I often get requests from people asking me what plugins do I use on this blog. Or, what are my favorite plugins. Sometimes, I post about them. But these lists usually become stale fast, because I test new plugins and change them all the time.
So I wanted to post an update and list some of my favorite plugins. However, it was cumbersome to pick and choose which ones I wanted to post about because there are so many. So I’ve decided to do something different this year.
Using a plugin that lists all the plugins in use on a particular blog (I’ll share that one with you in a moment), I managed to print a list of all my plugins in a single post.
However, the descriptions you will read are those of the plugin authors. Some of them are poor and insufficient. Others don’t explain how I use them specifically on this blog.
So I’ve also added a mini-description with additional comments to each plugin to explain why, how, or where I’ve used it on this blog. I sincerely hope this list is useful to you. If it is, consider it a Christmas gift from me. 😉
There are 79 plugins used: 69 active plugins and 10 inactive plugins. Below is a list of all of them.
MichelFortin.com’s Active Plugins
Action Comments 1.0.5
Build your email opt-in list using blog comments. This plugin adds an extra signup box in the comments area, asking commentators if they wish to also join my email list.
Action PopUp 2.2.4
Show an unblockable exit pop-up on your blog. This plugin is what you see when you first visited this blog, where the pop-up (really a layer, not a window) opens up, and the background darkens to place emphasis on the pop-up box. (Much like lightbox or greybox, for example.)
Allows you to easily add custom Quicktags to the editor. You can also export and import your Quicktags. This plugins allows me to add common tags, like "U" (underline), "H1," "H2," "H3," etc to the post editor.
Add Sig 1.3
Add a custom signature to the bottom of posts with the author’s information. (This is the "about the author" section you see at the end of every post.)
Place Google AdSense ads in your WordPress Posts. This plugin allows you to create blocks of texts or code (particularly AdSense), along with a quicktag added to the post editor for quick insertion. You can easily click to insert common blocks (such as AdSense ads) in posts.
Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.” (This plugin is a must-have if you get a lot of comment spam.)
All in One SEO Pack 184.108.40.206
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. This is my favorite plugin, because it really ramped up my SEO and increased my rankings by re-formatting key meta-tags, header information, and title tags for specific (or all) pages and posts.
Anarchy Media Player 2.0
Plays mp3, flv, mov, mp4, m4v, m4a, m4b, 3gp, avi, asf and wmv hypertext links directly on your webpage. Adds buttons to the post editor for embedding swf movies including Google Video, YouTube, QuickTime, etc.
Angsuman’s Multi-Page Plugin 0.1
Adds button to post editor to enable a multi-page post. Essentially, I use this for parts of my blog where I post long pages. It breaks them up into multiple pages (which I can split based on word count), and adds a page navigation bar. Great for content-driven sections, like books, reports, and so on.
Audio player 2.0b6
Audio Player is a highly configurable but simple mp3 player for all your audio needs. You can customize the player’s color scheme to match your blog theme, have it automatically show track information from the encoded ID3 tags and more. Personally, I use it because I love the player’s appearance and flexibility of customization. For example, I use it with the Gary Halnert and John Carlton interviews on this blog.
Bad Behavior 2.0.25
Deny automated spambots access to your PHP-based website. This plugin alone kills two-thirds of spambots and comment spam attempts on my blog.
Batch Categories 1.4
Easily manage the mass categorization of posts that match various criteria. This plugin enables me to cull posts based on categories, sort them, arrange them, and mass-edit them in one fell swoop.
Breadcrumb Navigation XT 1.10.1
Adds a breadcrumb navigation showing the visitor’s path to their current location. I use this plugin primarily on archive pages, search result pages, 404 pages, and other sub-pages. (For example, take a look at my article archives page, where you see “browsing” at the top followed by the parent and child page links.)
Buy Me a Beer 1.4
Allow your blog visitors to buy you a beer by sending you money through PayPal. This is the plugin that allows readers to send me a tip. In my case, it’s "Buy Me a Coffee." I use it on the sidebar and at the end of every post.
