Eric Blackwell’s Must Have WordPress Plugins

Maureen Francis of MIOaklandCounty asked “On another note, I am looking around for any must have WP plugins. Would like to see a bunch of us post what we are using to see what we can learn.”

Eric is the first victim volunteer to share his list of plugins and in so doing became the first guest contributor to the Lab.

I first met Eric at The Real Estate Webmaster Forum. He is a wealth of information and always providing good solid advice and answers to many questions. He has started his own blog EricOnSearch check it out.

Eric’s Must Have WordPress Plugins (and some others)

pluginI think we can all start to agree that WordPress…when hosted on your own, is a STELLAR blogging platform. In Search Engine terms, you want something that is adaptable and flexible to the changes that Google and the other search engines make on a fairly frequent basis. For most bloggers, you also want to add some good ways to make your site interactive, without having to be a coding genius to pull it off..The large base of WordPress users, theme designers, plugin coders, and widget builders allow for much flexibility and improvement—which is key.

Please keep in mind that not all of these plugins will work with all themes. I have tried to confine these “must haves” to ones that will work with MOST themes and in MOST situations. Please feel free to add or chime in on this post if you have additional resources: Also, for the record, where there are many choices in certain types of plugins, I tried to select the ones with the best support (just in case you get in a jam).

I have not put links in in all cases. Simply Google the names of the plugins (followed by plugin if it does not have that) and you will find them right away.

Do Follow Plugins

dofollow – removes the nofollow from comments. I am a fan of sharing the link love and moderating post comments to make sure that what you get is quality.

For the ultimate list of Do Follow resources check this out Andy Beard has a TON of ways to manage the links on any type of blog.

Spam Blockers

Did you pass math – spam blocker

Akismet-better spam blocker-the original

SEO Plugins

Dagon Design Sitemap Generator– Simply the best sitemap generator IMO (And with internal linking being evermore important, this is big)

another wordpress meta plugin – there are many of these type available out there. They allow you to choose title, description, keywords, etc…I simply like this one the best

Ultimate Tag Warrior: Like the one above, it adds tags to each of your posts. However it is much more configurable..

Other Plugins

Adhesive plugin (google it) – Stick one post to the top of a page. For some applications, this little tool comes in handy.

DOWNLOAD ADHESIVE HERE

Green Beast Contact Form Plugin-This is a contact form plugin that works on more WP themes than any I have found. Better yet, if you hit problems Green Beast (Google it) is happy to help.

Executable PHP Widget: Adds executable PHP widgets to your sidebar. This is a little more advanced but allows you to add some really cool stuff to your widgets. Tons of flexibility

Google Analytics: Automatically adds Google analytics code to my template. This makes tracking traffic easier in that it adds your Google analytics code to every page of your blog

The Feature: Lets you call posts “features” and adds a widget to put them in your theme. This is a cool way to add Featured Posts in the sidebar. Good stuff.

Subscribe to Comments Plugin This cool plugin lets readers receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. This is huge in that it keeps the conversations going.

Gravatar Plugin– This lets you add the avatar or photo into a comment. I think this adds character to the blog and shows the interactivity.

I am sure the above list is more than a little bit incomplete, but hopefully this is a good conversation starter for the blog lab. Please add to it! That’s how we all learn together!

Best;

Eric

Thanks Eric We all appreciate the list.

Eric has a couple of interesting post on Google and Supplemental Results. Google just made tracking them harder. Have you noticed they have disappeared? Check out Eric Posts on Google Supplemental Results. (I should have written those) : )

Comments

  1. Nice post on plugins. I’m actually using most of the ones mentioned here, and, as I’ve gone dofollow on all of my blogs, I too am working on making them more interactive. To that end, I have the notify of new comments (and dofollow), but, I have not installed the gravatar plugin. I think I will download that one a bit later…I was thinking that a cool plugin might be to have the comment box turned into a wysiwyg, but, without the hyperlink button and maybe another that alows for a preview of the comment. It seems that anything that can make a reader feel more connected and easier to comment will help motivate people to speak up.

