I’m using WordPress for more than 5 years now and it’s surprises me every time how many new (or updated) WordPress plugins I’ve missed during the past few month. Like this time, I was looking for several functions I need for a current website project.
I searched the WordPress plugin directory for:
- A better SEO plugin (The “All in One SEO Pack” plugin belongs to the past)
- A broken link checker which is able to detect and monitor all the links on my site
- Because I”m working on an older site I need to redirect old URL’s
- Each visitors should be able to subscribe to the comments of each blog posts
- A backup solution for the WordPress core application, the content and the database
There are so many plugins, how-to select the right one?
I understand this question, the WordPress directory is listing so many “older” plugins and it’s very hard to choose the right one. You will find for each plugin some information if a plugin works with the current version or not, but is this information leading? If a plugin has a final version and the core version is not changed in the part where a plugin is based on, it’s maybe just old information. I used the following strategy to check each plugin:
- Search Google for “best wordpress seo plugin” or “wordpress broken link plugin comparison”. Try the WordPress plugins you find in recent reviews (like this one)
- Check the “Stats” tab on the wordpress plugins page, you can see on the “pikes” how often and when a plugin was updated.
- Choose only plugins where the last version is younger than 365 days
- Try each plugin on your WordPress test site, if something doesn’t work, just skip them.
- Check also the plugin developer’s website, if this site is not about the plugin, it’s possible that he abandoned the project.
That’s so far about the research I did, let’s head over to the plugins…
The first time I tried this plugin was more than a half year ago and I was really surprised about all the features I could use. Right now I would say it solves more than 90% of all SEO issues in WordPress. I like to mention the following features:
- Create custom page titles and meta description for every post or page.
You are able to add this values and (and several others) to each post or leave it empty to use the defaults. This function is not just a text field, you get a preview (like in Google), a keyword analyses tool and of course a warning if the text length for each element is too long.
- Customize your RSS feeds
By default all feeds are “noindex” and “follow” to keep your feed out of the Google index. If you like you can customize the presentation for each RSS item, add your own HTML code before and after the post. For example, insert some links and ge links from those who republish your RSS feed.
- Support next/forward and canonical links
Canonical links, rel=next/forward links are also a core feature in WordPress, but this implementation is wrong or not complete. The SEO plugin by Yoast will fix these problems.
- SEO features for category pages
Wordpress is able to create pages for tags, categories and other taxonomies, but all these pages are not optimized for search engines. This plugin will let you enter page titles, meta descriptions and you can overrule your settings to index a single category or not.
If your blog becomes older than a year I’m sure many of your links in posts or comments are broken. It’s very important for your SEO to eliminate those links. This plugin will scan all your links in the background. Get a mail message whenever the plugin has found some broken links. While checking a special link report, it’s very easy to fix the broken links.
Another great feature is that the plugin will report also link redirects. Why is this important? It’s possible that links in your comments doesn’t point to the domain the user has entered. Sure the link is “nofollow”, but do you like that your visitors will reach some porn site if he clicks a commenter’s link? Simply check the the list of redirections from time to time and remove suspicious links.
In the past I used several rules inside the .htaccess file to redirect old URLs to some new page. This kind of redirections are easy but not very effective:
- You need to analyze the server’s log files to get any information about the redirected URLs
- You need to login via FTP or SSH to access your redirection entries
- Adding specific redirection rules, requires the knowledge about Apache configurations (mod_rewrite)
Using the Redirection plugin it’s possible to enter your redirection rules into an easy to use web interface.
- Enter rules using regular expressions or the source URL.
- Choose the header type: 301, 302 or 307
- Collect information like how often and on which date a source URL was requested
If you offer a comment function for your blog posts you need a function that let your visitors to subscribe to the comments by email. Offering a comment subscription feature will make your discussions more active and each new comment is like an update to your blog post (Bonus: The GoogleBot will check your post more often). There are several plugins available, but this one looks much better than others and offers the following features:
- Manage your subscribers: Search, filter and delete your community members.
- Customize the templates and (mail) messages used by the plugin
- Get a notice if a visitor has subscribed to a blog post.
A stable backup system is essential for your WordPress site. I remember me that 1 or 2 years ago it was normal that your daily or weekly backup was stored on the same server where you’re blog is hosted or the backup file need to get send to your e-mail address. In both cases it’s not the optimal way to backup your WordPress site.
BackWPup is much more flexible, you can send your backup to six external storage services including Google, Dropbox, Rackspace and Amazon S3.
I’m using my Dropbox account, after my backup file is send to Dropbox, the same file is stored on my local machine. This is what I call redundancy… ;)
This backup plugin for WordPress is a complete solution including the following features:
- Create as many backups you like, start them manually or use a WP cron jobs.
- If a backup has failed, the system will try it again several times. You get a message by e-mail if something went wrong.
- Backup other files which are not related to WordPress or exclude (bigger) files where a backup is not required.
There are much more cool WordPress plugins, but I think that these five are suitable for most WordPress sites. Do you use other important plugins for your site?