust pictures, and change font sizes. It’s worth mentioning however that TinyMCE Advanced tends to conflict with other plugins, when in doubt, it’s the one to check. (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 – or any other code for that matter – 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-ContactFormContact Form 7 – More stable than my previous recommendation, Contact Form 7 lets you create contact pages like this and place it anywhere on your travel blog. It also comes with a built-in spam filter plus additional formatting options. (Download Contact Form 7)
- 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, although I would suggest activating this feature on an as-needed basis. (Download WP-DBManager)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)– Both Outbrain and nRelate do a better job of showing recommended posts beneath an article, although they’re not specifically sorted by relation to the topic at hand. Yoast Breadcrumbs– Now integrated into WordPress SEO.
- EWWW Image Optimizer – Despite hosting most of the pictures I use in posts on SmugMug, I want to make sure any images being served from my WordPress installation are as small as possible. EWWW Image Optimizer automatically does this upon upload and has several options for lossless and losely conversion. (Download EWWW Image Optimizer)
- FD Feedburner Plugin – Make sure all of your RSS subscribers are counted properly. (Download FD Feedburner Plugin)
- Sucuri Security – The service costs $89.99 per year for a single site which is a bargain considering that price includes security monitoring, protection, and clean up if required. The plugin helps integrate the Sucuri service into your WordPress installation. (Download Sucuri Security)
- W3 Total Cache – The large number of options and effectiveness of this plug are its strengths – as well as weaknesses – at the same time. The default settings should be fine for most installations but if you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, proper configuration can dramatically improve your travel blogs performance and loading times. (Download W3 Total Cache)
Generally, I try to be relatively consistent with the plugins I use across foXnoMad, Travel Blog Advice, and my other blogs, but these aren’t all of the ones I use. The others perform site-specific functions but try to remember when it comes to plugins, less is more. A cluttered installation of plugins on your WordPress back-end can slow or shutdown pages when conflicts inevitably occur.
Many travel blog dilemmas, like forcing external links to open in new tabs, using a trailing slash for site speed and improving SEO or enabling SSL for password security can be accomplished with a few lines of code in the right place.
What are some of your favorite and go-to WordPress plugins you would add to the list above? I look forward to hearing your recommendations, in the comments below.