Having the right plug-ins can unleash the marketing power of your blog. Marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn shares her list of ‘must have’ WordPress plug-ins. Part 1 of 5.
If you follow the 7 Graces blog regularly, you’ll know that I believe in blogging as a powerful tool in new paradigm marketing. Using our blogs to provide consistent, high-quality and informative articles, blogging allows us to pin-point, educate, attract and connect with our ideal audience. This ethos of information-sharing is a radical shift from the aggressive and invasive strategies of ‘old school’ marketing.
But even the best articles in the world will do little to help grow your business unless your blog is set up properly. For WordPress users, using the correct plug-ins can make all the difference.
WordPress plug-ins allow you to extend the capabilities of your blog beyond the core installation. As an online marketing strategist, one of the first things I do with a new client is to go into their WordPress dashboard and start installing and configuring what I consider to be ‘essential’ plug-ins for every business blog.
There are over 26,000 free and paid-for plug-ins available for WordPress, and I’m sure I only know a fraction of them. But having worked daily with WordPress (both for myself and for my clients) since 2007, I’ve come up with a list of what I consider to be the top 22 ‘must have’ plug-ins to make your blog work as a powerful marketing tool.
THE FIVE TYPES OF PLUG-IN
When you break it down, all WordPress plug-ins can be divided into five broad categories:
- Optimisation – plug-ins that make it easier for Google and other search engines to recognise your site
- Security – plug-ins that keep you safe from spammers and hackers
- Operations – plug-ins that make back-office operations easier and more efficient
- Engagement – plug-ins that encourage your readers to keep reading and connect with you
- Expansion – plug-ins that encourage your readers to share and distribute your content; additionally plug-ins that automatically distribute your content
Over the next five articles, I’ll be sharing my ‘top 22 plug-ins’, covering all five of these categories.
Update 31 Dec 2013 – Here are the links to all 5 articles:
- PART 1: 22 Essential WordPress Plug-ins for Business Bloggers – Pt 1
- PART 2: 4 Vital WordPress Plug-ins to Keep Your Blog Safe and Secure
- PART 3: 5 Back-Office Plug-ins to Make WordPress More Efficient
- PART 4: ‘Don’t Press the Shiny Red Button!’ WordPress Plug-ins Pt 4
- PART 5: Expanding the Influence of Your Blog. WordPress Plug-ins Pt 5
Today, we’ll start with category 1: ‘Optimisation’.
A NOTE ABOUT ‘JETPACK’: Those of you who use the new version of WordPress will be familiar with a plug-in called ‘JetPack’. JetPack was developed to perform many of the functions of the plug-ins I will be discussing. The trouble I’ve found is that some of JetPack’s functions don’t work with certain WordPress installations. For that reason, I won’t be looking at it in this article series.
Optimisation (also referred to as ‘SEO’ or ‘search engine optimisation’) plug-ins are admittedly the less glamorous side of the plug-in spectrum. While they work busily behind the scenes, we as end-users don’t necessarily engage a whole lot with them.
But don’t let their lack of glamour put you off. While you might not be thinking much about them, Google and other search engines definitely are. Below are 3 of my favourite optimisation plug-ins that can help increase the odds that people will find your site when they go searching online for someone like you.
1: Google XML Sitemap
Plug-in URL: http://www.arnebrachhold.de/redir/sitemap-home/
COST: Free, but you can make a donation to the developer if you like it.
As the name suggests, the Google XML Sitemap plug-in generates a sitemap for your blog. Sitemaps help allow web crawlers (such as Google, MSN Search and Yahoo) to pick up all URLs on your site. This means they are more likely to index individual blogs, tags, categories, etc., which increases the likelihood of your posts coming up in search results. According to http://www.sitemaps.org/, ‘Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.’
