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.