There’s a lot that goes into blogging. And I mean A LOT. There’s writing the content, taking and editing photos (and/or video), promoting your posts… and before you can even do any of that stuff, you have all the prep work that goes into making and researching what you’re doing. It can be pretty time consuming. Now, this is not me trying to complain; it may be time consuming, but I love the whole process (ok, maybe not the whole process…). Rather, the point I’m trying to make is that there are a lot of ins and outs to blogging, and it’s SO easy to overlook little things that could make your life a whole lot easier. Blog plugins can be one of those things, but don’t let them be! They can make blogging so much easier, and can improve your readers’ experiences (something us bloggers definitely want to do since our readers are kind of the whole reason we get to do what we do). That being said, there are SO many blog plugins out there! You could literally spend days trying to wade through everything available. Yes, literal days. But ain’t nobody got time for that! So to make your (blogging) life a little easier, here are the top 5 blog plugins you should be using.
Akismet is an anti-spam program, and catches somewhere in the vicinity of 99.9999999% spam (Ok, maybe not that exact number, but it’s pretty darn close!). If you don’t have this plugin yet, go… better yet run, to that site and install it NOW! You’ll thank me later.
#4. W3 Total Cache
We all like fast loading websites, right? What am I saying, of course we do! No one wants to go back to the days of dial up where page loading could take several (or in some cases, 10… 15…) minutes. If you’re running a blog, slow loading pages can kill your traffic and really hurt your readership. Ain’t nobody got time to wait for pages to load! Luckily, there are plugins like W3 Total Cache. This plugin is, admittedly, a little on the technical side, but it’s absolutely worth taking some time to sit down and figure out how to use it. The pay off: a fast loading website!
A very important statistic for bloggers is the page/session conversion. For those of you that just gave me a blank stare through you computer screen because I totally just lost you, page/session (in a nutshell) means how many pages/posts people look at when they visit your blog. Do they look at only a single page/post? Or do they stick around and browse your blog? Most bloggers hope for the latter, and we can help make that process a little easier by providing our readers with other posts that are similar to the one they just read. What wizardry is this, you ask? It’s Related Posts by Zemanta, which adds 4 related posts at the bottom of each post based on keywords and tags. You can also manually edit which posts it displays.
We all know that Pinterest is a huge driving force in terms of traffic and readership for our blogs. Of course, we all pin our own stuff to get it out there, but with everything on Pinterest, that’s not really enough. What we need for our blogs and posts to gain popularity on Pinterest is to get others to pin our stuff. How do you do that, you ask? You make your images pin-able. That doesn’t just mean having stunning images, but making it really really easy for people coming to your blog to pin them. We want to make it as easy as possible, and jQuery does just that by adding a “Pin It” button that appears whenever someone hovers over the image. It can’t get much easier than that!
#1. WordPress SEO
SEO is one of those blog buzzwords. If you’re not super familiar with it, it stands for “search engine optimization” and, in a nutshell, has to do with how search engines “read” and categorize our blogs for searches. This has to do with how we’ve named our images, keywords that appear often in the post, page url, etc. If this sounds like something complicated and that you’d rather avoid, no sweat! WordPress SEO by Yoast makes it easy! Simply assign a keyword to your post, and this plugin will help identify where your post is strong and weak in terms of SEO.
So I’ve talked about my top 5 blog plugins that every blogger should be using, but what’s your opinion? What’s one plugin you couldn’t live without, or one you’ve been dying to try? Join the conversation in the comments!