Comment Approved Notifier 1.1
Send an email to your commenters when you approve their comments. Since all my comments are held in moderation, it helps to bring commentators back to my blog, especially if I responded to their comments or additional comments were made.
Comment Timeout 2.0.1
Automatically closes comments on blog entries after a user-configurable period of time. It has options that allow you to keep the discussion open for longer on older posts with recent comments accepted, or to place a fixed limit on the total number of comments in the discussion.
Dagon Design Sitemap Generator 3.15
Generates a fully customizable sitemap. This is not an XML sitemap (there’s another plugin that does this). It creates a visual web-based sitemap for easy viewing and retrieval, which I’ve placed on my archives page.
Do Follow 3.1
The Do-Follow plugin removes the nofollow attribute that WordPress adds in comments. This means that search engines crawling my posts will also crawl the links of my commentators, too. A great way to increase participation.
Executes <?php ?> code in your posts, pages, and text widgets. This plugin is pretty self-explanatory, but I use it particularly with split-testing scripts, adding specific codes, embedding videos and Flash players, etc.
Executable PHP widget 1.1
Like the Text widget, but it will take PHP code as well. (Same idea as the previous plugin and does the same thing, but it adds extra widgets for content in the sidebar, which is simply easier for me to manage.)
Create and manage FAQs. On my blog, I’ve listed a number of commonly asked questions, with my responses. Great for SEO purposes, too.
FeedBurner FeedSmith 2.3.1
Originally authored by Steve Smith, this plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber. The importance of this plugin is that is streamlines all feed types, from RSS 0.92, RSS 2.0, Atom, and others.
Feed Styler 1.07
Creates inline styles for feeds. For example, I use CSS styles in order to properly “float” and align my post icons (or "avatars"), as well as pictures, photos, or media I’ve added in my posts. This plugin allows me to extend those styles to my RSS feed, too. It is used mostly for positioning, as feeds don’t use or override CSS for styling.
Full Text Feed 1.04
Prevents WordPress 2.1+ from adding a more link to your website’s feed. This way, feed subscribers can view the entire post in their feeds without having to click on the "more" link. Also, by viewing the entire post in their feeds makes it easier to search for keywords and allows for better syndication.
Fuzzy Recent Posts 4.13
A WordPress widget that lists a fuzzy number of recently posted entries. I use this on my sidebar. Now, while doing this can be done easily with simple coding, the author customized it for me to have my links truncated at a certain character number. Makes it look better, rather than force-wrapping long links.
Get Recent Post 2.0
Gets the most recent post content or excerpt by category ID. Similar to the plugin above, but this one also fetches the content and/or excerpts, which are great for specific category pages (i.e., works much like the summaries on the index page, but allows you to do this to any other page, even the sidebar).
Google Analytics for WordPress 2.7
This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics with extra search engines and automatic clickout and download tracking to your WordPress blog. Definitely a must-have if you’re tracking visitor activity.
Google XML Sitemaps 3.1.1
This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo! This plugin auto-generates sitemaps every night and submits them to Google. But the cool thing is, you can use the same sitemap it generates to submit them via Google’s Webmaster Tools, MSN’s Webmaster Portal, and Yahoo’s Site Explorer.
In Series 3.1.0 Beta 5
Gives authors an easy way to connect posts together as a series. You can use this for a specific series of topical articles. I use this plugin on reprints of entire books and special reports, such as Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.
Limit Posts 1.1
Limits the displayed text length on the index page entries and generates a link to a page to read the full content if its bigger than the selected maximum length. This plugin is in large part redundant if you use the <!–more–> tag to create post teasers, but it’s useful when you forget to insert it.
Link Truncator 0.5
Truncates long links in comments to prevent overflows. Specifically, some commentators will add very long links in their comments. When this happens, it protrudes across the page. This plugin truncates the link and adds an ellipse at the end. Keeps comments looking clean!
Maintenance Mode 3.2
Adds a splash page to your blog that lets visitors know your blog is down for maintenance. Logged in administrators get full access to the blog including the front-end. (This plugin is useful particularly when I upgrade this blog.)
