Blog posts about WordPress plugins and list after list of plugins are dime-a-dozen and appear on the front page of social news sites at least weekly. Heck, I even wrote a post earlier this earlier titled The Best WordPress Plug-Ins. Instead of creating just another list, I wanted to share some of the plug-ins I use here on 404 Tech Support because they’re functional and have automated some tasks that I always had to do by hand before finding these plugins. That’s why this is titled Smarter WordPress Through Plugins. These plugins can help make your WordPress smarter and your workflow more automated. They will do just about everything but write your posts for you.
Smart Plugins To Have
WordTwit – WordTwit will automatically create a Twitter tweet whenever you publish a post through WordPress. The tweet will include the post title, your site name, and a shortened URL to the post. WordTwit also provides a widget to show any recent tweets you’ve made in your sidebar. It’s very easy to configure, you just need to point it at your Twitter account and modify your preferences (like which URL shortening service you prefer).
Similar to RSS feeds, following your site on Twitter just gives your visitors another means to keep up with your website. WordTwit can also help you bring in new traffic by getting your site and headlines in a new location and showing up in “social” or “real-time” searches.
Post Teaser – Post Teaser definitely saved me a bunch of time. With my theme, once a post was no longer the most recent post I would have to edit the post and throw a ‘more’ tag in to reduce its length. Since I switched themes after I had a number of posts, I’d also have to go back through all the archives and edit those as well.
Post Teaser to the rescue! Post teaser can be configured to how many words you want your excerpt to be and it will then automatically split your content into an excerpt based on that and paragraph breaks. It then provides a link to continue reading the article on the full page as well as a word count, image count, and optional estimate as to how long it will take to read.
With some help from the developer (who was a very nice and helpful guy), I was also able to set up my installation of Post Teaser to work on all but the latest post. This is the behavior seen on the front page. Post Teaser is very configurable. You can set it to say whatever you’d like with a number of variables derived from the post like word count, image count, title, and estimated reading time. For all the reasons you’d use the More tag, Post Teaser will work for you and do it automatically.
RSS Footer – After one too many sites just piped my RSS feed directly into their site and stole credit and traffic for my articles, I was forced to configure my RSS feed to only show an excerpt of the article. RSS Footer allows you to automatically allow some content before or after the content of your RSS feed. I use this to make my excerpts more obvious in linking back to the original article and to inform people that there is more to the article than just what they’re reading in the feed.
You can write your message using any HTML and three provided variables to link back to the post, your site, or your site with the description as the text of the link. This plugin will help convert subscribers into visitors and make it easy for them to get back to your content if they’d like to comment or ask further questions.
Smart Archives Reloaded – Smart Archives Reloaded is another plugin that allowed me to stop performing a manual task every time I created a new post. I was not content with browsing the archives and instead preferred having a list of title only links to articles for quick reference. Unfortunately when I started this, the task required that I manually create these links. With Smart Archives Reloaded, all of that information is pulled from the database and the list is updated with every new post published.
To implement the Smart Archives Reloaded, you just put smart_archives inside square brackets on any post or page. With the latest version, you can also use this to create different configurations of your Archives list. For an example of how I use this, check out the All 404 Tech Support Articles page.
PS Auto Sitemap – I found PS Auto Sitemap while looking for what Smart Archives Reloaded accomplished, but couldn’t let it go after I saw it in action. Similar to Smart Archives, it allows you to add a link-friendly sitemap page organizing your posts by category automatically. It pulls information from your database and links it accordingly. This is good for improving human navigation and site inner-linking. With Smart Archives Reloaded listing the site by date and PS Auto Sitemap listing by category, visitors can browse my site how they please.
Google XML Sitemaps Generator – I covered this in my last post, so I’ll only expand on what I said then: Creates a sitemap for your site in .xml format and can notify popular search engines that it has been updated so your site gets crawled after a new post. This helps get new content into the search engines faster and results in a better indexing of your site. It automatically uploads the sitemap for your site to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com but it also creates a sitemap.xml file on your site so any other crawler should be able to pick it up as well.
You can configure this plugin quite a bit in case you have other non-WordPress pages to include or your server isn’t robust enough to handle the processing.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Allows you to add a configurable amount of links at the end of posts and/or pages to other posts and/or pages that have a certain level of “related-ness”. This improves inner-linking visitors to more of your pages and may help them find what they are looking for. A recent update also allows you to include this related-posts section into your RSS feeds. It also includes a widget to show related posts in the sidebar.
Reveal IDs for WP Admin – Reveal IDs is an old, out of date plugin but it is still very convenient to have, especially when some of these previously listed plugins use the ID of posts and pages for configurations. Reveal IDs simply adds another column to the WP Admin side whenever you’re looking at lists of posts or plugins so you can easily find the ID number which disappears from normal view once you have anything besides the standard permalinks configured.
Use Google Libraries – Use Google Libraries doesn’t do anything automated per se, but it does improve your site performance by offloading your requests for libraries like Dojo, jQuery, jQuery UI, MooTools, Prototype, script.aculo.us to Google.
Check out these plugins for your site and see if they can’t help improve your workflow, site navigation, and user interaction. If you have any other plugins worth mentioning, please let me hear them in the forum.