Business owners, developers and bloggers alike all have the same problem. Time is money, and there aren’t enough hours in the day. We’re constantly up against the wall with deadlines, meetings, duties around the house and office, and unforeseen problems. Often times, the thing that we need most is just more time.
Since our time is so valuable, I wanted to highlight some WordPress plugins that webmasters, developers and bloggers use to save time every day.
Akismet might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m seriously a huge fan. If you download the latest version of WordPress, it comes pre-installed – you just need to activate it.
We all know that WordPress blogs are huge targets for comment spam. Sifting through comments on a daily basis to determine what is spam and what is not can be extremely time consuming. In the past, I’ve found myself just deleting hundreds of comments without checking them because of the sheer volume. I could easily have been deleting legitimate comments and ignoring valuable readers.
What makes Akismet such a time saver and so valuable is that it automatically spams garbage comments for you – so you don’t have to! It’s also incredibly accurate. I’ve ran this blog for about a month and a half and already had an incredible amount of spam. I haven’t had to deal with any of it because Akismet took care of it for me.
Before using Akismet you will have to sign up for the service, and depending on what type of site you run you may need to pay for it (free for personal blogs!). See Akismet’s directions on how to set up your API key.
If you aren’t backing up your WordPress site, you could be in for a world of hurt should anything happen to your server. In today’s world, as much as we trust our hosting services, we can’t fully rely on them to backup our websites. We need to be proactive and backup our sites ourselves. If you’ve ever been through disaster recovery, you know that being proactive is the much preferred alternative. So while it may be difficult to place a value on “time saved” using a backup plugin – it’s a necessary preventative action.
The great thing about this plugin is that it will backup your WordPress site right to your Dropbox account. Bloggers and time savers alike are already using Dropbox, so it’s a natural place to store your backup. If you don’t already use Dropbox, sign up now!
Because of the storage limits to DropBox accounts, I would only recommend this for small or medium sized websites. Large and Enterprise size sites should look at alternative solutions.
WordPress SEO by Yoast may be my favorite WordPress plugin period, and it’s an amazing time saver. Yoast allows amazing control over the meta title and description tags, Open Graph meta tags, Google Authorship and Publisher markup, permalink structure, XML sitemaps, and more. The SEO benefits are incredible.
The time saving value of Yoast comes in many different forms, but personally I really like the ability to see a quick “SEO score” for each post that I publish. I enter my targeted keyword, and Yoast tells me how well I used that keyword in my content. Did I use it in the page title (editable on the fly)? Did I use it in the post header? Did I use it in the meat of the post? When I see that green light, I know that I successfully got my point across while hitting on my targeted keyword. Doing this manually would be a painful process, especially for sites that have hundreds or thousands of pages.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had problem with cheap hosting companies (not naming any names…) and my page load times have been atrocious. It’s well known that poor page load times can negatively affect your rankings in search engines, so we want to avoid this as much as possible.
Optimizing our site from the ground up is a time consuming and painful process. Shrinking images down, minifying scrips and stylesheets, and on and on. Add all that on top of all the server side functions and database queries that WordPress runs on every page load, and you could be looking at some slower than necessary load times.
WP Super Cache alleviates some of this burden by caching our WordPress generated pages into simple HTML files. If set up properly, WP Super Cache will serve up static HTML files and bypass all PHP and MySQL queries altogether. This can significantly reduce page load times, and all you have to do is install the plugin and set it up!
As bloggers and SEOs, the sooner Google indexes our content the better. By using the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, every time you publish a post, Google will be notified. All you need to do is submit your sitemap to Google via your Google Webmaster Tools account and the process will be automated every time you push that publish button.
With the recent news of massive brute force attacks on WordPress, security is on everyone’s mind. There are many plugins out there that offer enhanced WordPress security, but personally I’m a big fan of Better WP Security.
Much like WordPress backup plugins, the time saving value in Better WP Security is the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that the chances of your site being hacked are less likely than they were before. Getting hacked is an awful feeling, and going through the recovery process can be extremely time consuming.
Of course, the best defense against potential hackers is to have a strong admin password, and actively update WordPress and all your plugins. Even the best WordPress security plugins cannot stop flaws in old versions of plugins with known loop-holes.
As this plugin’s name suggests, it will automatically Tweet for you when you publish a new post. The time saving value of this plugin is self explanatory.
What makes this plugin especially valuable was the ability to set up a template, or manually enter your Tweet before you publish the post. The level of customization is what makes this plugin a favorite of mine.
Social by MailChimp, much like WP to Twitter, allows you to easily integrate your social media efforts with your blog. Publishing our recent post across your associated social media accounts makes social sharing easy and painless.
One of the big pluses of this plugin is to publish comments, retweets and replies as WordPress comments. When you share your post across multiple social media platforms, the conversation is often carried on in many different places. This plugin aggregates your conversations and keeps them in one place.
Keeping with the social media theme for a moment, AddThis is a great plugin that easily allows your visitors to share your content across their social media accounts. With social signals playing an increasingly large role in SEO, allowing your site visitors to quickly and easily share your content can be a huge time saver.
As a developer, this plugin saves us the time of manually adding social share buttons to our WordPress templates. While in some cases, this may be better for speed optimization, this plugin definitely is a time saver.
WordPress comments allow bloggers to engage with their visitors and create relationships with them. Comments add value to posts, and are indexed by search engines. Having a healthy comment conversation on a blog post is definitely a good thing, as it means your post has reached lots of viewers, has gained popularity, and reflects positively about your authorship.
Actually getting visitors to leave comments is another story. The built-in WordPress commenting system is fine as is, but relies on Gravatar images to personalize each comment. Often times new commenters are apprehensive about giving a site their email in order to leave a comment.
This is where Disqus comes in. It allows visitors to comment under their Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. It gives visitors with more options, and an easier way to leave a personalized comment.
That’s all I have for today. This list is by no means a definitive top 10 list, but rather a list of 10 time saving plugins that I use on most of my projects. If you feel that I’ve left out a time saving plugin, leave a comment below and tell me about it!