Use avatars from services like Gravatar, and MyBlogLog in your posts, comments and pingbacks. For instance, if you check out the comment section of any post, some comments show people’s avatars or pictures in them. This is what this plugin helps to do with commentators who have a Gravatar or MyBlogLog account.
My Category Order 2.7
My Category Order allows you to set the order in which categories will appear in the sidebar. Uses a drag and drop interface for ordering. Adds a widget with additional options for easy installation on widgetized themes.
My Page Order 2.7
My Page Order allows you to set the order of pages through a drag and drop interface. The default method of setting the order page by page is extremely clumsy, especially with a large number of pages. (Same as the previous plugin, it lists the pages in the specific order I choose.)
Notify Members 0.2.2
This will allow your members to sign up to be notified of all posts or comments. When someone registers to my blog or posts a comment, they can be notified of all new blog posts, comments, or both, either blog-wide or per category. (This is handled on a per-user basis in the user’s profile area of the admin panel.)
Notify Users of Moderation 1.0
Passes moderated=true back if the comment was moderated. Specifically, this plugin opens up an alert box to notify recent commentators that their comments are held in moderation. This helps to prevent frustration or from posting their comments over and over, thinking that the blog "lost" their comment somehow.
Official Comments 1.1
Adds functions to distinguish authorized WP user’s comments. In the comment section on my blog, for instance, comments by me (or the author of the blog post) shows up as yellow, whereas the rest show up as white.
Optimize DB 1.2
Lets you optimize your WordPress database tables with one click. Simply, it helps to optimize my blog’s MySQL database from within the admin area.
Popular Posts 220.127.116.11
Displays a highly configurable list of the most popular posts. Requires the latest version of the Post-Plugin Library to be installed — see the next plugin. (On my archives page, this plugin helps me to list the five most popular posts.)
Post-Plugin Library 18.104.22.168
Does nothing by itself but supplies common code for the Similar Posts, Recent Posts, Random Posts, and Recent Comments plugins. (Works with “Popular Posts” above.)
Posts by Author 1.6
At the bottom of every post, this plugin adds links for that author’s last "X" posts (mine is set to five). It’s a great way to increase internal traffic within your blog.
Preserve Code Formatting 2.0
Preserve formatting of code for display by preventing its modification by WordPress and other plugins while retaining original whitespace and characters. Often, I want to post code and not content. This plugin stops WordPress’ texturize function (i.e., the way it publishes and stylizes certain characters) to garble up the code formatting.
Random File 1.5
Retrieve the name, path, or link to a randomly chosen file in a specified directory. This is my favorite plugin, because it’s the one that allows ads and affiliate offers to be displayed in between posts and at the end of posts. Essentially, I have a folder with HTML files, banners, text files with affiliate links, etc. This plugin will randomly retrieve them, which I can add wherever I want within my blog’s templates.
A redirection manager, this plugin does a lot more than just manages redirects. It manages 404 errors, creates a redirect when a post slug (i.e., the permalink) has been modified, lists "bad" referrers, and more. I also use it to create "pretty" or shorther links for redirects to affiliate links and such.
Robots Meta 3.0.11
This plugin allows you to add all the appropriate robots meta tags to your pages and feeds, disable unused archives, and nofollow unnecessary links. If you understand the concept of “siloing,” this plugin is perfect for that. It also adds “index/noindex” and “follow/nofollow” options on the post editing interface.
Samsarin PHP Widget 1.3.2
A text widget with support for including PHP. Very similar to Excec PHP, but this one works better in some cases, especially if you use multiple sidebars.
Search & Replace 2.5
A simple search to find strings in your database and replace the string. I use this plugin when a certain website or link, which is used on multiple pages or comments, has changed. I can change it all in one fell swoop.
Search Regex 1.4.8
Adds search and replace functionality across posts, pages, comments, and meta-data, with full regular expression support. (I use this one more than the previous, because of regular expression support, which allows me to search using wildcards and such.)
SEO Friendly Images 2.3.1
Automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images. Improves traffic from search results and makes them W3C/xHTML valid as well. Along with the other SEO plugins, this makes sure every image has both tags, based on criteria you set in the plugin options.
