If you know a thing or two about blogging, you know that there’s so much more involved than just creating great content. Sure, high quality content is most important, but it’s also about making sure that content can be found and easily shared, in the end increasing your readership and helping your blog grow. And if your blog network grows enough, there’s a good chance it could also be monetized to create a steady stream of funds into your pocket.
Those who host their blog on WordPress know that there are thousands of different plugins that are easily available for you to download—more than 26,000 in fact. With this much of a variety in choices, how do you know which plugins are really best for your blog? Different blogs in various industries and with different goals obviously have different needs for plugins. It can get frustrating trying to not only figure out which plugins to download, but also how to make them work properly for your site. Fortunately though, there are a few pretty universal plugins that will benefit almost any WordPress-hosted blog.
Here are the top 10 WordPress plugins you should download to make sure your blog has all the tools it needs to reach its potential.
1. Yoast SEO
What’s the point in having great content on your blog if no one can find it? Not optimizing your site with at least the basics of SEO is one of the worst mistakes you could make when trying to increase your blogging network. With the Yoast SEO plugin, you won’t have to worry about all the complex coding that used to be involved with optimizing your site. At more than 5.5 million downloads from the Plugin Directory, you know that WordPress SEO by Yoast will be a great tool for your blog.
With Yoast, you can easily post relevant title tags for your pages, access meta descriptions templates, make RSS enhancements, incorporate snippet preview and page analyses, create image titles, XML sitemaps, and more. If you want to get found in search engines, Yoast is the tools for you. The best part is that it’s user-friendly for even those that aren’t SEO experts. If you haven’t been focused on optimizing your blog up to this point, all is not lost! With this plugin, you can go back and update past content with SEO data to make sure that it has the best chance at getting found in search engines.
If you have a blog, chances are you also have a Facebook page, too. If you don’t already, you might want to consider getting one. Social factors, like Facebook shares, are become more and more important for SEO. And in general, social media is a great way to share your content with more people and increase your followers. It helps you interact with your readers more, since you can also update your status and Timeline along with your blog.
Installing the Facebook follow button on your blog is simple, and is one of the easiest ways to engage your readers.
3. Vault Press
As a blogger, you invest a lot of time and energy into creating great content. Most of the time, technology is your best friend, but when it goes wrong, it can be your worst enemy. To protect against the chance of something going wrong, every blog should have a way to keep archives backed up and their site secure.
Vault Press is an easy-to-download plugin that offers super affordable plans for the backup and security of your blog. Why have to worry about ever losing your content or your site getting compromised if there are tools available to prevent that from happening? There are a variety of other security and backup plugins available, and different bloggers have different preferences and needs when it comes to tiered plans. But make sure you consider at least a basic option before it’s too late!
4. YouAPPi Content Recommendation Plugin
If you could find a way to enrich your content while putting a little money in your pocket, wouldn’t that be a no-brainer? After all, monetizing your blog definitely isn’t the worst thing that could happen. With The YouAPPi Content Recommendation plugin, you can do just that.
When you install this plugin, your mobile readers will be able to see suggested apps at the bottom of your post that are relevant to the subject of your blog or individual post. For example, if one of your readers is viewing a post on your blog about financial advice, they would see via the YouAppi plugin on your site a selection of recommended apps related to that topic. It creates a win-win situation for you and your readers because they’re finding useful apps that interest them, but when your readers download the app, you also earn money for it!
YouAPPi supports Android, iPhone, iPad, and Windows mobile platforms to make sure all your readers can access the app recommendation technology.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the blogging world that actually enjoys being on the receiving end of comment spam. Every blog admin hates it, and many spend more time trying to fight it than actually improving their content or blog. Not only is it annoying, but it can be extremely discrediting for your site if spammy junk comments infiltrate all of your posts. If you’re sick of dealing with comment spam, Akismet is probably the best and easiest solution for your blog. With more than 16 million WordPress plugin downloads, you know this plugin lives up to its claims.
Akismet is a completely automated spam fighter that filters out comments and track-backs. It’s completely free for personal use, and has extremely affordable plans for businesses, networks, and commercial use.
In our world of instant connectivity, nobody likes to wait for things. This is especially true when it comes to websites. Thought it might just take several extra seconds, a slow load time can be enough to deter a visitor from reading your blog, simply because of the fact that they couldn’t access it right when they wanted it. A slow load time for your site can also negatively impact your SEO and rankings. If your blog is hosted on a shared server—which is a more inexpensive option—slow load times could be even more of a burden for you.
To have a successful blog, reader engagement and feedback is key. You want to be able to communicate easily with your readers, and also hear from potential advertisers, guest posters, or others that might have inquiries regarding your content, products, etc. Sure, you can access your basic contact forms through general WordPress tools, but creating a contact form that stretches beyond those basics can become really complicated.
More than half a million sites already use Gravity Forms to make their contact forms top-notch. By purchasing a one-time developer license, you have access to hundreds of options for forms, entries, auto-responders, and even options for spam protection. The also offer a variety of advanced add-ons if you’re interested in doing polls, surveys, signatures, registrations, etc.
8. Digg Digg
Growing your blog network is all about getting your current devoted readers to share your content with their own network. In the end, the whole goal of your blog isn’t to just have someone read your post and say, “well that was cool.” You want them to share it with their friends, too! While the Facebook button is a great start, it’s no secret that not everyone is a sole Facebook user.
With Digg Digg, you can incorporate an awesome-looking share bare that looks just like Mashable. This plugin displays all buttons for the most popular social networks like Twitter (and Facebook), Google+, Reddit, Pinterest, and more. Instead of just having a static share button at the bottom of your post, you can choose to have a floating bar so that your readers are constantly reminded to share your awesome content!
The whole point of having a blog is to share content, right? With Disqus, it makes it easier for you to build your community of active readers who you also have strong engagement with. Disqus is basically a group of communities within a community that connects websites and commenters in an ongoing discussion.
With this plugin, it’s easier to comment and provides a more interactive experience for your readers. It also comes with full spam filtering along with blacklists and whitelists so you won’t have to worry about opening up your blog to junk comments.
10. WP Touch
Smartphone and tablet users are growing at an exponential rate. And if you haven’t been under a rock for the past few years, you know that blogs aren’t just read on computers and laptops anymore. Millions of people now use their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet and read content, in addition to their use of traditional computers. If you want your blog to be successful, it needs to appeal to all audience.
But if you’ve ever tried to read a blog on a smartphone, you know it’s not always the easiest thing to do, even if you are able to zoom in on the text. With the WP Touch mobile plugin, you can make your blog appealing to both mobile visitors and computer visitors alike. This plug automatically enables mobile-friendly themes for those who visit your site on tablets or smartphones like iPhones, iPod Touch, Anroid phones, BlackBerry devices, and more. WP Touch offers a variety of different themes so you don’t have to worry about compromising the aesthetics of your site in the name of functionality.
What are your thoughts? Are we spot on? Did we miss any essential plugins that you always install on your WordPress blog? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Greg is a marketing strategist for youAPPi, the leading provider of app marketing and app discovery services for both advertisers and publishers of mobile content.
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