One of the best things about WordPress is the ability to customize your blog with plugins. The only issues is that there are thousands of plugins to choose from and just not enough time to go through all of them. Luckily, WordPress plugins are kind of like iPhone and Android apps: no matter what you’re looking to do, there’s an app for that. So you can be sure that whatever type of functionality you’re looking to add to your blog, more than likely there is a plugin for it.
There are plugins to help increase traffic, help boost your rankings, help speed up your blog, encourage the sharing of your content across the Web, and many more. So to save you a little time, let’s take a look at the top 10 WordPress plugins that can be used to help improve your blog.
All blogs need a sitemap; it’s a must for SEO purposes and to help improve the rankings of your blog. While there are many sitemap plugins available, the most popular is Google XML Sitemaps. It’s easy to use and will help you create a sitemaps so that all search engines can better index your blog. Also whenever you post new content, it alerts the search engines that your blog has been updated.
Did you know that every time you publish or even edit a post (and click save), WordPress pings your blog? So if you’re editing a post and hit the save button 10 times, your blog will be pinged that many times! To those specific ping services, this looks much like spamming because, well, technically it is. I’m sure you’re wondering how you can be penalized for something you had no clue you were doing, but unfortunately you will be.
If you’re not already, you’ll soon be banned from even pinging your blog anymore and this can hurt your traffic. Thankfully, cbnet Ping Optimizer helps to fix this issue. It’s stops all of the unnecessary pinging so that you won’t get banned. It’s smart enough to only ping when needed.
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
This very simple plugin offers a great feature that helps increase user engagement on your blog. Whenever a reader comments on a post, they can sign up for email notifications, alerting them of new subsequent comments. This way the commenting doesn’t have to end; they can return whenever there are new comments and keep contributing to the conversation.
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded is actually a full featured subscription manager. So your readers can go in and manage all of their subscriptions and even stop the ones they’re no longer interested in.
This is a great plugin that lets you “showcase your top posts with a PostRank widget, track social media analytics, and engage with your readers from the WP dashboard.” The widget not only displays the top overall posts, but also lets users search for the best posts on a specific topic. The Admin dashboard widget also comes in handy because you can see useful analytics and social engagement behind the scenes.
Simple Tags is the best way to manage and optimize your post tags. It gives you tag suggestions (based on your post content) from Yahoo, Tag The Net, OpenCalais, Alchemy, Zemanta, and your local database. It also displays a click tags widget within the post editor so that you can add tags with just a click, instead of having to type them out. Other features include autotagging, a dynamic tag cloud, bulk tag editing, and more.
With the mobile Web and smartphones taking over, it only makes sense to optimize your blog for these types of devices. This is exacly with WPTouch does. Whenever your blog is viewed from an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung Touch, or Blackberry Storm/Torch it will display in a fully optmized mobile theme. You can customize many settings and upgrade to the Pro version if you’re looking for more features.
Performance is a top priority for all blogs; the faster your blog is, the happier your readers. A slow blog will have a larger bounce rate because visitors will be sure to leave quickly cause of the slow load time. W3 Total Cache is the ultimate speed machine for your blog and caches every aspect of it. W3 Total Cache will improve the performance of your server and help to drastically reduce page load times. All of the settings can be a bit overwhelming, but there is many informative guides on setting up and optimizing this plugin to its full potential.
One of the best techniques for keeping readers on your blog longer is by providing related posts underneath your content. This way they might just see something else that interests them and click on it to reader. This plugin goes a step further by also including thumbnails, which stand out and have a better chance at grabbing your readers’ attention. Related Posts Thumbnails will automatically insert the code into your theme, so there is no need to edit anything. You can then customize the colors and other settings to fit your needs.
Many people are taking advantage of the Dropbox, a free service that gives your own storage space in the cloud (2GB). The service works with mostly every system and device and can be used to save files, images, videos, music and now to even backup you WordPress blog!
This plugin lets you backup your WordPress blog and then save the backup directly to your Dropbox account. You’ll have to use OAuth to link your account and then from there everything is automatic. Whenever you need to restore your blog, just find the backup in your Dropbox account.
Remember, there are many plugins that can do the same thing. In your searching you’ll want to pick plugins that are up-to-date, have a 4-5 star rating, and are compatible with your current version of WordPress. Plugins can become obsolete and inoperable pretty fast, so make sure that you keep them up-to-date on a regular basis.
Do you use any of these plugins? If so, which one is your favorite? If not, which ones do you plan on trying out?
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing advisor for a to do list app company, and who also consults for a shipping company that offers pre shipment inspections in China and in Latin America.