Yeah, There's a Plugin for That

A New Weekly Feature!

Before I get into this week's topic, I have some exciting news to tell you about.  Starting this Monday, there will be a new series of weekly guest posts from a blogger many of you know, Alison from Mama's Weeds!  Each week, Alison will interview a top blogger in the healthy-lifestyle niche (plus a few up-and-comers), who will share some of the things they've done to make their blogs successful, along with whatever else Alison decides to chat about with them.  I can't tell you how excited I am for this; it will be so great to bring you a lighter, less-technical-but-no-less-important side of Health Blog Helper every week.  Monday, Monday, Monday.  Don't forget it!

The Plugin List

Plugins—perhaps the best reason to go self-hosted if you're a WordPress user.   (And the biggest reason to switch, if you're not. )  Plugins are to blogging what apps are to iPhones.  Little add-on's that do pretty much anything you could think of.  Some help secure your blog, some help you attract search traffic, some connect with Twitter and Facebook, some translate your words into pirate talk on Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Really.

A lot of you who have recently moved your blogs to self-hosting have been asking me which plugins to get, and those who plan to go self-hosted but haven't yet have told me you're bookmarking all the ones I mention.  Well, bookmark no more!  Here's a list of some of the plugins I use on this blog or my other, as well as a few that I don't.  Most will install with one click.  And there are so many more (6,635 of them, in fact) at the WordPress plugins directory, so head over there if these aren't pirate-talky enough for you!

  • Login Lockdown – Locks your login screen after three incorrect attempts within five minutes, to prevent brute-force attacks to your site.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Helps pull in Google searches, either automatically or with custom keywords that you choose for each post.
  • CommentLuv – Displays commenters' most recent blog posts, to encourage commenting and to spread the "luv."
  • FD Feedburner Plugin – Redirects your default feed to a Feedburner feed, where you can see statistics and customize your feed.  When you do this, you'll likely realize you have a lot more subscribers than you thought, since it counts far more than just those who subscribe in Google Reader.
  • WP Photo Album – There are lots of photo album plugins; this is just the first one I tried.  Allows you to create a photos page, for lots more pageviews!
  • WordPress Popular Posts – Creates a widget that displays your most popular posts so new readers can find your best stuff right away.
  • WordPress.com Stats – The same stats program that we all paid way too much attention to in our WordPress.com days.
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Displays automatically-determined related posts at the end of each post.
  • Unfancy Quote – Solves those pesky backward-quotation-mark problems by making all quotes straight lines.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Creates a customizable sitemap that makes it easier for Google and other search engines to navigate your blog.
  • My Category Order – Allows you to change the order in which your categories are displayed in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to Comments – Allows commenters to get email notifications of new comments on a given post.
  • Homepage Excerpts – Lets you set how many full posts to display on your homepage and how many to display only as excerpts.  Good for search engine optimization, aesthetics, and ease of use.   (This plugin must be directly downloaded from the plugin site; it's not in the WordPress directory.)

I can't stress enough that there are so many more than this.  Adding social media buttons, automatically updating social media, managing affiliate accounts, daily health tips and quotes; the list goes on.  And new ones are constantly being developed.  Whenever I have a problem, the plugin directory is the first place I look.

Want more?  There are a few additional essential plugins, plus some great tips about starting off on the right foot, in this Remarkablogger post.  I love this guy's stuff, so check out more while you're there.

7 Responses to Yeah, There's a Plugin for That
  1. Dana (www.eatsleepgetfit.com)
    September 20, 2009 | 9:16 am

    Hi, I found your blog through Caitlin and I enjoy reading your posts. I'm a beginner blogger even though I have been blogging for about 9 months now. I use Blogger but I had recently purchased my own domain or I guess my own website name. How easy is it for me to switch to WordPress? I have read your other posts on switching but I was wondering if I switch if I would lose all my followers. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it you can email me at eatsleepgetfit[at]gmail.com

    Thanks
    Dana
    .-= Dana (www.eatsleepgetfit.com)´s last blog ..12 MIles =-.

  2. Hanlie
    September 21, 2009 | 6:19 pm

    I have a few of these, but some of the others sound really interesting and I will definitely get them! Thanks!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Hot 100 – Going Out With a Bang =-.

  3. Emily
    September 23, 2009 | 12:12 pm

    Matt–

    Any thoughts/suggestions/help you can give regarding choosing a theme for a WordPress blog and how that all works? I'm a little overwhelmed by just the free options and figuring out if they'll work for me. Also, how much work is it to switch themes if you don't like the one you pick?

    Thanks!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Recipe Rundown =-.

  4. NoMeatAthlete
    September 24, 2009 | 5:43 pm

    Hey Emily, with themes I think the most important thing is probably just finding one that allows you do everything you envision. So think about whether you want 1 or 2 sidebars, the new magazine-type layout, good spots for ads. I think even more important is that it's very customizable and with good support, like check out the theme creator's website and see if there are help documents or anything. Some themes are "SEO-optimized." I really don't know what this entails, but I made sure that I picked one that was. Also with SEO, I've heard that having content (rather than a sidebars) on the left of the page is important because search engines read from left to right, and it's better for them to see varying content than the same sidebar. But from looking at the source code for different pages, I don't know if this is true or not.

    Switching from one theme to another doesn't seem hard. You can do it entirely from the WordPress dashboard. You can actually download a bunch, and then just change from one to another within the dashboard. As long as you haven't edited your code too much, switching shouldn't be much of a problem.

  5. Claire
    April 15, 2010 | 11:08 pm

    I must say I love this site. Great information for someone like me who is looking to start a blog on health and fitness. I've no clue, but after reading your posts I feel much more confident to give it a try.

    Great job!

  6. Health Blog Helper
    July 23, 2010 | 10:14 am

    [...] The best plug-ins. Downloading a simple SEO plug-in made a huge difference in how much traffic I get. Huge. [...]

  7. [...] get a lot of questions about how to start a brand new blog: how to set up a new site; what plugins to use; how to get those initial readers; how to get noticed by Google.  While I have some [...]

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