Today I’m going to share with you the best WordPress widgets that I would recommend for each and every WordPress blogger. I personally use a few widgets on my blog to help my visitors easily browse all of my blog posts. A nice WordPress blog would have proper utilization of widgets, plugins and footer and header bars.
When I started blogging I had lots of widgets in my blog’s sidebar and never really bothered worrying about the performance of the blog. All I wanted was to make my blog look cool. But one fine day lightning struck me and I decided to delete most of the WordPress plugins and widgets which were not necessary to my blog and were intense on bandwidth and resources. Having lot of plugins and widgets on my blog resulted in too much bandwidth consumption and made my blog sluggish, bringing down my site’s overall performance. So keep in mind, too much of something can be as detrimental as too little. A slow website or blog can equal unhappy visitors and a low score for your site’s search engine ranking. A smaller number of widgets means less content visible on your blog to the visitors, ultimately leading to a high bounce rate and/or low page views. The solution is to find a way to balance the two.
Do not confuse yourselves with widgets and plugins though. WordPress plugins are easy to install and activate which helps you to improve your blog’s functionality. Plugins can include widgets as well. Widgets on the other hand are visible and interactive to your visitors. Usually these widgets are shown in the sidebar, but are not limited to only the sidebar. Fortunately there are many themes available now with widgetized footer and header space.
Here are my favorite WordPress widgets:
- WordPress Popular Posts : This widget is really awesome and useful for me and for my visitors. For me, I can display my most popular posts to my visitors. For my visitors, it helps them to easily find the posts that are the most popular.
- Related Posts: There are many related posts plugins available in WordPress Plugins directory. I prefer to use one that is simple and does not have many features allowing me to show related posts in the post footer as well as in the sidebar at the top of my website.
- My Random Posts: I use this plugin whenever I feel like I have not posted for ages. Apart from showing popular and recent posts, I choose to display random posts on my blog as well. It helps reviving older posts which new readers may have missed. Visitors can find your posts that might be interesting for them without going to sitemap page.
- Recent Posts: I use this widget on single page only. Widget logic gives you the ability to decide which widget to show your readers. On my website I have set up the recent post widget to only display recent posts in the sidebar when readers are viewing a single post page.
- Search Engine Keywords Related Posts: I came across this widget recently and find it very useful. It displays related posts based upon the keyword your blog’s visitor used in the search engine. It has its own way of detecting similar posts. But combining it with Widget logic makes it a good widget to have.
- Archives: Usually it’s a good idea to have an archive page setup instead of having a sidebar widget. But since I wanted to have a minimalist look of my blog I decided to add archives in my sidebar widget. It’s easy and available through WordPress.
- Search widget: This widget comes as a standard feature in most WordPress themes however it’s a built in widget as well in WordPress. It’s important to have a search widget on your blog to let people search for anything if they can’t find it on your blog.
- Ad Squares Widgets: I am really fond of images and I like to include as many images as possible on my posts. This widget is used to add 125×125 ad blocks in your sidebar. There are 2 things that I like about this widget. First, you can add as many widgets as you want in your sidebar. Secondly, you can have up to 12 125×125 blocks configured per widget. You can use image or html code in the space, so AdSense would work very well!
- PHP-Code: I like this one because it lets me execute PHP Code as well in my sidebar apart from Text and HTML. For example, if you want to display recent posts from a specific category, you can do that with the PHP code available on the web. There are various other things you can do with the codes available.
- Recent Comments: Recent comments widget is as useful as recent posts widget. It keeps your visitors engaged by checking on the recent discussion on your blog.
- Text: This built-in widget allows you to add any text or HTML code in your sidebar widget. It’s useful to those small announcements you want to make every now and then with some links and text.
- Feedburner e-mail Widget: Feedburner is the most widely used email subscription service in the world. To get your visitors subscribe to your feeds via email, you can use this widget.
- Custom Menu: Another great addition to WordPress 3.0, the introduction of custom menus. As soon as you add a custom menu in the admin panel, you can add the menu item in the sidebar through widget called Custom Menu. The Custom Menu widget lets you add posts, links, category links and pages combined in to a single widget. Great potential combined with Widget logic. I use it to highlight my greatest posts on my blog coupled with the Widget Logic widget.
- Latest Tweets: Twitter is big and is getting bigger day by day. Every blogger in the blogosphere is now connected with twitter. The latest Tweets widget will show your recent tweets on your blog out of the box.
- WP-Cumulus: I don’t use this widget anymore as I am concentrating on having a minimalist blog design, however I wanted to share it here. This widget works on Flash and tends to eat up resources. In case you are okay with a slightly increased load time then its one widget that you must have. WP-Cumulus allows you to display your site’s tags, categories or both using a Flash movie that rotates them in 3D. It works just like a regular tags cloud, but is more visually exciting. Clicking the tags can be a little hard (depending on your speed setting) but does take you to the appropriate page.
Feel free to add any WordPress widgets you feel I missed in the comments below. I will do my best to update this post to reflect the best widgets provided in the comments!
This article was contributed by Kuldeep Sinha, a part time blogger from India who blogs about WordPress, Apple and Technology. You can learn more about Kuldeep here.