Once you install and activate the plug-in, generating your sitemap takes just a few clicks. See the sitemap for this site at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/sitemap.xml
Google XML Sitemap will send automatic updates to Google and Bing at regular intervals (you can adjust these in the plug-in settings), but you might also wish to submit your sitemap directly to Google. To do this, you can use Google’s Webmasters’ Tools:
- Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
- Click ‘crawl’
- Click ‘sitemaps’.
- Enter your site map URL (it ends with /sitemap.xml)
2: All in One SEO
Plug-in URL: http://semperfiwebdesign.com/
COST: Free and Pro (paid) versions
All in One SEO enables you to set the title, description and keywords for your blogsite, as well as individual pages and posts. It’s extremely user-friendly and it even guides you by telling you the optimal character limits of titles (60 characters) and descriptions (160 characters). While I consider this to be a ‘must-have’ plug-in, it only works if you USE it judiciously. Make it a habit to enter your title, description and keywords into every single blog post you write, and you’ll start to see its usefulness.
The value of All in One SEO becomes apparent when people start to share your content on places like Facebook or LinkedIn where they show a preview of the page OR when your page happens to pop up in a Google search. If you don’t use All in One SEO, the preview or search engine listing will only display the first 160 characters of your article, which may do little or nothing to encourage people to check out your link. But with All in One SEO installed, the preview will show the description you set for that article. Because this description gives a concise summary of what the article is about, people who are interested in the topic will be much more likely to click the link to find out more.
The free version is quite adequate for most people’s needs, and if you like it you can make a donation to the developers.
3: Keyword SEO links
Plug-in URL: http://jvz1.com/c/156075/54371 (my affiliate link)
COST: This is NOT a free plug-in, but a single site licence is just $27 (multi-licence and developer rates are also available).
This is an interesting plug-in that enables you to set up ‘deep links’ within your site or between different sites that you own. The Keyword SEO Links plug-in allows you to set up a variety of keywords that you frequently use on your website, and associate them with a specific page, post, tag or category.
There are two main reasons why you would want this:
- First, because it increases back-links to your site and also increases SEO. This is especially true if you use it to link back and forth between multiple sites.
- Second, when your readers click on a link, they will find a whole catalogue of content that might be of interest to them, including older articles you have written that are not visible from your home page. This keeps readers engaged and READING your blog, especially if they are interested in diving more deeply into a particular topic. It can also breathe new life into older articles, and keep them ranking on Google as they continue to receive traffic.
For example, some of keywords for this site are the 7 Graces, such as the Grace of Connection, the Grace of Inspiration, etc. If I write a blog post containing these keywords, the Keyword SEO Links plug-in will hyperlink these keywords to the category page that contains all the blogs using that keyword.
It might sound a bit complicated, and admittedly it takes a little configuring and practice to make it work well. But once you get it set up, the Keyword SEO Links plug-in really does a great job and is virtually hands-free.
Keyword SEO Links also is good for affiliate marketers, because you can set up specific keywords to turn into your affiliate hyperlink for a particular product.
TRANSPARENCY: I really like this product, but I must admit I hate the developer’s schmoozy sales pages!
COMING UP NEXT TIME…
Hopefully, these three plug-ins should keep you busy for a few days. Next time in Part 2, we’ll look at my top 4 ‘Security’ plug-ins. Then later in Part 3, I’ll share my top 5 ‘Operational’ plug-ins, followed by my top 5 ‘Engagement’ plug-ins in Part 4. Then, finally, we’ll round up this 22 Essential WordPress Plug-in list with my top 5 ‘Engagement’ plug-ins in Part 5.
Be sure to subscribe to this blog to make sure you receive the rest of this series, and all our 7 Grace articles to follow. We publish twice a week.
I hope you found this article to be useful. Please let me know by leaving your comments and/or questions below. And if you’ve discovered a great WordPress plug-in, please share your own favourites below.
AND…if you are an independent business owner and would like to discuss how you can expand your influence on the Web through blogging and ethical marketing, drop us a line via the contact form on this site, and we can set up a free initial consultation.
12th November 2013
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)