    Nice blog you have here Dave!

  2. Ryan,

    I wondered if Eric the Wizard posting over here wouldn’t bring some of the RE Webmasters guys and gals for a peek at the Lab.

    I like that idea of the wysiwyg editor for comments. I don’t expect anyone to come up with one soon, but there are always work arounds.

    I’ve never used the gravatar plugin myself. And Eric had a few new ones I’ve never used or seen. I’ll be checking some of those out.

    My big thing on plugins isn’t as much functionality as the number of them I run into with poor code that create w3c errors and since plugins are on every page, they take every page out of compliance. I’ve tested some plugins that create up to 15 errors per page.

    So the clue here is anytime you add a new plugin run your site through the w3c validator and make sure it didn’t just do more harm than good.

  3. I am new to Word Press so the Google Analytics plug in is great for a non tech like me. Thanks for the plugin post. Eric always has well thought out useful info.

  4. What’s the story with needing things to be w3c compliant? Does this effect SERPS?

    Yes…Eric pointed you out to me a while back. What can I say? I’m a slacker for catching up on recommendations sometimes!

    The other thing with plugins is that it can slow down your load times…My goal is to create a place on my blog where people interested in stats and so forth can feel welcome and want to post or ask for more information. The dofollow, I think, is something that can help attract people. For me hopefully, that will be other agents so we can start talking and discussing. More content, more information. Too many plugins can slow things down and for me, that’s a reason to leave a website or blog so I try to be mindful of that as well.

  5. Dave;
    I had not checked them out with a validator…don’t be surprised if that happens with one or two of them…pretty good odds since I don’t really worry about it (*gasp*)…perhaps I should.
    Hopefully this is a conversation starter and others will share some cool plugins as well.

    Maureen–very nice blog! I took a quick look at it over lunch, I don’t think I have visited there recently (maybe ever). Fun reading. Kudos.

    Eric

  6. Ryan,

    I agree totally on the number of plugins. That’s the second criteria for me. A plugin that slows load is a dead plugin.

    I’ve notice the biggest offenders are those loading graphics from off site urls. The new technorati code is an example that is about to be taken off one of my blogs. I like the old technorati code better. No graphic and it loads faster.

    I always test plugins here in the lab before they make their way onto my RE blog sites.

    As to SERPs and w3c. There is a lot written about this. But it is difficult to get any hard evidence.

    My observation. Compliant sites get crawled deeper, faster, and more often. We all know that means more content indexed and better (PR, (page rank) for the newest bloggers.)

    We use the word crawl, but that is hardly what happens. bots are often limited to seconds or shorter on a site. Think of validation errors as hurdles. The fewer hurdles the bots have to jump the faster they can crawl.

    I’ve got an new Tucson RE site that started out of all I’ve learned. It will be a month old tomorrow. No sandbox, and it get crawled almost every day averaging about 5 times a week.
    I post everyday, ping after every post and resubmit my sitemap to google after every post.

  7. Dave the other sitemap plugin I use that generates an xml file is:

    Sitemap Generator 2.7.1

    Google it if you (or anyone) is interested.

  8. Ken @ Realivent says:

    “I post everyday, ping after every post and resubmit my sitemap to Google after every post.”

    Dave, I’ve heard lots of discussion about this. Do you see any indexing improvements when you resubmit your sitemap to Google after each post rather than each month for example ?

  9. Ken,
    As of two weeks ago that is hard to say. Because I’m seeing all new post in google regular index in less than 20 minutes after they are published.

    I think the advantage isn’t in getting into the index it is staying in the index. Plenty of fresh content and very frequent crawls. Indicate authority and I think a better chance of staying in the index.

    I haven’t written about this yet, but the length of the post definately seems to play a part in staying in the index longer as does the number of hits. I’m pretty sure Google Analytics data is being used by Google to see what posts and pages are being hit for certain searches and they gather indexing points for those hits.

    I have no evidence other than the post with the most hits in Hittail data are the ones gaining in PR and longevity in the index.

