There are few things I love more than discovering a great new WordPress plugin. I have tested literally hundreds in my capacity as a blogger and WordPress writer but it doesn’t get old when you discover something fresh.
With that in mind I thought I would do a roundup of my favorite WordPress plugins that you may not have heard of. If you’ve been a WordPress user for more than a few weeks you’ll know all about the usual suspects, the plugins with millions of downloads and loads of top ratings. But there is a goldmine of diamonds in the rough lurking just below the surface that you may never have heard of.
You only have to look at the Periodic Table of WordPress Plugins to see how many enormously popular plugins there are out there, but now’s the time to check out the very best of the rest!
1. What the File
If you like to do a little tweaking in your theme’s PHP files then you will love this plugin. It adds a little option to the WordPress toolbar on your blog that tells you which PHP file relates to the page you are on. So if I am on a post page for instance, What the File will display single.php:
And if I am on my homepage it will display index.php:
This is extremely handy if you want to edit a particular page but don’t know what PHP file it relates to. I use it all the time – it’s one of those simple tools that I would hate to live without!
2. Lazy Load
I’m a little obsessed with page load speed which is probably why I like Lazy Load so much. Its functionality is simple yet highly effective – it ensures that images on your blog are only loaded when they are viewable within in the browser screen. So if an image is way down the bottom of your page, it will only be loaded if a visitor actually scrolls to see it.
The benefits of this are obvious – images (i.e. the files that are typically most resource-intensive on your site) are only loaded when they are needed. This means that the rest of your site can load without being interrupted by the biggest files.
It also helps that this plugin was co-developed by none other than the folks at Automattic – that’s enough to fill you with confidence about its functionality and effectiveness.
3. Global Content Blocks
This plugin is a great tool for anyone that has identical content used repeatedly on multiple pages such as code snippets, sign up forms, disclaimers, boilerplate text and so on.
Global Content Blocks enables you to create snippets of text and/or code that are inserted in pages and/or posts as shortcodes. Not only does this mean that you can insert the same text on multiple pages without having to copy and paste but the plugin also preserves any formatting and prevents WordPress from stripping out tags etc.
4. Flexible Posts Widget
It is fair to say that the default WordPress widgets are somewhat lacking in terms of functionality – the Recent Posts widget being a good example. Flexible Posts Widget seeks to address this issue by providing a much more powerful widget for displaying a selection of your posts. The options are pretty comprehensive:
This is great for displaying posts by category or by tag – so for instance you could tag particular posts that you want to be featured and choose to display those only. I’m just scratching the surface in saying that though – the potential options for display are near-endless. For instance, you can also customize the widget in terms of thumbnail display and even create your own templates:
5. Easy Tweet Embed
I have to give a disclaimer here – I co-developed this plugin which probably gives me certain bias in saying that it is a great tool for boosting the number of times your post is re-tweeted!
Easy Tweet Embed essentially emulates the functionality offered by the Click to Tweet service – the differences being that it makes inserting “tweet links” a lot quicker and easier. Here’s a short video demonstrating just that:
6. Advanced Code Editor
How can I not include a plugin that features pumping techno music in a video showcasing its functionality? Advanced Code Editor is the code editor that WordPress should have.
If you find yourself regularly tinkering with PHP files in WordPress then installing this plugin is a bit of no-brainer.
7. Better Internal Link Search
I can’t get enough of this plugin – I’ll recommend it to anyone that gives me half an opportunity. Its functionality is actually pretty straightforward but that’s not to say that it can’t make a big difference to how easily you can interlink between posts and pages on your site.
Better Internal Link Search does exactly what you expect – it makes internal link search better. If you’re not sure what I mean by “internal link search”, I’m talking the box that pops up when you try to create a link within a post or page:
By default the search will look for mention of your chosen keyword anywhere within all posts and pages on your site with no emphasis on relevancy or any other ranking factor. It then returns all posts and pages in which the keyword is mentioned in reverse chronological order. To put it bluntly, this method of searching content sucks.
Better Internal Link Search seeks to address this issue by limiting the keyword search to post headline only. Because (a) you are likely to remember at least one word from the headline of the post you want to link to and (b) the options are likely to be far more limited, you will find posts much more easily with Better Internal Link Search installed.
Furthermore, it enables the inclusion of category and tag pages as well as scheduled posts which is fantastic if you schedule quite far in advance and want to link between posts that have not yet been published.
What Are Your Favorite Unknown Plugins?
I’m pretty sure that there won’t be a single person who reads this that already knew about all seven plugins on this list (if you did then you really know your plugins!).
However, I don’t want to stop at seven – if you can think of any great yet relatively unknown plugins that I have not mentioned above then please don’t hesitate to share with us in the comments section below!