If you’d like to enhance the visitor experience on your blog, provide search-engine-optimization benefits, protect your content, provide information about your visitors, and make it easy for readers to spread your words across the Web, there are WordPress plugins for all of the above.
1. Apture. My favorite plugin. It lets you easily create a multimedia link to keep readers on your blog. An Apture link opens to shows thumbnails linking to photos, slideshows, videos, maps, Wikipedia, news articles, files from your computer, and much, much more.
And here’s the coolest part — all the links open on your blog and keep readers from being pulled away by traditional links. Click here to view a demonstration.
2. WassUp. WassUp shows what your visitors click when they surf your blog. The "Spy" view shows the clicks in real time. It reveals visitor IP addresses and can map their locations. It’s also customizable from "Options" … and can exclude admin visits. Very Big Brother-ish.
3. WordPress.com stats. The easiest visitor traffic graph to read. It charts daily, monthly and yearly visits to your blog, as well as listing the posts clicked. It keeps a click count on your posts. It also shows the sites that are linking to you.
4. All in One SEO Pack. A perennial blogger favorite for its SEO sweetness. You can change the main title tag, enter keywords and a description specific to each post.
5. LinkWithin. A visual "related posts"plugin. The downside of blogging is the sinking of your great blog posts off the home page and into Archive Hell. Many bloggers resurrect the archives using a "related posts" plugin, which displays the titles and links to past posts.
What makes LinkWithin cool is the image thumbnails. It’s not perfect, but visual cues grab attention. Since I added the plugin, I’ve noticed increased traffic to my older posts. If you don’t use images in your blog posts, choose one of the many "related posts" plugins, like Microkid’s.
6. SRG Clean Archives. Another savior for archived posts. Most archive widgets just show months and number of posts. Totally worthless. This plugin displays all your archived posts in an easy-to-read titled list. It is search-engine-friendly when placed in a separate "Archives" page — just add the SRG code to the body of the page. Simple.
7. Spam Karma 2 (now SK2.3). Spam blocker. Many use Askimet and/or CAPTCHA, but I still use the time-tested Spam Karma 2. You can set the levels from mild to very mean. You can even blacklist IP addresses, if trolls (or your competitors) keep leaving trashy comments on your posts.
8. Subscribe to Comments. This helps keep the conversation going on your blog. It adds a check box for commenters to add an e-mail address to receive notice of later comments. When they get an e-mail showing another comment, they can return to your blog to rejoin the conversation.
9. Google XML Sitemap. A must have. This makes sure your blog is indexed by the major search engines, which include Yahoo, MSN and Google. It updates a Google-compliant sitemap every time you add new content to your blog and notifies Google. The more Google is notified, the more it will index your site. "Googlicious." …CONTINUED
10. WordPress Automatic Upgrade. Since WordPress regularly updates its blogs, this plugin makes upgrading a one-click snap. Another must-have.
11. Facebook Share (new). Lets visitors share your posts on their Facebook wall, where their friends can see it. The button sits prominently at the top of your blog post, easy for visitors to see and use. Since consumers are more likely to have Facebook accounts, this sharing tool helps spread your good work to other regular folk.
Tip: While Facebook has applications that can automatically publish your blog posts to your wall, you can use this Facebook Share to selectively post to your Facebook account.
12. Tweetmeme ReTweet Button. Another sharing tool. While many bloggers (including me) use comprehensive share plugins like AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget, Share This, Add to Any, or Tell A Friend, the social sites most commonly used for sharing are Twitter and Facebook. So why not make these sharing buttons prominent on each post? This plugin also provides analytics you can access from your dashboard.
13. WordPress Database Backup. This will automatically backup your data on a schedule you select. You can choose to have the backup e-mailed to you, sent to your browser for immediate download or backed up on your server.
I chose e-mail and created a separate Gmail account for the backups. Since servers can crash and hackers can hack and your blog content can go "Poof!" I chose e-mail as my backup. You decide which backup method you prefer.
14. Search Meter. If you have a search box on your blog (you should), Search Meter will show you the terms visitors are searching. It lists the search terms and the number of times searched that day, as well as over the last seven and 30 days. It will even indicate which search terms produced no results. You can clear the results at any time.
15. WP PicLens. Gives your visitors a full-screen slideshow of images in your blog post simply by clicking a "start slideshow" link. Eye candy. (Aside: Cooliris, the creator of this plugin, also offers Firefox extensions for a stunning 3-D image-wall search and image-link previews (without leaving the page).
Tip: When installing plugins, use the convenient "Add New Subpanel" tool in the plugin section of your WordPress dashboard.
And a caveat about plugins: Too many of them can slow the loading time of your blog. So choose wisely. The 15 listed here may suffice.
Have I missed anything? What plugins do you recommend? Plug them into the comments section below.
Joseph Ferrara is publisher of the Sellsius Real Estate Blog and a partner in TheClozing.com, a real estate news aggregator site. He is an attorney with 25 years of experience in New York, and he also coaches agents on the use of blogging and social networking.
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