    Our oldest site is our website with the first News blog. It hasn’t had a new sitemap submitted for almost three months. The reason, I can’t find any software to generate the stupid thing. The one I used to use only goes to 500 pages and the one I’m using now hangs all the time. So no new sitemap submissions in three months. It gets crawled about once a week.
    On all the other blogs I’m using hte google sitemap generator plugin which creates a new sitemap after every post. All I do then is manually resubmit. Those site as I said above are getting crawled almost everyday.

  10. Ken;

    I would agree with Dave on this. Frequent content additions = more frequent crawls. Frequent site map submissions = more frequent crawls and let Google know what the changes are….. more quickly than not having them.

    I think that those TWO factors are the ones that are getting it done for Dave’s blog traction. Not W3C. (JMO from an SEO point of view.)

    As for traffic (Google Analytics) affecting indexing or ranking. I used to frown on that theory…but over the last few months find myself coming to the same conclusion as Dave…is it traffic? is it bounce rate? How much does it affect things? Lot’s of theories on that.

    Finally, please don’t think that because I don’t worry about W3C and all that, that it is a bad idea. I just can find NO causative effect with SEO in my testing. I have seen many sites with tons of errors rank well. Not everything we do is for SEO sake alone. NOR SHOULD IT BE IMO. 🙂 There is a lot to be said for quality.

    One should never write text for SEO sake alone. Writing compliant code is a good thing as well.

    Best;

  11. SUPER ARTICLE, Eric!! A must read for anyone using WordPress. Thanks much for the list.

  12. Steve Belt says:

    Hey Dave, do you know of an author comment reply plug-in? By this, I mean that I’d like my replies to comments to have a different look/feel than the comments that come from the outside world. I’ve seen a copule other blogs that have this, and am wondering if you know of such a plug-in?

    Thanks in advance, and great stuff here…I’ve definitely been implrementing and/or strongly considering all of the plug-ins noted here.

  13. Steve, Author Highlights is one I just found but have never used You can try this. It requires a little coding. The plugin page is at:
    http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/AuthorHighlight

    If you have the URL for a blog with this feature you can write the blogger and ask if it is built into the theme or a plugin if a plugin we would all like to know about it.

  14. Steve,

    Here is a purely code dependent approach

    http://5thirtyone.com/archives/774

    this one might be even easier, Still code: http://aonach.com/chatter/highlight-author-comments-in-wordpress/

  15. I like that idea. Unfortunately, I’m “code challenged”, so I’ll have to wait to use it.

  16. I just discovered tag were disappearing on all the post at the new Tucson Blog, disconcerting to say the least.

    Turns out Ultimate Tag Warrior is the culprit. If you upgrade to WordPress 2. anything get the latest version of UTW. I’ve changed the link on this post to take everyone to the latest.

    I’ve put back all the missing tags. For me it seemed only on posts with comments.

    I’m running the same version the lab but it is stable so it might be certain types of code in themes that triggers the disappearance.

    If you are running UTW with any version like 3,14159 which for me as a none math person means nothing, but I take it this is pi. Then you should get an updated version. I would also recommend you check your posts to see if the tags are there or gone.

  17. <p><p>O.K. guys I’ve been working on this plugin since last night. I found a slideshow plugin for listings and photos. It works in posts or on pages. I have it set up in a post as I will show it to you here and then I have a page set up and named “featured listings”. On the page I have a thumbnail that links to the post s you can put up a real featured listings section on a blog page. I have been looking for a “real” featured listings plugin for some time and I have been unable to find it. Here’s the plugin in action: http://www.alpharetta-real-estate-blog.com/2474-brookhaven-heights/
    and here’s the plugin:
    http://www.stuff.yellowswordfish.com/popup-image-gallery/

  18. Great find, Ryan! One of the things I’ve been looking for. Thanks for posting it!!

  19. Ryan,

    Your Example in IE has the middle way down the page. Looks like the IE Float issue.

    I put the dots back in the link to the plugin and wordpress ate the link to your example. I know REW doesn’t like live links in their forum post, but they are allowed here. I hate having to figure out all that dot stuff I just want to click on the link and have it work.