SEO Slugs 1.0
Removes common words like “a”, “the”, “in” from post slugs to improve SEO. It’s a perfect plugin for reducing post links to important keywords only. For example, if you have a post with a link like /this-is-a-great-post-on-SEO/, it reduces it to /great-post-SEO/.
Let your visitors share a post/page with others. Supports email and posting to social bookmarking sites. You’ve probably seen this at the top and bottom of my posts. It’s the link beside the small, green icons. You can click it to either bookmark it on popular social networking sites, or send the post to a friend by email.
Simple Tags 1.6.4
Simple Tags extends the native WordPress tagging system. It adds tag autocompletion, tag suggestions (from popular tagging networks by "sensing" your content), tag clouds, tag mass-editing, and more. In fact, it’s the plugin I use to list related posts at the end of each post.
Smart Link 3.12
Lets you write links as [link text->link url] (explicit link), or as [link text->] (implicit link). For example, if I know the slug for a page, I don’t have to type in the entire link to the page in the post editor. I simply "smart link" to it using [link text->slug], such as [click here for the sitemap->sitemap], which links to michelfortin.com/sitemap.
SRG Clean Archives 4.3
This plugin is designed to display your archive listings in a clean, uniform, single-query fashion that’s search-engine friendly on a dedicated page or in your sidebar. I use it on my sitemap page. I love it because it also lists the posts in chronological order and even adds the number of comments besides each link.
Subscribe To Comments 2.1.2
Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. It adds a checkbox in the comment area asking commentators if they wish to be notified of new comments to the blog post they commented on.
Text Control 2.0b1
Take total control of how your blog formats text: Textile 1+2, Markdown, AutoP, nl2br, SmartyPant, and Texturize. Blog wide, individual posts, and defaults for comments. (I use this primarily for testing, since some blog content uses code output that can be mistakenly munged by the WordPress default texturize function.)
the_excerpt Reloaded R1
This modification of WordPress’ template function allows the_excerpt(), which normally retrieves raw text only, to be customized, including HTML with images and code, and pulling a summary of the post content up to a custom word count.
Tidy Up 1.2
Runs an HTML Tidy on all posts and comments. HTML Tidy is a popular script that allows programmers and designers to check for code errors and "clean" their code formatting. But rather than using an external script, this plugin adds the functionality in the post and comments listings for quicker editing.
Twitter Tools 1.5.1
A complete integration between your WordPress blog and your Twitter account. Bring your tweets into your blog and pass your blog posts to Twitter. Again, another must-have, especially if you use Twitter like I do.
WordPress.com Stats 1.3.5
Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key. While Google Analytics offers better reporting features, this allows me to see my stats, at a glance, on the admin dashboard when I login.
WordPress Database Backup 2.2.2
On-demand backup of your WordPress database. You can also schedule backups on a regular basis, from daily to monthly. It’s a must-have if you don’t want to ever lose your content should something happen to your blog or database. (I use it especially before upgrading my blog to a newer version, for example.)
Ban users by IP, IP Range, host name, user agent, and referer URL from visiting your WordPress’s blog. It will display a custom ban message when the banned IP, IP range, host name, user agent, or referer URL tries to visit you blog. You can also exclude certain IPs from being banned. There will be statistics recordered on how many times they attempt to visit your blog. It allows wildcard matching, too.
Ajax-y category controls added to the Manage Posts screen. For example, it adds the names of the categories a blog belongs to, along with "+" and "-" signs to instantly add or remove categories in a snap.
Adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress blog. Scroll down to the bottom of the front page, and you will see a list of page numbers to navigate through. The best part is, you can style and customize the text as much as you want.
Display WordPress plugins that you currently have (both active and inactive) onto a post/page. In fact, it’s the plugin I used to create this list!
WP Comment Remix 1.4.4
Adds much needed comment functionality to WordPress. Essentially, it adds "reply" and "quote" links in the comments, which allows commentators to respond to other comments in a snap. By clicking the link, it automatically prefills the comment box with a link back to the original comment, along with the commentator’s name. It also separates pinbacks/trackbacks from your comments.
