12 (of the) Best WordPress Guides and Plugin Reviews of 2011

January 30, 2012

WordPress is not only the most popular blogging platform, but is increasingly becoming a leading website content management system (CMS) as well.

Cost and ease of use are certainly factors, but one of the important reasons is its extensibility through plugins. These add-ons make it easy to add an incredible variety of functionality to the platform, from contact forms and photo galleries to social sharing and ecommerce capabilities.

How did WordPress emerge as the leading blog platform? What are some techniques, beyond the obvious, for search-optimizing WordPress content? Which plugins are the most popular / useful / vital? Get the answers to those questions and more here in a dozen of the best posts and articles about WordPress from the past year.

WordPress Guides and Commentary

How did WordPress win? by majordojo
***** 5 STARS

Byrne ReeseByrne Reese—former Product Manager of Movable Type and TypePad and employee at Six Apart, now a Partner at Endevver, a Movable Type and Melody consulting company—dissects the strategy used by WordPress to become the dominant blogging platform, in order to “see what lessons can be learned from WordPress so that others seeking to build a successful product can learn from it.” This brilliant article delves into the technological, economic, cultural and environmental factors behind the success of WordPress, and inspired more than 70 comments.

Web Traffic Tracking Alternatives to Google Analytics by uber.la

John McElhenneyJohn McElhenney provides helpful reviews of three simple and free alternatives to Google Analytics for tracking WordPress site metrics: JetPack Site Stats, Wassup Plug-in and Widget (which provides real-time stats including how many visitors are on your site or blog at any given moment) and Gaug.es (another real-time tool, which works on any website).

WordPress SEO – 10 Essential Actions by WP Blog Talk

Rob CubbonRob Cubbon details 10 best practices for optimizing WordPress content, from ideal use of keywords and plugins to sitemaps, redirects and image optimization.

WordPress Plugin Compilations and Reviews

90+ WordPress CMS Themes and Plugins by Tripwire Magazine

Dustin BetonioContending that “It’s actually pretty easy to turn WordPress into a CMS if you are using the right WordPress CMS Themes,” Dustin Betonio showcases a huge collection of “the best plugins and (premium WordPress) themes to turn WordPress into a CMS and build a professional website fast.”

Top 50 WordPress Plugins for 2011 to Zoom SEO, SMO & Audience Engagement by Zoom Factor

Pam MoorePam Moore reviews 50 of her favorite WordPress plugins, divided into categories for social sharing & engagement, design and image enhancements, search engine optimization, and development (e.g., the Flexi-Pages widget for adding sub-menu navigation and Mass Edit Pages for WordPress for making small changes to a large number of pages at once).

14 WordPress Plugins Worth Considering by JT Pedersen

JT PedersenJT Pedersen provides a short list of his favorite plugins for personal and corporate (non-ecommerce) blogs, including both popular favorites (the AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget, BackUpWordPress) and some interesting but lesser-known add-ons (Twitter Mentions as Comments, and WP Smush.it to improve load times).

11 WordPress Plugins You’ve Gotta Have by Social Media Today

Writing that he gets the opportunity to work with a lot of different plugins, and that “Every once in a while I’ll come across a new one that is just amazing and I wonder how I ever blogged without it,” Zubin Kutar shares his favorites including Google XML Sitemaps (also on my list of must-haves) and Contact Form 7 (“Probably the easiest to use contact form available” according to Zubin).

8 Excellent WordPress SEO Plugins by Six Revisions

Matt KrautstrunkMatt Krautstrunk offers list of “top-notch WordPress plugins for SEO to improve your WordPress site’s search engine rankings,” among them SEO Rank Reporter, All in One SEO Pack (another of my personal favorites), SEO Friendly Image (automatically updates images with alt and title attributes) and SEO Smart Links.

33 WordPress Plugins To Power Up Your Comment Section by 1stwebdesigner

Dainis GraverisDainis Graveris presents 33 plugins to “power up and evolve comment form possibilities and security,” including Disqus, WP Ajax Edit Comments, Comment Rating and Twitter Avatars in Comments. The English is a little rough but the list is fantastic.

20 Great WordPress Plugins by Online Income Teacher
***** 5 STARS

Once you get past the spammy blog title and the annoying pop-up, Matt Smith has put together an outstanding list of plugins to perform a wide variety of tasks, from the Ackuna Language Translation Plugin (which, as the name implies, allows readers to translate your posts into many different languages) to Google Analytics Dashboard (which lets you quickly check on your GA stats without logging into GA) to Sharebar, a plugin that keeps social sharing buttons visible while visitors scroll down through your content.

15 Essential WordPress Plugins (Presentation) by Mykl Roventine

Mykl RoventineIn the presentation from the Minnesota Blogger Conference, Mykl Roventine (one of the smartest WordPress gurus I know personally) presents 15 of the best WordPress plugins that meet his strict criteria: he’s used it (or someone he trusts has0: it solves a specific problem; it doesn’t hog resources and degrade performance; it’s supported; easy to use and configure; and free (in most cases).

Blog Technology: Most Downloaded WordPress Plugins by Marketing Technology with @iamreff

John ReffordJohn Refford lists the top 15 WordPress plugins in order of popularity. Not too surprisingly, All in One SEO Pack, Akismet and Google XML Sitemaps top the list.

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9 Responses

  1. Some great stuff on here. We are just looking at moving our site from Joomla over to wordpress. Its about time really! Best, Mark


  2. Tom 

    Thanks Mark, glad you found the post helpful!

  3. @Mark, I would highly recommend moving your site to WordPress in most cases. Joomla is great, but WordPress is truly user friendly. And even better, you can get a large number of plugins for free.

  4. it’s about 5 years that i work with wordpress even in arabic language and it’s fantastic as a cms and really loved from google


  5. Tom 

    Indeed, it is loved by Google. :-)

  6. Hey Tom, thanks for the plugin review links. Just wondering, have you heard about http://searchwordpressplugins.com ? It is a search engine for plugins. If so, what do you think of it?


  7. Tom 

    I’ve heard of it now, thanks! And tweeted and bookmarked it. Very cool way to find WP plugins.

  8. I love WordPress. I’m using it both as a blogging software and as a CMS.
    I’m webmaster in a non-profit organization, and we have many users. WordPress is easy to use for all these users. So quick and easy to learn.


  9. Tom 

    Thanks Marie! Agreed – WP has just gotten more powerful and flexible over the years.

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