My “Meat & Potatoes” Plugins

by Paul Wilson


I’ve come to conclude that every year I need to evaluate my WordPress plugins and decide what’s valuable and what is excess. Sometimes I get in a rut and use the same plugin over and over without looking at what has recently been developed.

Recently, I have done a plugin inventory and realized there are a lot of really cool plugins that I could be using (and some old ones that are no longer necessary). From this inventory I have updated what I call my “Meat & Potatoes” plugins. These are the plugins that I use on most every new blog install. I say I add these plugins with most blogs because there are two types of blogs people setup—blogs that want comments and blogs that hate comments.

Why would anyone hate comments? Well, if you are using WordPress as a website and not a blog (CMS) than your main focus may not be around having comments. Many of my affiliate and lead sites have comments turned off. I want people to interact differently than by leaving comments—like buying. Yet, if I do turn off comments I always have a contact page. For me there is nothing more annoying than not being able to reach a website with my questions, comments, or complaints.

Understanding this, I have put asterisks next to the plugins that would not be useful for a blog that doesn’t want comments. Blogs that are comment centric than there are some great follow-up plugins for for building a conversation around your content.

No mater what direction you decide on with your blog, most of these plugins you will want to keep until your next plugin inventory. As always, I would love to read any input on these plugins and your own Meat & Potatoes plugin. ~Paul W.

  • Akismet/Defensio* – Spam is a pain and you can use one of these plugins to help fight against spam. I first started out using Akismet but it was always a pain to go to to get the API key. I then switched over to Defensio, but over time it started allowing more and more spam. It is still more desirable than not having a spam plugin, but Akismet does a stronger job in fighting spam.
  • WP Captcha Free* – No matter if you decide to use Akismet or Defensio, WP Captcha Free will help catch what they don’t. It is a beautiful plugin and has really considerably cut down my spam.
  • WP SpamFree* – After encountering a cyber bully I incorporate all my blog comments with this plugin. It is very similar to WP Captcha Free but it also gives you a lot more information about the commenter. It even allows you to see if the commenter is using a proxy to hide their IP.
  • Subscribe to Comments* – If someone is going to leave a comment most likely he or she want to be notified when you respond back. Personally, I am surprised that WordPress has not made this function a part of their core.
  • WP htaccess Control – This one of the new plugins I’ve found when doing this year’s plugin inventory, and I absolutely love it. I use it to gain quick access to my .htaccess file and to also 301 pages (read my October 20th post about this). One thing I recommend doing right away with this plugin is to 301 the to (or visa versa). If people link to one or the other version of your domain this tweak makes it so you are not dividing your backlink power. Be sure to check to see if your host already does this. Any easy way to test is by typing in both the www and none www versions of your website. If your domain redirects to the other than your host has already taken care of this issue.
  • Platinum SEO – Truthfully, this plugin is the core of SEO optimization on a WordPress website. It has everything you need to make sure each blog post is optimized for the search engines. In the past I used All in One SEO and Headspace2, but they did a poor job in keeping up-to-date with SEO changes. Things may have changed with these plugins, but I made the switch because it simplified setting up the SEO for a blog (and does a great job in keeping up-to-date with SEO developments).
  • What Would Seth Godin Do – As posted in the past, Seth Godin is a marketing genius. My friend Richard Miller created this plugin off of some advice Seth Godin gave him. The plugin allows you to offer a quick message to new and returning visitors encouraging them to do a specified action. Great to encourage users to sign-up for a RSS feed or email newsletter.
  • Contact Form 7 – I think it is important to have a contact page to make it easier for people to reach out to you. There are lots of contact plugins and this may not be the best (the plugin has a large jquery library, which can slow down your site). However, it is quick and easy to set up and I haven’t had any issues with it. Maybe when I do my next plugin inventory I will take a look at some new form plugins.
  • Really Simple CAPTCHA – If you are going to have a contact form than I recommend having captcha a part of the form (or be prepared to enter your blog into the seventh ring of spam suffering). Contact Form 7 requires this plugin in order to turn on the captcha function.
  • Google Analyticator – To me this is the most important plugin to add. What’s the point of building a site if you cannot track its performance. I’ve tried a lot of Google Analytics plugin and this just seems to be the easiest. I know my buddy Logan would disagree, but I think there are millions of people who would disagree with him Ü.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This little gem automates the process of providing an XML sitemap for the search engines (not just google). Having an XML sitemap will speed up the process of many of your new pages being found.
  • My Page Order – This plugin isn’t as necessary with the release of WordPress 3.0. Yet, since most themes are not up-to-date I recommend this plugin to help you organize your navigation.
  • Page Link Manager – Another great plugin that helps you hide pages that shouldn’t be in the navigation. Again, WordPress 3.0 and further updates will make this plugin obsolete, but until all themes are to this point then Page Link Manager is good work around.
  • Viper’s Video Quicktags – Obviously, video these days is a must and when it comes to displaying video I have not found anything easier. Viper allows you to quickly grab the links from other video sites, like YouTube, and host it on your site. What I also really like about this plugin is the capability to host your own flash videos, which you can see demonstrated here on

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