YLSY Permalink Redirect 2.0
Permalink Redirect ensures that pages and entries are always accessed via the permalink. Otherwise, a 301 redirect will be issued. Personally, I use this plugin because it automatically redirects older pemalink structures to the new ones, such as /%month%/%day%/%postname%/ (which is what I used to have) to /%postname%/.
MichelFortin.com’s Inactive Plugins
While these plugins are inactive, they are not necessarily unused. I often turn some of them on, albeit temporarily, for testing or tweaking purposes.
Action Optin 1.0.2
Display optin forms that submit in the background. In other words, using this plugin, the optin box refreshes dynamically without having to reload the page to open a separate "thank you" page, thus preventing any distractions.
Amazon S3 for WordPress 0.3.4
Allows you to retrieve objects stored in Amazon S3 and post them in WordPress. (We’re in the process of transferring all our in-house videos to Amazon S3. It’s the best investment we’ve ever made. And it’s cheap, too!)
Customizable Post Listings 1.6
Display Recent Posts, Recently Commented Posts, Recently Modified Posts, Random Posts, and other post listings using the post information of your choosing in an easily customizable manner. You can narrow post searches by specifying categories and/or authors, among other things.
FeatureMe allows you to manage a featured entries list for your blog. For example, on the sidebar you see a list of posts I recommend. These are my staple, evergreen posts. It’s a great way to showcase them to your newest visitors.
Google Website Optimizer for WordPress 0.2
A plugin for integrating Google Website Optimizer into blog posts and pages. (As a rabid tester, I often use Google Website Optimizer to split-test stuff. This plugin is a bit clumsy though, so I often handcode my tests directly into my blog. I also use other testing scripts, so I don’t need this plugin all the time.)
Hide Dashboard 1.1
Hide Dashboard from non-administrators. Great for membership sites. I use this plugin when I have guest bloggers or editors accessing my blog. (But with the new customizable admin interface with WordPress 2.7, it’s no longer needed.)
Recently Updated Posts 0.3
Returns a list of the most recently updated posts. I used to use it, but it’s not really needed since I use Simple Tags plugin to list related posts instead.
Subscribe me 4.0
Adds a widget with feed subscription buttons. It’s no longer needed, as I use Share This plugin instead. Plus, I now use my own, customized code for the RSS and email optin box you see in various locations on this blog, as well as the feed and email subscriber count you see at the top-right section of my sidebar.
Where did they go from here? 1.4
Show “Readers who viewed this page, also viewed” links on your page. Much like Amazon.com’s product pages. This plugin is currently broken with WordPress 2.7. But normally, it would display a list of other posts readers have viewed.
GreyBox can be used to display websites, images, and other content using AJAX — i.e., a popup box with the darkened background. All images in each post are grouped together into a gallery automatically. (I’m testing this with a variety of features.)
MichelFortin.com’s Plugin Wish List
Hopefully, this list was helpful to you. Granted, while it does include all the plugins I use, it does not list any of the hacks, personalizations, modifications, and codes I’m using. That would require an entire book!
However, I do have a wishlist of plugins I’d like to see developed. I could hire someone to do them, but I’d prefer them to be open source so that others can use them, too.
Here’s one of them…
Does anyone know of a WordPress plugin that would allow me to password-protect only a part of a post? Not the entire post. And not just “hiding it,” either.
The purpose is to password-protect only a section of a post, so that only email subscribers would get access to the “meaty” part. It’s a very cool way to boost signups, and I want to test it to see if they it does increase optins.
Some plugins do exist that offer some of this functionality. But the problem is, they are mostly for membership sites and come with a ton of other features I don’t need.
For example, this membership site plugin has that one feature. It password-protects sections of a post by surrounding it with [private] [/private] tags in the post.
That’s what I’d love to have. But again, I don’t need the full membership site. I only need that one feature. I never plan on turning this into a membership site, anyway.
Others have suggested to me PremiumCast.com and a few others, but again, they don’t offer this precise functionality and are mostly for membership sites.
Others have suggested to me PremiumCast.com and a few others, but again, they don’t offer this precise functionality and are mostly for membership sites.
If you know of such a plugin, please let me know or comment below.