A guest post by Preeti Bhatt of Heart and Mind.
Jean shares a lot of wonderful and useful blogging tips for newbie bloggers, as well as pro bloggers. I did not see any plug-in information on the site, so I decided to volunteer myself.
I blog about life improvement and finding a balance between heart and mind, so what I do know about plug-ins?
If we have a blog, regardless of the subject we write about, we can all learn a thing or two about plug-ins to make our blogging job much easier.
When I first started blogging, I did not know the difference between a plug-in or a plug-out. Really, you may all laugh, but when I wanted to remove something, I asked how to plug out that feature. It is even more embarrassing as I have an engineering background, but what is dignity between friends, right?
I have since then learned a lot and experimented with many plug-ins, some successfully and some not. I want to share some plug-ins that are musts for any blog out there, regardless of what niche you might be in. Some you may already know of and others you may not.
Here are some of the best plug-ins that I have found, with links to get them. The best part? They are all free.
If you have comments enabled on your blog, Akismet can be a life saver, catching spam before it reaches you. I am not sure how it figures out which are spam and which are genuine comments, but so far, 99.99% of the time, Akismet has been right for possible spam comments on my blog. If you wish, you can set up an option to delete all month-old spam comments. Before you go out and buy any spam catcher plug-in, try Akismet out. You will be glad you did.
Click here to download the free Akismet plug-in.
2. All in One SEO
As bloggers, we all know the importance of SEO, and if you type SEO in a Google search, you will find many good plug-ins for it. After trying out a few, I have settled on All-in-one-SEO pack, as it is one of the best. You may need some basic knowledge of keywords and SEO to set it up directly, such as no follow, do follow, title page attributes, and meta title and meta descriptions. Since many of us are not blog designers and do not know coding, having this powerful plug-in saves us the time of learning coding to enhance our blog’s standing in front of search engine eyes.
Click here to download All in One SEO Pack.
If you have not used the CommentLuv plug-in, you should. It shows your blog’s latest post title when you leave a comment on your own or other blogs. This has two benefits–it encourages and shows appreciation to other bloggers for leaving a comment, and it actually helps others to find your blog as you write thoughtful comments with your catchy title showing up on CommentLuv.
Click here to download the CommentLuv plug-in.
4. Google Analytics for WordPress
I just learned recently about this plug-in, and it has saved a lot of my time. Before, I had to log in to Google Analytics after midnight to see my site’s traffic patterns and sources. Now it is lot easier, as I can see the basic analytic information via my blog’s dashboard without any special log-in process. All you need to do is set up and configure your Google information and analytics ID once, and you are set. You will be able to track information on your most visited articles, keywords, and traffic sources.
Click here to download WP Google Analytics.
5. Google XML Sitemap
This plug-in is for the benefit of search engine crawlers and is essential for search engines finding your site. Google XML Sitemaps plug-in creates new sitemaps automatically every time you write a new post and submits the information to all major search engines on your behalf every time. Just set it up and forget it. You will not feel the effects right away, but it is very powerful for search engines’ eyes. I wish I had known about it sooner.
Click here to download Google XML Sitemaps.
6. Broken Link Checker
As bloggers or even owners of static websites, we often share web links. How do we know if any of those links are broken long after we have written our posts and included the links? We usually have two choices. We can periodically check each link manually, or we can have readers/clients tell us about the broken links as they find them. The best way is to install the Broken Link Checker plug-in, which does a superb job of finding broken links and showing you their location. That way, you can fix them, delete them, or keep them (if they are still working). This is a recent find for me, and I already fixed four broken links before anyone else found them. Pretty neat!
Click here to download the Broken Link Checker Plug-in.
7. WP Cache Plug-in
Have you visited some cool website, only to find that website is taking too long to respond? The reasons are many. It could be your internet connection or the web server. Oftentimes, however, it is a problem with caching within the site itself. WP Cache Plug-in reduces the load time of your blog by caching your posts and pages and speeding up the process of viewing. It does this by giving a static file to your visitor instead of making several calls and downloads to your database. This is a must have plug-in for your blog. Even if you do not have a lot of images or content, it sure helps to make loading faster. A fast loading website means your visitors will have a better experience reading through your wonderful content without waiting. We all want that right?
Click here for more info and to download the WP Cache Plug-in.
Unless you are living under a rock like Zengirl, you are probably on social media to enhance traffic to your blog. Even if you are not on social media, this plug-in can help your readers bookmark your articles to various popular bookmark sites and social media sites.
This is one of the best and most complete plug-ins that I found, as it does three things in one. It can share your posts, bookmark your site to social media, and email your articles to other people. This plug-in has all of the favorite sites such as Twitter, Face Book, Google Buzz, Digg, and Delicious–over 100 sites to pick and choose from. You can customize it to add the icons on the bottom of posts, at the top, or both.
Click here to download the AddToAny Plug-in.
Honorable Mention: I also like the SocioFluid Plugin, which has about 20 or so major bookmark sites. You can set it up once from your dashboard and choose the size of your icons and the placement inside your site.
Click here to download the SocioFluid Plug-in.
9. One Click Plug-in Updater
Themes and plug-ins have frequent updates such as 9.2.10, 0.1.19, and so on. While I will never figure out what all these neat numbering systems mean, one can get tired updating all of the plug-ins manually, one by one. So, if you are lazy like me (or super productive unlike me), the One Click Plug-in Updater will come to the rescue. You will still have to click the update “all” button once, but it will update all recent upgrades and updates, making your life much easier and leaving you time to do better things.
Click here to download One Click Updater.
Although you will not find the LinkWithin Plugin on the WordPress Plug-in site, it is a very useful plug-in. It shows related posts at the bottom of your articles, with a message saying ‘You might also like this,’ along with images and a little blurb about the post. You can show 3-5 similar posts, and set up is very easy. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It is a free plug-in that is similar to the “Yet Another Related Posts WordPress plug-in, but it is powerful and easy to install.
Click here to install LinkWithin.
There are may more free and fee-based plug-ins available, but these are the best ones that I have found for my personal use. Be aware that if you download too many plug-ins, it may create some issues, as I have found out. Being a minimalist with plug-ins will also help your site load faster.
Your turn: Do you have other great plug-ins to share?
Author Bio: Preeti Bhatt, also known as Zengirl, writes at the Heart and Mind blog where she shares life improvement articles focusing on finding a balance between heart and mind. She is not on any social media, so you may contact her the old fashioned way at her blog.