Blogsites and websites today are more than a blog, more than a website. If developed in alignment with an integrated marketing and business plan a blogsite and/or website can be a platform for which you conduct business. It can support both your offline and online business and audiences.
It's why we don't pride ourselves on selling “websites”. We build and develop business platforms that enable our customers to meet business goals and objectives. We use the business platform to educate and inspire audiences, enable communications, connect with visitors and grow real relationships. It is important that your website and/or blogsite is not an island of information. Instead it should be a platform connecting your visitors to you, your content and your other social platforms without them having to think about it.
If you want results with your blog or website you must let go of the belief that the old school “build it and they will come” still works. People are not searching the web for websites. They are searching for content. Content that inspires. Content that educates. Content that helps them solve problems. Content that helps them personally or professionally.
Many bloggers and businesses create websites and spend lots of time and money on content. Many times they post it to their blog thinking the content will keep people on their site. Yet, their analytics data still shows a high bounce rate (people bouncing off your site after landing on a page) and little true engagement.
Content is key. Inspiring audiences to action is a requirement. However, other factors such as layout, design and usability all drive engagement. We need web visitors to engage. We want them to stick around awhile when they land on the page. We want them to click to a next page. Google likes this type of behavior and will reward such with higher rankings and placement over time.
Keeping your website and blog visitors inspired and engaged is paramount to success. I am constantly seeking ways to enable better engagement on my sites. Ways to inspire, make it easy to find and consume content. I also like to stand out from the crowd and find new and different ways to display information and engage.
It is important to note that you also shouldn't develop a site that looks exactly like all of your competitors in a local market. Although you can visit a competitor site and easily figure out what plug-ins they are using, don't do a copy/past of their blog and yours. Instead build your own plan, your own website and your own brand. As I always state, get in the head of your desired customer. Choose plug-ins that make the most sense for your audience, existing content on your site and support your objectives. If you find an awesome set of widgets on a site of a local competitor who you run head to head with in local markets on a regular basis, by all means don't do a copy/paste. Instead take a visit to wordpress.org and you'll be amazed what plug-ins you will find that offer similar functionality but will be different. Chances are you'll find something even better!
I wrote a blog post a couple months ago with my favorite 25 WordPress plug-ins to keep web guests engaged, SEO rockin and the geek in me satisfied. I have since found some new favorites and due to popular request have updated the original blog post as noted below. All of the plug-ins included have been used on my own personal site, a clients site or at minimum tested by me personally at one point in time. I can't promise that they'll all work together. However, for the most part they should not cause you major problems. I take no responsibility for their stableness, performance as they may have released an update or change since I last used them.
Please note there are many options when it comes to plug-ins, tools and gadgets. This is by no means an all inclusive list. It's simply a list of some of my favorites. If you have favorites I don't have listed, by all means, PLEASE SHARE!
If your website could use a refresh, could benefit from deeper engagement, high search engine rankings, then the below is a good place to start! Have fun and be sure to point me to your site once you finish your refresh! I'll be happy to offer you some candid feedback. You can also check out an easier to print version of this list here.
Social Sharing & Engagement
1. Digg Digg
I LOVE this plug-in! It enables you to add a nice little set of sharing buttons from 20 top social networking sites. It has some nifty features such as the ability to choose compact or normal for the size of the share buttons and the ability to float the buttons. In addition it can be set to display at the top, bottom or side of the post or page. This plug-in increased social sharing on my site substantially. Note, I did have a few problems with this plug-in conflicting with my sub-menu navigation on pages (not posts). I simply disabled this plug-in on pages and problem was resolved.
2. GD LinkedIN Badge
Easily installs a nifty little LinkedIn badge in a widget. Creates LinkedIn community building opportunities.
3. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms provides the ability to make custom forms for anything! Create a contact form, quote request, or even a survey. Only takes a couple minutes and you're on your way. Inserting the form on a page is as simple as copying a short line of code that correlates to the form number right into the html section of the wordpress page editor.
