In addition to customizing the look and feel of your blog, you can also choose to add plugins to your WordPress blog that will enhance your website and work as extensions of the blog software that can make your blog more interactive as well as easier to manage.
In order to put these plugins to work for you, you simply download them from the developers website and upload them into your wp-content/plugins in the same way that you uploaded your themes.
And just like a theme, you need to activate each plugin from within your WordPress admin center before it becomes active and visible on your blog.
Sometimes a plugin will require more than just activating it. For example, a popular plugin that helps blogs do better in the search engines requires that you configure the settings before using it.
If ever a plugin requires additional information in order to function properly, you will see a new link appear in your navigation menu (from within the “Plugins” area) that will give you more information about that specific plugin.
One example of a useful plugin is found at http://www.CodeBanter.com who features a free WordPress plugin that will instantly add an autoresponder opt-in box to your blog. Since it’s important to start building a list, integrating this plugin makes capturing subscribers a breeze.
We’ll talk more about list building in a future chapter, but in the meantime, head on over to CodeBanter.com and download a copy of the plugin, so you have it ready for when we focus on building a targeted list of prospects.
Plugins are exceptionally useful, especially when optimizing your website for the search engines. I have created a swipe file of the top plugins that I add to every blog that I create, and I suggest that you add these to a folder on your desktop so that you can use these on your websites as well.
Here they are, in no particular order:
This plugin ensures that your blog is well optimized for the title, meta description, and meta keywords. It should be a required plugin with every installation of WordPress.
Google XML SiteMap
With every blog you create you will want an auto-generated sitemap. This is important so that the search engines can get a clear guideline regarding the pages from your site that you would like indexed.
Related Posts Plugin
No Ping Wait Plugin
This plugin is useful for reviewing the stats of your blog and viewing any patterns regarding your traffic. It has a wide range of features that will enable you to have a complete traffic breakdown:
Once you have downloaded these plugins, upload them into your WordPress wp-content/plugins directory.
Then, log into your WordPress admin panel at http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin and click on “Plugins” to load the listing of plugins and the activation link that will appear next to each one. Make sure to activate every plugin, otherwise they will not begin to function until you turn them on.
You can also explore other plugins at http://Wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
A widget is basically a little piece of software that allows for a user to interact with the blog. Placing widgets keep viewers longer and can create more traffic flow. Creating a widget of the blog allows it to be placed on other web sites, if the rules allow.
Widgets have the potential of driving more traffic to the blog simply by interacting with your visitors and keeping your blog fresh and entertaining.
Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Kick Apps: http://www.KickApps.com
KickAps is a widget creation web site. Designed to work with video applications, it has an easy interface system. Best of all, the sign-up is free of charge. It user friendly and can be placed on the social networking sites. The fun interaction will keep readers coming back.
Widgetbox provides thousands of different types of widgets that can be used in a blog. Readers are more likely to stay longer, if they are having fun. Also turn the blog into a custom widget for those social networking sites. Endless options give free reign on creativity.
Majik Widget: http://www.MajikWidget.com
MajikWidget is currently in the Beta phase so space is limited. However, the widgets allow for linkbacks to the blog. They offer a free trial. Things such as polls or rankings can be added to the blog.
Wowzio is a customizable widget creator that allows for personal photographs to be used. This way the blog can be unique and creative depending on the photographs used. Pick from a variety of different styles for the blog.
Tech Dreams: http://www.TechDreams.org
TechDreams places scrolling headlines at the top of the blog. Free to use, comments are personal and up to the blogger to create. Create a unique quote or a special saying that relates directly to the blog.
Sane Bull: http://www.SaneBull.com
SaneBull has widgets available for adding the stock market to the blog. Readers can view the market without ever leaving the blog. Especially, useful for those business related blogs.
Entrecard is a service that links bloggers to other bloggers to get the most amount of advertising by that site. It can drive the traffic of other bloggers to the blog for more page views.
Create a unique widget of the blog to bring the interest of more viewers and drive traffic to your blog, so explore the different available widgets out there, and integrate as many that you believe will enhance your website. Go crazy!
This entry is part 5 of 12 from Complete Blogging Guide