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This is the eighth and final instalment (for now) in a series of posts discussing how to set up and run a WordPress blog from a relatively experienced expert, which will feature many helpful and hopefully relevant tangents.
Last week I covered the big move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. A move that will have now opened up the highly exclusive and endlessly varied world of WordPress plugins.
A plugin is a piece of software that acts as an add-on feature to your website or blog, offering additional functionality.
These can be developed by WordPress itself or by a third-party company and range in function from social media integration to automatic search engine optimisation to spam comment filtering. There's a huge array of choice.
Only WordPress.org users (those who host their own site and who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with coding and other technical matters) have access to these third-party plugins.
So this week I’ll be recommending the most vital of these plugins for your brand new WordPress.org site.
You can access plugins directly from the left hand sidebar.
This will reveal a list of all of the plugins you currently have installed. This is also where you can activate, deactivate or customise the settings for your plugins.
To find brand new plugins, click ‘Add New’. This will take you to a search page.
Here you can search for keywords, click on the most popular tags or scroll down lists of most ‘popular’ or ‘featured’ plugins.
Although I have linked to the plugin homepages within each of the headings below, each is easily searchable in your dashboard.
I covered SEO for WordPress in SEO best practice tips for WordPress last week and hopefully these guidelines will soon become second nature when writing your own articles.
This SEO plugin by Yoast however, goes many extra miles further.
It automatically assists your SEO endeavours by helping you choose keywords that you want to rank for, it reminds you to create a snippet for SERPs, will tell you whether your title and the content itself is too long or too short and whether your meta description makes sense in the context of a search result.
Then within the CMS, it will tell you how well optimised your post is using a traffic light system of colours. This is an invaluable tool, super easy to use, and will mean you’ll always be striving for the green light.
You know that little square icon next to the name of your website, either on the tab or a bookmarked page? You can create and upload your very own with this plugin.
Supports all three Favicon types (ico,png,gif) and gives your site that subtly professional touch.
This is developed by WordPress itself and is a one-stop shop for lots of different site admin needs.
- It gives you access to simple and concise stats with no additional load on your server.
- Allows visitors to sign up for email notifications for your blog's posts and your post's comments.
- Social networking enabled comment system.
- Access to a URL shortener.
- Easily embeddable media from sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo.
- The ability to post to your blog from any email client.
- Social media integration with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and LinkedIn.
- A CSS editor that lets you customise your site design without modifying your theme.
- A mobile responsive theme that automatically streamlines your site for visitors on mobile devices.
An absolute must. As entertaining as some spam comments can be, they will only do your site’s credibility harm and cause much unnecessary and time-consuming moderation.
Captcha is your front-line defence. It figures out whether a visitor leaving a comment is a human being or a spam robot by asking it a maths question.
The inbuilt image library manager within WordPress isn’t that great. This one is much better. It allows you to batch upload, edit and manage large photo galleries.
You can choose from 10 gallery and album display types. All the galleries available are also fully responsive and you can add watermarks to your images.
Give your site at least 10 times the improvement in its performance, reduce page load times, provide instant second page views and reduce download times.
This plugin is also recommended by Matt Cutts, so you know this is only going to help your Google ranking.
Add a "Pin It" button over your images, so users can add it to Pinterest easily.
The button only appears when you hover over it.
This replaces the ‘older posts’ and ‘newer posts’ at the bottom of your page with links that are more customisable, relevant or creative.
There are many different Facebook integration tools that display your statuses, photos, videos, events, links and offers from your Facebook page, but this one can also adopt the style of your website or be completely customised to look however you like.
It is completely responsive and search engine crawlable.
This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog.
It also notifies all major search engines every time you create a new blog post.
Go beyond the stats offered in Jetpack with this simple to install plugin. It displays detailed analytics about the number of visits, number of unique visitors, bounce rates, pages per visit and loads more statistics all directly on your dashboard.
Get all your social sharing buttons in one, with many customisable display options including ‘floating’ buttons.
This also includes share counts, content recommendation features and analytics tools.
If want to show someone a draft of your post within your site, without actually making them an account user, this plugin will create a unique link that you can send to anyone you choose so they are able to review your draft. You can also set an expiry time for the link.
The best map plugin available. Any map can be pinned, organised and shared easily within your site.
You can use maps from OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Google Earth, or Bing Maps.
Maps can even be displayed through augmented reality browsers.
This plugin will automatically monitor your blog looking for broken links, anywhere within your posts, pages or comments.
It will notify you when it finds one, then it will change the look of the link and even prevent search engines from finding it.
This automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes to improve your SEO. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, this plugin will add them for you.
Accidentally deleting or even prematurely publishing a post can be a massive hassle.
This simply prompts a user to click a confirm button whenever they try to submit, publish, update or delete a post.
This plugin replaces the standard WordPress search with a better, more relevant search engine. One that also provides autocomplete.
It also gives detailed insight into what your users are searching for so you know which keywords to target for SEO.
Use this to customise your user login screen. Get rid of the WordPress logos and use your own branding for a more professional look.
Transform your humble blog into an ecommerce site. With loads of customisable themes and widgets available, it also comes with many payment options as standard including PayPal integration.
Further WordPress reading...
This is the eighth post in my WordPress series. Here are the others:
- The first few steps involving sign-up, the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and your social media presence.
- Writing your first post using the WordPress content management system (CMS), in which I gave some helpful writing advice for first-time bloggers.
- Using the WordPress dashboard and its diverse world of widgets.
- An in-depth look the art of customising your existing WordPress template.
- The 10 best responsive customisable WordPress themes.
- SEO best practice tips for WordPress and for bloggers in general.
- Moving your site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.