Working with WordPress and SEO all day, I come across a lot of tools that are supposed to make my job easier. Some of these tools live up to that promise. And a lot of tools don’t.

Below is the list of tools I use on a daily basis to make WordPress Blogs better, work with Images, and Optimize for Search Engines. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but I hope it might introduce you to some new programs that you didn’t know about before.

(A Note: A lot of these tools are Mac and PC combatible, but since I’m a mac user some of these tools are mac-only compatible. If you are a PC-user, please leave your suggestions for alternatives in the comments section at the bottom of this page.)

WordPress Themes:

Best WordPress Themes– When I need a new theme or need to send a client somewhere to find a theme they like, this is my first stop. Their layout is simple, updated, and they make it easy to tell which themes are free and which are paid.

The Thesis Theme– Really didn’t like Thesis when it came out, but now it is by far and away the best theme available anywhere and at any price. If you don’t have Thesis, then go get it now. Thesis owners might like this guide on making Thesis a Review-Site.

Blog-Oh-Blog Themes– Seven different really nice themes at the time of writing. They cost a bit of money, but sometimes it’s worth it if the theme is exactly what you are looking for.

Elegant Themes– If you are worried about buying a theme because you suspect that you’ll want to change themes pretty soon, then Elegant themes is the place for you. For twenty bucks you get access to all of their themes for a year. And these are some pretty sweet themes. So for the indecisive bloggers, this is the place to go.

Gorilla Themes– Some nice themes… This new theme company has a focus on Real Estate and celebrity-type blogs. But they are putting out new themes all the time, so check them out too.

StudioPress Themes– Studiopress has some sweet themes. They also have support, and they make some more flashy designs with slideshows and the whole business. Check StudioPress out for sure.

WordPress Plugins I Like:

{Note on WordPress Plugins:  There are tons of plugins available that may be very useful.  In this list, I’m going to pass along some lesser-known plugins that might be helpful.  Please add your favorites that didn’t make the list in the comments section at the bottom of this page to have them added!}

Akismet- Keep comment spam from taking up all of your time.

PHP Code Widget- Allows you to run PHP in a text widget. Simple, but allows you to do a lot of fun stuff.

Thesis Openhook- Like I mentioned above, you should really give The Thesis Theme a shot. This plugin allows you to customize Thesis way more than any human would have to.

WP Database Backup–  This plugin can send you automated backups of your MySQL database.  I set mine to backup weekly and then send it to my Gmail account, where it slowly eats up my gigabytes of storage.  Remember:  Your database is only one half of your site… you also need to make backups of all your files, too.

Yahoo Auto-Tag- This plugin with use Yahoo’s Tagging API to search through your blog post’s text and make tag suggestions.  Its good for SEO, might get you some extra traffic over time, and makes thinking of tags less intensive.


Skitch– Totally awesome program. In twenty seconds you can screenshot, write on the screenshot, make a few arrows, upload it, and send the link to a client. And it’s free. I couldn’t run my business without this.

CSS Editing:

CSS Editor- MacRabbit’s CSSEdit is my CSS editor of choice. You can hand code or use a WYSIWYG CSS editor with live display (so you can see what changing the padding on this did to that, etc, without aimlessly testing on a live server).

Image Editing:

Acorn– You have to like this program… it is made by a company called “Flying Meat.” Ha. Anyways, you don’t always need photoshop or GIMP open to make a simple change. And, honestly, sometimes you don’t want the complication. That’s where Acorn comes in handy. Most of the stuff you need right in front of you.

Picturesque– This program is one of my favorite new image editing dittys. It lets you an image and turn it all Web 2.0ish in seconds. Check them out here.

Grabbing Whole Websites:

DeepVacuum: If you need to grab an entire website and suck it onto your computer, this is the tool for you. I personally use this tool to grab whole copies of clients’ websites before starting work so we have a copy if we need to revert back for some reason. This is free, also.

Screen Shooting and Browser Testing:

Paparazzi– A mac utility for taking a snapshot of a website. Easy, simple, does what it is supposed to.

BrowserShots– You have to test the look of your websites in a bundle of different browser/OS configurations these days. Browsershots makes that possible and free.

FTPing For Mac:

Cyberduck- I’m a big fan of cyberduck. It’s free, simple, and works on mac. What else could you want?

Twittering Tools:

TweetDeck- Tweet from here, see other people’s tweets, put people into groups, shorten links, and just about everything you could want in a really lovely interface.

Twitter Brand Builder– If you want to throw all relevance to the wind and just get a TON of followers on twitter, then this script can help you do it. I should likely write a post on this, but it is one way to cheat your way to lots of followers on twitter. I think you could combine this nicely with Tweetdeck to really get your message in front of a lot of eyes. Use with caution if you decide to use at all.

Google Tools I Love:

Google Analytics- Have you guys heard of “Google?” Yes? Well they have a really nice and free analytics program. For the WordPressers out there, I like to couple GA with The Ultimate Google Analytics Plugin because it lets you quickly add the code needed to track which links people use to leave your site…

Google Website Optimizer- Why spend 10k on a split testing or multivariant testing script when you can get one for free? If you don’t use GWO already, then stop everything else you are doing and learn it ASAP. If you think running Analytics is good enough, then read this post about Actionable Metrics vs. Vanity Metrics.

Gmail– Email by google.

Google Webmaster Tools- Once you prove to Google that you own a site, they’ll tell you a bunch of stuff about your site… including where the spiders are getting confused and who is linking to you and from where. Although I think this is a bit overrated, it is a good starting place for making sure your site is spider-able.

Color Palette Selection:

ColourLovers- I’m so bad with colors I find it hard to dress myself. Often, I just don’t get dressed as a result. Anyways, ColourLovers has always helped me to find decent palettes and patterns for web design.

WordPress Help:

WordPress Codex– Because sometimes you just want someone to tell you the answer, the WordPress Codex is there. There is everything from advanced tutorials to simple cut-and-paste code snippets. This is the place for WordPress answers.

WordPress Consulting– What, you didn’t think you’d see any shameless self-promotion? Just imagine how easy it would be to email or call me and get any WordPress problem solved quickly, simply, and with a big fat guarantee too. Click here to learn more about my WordPress consulting and development.