4. Wbiya Toolbar
Keep your readers engaged while offering them the ability to share and bookmark with this fun toolbar that displays at the the bottom of your site. It is easily customized and easily incorporates Facebook likes, Facebook recommendations, Facebook activity, Twitter feeds, retweets, and the ability to share on almost any platform. It doesn't add any website performance latency and I get compliments on this one everyday. A must have in my opinion.
5. Social Slider
Just as people learn differently, people socialize differently. I believe in offering numerous ways to share and engage. This cute lil' plug-in includes floats on the left or right side of your page. You'll hardly know it's there. It supports a good majority of social platforms.
Another one of my favs this plug-in lets you create a set of social share icons, bookmark icons or links to other pages in a nice little widget. You can choose each icon, insert the url and choose the size of icon all within the widget. Once developed you simply drag and drop it to your theme widget, select how many of the icons you want to display, if you want it centered or justified to left or right and you're done. I love the fact I can make unique billboards for each page if I want. I often create one for bookmarks and one for social share icons.
7. Tweet Meme Retweet Button
A must have on any blog is an easy way to retweet. This plugin is a no brainer and makes it easy for your visitors to show the love with a retweet!
8. Facebook Live Stream
Provides live streaming from your Facebook fan page. This is great for events or simply to show your latest wall activity.
9. Facebook Activity Feed
If the user is logged into Facebook it will show activity by your website visitors friends. It will show likes, shares etc. If the user is not logged in then it will show recommendations as well as provide the ability for the visitor to login to Facebook.
10. Facebook Like Button
Make it easy for your visitors to show the Facebook love with this stimple little button. A must have for sure!
11. Facebook Like Box
Great plugin to help you build your Facebook community. This adds the additional functionality of letting the visitor instantly “like” your Facebook fan page, displays photos of their friends who are already a fan of your page, shows the number of fans and recent activity. A great tool to pull people to your Facebook Fan page.
12. Facebook Activity Feed
Pretty self explanatory, this plugin displays the latest Facebook activity feed for your website and blog content.
13. Sexy Bookmarks
Sharing is both sexy and fun with this sassy little plugin. It makes it easy for your visitors to share your awesome content with beautiful, dynamic icons that you can place at the top or bottom of your blog.
Creates a cute little button you can place in any widget that displays the number of Twitter followers you have right next to the friendly little blue bird.
15. Twitter Goodies
Twitter offers numerous widgets and opportunities for you to engage your visitors while also growing your Twitter community. Create a widget with your tweets. Or create a widget that displays a search term or hash tag. It's a great way to share the buzz as your community grows!
1. Disqus Comment System
There are many comment systems out there such as CommentLuv etc. I like the simplicity and clean look of Disqus. It is easy to install and is widely used across social internet land. It provides an easy way to view where visitors have commented on other sites while also keeping track of where you comment. It can help you build social relationships as you engage on other people's blogs and websites.
2. Comment Luv
Although I use Discus Comment system, many do like the comment luv plug-in. Disqus comment system has been more widely used for longer. It seems to be more popular and widely used on the majority of sites I visit and communities I engage in. It basically comes down to personal choice. I know many people who use comment luv and “love” it. I did try it and it gave me a few problems so I immediately switched back to Disqus. I suggest you check them both out and make a decision for yourself.
3. Thank Me Later
This plug-in automatically sends an email thanking the web visitor for leaving a comment. The time frame can be customized for sending. It's a great way to remind the visitor about your blog or website as well as thank them for their comment. Keeping communication going with visitors is a great way to build authentic relationships. The person left a comment on your blog probably because they were interested. Thanking them and inviting them back will probably be much appreciated by the commenter.
3. WP Greet Box
This is another one of my favorites. It creates a custom gretting based on the referral url of your website visitor. Includes support for RSS, Delicious, Digg, Twitter, Facebook and many more. A must have for any blog or website in my opinion!
This is one of my all time favorites. This plug-in displays up to 5 related blog posts at the bottom of each post. Not only does this plug-in help drive engagement, it also helps your SEO.
