So you have created a blog. Now what? How do you make the most of what WordPress has to offer? The answer is plugins. There are hundreds of WordPress plugins that you can use for your business blog, but I am going to share my top five favorite ones with you.
When I recently launched my new blog, http://dailyBLOGMA.com, I went through DOZENS of different plugins before I found the combination that I have now. There are some fantastic plugins out there and there are some terrible ones, so make sure you do your homework when you are looking for the plugins that are best for you. So, here we go.
My top five favorite plugins:
#1 All in One SEO Pack
The All in one SEO Pack is (as the name suggests) an all in one SEO solution. It is loaded with tons of great features to help you optimize your business blog for the search engines to find. Here are a few of the key features:
* Support for Custom Post Types
* Advanced Canonical URLs
* Fine tune Page Navigational Links
* ONLY plugin to provide SEO Integration for WP e-Commerce sites
* Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines
* Generates META tags automatically
* Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
One piece of advice I would give is to write your own descriptions and not use the automatic feature. That enables you to make sure the description contains the keywords you want to focus on. By default, the plugin pulls the first couple of sentences from your post and uses it as the description. This may or may not be the best keyword rich text to use.
#2 Share and Follow
Share and Follow is a versatile and highly customizable plugin designed to provide many options for sharing content. It is divided into two primary functions: Sharing and Following. If you visit our site, you will see a bar floating on the right hand side that says “follow us” with links to our Facebook Page, Twitter, RSS Feed and Daily Digest subscription. This is (obviously) the follow function. It allows readers to easily see where they can follow your business blog regardless of which page they are on. It is always present and yet stays out of the way.
For the sharing function, users are given a multitude of options for including share links on their blog posts and pages. You can customize which buttons appear, what size they are, where they appear on the page or post, which page or posts they appear on etc. On my site, I opted to have them at the bottom of each post.
CommentLuv is a fantastic plugin that dramatically increases the amount of commenting on your business blog. What is does is automatically visit the comment author’s website while they are leaving their comment and pulls up a selection of recent entries from the commenter author’s rss feed. They are then given the option to include one of these links when they hit the submit button. It then links to that article or blog post below their name along the lines of, “Jane Doe recently wrote: The Article Name Here.”
I often receive emails saying how much the comment authors appreciate the link back to their site. Using this plugin will dramatically increase the reader participation on your site.
#4 Comment Relish
Along the same lines as CommentLuv, Comment Relish is a great way to increase reader involvement on your site. It is designed to send a follow up email to the comment author thanking them for leaving a comment on your site. It takes 5 minutes to set up and then you don’t have to think about it again. I frequently receive replies to the email saying, “You’re welcome. I love the website and will continue to visit and comment on it.” or something along those lines. It is also a great place to include a link for readers to subscribe to your RSS feed. My follow up message thanks them for commenting, and also says, “If you would like to receive the latest blog posts from Daily Blogma, please subscribe to our RSS Feed or Daily Digest.” It has increased my subscription rates substantially!
#5 Rating Widget
Finally, I highly recommend the plugin called Rating Widget. Rating Widget provides the ability to have readers rate each blog post with a star rating. This plugin is also very customizable and easy to use. Once you have determined the type, size and location of your rating stars, the rest is left up to the readers. Each time the rate a post or article, the total number of ratings is updated and displayed with an aesthetically please group of stars. It is a great way to see which posts readers are really enjoying. You are also able to have a widget in the side bar that displays the “top rated” posts and comments.
All of the plugins I mentioned can be found at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
Do you know of any great plugins that should be on my list? I would love to hear about them!