I learned about the downside of using plugins the hard way. They can be very tempting as they automate a lot of the individual, time-consuming functions we would otherwise perform by hand, protect us from malicious activity, and automate SEO for better site performance.
Unfortunately, too many plugins can severely slow page load speed. It’s important to decide what you’re willing to do yourself and what you must have help with. To be a successful blogger, we must know when to, and when not to ‘plug-in’.
The following are some of the plugins I’ve tried and what I discovered.
Following are the plugins I feel are essential to the operation of my WordPress blog:
FD Feedburner Plugin
This plugin gathers all feeds, whether comment, post, archive or tag feeds to one place – Feedburner.com. Feedburner.com provides a full collection of tools useful for operation, management and promotion of a blog’s feeds. It will also alert the user when there is a problem with a feed and help with troubleshooting.
Automated spambots have been the curse of bloggers for the past few years. They can cause innumerable problems including harvesting email addresses, hijacking passwords, and mass submission of spam comments. If a webmaster doesn’t have a plugin such as NoSpamNX, it is necessary to manually read and evaluate all comments, etc., eliminating those believed to be spam. If this is not done regularly, the hyperlinks included in the comments, etc. can steal Google page rank juice, or direct to banned, spam or malware sites that could cause your own blog to be banned by Google.
Ultimate Nofollow is a package of tools for increasing control of the rel=”nofollow” tag on every link on a blog, both on an individual and categorical basis. The plugin places a nofollow checkbox in the dialogue that shows when inserting links in posts, etc., and has numerous shortcodes for manual insertion to manage nofollow links.
For those of us who depend on revenue from our blog such as paid posts, guest posts, etc., this plugin is essential as different blog revenue services have different requirements where the nofollow tab is concerned.
Premium SEO Pack Light
This plugin provides page analysis, social stats, page validation, link builder, optimization for categories and taxonomies. The webmaster can set a focus keyword, check the SEO score, and keyword density. The dashboard visible in every post’s editing window enables rich snippet preview, and the ability to modify the Seo title, meta description and meta keywords. If there are problems, they will be indicated, as well as recommendations to correct the issues.
Although I choose not to use the social settings setup, this is also possible in the dashboard. In my case, I have found my social performance to be much improved when I manually post and repost each and every item.
Basic SEO tasks such as optimizing images with Media Smushit, custom page titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords, meta robots and social meta using defined format tags for pages, posts, categories, tags, etc. can be made on the dashboard as well. If you’re anything like me and have a memory like a seive, you’ll find the system of tabs and tasks extremely valuable for SEO and optimization.
In addition to basic SEO, this plugin helps with Google Analytics, 404 page monitoring, link building, 301 link direccting, file editing and slug optimization.
I tend to evaluate plugins initially by checking the number of stars in the review section. I have no idea why this one only has three because as far as I’m concerned it deserves a minimum of 4, and in my case I’d give it five. I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble if the star rating hadn’t discouraged me from trying this at first.
Although in the past I have always used and touted the many benefits of the W3 Total Cache plugin, it does not play well with the Premium SEO Pack Light plugin. For this reason, I tested several plugins and finally found WP-Cache.com, a very simple caching plugin that does work with the SEO Pack plugin and still improves page load speed.
The next two plugins I currently use and will continue using as long as I have the need for them or until a better option is created.
I can’t even count how many social sharing plugins I have tried. They have all fallen short in one way or another – the most frequent and worst being a very detrimental effect on page load speed.
I finally found Po.st and although there’s still a negative effect on page speed, it’s negligible when compared with the others.
On two of my blogs, I use several of the social buttons and counters. On one, however, my page speed is much more important and to reduce the effect on page speed even more, I only use about half of the ones available.
If you’re happy with only being able to place Adsense in the sidebar(s) of your blog, you wouldn’t have any need of this plugin. I do like to place Adsense ads within the content of posts and pages, and this plugin makes that easy to manage on a widespread scale.
The next post, the third in the series, will concentrate on free tools available for managing, modifying and optimizing your blog.