It doesn’t matter who you are. The self-employed freelancer. The small business owner. The entrepreneur. If you want to build a website for your business, it’s never been easier to do it on your own than it is today. And that’s, in part, thanks to WordPress.
The open source platform is easy to use and comes chock-full of tools that empower novice to expert WordPress users to build a high-performing website. One of those such tools is the WordPress theme. The other critical piece is the plugin. With these tools on your side, it’s no longer necessary to know how to code or design if you want to create a website.
If you’ve been in business long enough, you know that it’s not enough anymore to just have a website. Logically, it makes sense. Your website is the digital face of your company. But no matter how pretty that face is to look at, people won’t find any value in it if there is no voice. This is why you can’t just play the role of business owner and web developer these days. You also need to be a blogger.
Here are just some of the reasons you should seriously consider writing blog content for your website:
- It’s a relatively cheap way to market your business.
- It’s an excellent way to increase your website’s search rankings (since search engines love to see websites constantly in growth mode).
- It’s effective in generating more leads—estimates put that number at around 67% more leads than if you weren’t to blog.
- It’s an easy way to demonstrate expertise and knowledge in your line of work and, in so doing, build trust with your audience.
- It gives your audience more reason to engage with you.
- It creates a new way for you to expand your reach and get the word out about your brand (if your content is rave- and share-worthy).
Luckily for us, there are a plethora of WordPress plugins to take the work out of enhancing your blog so you can focus on creating relevant and useful content for your audience.
11 WordPress Plugins for Better Blogging
One of the mistakes I commonly see first-time WordPress users make is spending too much time shopping around for the “perfect” WordPress theme: the one that looks cool, that jives with your business’s message, and that works well on any device. Those are all important factors to consider, of course, but it’s equally as important to consider plugin compatibility. After all, plugins allow you to extend the power of your website.
Now, when it comes to blogging plugins, you’re in luck. WordPress developers have created more than enough plugins to help users cover most of their blogging needs. While they can’t actually write content for you, they can do pretty much everything else. So while you’re focused on writing an interesting think-piece, you can let those plugins do the rest of the work for you.
Here are my picks for the best 11 WordPress plugins to help you become a better blogger. (As an added bonus, they all happen to work with Themedy’s Genesis themes and Thesis skins.)
Plugin #1: Advanced Excerpt
Have you ever looked through someone’s blog roll (including your own) and been frustrated by a confusing or incomplete post excerpt? While the snippet previews of a blog post may seem like an insignificant detail, they’re actually quite important to the user experience. After all, it’s that introduction to the post that helps people determine whether they want to read it or not. This plugin will help you finesse those excerpts.
Plugin #2: Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order
As a best practice, it’s generally recommended that blogs contain no more than 10 to 15 categories into which they divide their content. Why? Because these categories should be reflective of the higher level topics (and topic types) you cover. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to create a taxonomy for your categories if those topics are related. If you need more control over the hierarchy of your terms, you can do that with this plugin.
Plugin #3: Custom Post Types
For some WordPress users, blog posts are not the only type of content they create. White papers, glossaries, FAQs, product promotions, and other types of special “content” need a home on your website, too. Rather than build out separate pages for each one, you can create all of them as “Posts”, and then use this plugin to better categorize them based on post type. This plugin is also helpful if you want to create separate RSS feeds for the different types of topics on your site.
Plugin #4: Genesis Simple Edits
If you’re currently using a Genesis theme (or one of our child themes), consider downloading this plugin. Typically, blog posts come with whatever sort of data the theme automatically wants to associate with it (like the author’s username, date of publication, comments, incomplete search metadata, and so on). This plugin will help you make custom changes to those fields.
Plugin #5: Icegram
One of the super-hot marketing strategies right now is what’s known as “exit-intent technology”. If you’ve ever received a pop-up right before hitting the back arrow or before exiting a website, that’s what this technology does. It reacts to your mouse’s movement, predicting your departure, and makes one last-ditch effort. This particular plugin is useful in that respect since it gives you the opportunity to get visitors to sign up for blog reminders before they leave.
Plugin #6: ImageInject
Did you know that blog posts with images tend to get more views than those without? According to one study, the difference is, on average, 94% more views. The only problem with this is the fact that you not only have to spend time writing, uploading, and optimizing your content, but now you have to find an image, too. This plugin helps you find Creative Commons photos (those that are free to license) right within WordPress.
Plugin #7: Latest Tweets
Your blog should have a symbiotic relationship with your social media. You create content that’s share-worthy on social media, and then you generate enough interest in your brand on social that drives people back to your blog. For extra social exposure built into your blog, consider adding your Twitter feed into the sidebar. If you’re active enough on there, it’ll keep people interested in what you have to say both on and off your website.
Plugin #8: Related Posts for WP
The whole point in creating content is to engage with your visitors—not only to get them to trust you more, but to also give them information that’s valuable and helpful. Once you’ve done that though, don’t let them lose interest and move on to someone else’s blog. Use this plugin to give them helpful suggestions for related topics on your own blog.
Plugin #9: TW Recent Posts Widget
If you’re going to make use of a sidebar on your blog, social media icons and your Twitter feed are only two of the pieces you should be including there. Use this plugin to insert a widget displaying some of your most recent posts (which ones you want to show and how many is up to you).
Plugin #10: Ultimate Category Excluder
There may come a time when you don’t want to display a certain type of post from your blog (or other blog post-displaying widget). Perhaps the content is restricted only to logged-in users or maybe it’s bonus content you only want to share with those you’ve given the link to. Regardless of the reason, you need a better way of creating special blog post content and keeping it hidden from the general public. You can do that with this plugin.
As you can see, there is a lot more to blogging than just coming up with a killer topic to wow your audience. Thankfully, there are more than enough plugins to take most of the work out of that process.