    Realivant has a lot of RE related WP plugins for realtors including a featured listing plugin
    here:
    http://realiventblog.com/widgets-and-plugins/
    If I didn’t get the link restored correctly let me know.

  20. I wonder why it isn’t showing up correctly for you…I’m using IE7 and it seems to work fine for me and in FF as well…

    I looked at the realinventblog before, but, then you are hosting on someone else’s site instead of creating your own content – if I remember correctly. Whenver possible, I like to try to keep content on my own site.

    Sorry about the links. Everyone is a bit different on what they tolerate 🙂

    I wrote a blog post to get a quick install of it on my REW blog…

    As for the float issue, could you explain what you mean? I’m sort of learn as I go here and that one seems new to me!

  21. Ryan,

    I’m using IE6 The realivant plugin can be used on any WP blog. I use several of them on my other blogs, just don’t do featured listings because I have a website for every listing so I put links up to those sites.

  22. Eric, thanks so much for this- what a help it is. Anne Mayhugh

  23. Thanks for these great plugins. Ryan’s blog is how I found aout about the do-follow plugin, and my new blog will have this plugin, and some of these mentioned above. Also thanks Ryan for the slideshow plugin. This will enhance the fell of a good post.

  24. Awesome website. Hoping you guys will answer a newbie question….

    I started blogging about 30 days ago using the Blog software that comes free with my Top Producer website. It turns out it is WordPress under the covers.

    My question is: I don’t want to host my own server, so will any of the WordPress hosting companies allow you to install plug ins?

    Also, I tried to run a sitemap for Google Webmaster tools (after reading this post) and I think my blog is getting left out as it has a different URL inside I believe a frame. Have you heard of this before (I can post the direct URL for the Blog, but I know webmasters can be sensitive about that)? I am hitting Google search though (but as I say that, the links are for the direct URL to the Blog, not the main website).

    Sorry for the long comment. Any thoughts or comments would be welcome.

  25. Scott-
    Don’t know about the others here, but I’d really suggest you host your own. The ability to add your own plugins is (umm…) priceless.

    I am not really a big fan of the solution you are currently using.

    If your fear is setting it up, I’d be happy to set one up for you. (GRATIS). I have 3 webservers, so hosting is not a problem…

    Just let me know if you’d like to do it.

    Eric

  26. Scott,

    I’m with Eric, self-hosting isn’t as hard as it might seem. The word “Frames” is reason enough.

    Eric has made a very generous offer, and since you are just 30 days in, it is better to make a switch early than a year down the road.

    It will help your business, traffic and ability to manage your SEO by self-hosting working with Eric would fit under this category.

    And you won’t find a better offer anywhere.

  27. I’m going to have to agree here as well. Having the ability to make changed to your blog and the added benefits from the SEO side really make it worth the initial extra effort it will take and it is well worth it.

  28. I am right in with these guys. Take Eric up on his offer!

    On another subject – is there a Real Estate listing plugin for Word Press.

  29. Fantastic opportunity. I checked on my contract where I am at and it still continues for some time. Unfortunately, I am going to stick where I am and make the best of it.

    Thanks again for the offer. I will continue to be an avid reader of your blog, though!

  30. Scott,

    You are always welcome at the Lab. Have you thought of having more than one? I have four main blogs and multiple single property site blogs.
    You could get your feet wet with Eric, keep your current blog and possible start another with him.
    I think you could even post about the same if not the same content on each one and use different titles and tags to draw more people and traffic.

    Just a thought.

  31. Interesting thought. Let me think about a new blog topic and get back to Eric.

  32. I find that the “do-follow” plug-in is great. We started our blog in September and added “do-follow” in November. Now, it rank #2 in Google for Denver Real Estate Blog.

    Your comments there are appreciated.

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  1. Eric Blackwell's Must Have WordPress Plugins | Real Estate Blog Lab…

    …follow plugin, and my new blog will have this plugin, and some of these mentioned above. Also thanks Ryan for the slideshow plugin. This will enhance the fell ……