Plug Me In

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Plug Me In[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’ve used WordPress for 4 years now, ever since version 3.0 was released, but I’ve never written about my favorite WordPress plugins; so, this post is way overdue! Even though I actively use a high number of WordPress plugins, 37 plugins, I’ve decided to only write about the 3 plugins I literally use every single time I use WordPress. In my mind, these are 3 must-have plugins![hr]


[twocol_one]I think my all time favorite, the plugin I literally use ever single time I write a post in WP, is Zemanta! Zemanta reads “over your shoulder” as you write. Based on what you’re writing about, it suggests related articles. You can set up Zemanta to provide it’s recommendations from the general web or from your own collection of trusted RSS feeds!

Zemanta will also visually suggest media you can include, with attribution, directly in your post. While this is very convenient and offers a number of easy-to-use styling options, I rarely use it because, when you’ve been blogging for 10 years, you already have a huge issue with dead links. I don’t want an image to unexpectedly no longer appear in a post. I want my media to always be available and therefore housed on my server.

Zemanta suggests multiple links to specific words in your content. I almost always use these links. These links frequently are from [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Wikipedia and Maps. They also do an excellent job of finding the links to proper names. For example: Zemanta suggested the link to WordPress.

This plugin also suggests related articles based on your post content. You may choose to include these at the bottom of your post with or without thumbnails. While I rarely include these, I sometimes find that they amply the scope of my thinking and thereby positively impact my writing. (Just for kicks I included a couple in this post.)

Finally, Zemanta suggests tags for your posts. The tags are important to me because of another plugin I love, but I’ll get to that in my writeup about that plugin. Suffice it to say now: always use tags when you write!

Zemanta is an excellent editorial assistant! I highly recommend it. Tim loves![/twocol_one_last][hr]

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

[twocol_one]YARPP is another must-have plugin. When you publish a post, YARPP pays attention to your post title, post content, categories, and tags. You determine how heavily each of these attributes is weighted when YARPP runs its algorithm to determine what other posts you’ve written on your blog are closely related to this current post being published. YARPP then can list the related posts in the sidebar of your blog and/or at the bottom of the current post (with or without each related post’s associated photo). To speed up my page loads, I only now include YARPP in the sidebar of single posts.

YARPP is highly customizable, but I won’t go into all of that. I will mention that having numerous relevant tags becomes important very quickly when using YARPP. So, this is why Zemanta and YARPP compliment each other [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]so well. The more tags and categories posts share in common, the higher their “relatedness” score becomes.

But, one of the things I most love about YARPP is that the related content is selected in real time when the reader clicks on one of your posts. The posts that are related to this post you are reading right now might not be the same posts that are related to it in 2 months! So, get your head around this coolness: A reader finds a two-year old post on your blog through a search engine. But since you wrote that post (two years ago), you’ve written several additional posts that are much more current about the same topic. YARPP will include these “future” posts in the related posts as well as any previously written posts! Time is relative. Relevant content is king. Nice.[/twocol_one_last][hr]


[twocol_one]We all hate them: Those hideous plugins that force us to read impossible-to-read letters, numbers, and symbols to prove we are a human being and not some spam robot trolling the inter webs to cause chaos and bedlam. The CAPTCHAs I encounter have become so annoying, I often don’t join in the conversation because I refuse to mangle my way through the wretched CAPTCHA.

No more!

BestWebSoft’s CAPTCHA plugin is both effective and refreshingly easy to use. It uses simple math equations with easy-to-read numbers or words to determine if you are a machine or a person. For example:[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]

3 – [An entry box here] = zero

six x 4 = [An entry box here]

[An entry box here] + 2 = 8

The CAPTCHA can be placed on comment entry (see below), registration, password reset, and even the login page. (You can go Pro for a nominal fee and include the CAPTCHA in BuddyPress and the Contact form.) The arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, and multiplication) can be selected. And you can choose to use number, words, or both in the CAPTCHAs.

I think of this as the CAPTCHA that isn’t maddening as hell to use! Tim loves![/twocol_one_last][hr]


So, there you have it: 3 of my favorite WordPress plugins. I try to keep my plugin overhead low, even though I actively use 37 plugins. Maybe I’ll write more on this topic again.