The most important choice you’ll ever make when deciding to blog is which platform should you use? Hands down, if you are blogging to make money, develop your expertise, or for a company/nonprofit – then you’ll want as much control over you blog as possible. WordPress offers two platforms to choose from: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The dot com is free, and most people start out on that platform. That is, until they realize what they are missing — plugins!
Plugins extend the functionality of your WordPress blog. Well known plugins that you may be familiar with on the web are “Quick Time” and “Adobe Flash Player.” Rather than display each plugin and tell you what it does, I’m going to categorize them by what they do and then give you some recommendations.
Note: Do not upload plugins that do not support your current version of WordPress.
- Blocking spam comments.Akismet is the best plugin you can have for this. It will block 99.9% of the spam. Totally worth it. Totally free. There’s also SpamFree – same deal.
- Social Sharing. Making it easy for people to share content is the key to any blog or WordPress website. So enabling social sharing buttons allowing people to ‘like’ it, tweet it, pin it, +1 it, share it, etc are vital to a blog’s life. The ones I’ve tried and liked are Sharebar and Social Discussions. There are a ton of these, you just have to find the right one that works with your WP layout.
- Sharing premium content with specific users. If you have some type of premium content and want to share it only if you get a Tweet out of it or a Facebook post out of it, you can try out Twitter Content Locker and Facebook Like (for Facebook likes). Here’s an example of Twitter Locker:
Share this page on Twitter and view full content!
- Enable it for mobile viewing. Not all websites or blogs look good on a mobile phone. Make sure yours does. WPTouch works with iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Palm, Blackberry, and others.
- Get your blog indexed by search engines. You took the time to write it, now wouldn’t it be great if people read it? Get some traffic by having your blog/website indexed by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Ask.com with Google XML Sitemaps by Arne.
- SEO Analytics.SEO by Yoast – hands down, the best tool you can put in your blog. It tells you if your blog will be found on search engines, it trains you to write better content and better titles.
- Readability. Sure, you want to know if you have the right SEO keywords, but more importantly, you want to know if your blog/website is readable. FD Word Statistics plugin rates your post/web page for readability using three score indexes: Gunning-Fog, Flesch, and Flesch-Kincaid.
- Performance. If you have Google Analytics installed then you’ll be able to see ho long it takes for your page to download. Recently I noticed that it takes almost 9 seconds for the pages on Social Strand to download. I installed this plugin and it practically cut it in half. W3 Total Cache plugin is great for improving performance.
- Engagement. Don’t have time to thank people for commenting on your blog, you can try Thank Me Later which will allow you to send an email to those who leave a comment on your blog. Completely configurable. (I have not tried this, but the reviews are very good).
- Back it up. You need to back up your site and your WP database. If ever a problem, you will be kicking yourself for not doing this. There are a few plugins that allow you to do this fairly easily – Cloudsafe365 for WordPress and BackWPup.
So, how about you? Do you have any WP plugins you can’t live without?