Adds a more advanced paging system to your WordPress site.
Design and Images Enhancements
1. Simple Image Link
This is one of my favorite image plug-ins. It enables the ability to add any image plus text as a widget. It supports easy modification of image size.
2. Drop in Image Slideshow Gallery
Insert images with ease with this nifty little plug-in. No coding required. Even a newbie to WordPress can figure this image feature out!
3. Dynamic Headers
Open your blog header up to new possibilities with this plug-in. You are no longer limited by media type, or only one header for the whole site. Now you can have a unique header for each page!
4. Next Gen Gallery
This plugin turns any website into a beautiful gallery. It even has a flash slideshow option.
Another option for inserting an image gallery. Animate your header, posts or images with this simple and easy to use plug-in.
Search Engine Optimization
1. All in One SEO
If you want SEO to rock with little effort, this is your plugin. I have seen great results with this plugin on both my sites as well as many client sites.
2. SEO Smart Links
Also great for SEO, this plugin helps engage your users by linking keywords within your site. Google likes to see links within your site. This is a great way to drive engagement as well as SEO with little to no effort once it's installed. You can customize and select how many links you want to appear on each page.
3. XML Sitemap
This plugin creates an XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap for your WordPress blog. It is supported by Ask.com, Google, Yahoo and MSN.
4. WP Page-Navi
This widget adds navigation from one page to the other so visitors can easily view your numerous blog posts you've worked so hard on.
5. SEO Slugs
This plug-in removes all the unnecessary words from post titles. This makes post titles more search engine friendly!
6. SEO Friendly Images
This nifty little plug-in automatically updates all images with ALT and TITLE attributes.
Developer's Best Friend
1. Flexi-Pages Widget
This widget is great for fully custom WordPress sites or template themes which don't provide an easy sub-menu via sidebar or other. This widget provides the ability to add a sub-menu navigation via widget on sidebar. This also helps with engagement and SEO.
2. OzH Admin Dropdown Menu
This is one of my favorite developer plug-ins! It saves me loads of time by
3. Permalinks moved permanently
This is the perfect plug-in if you are changing permalink structure. Instead of old links pointing to a 404 page, this plug-in will look for a slug similar to the original on your blog and will automatically generate a 301 error and redirect request to new location. This is good to help maintain pagerank and traffic.
4. WordPress Importer
Easily import posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags from a WordPress export file. This plug-in is great when switching themes, hosts or testing.
5. Exclude Pages from Navigation
You are no longer dependent on theme features or a developer to be selective in what pages are included or not included in site navigation.
6. Mass Edit Pages for WordPress
A developers best friend and massive time saver when it comes to making simple pages to a mass number of pages.
7. Maintenance Mode
A must have for those long weekends when you decide at midnight you need to switch WordPress themes – ha! It provides a splash screen to your visitors informing them your site is under maintenance while you work the midnight oil on your next creation!
8. Google Analytics & Feedburner Reports
Enables easy view of Google analytics data and Feedburner reports via WordPress admin area.
9. Theme Logo
This plug-in enables the ability to add a logo to your theme without a developer. Great for the novice using a theme that requires a code change.
10. Simple Coming Soon & Under Construction Page
Great plug-in to easily set a temporary under construction or coming soon page. There are several of these types of plug-ins around. This is one of my favorites I have found. I like it because of the simplicity and the fact it is more visually appealing. It also adds the ability to add social platform links as well as a count down.
11. WP-Super Cache
This plug-in will improve performance of your site by producing static html files of your dynamic WordPress blog.
Simply stated, stop the spam! Akismet keeps those spammer out and off your precious blog.
13. Infusionsoft Web Form
This plug-in makes it easy to embed an Infusionsoft web form using your api key. Hoping Infusionsoft will soon provide more options and graphical enhancements to more easily develop custom Infusionsoft web forms.
What's Your Favorite?
Share your favorite plugin or website extra!