Many travel professionals have turned to WordPress to power their websites. WordPress is a great tool – even though it has a small learning curve, it makes it easy for even the least technologically minded person to maintain a professional looking website. Plugins allow WordPress websites to increase their functionality and features, and with thousands of plugins available, it can be difficult to know which ones are really important, and which ones are a waste of your time. Below is a list of 10 plugins that you may want to install in your WordPress site. You can find the plugin files at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins.
- Akismet – Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen. A must if you are prone to comment spam.
- All in One SEO Pack – Optimizes your site for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It reformats meta tags, header information, title tags, and more for the entire site right down to individual pages and posts.
- Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and more. One of the best form plugins I have found. I use this for my generic “contact” form on my website.
- Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.
- MapPress Easy Google Maps – MapPress adds an interactive map to the WordPress editing screens. When editing a post or page just enter any addresses you’d like to map. The plugin will automatically insert a great-looking interactive map into your blog. Your readers can get directions right in your blog and you can even create custom HTML for the map markers (including pictures, links, etc.)!
- pageMASH Page Management – Customize the order your pages are listed in and manage the parent structure with this simple Ajax drag-and-drop administrative interface with an option to toggle the page to be hidden from output. Great tool to quickly re-arrange your page menus.
- Smart YouTube – Smart YouTube is a WordPress Youtube Plugin that allows you to easily insert YouTube videos/playlists in your post, comments and in RSS feed. The main purpose of the plugin is to correctly embed YouTube videos into your blog post. The video will be shown in full in your RSS feed as well. Smart YouTube also supports playback of high quality videos, works on iPhone, produces xHTML valid code (unlike YouTube embed code), allows you to view videos in fullscreen, supports YouTube playlists (normal/HD) and the new YouTube IFRAME embed code. The plugin is designed to be small and fast and not use any external resources. It has a number of customizable options.
- WP-DB-Backup – WP-DB-Backup allows you easily to backup your core WordPress database tables. You may also backup other tables in the same database.
- WP-Optimize – If you’re anything like me, you edit your posts and pages more than once. Each time you edit, a revision is saved in the database. Over time, this can add up to a lot of data that will slow down the page loads of your site. Using this plugin will help reduce that database bloat.
(Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a four-year industry veteran and owner of Journeys By Steve, an affiliate of Sunnyland Travel Center in Springfield, MO. He specializes in cruise vacations, escorted tours of Europe and the Holy Land, group travel, and culinary-themed travel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at http://www.JourneysBySteve.com)