Almost one year after making the switch from a Blogger hosted blog to a self-hosted WordPress site I am still incredibly happy with my decision. Sure, with any big move there were a few kinks and a definite learning curve, but I could not be happier with how Sparkles and Shoes is running on WordPress.
As I have mentioned before one of the deciding factors in my making the switch was the plugins available when you run on blog or website on WordPress. Of the 36,000+ currently available I have two dozen installed and four I really love. My favorites are:
JetPack by WordPress.com: I love seeing the statistics on my blog, especially traffic, site performance, and visitor engagement and JetPack is a great way to look at these numbers. If you are familiar with Google Analytics, the interface and graphs are similar but it brings another level of data and customization to self-hosted WordPress sites that are usually reserved for WordPress.com users. Plus, the plugin provides reports wit nice little synopsis like these.
Recipe Card: This plugin came at the recommendation of my friend Alyssa and it is how I display the instructions, ingredients, and settings when I post I recipes like my easy salmon or cranberry walnut bread. Along with creating a visually appealing widget, the plugin optimizes your recipes for search engines along with allowing readers to print, save and review the recipes.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: This is my favorite plugin and the one I have used for every single post I have published since last May. On the bottom of every blog post in displays an easy and pre-populated form with fields for your focus keyword, SEO title, and meta description of each post. It then ranks post on a poor, okay, and good scale based on a host of factors excluding keyword density, character counts, outbound links, copy context, and word count. They describe it as the first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress and while I have not worked with any of the predecessors, I would agree.
Along with these three favorites, my blog also has a handful of other plugins running. They did not make it into my top-three because they are more passive and allow my blog to function without me having to do anything. I have to thank Lisette for installing them when she made the switch over for me:
Akismet: This protects your blog from comment and trackback spam. It is hard to know the impact this makes but hey, it can not hurt!
Blogger 301 Redirect: This allows search engines and the general Internet to redirect Sparkles and Shoes from Blogger to WordPress. It was critical in the first few weeks as it helps you keep your blog traffic and page rank after migration from Blogger to WordPress.
Genisis Theme: The wonderful Lisette transferred this blog from Aubrey Kinch’s Blogger design and did so with the Genesis theme. To help this process along I have Genesis Simple Edits and Genesis Simple Hooks installed.
JQuery Archive List Widget: A simple jQuery widget for displaying an archive list with some effects, aka the achieve of all of my past posts arranged chronologically in the side bar.
Simple Link List Widget: This plugin enables a link list widget, in which you can display items in an ordered or unordered list and I use it for the lists of my favorite blogs and shops in my side bar.
Simple Social Icons: Those cute little 25 pixel social icons under my picture up there? Yes, those are through this plugin and I love how a simple and clean this CSS (a style sheet coding language) allows it to be.
Wordfence Security: This is another plug-in that I do not really “use” but it is installed and I am pleased with it’s anti-virus, firewall, and site speedup capabilities.
WP-Optimize: This plugin helps you to keep your database clean by removing post revisions and spams in a blaze (or so they tell me, and I believe them).
WP Super Cache: This allows all users, regardless of their origin to see my blog the same way and for it to load quickly, producing static html files.
Are you on WordPress? What plugins do you use?