Being a WordPress user, you must have surely come across the term “Plugin” every now and then. Did you know that currently there are 32, 613 WordPress Plugins in the WordPress repository itself?
Anyone can get confused and there is no way beginners will have a single clue on which ones they must be using. Even I don’t know about each and every plugin that’s available on the WordPress repository but I do know about a few that are highly effective in helping you boost your blog traffic.
But before we discuss that, you must have an understanding of a WordPress plugin and what it does.
So, what is a WordPress Plugin?
As per WordPress, “Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress”. Now if you are someone like me who doesn’t understand such a complicated definition then here’s my simple one. A WordPress Plugin is a small bit of code or a program that can be easily added (plugged in) to an existing WordPress code.
In short, a Plugin is a small program that can be added to a bigger problem by simply uploading the files and then activating it. When it’s activated, the code generally creates a new feature for your blog. In WordPress, there’s a section where you can find the list of Plugins by searching through the Plugins directory from within your blog and it lets you install and then activate the plugin very quickly and easily.
The best part about a WordPress plugin is that it doesn’t tamper with your existing WordPress program as well as doesn’t work until it’s activated. You can add as many plugins on your blog unless any 2 plugins conflict with one another. But then, it is often advised by Pro bloggers that you must keep only those plugins that you actually need as adding more plugins unnecessarily can put the extra load on your blog and affect the speed of on the same.
Ok, so what Plugins you must know about?
Now as I mentioned earlier, there are more than 30,000 WordPress plugins in the WordPress Plugin directory itself. So, it gets a bit tough to decide which plugins you must use on your blog. With years of experience with WordPress and after researching thoroughly on the web, I have come up with the following list of 7 different plugins on WordPress that are very helpful:
Google XML Sitemaps
The main reason behind creating a blog and writing amazing blog posts is to attract readers who will read it. Well, how are these readers going to find your blog posts in the first place if you are a newbie blogger? The main source of traffic for any website is Search Engine traffic. Hence, it is highly advisable to create a blog that’s user-friendly as well as search engine friendly.
Search engines must be able to crawl your blog pages and index them easily so they can rank your posts whenever a user searches for a relevant query. And the best way to do that is to have an XML sitemap on your blog. Many bloggers neglect this fact and often do not create an XML sitemap for their blog while some try to create it manually.
Remember that your blog will be updated with new posts every now and then. After all, that’s what blogging is all about. So creating an XML sitemap manually can be a temporary solution and editing the page manually every time a new post is published is foolish.
Don’t worry, you can install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin which automatically generates an XML sitemap that allows all the major search engines such as Google, Bing, Ask, and Yahoo to crawl your blog and index your pages in an effective manner. The main reason why you must install this plugin is to automatically create an XML sitemap of your blog when you publish a new blog post which otherwise you would be doing manually.
Today, besides search engine traffic, the most reliable and simplest method to generate a steady flow of visitors to your blog without spending a penny is using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter effectively. First and foremost, if you are a beginner blogger then you must make use of these sites by asking your friends to share or like your blog posts. The most effective way to do that is to set up a sharing option within your blog post or page where a user can directly share your post on major social media platforms.
I recommend using the Sharebar plugin for that. The plugin positions the Sharebar on a side of the page and as the reader scrolls down through the page, the Sharebar moves alongside the content, keeping the visibility intact as well as making it easier for the readers to share the post via different social media platforms without having to scroll back up.
The Sharebar WordPress plugin allows a very good list of social media icons that you can enable on the scrolling Sharebar on every blog post but it is highly advisable to go for the most important ones only. If you choose let’s say five buttons, then the user will feel a bit uncomfortable while reading your blog and leave without using the Sharebar buttons.
I would recommend using buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ while the rest are not that important as most of your readers may or may not be aware of other social media buttons. If you’re posting images a lot on your blog then having a “Pin It” button from Pinterest could come in handy as well.
Yet another plugin that can attract traffic to your blog is Top Commentators. This plugin can lure your readers to comment on your blog to be listed as top commentators and hence visit the blog or other blog posts very often. It’s much more theoretical than practical as it sounds but then anything that adds value is always profitable.
It may not be 100% effective but the fact is that this plugin can influence or encourage visitors to visit the blog again and comment on it. With such a luring bait to be positioned on the leader board, the plugin will drive the visitors again and again to your blog.
To make this plugin work more effectively, I recommend limiting the top commentator board up to five profiles as it will toughen up the competition. With a larger top commentator board, it gets easier for people to get on board and will reduce the frequency of their visits and comments. It is also advisable to reset the plugin every week in order to give the new visitors an opportunity to get on the top commentators' board as well.
The best way to analyze the popularity of your blog is by the number of new visitors you are getting. But unfortunately, many of the new visitors never return to your blog. Most of them will not even surf around your blog or visit other blog posts.
In short, you only get a few moments to impress the reader to analyze the quality of your blog as it contains some amazing blog posts. The most effective way to do that is to install the Popularity Contest WordPress plugin which allows you to display the posts to your new readers loved and favorite by their other past visitors.
Many bloggers around the globe have installed this plugin with effective results and would swear that the highest click-through area on any blog is the “Popular Posts” area. These top bloggers include but are not limited to Neil Patel of Quick Sprout, Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and Tim Ferris of Four Hour Work Week.
Of course, you have an in-built RSS subscription system on your blog that allows your visitors to subscribe to the blog as well as displays the count of subscribers you have. Yet, the major problem with RSS subscriptions is that not many nowadays use an RSS reader.
Being a proficient internet user, I myself am not a fan of RSS but I prefer email. Almost everyone who uses and reads blogs on the web would surely have an email account.
So, it’s in everybody’s interest to install an AWeber Integration WordPress plugin on your blog. This plugin lets your readers become a subscriber to your blog and receive posts by email. And once they subscribe to your blog via the AWeber plugin, these subscribers will be updated on the Feedburner account automatically.
This plugin will also encourage your visitors to hit the subscription button in order to get instant updates about the latest posts on your blog for free. You can also offer some freebie such as eBook, software, plugin, or a giveaway that your readers wouldn’t deny.
Subscribe to comments
You very well know or are at least aware of the functionality of the comments or feedback section of your blog. The comments feature is one of the best ways to start a chat or encourage user engagement on your blog, right?
Hence, it becomes highly important when the visitor leaves a comment or feedback to respond back to them as nobody likes to start a conversation on their own. But when you respond to the comments there’s no guarantee that your readers will get the reply message.
The best way to solve this issue is to use Subscribe to Comments WordPress plugin on your blog. With the help of this plugin, the readers will automatically receive an email notification about the comment replies from your blog. This will actually encourage your readers to visit your blog again and respond to your reply that not only starts a user engagement or conversation but also increases the traffic of your blog.
All in One SEO Pack
While blogging, most bloggers neglect the importance of Title and Meta description when they must not. If applied well, small tweaks on your title as well as Meta description for each blog post can do wonders to your search engine traffic.
Even one of the top blogs like TechCrunch has successfully doubled their search traffic within 30 days of adding a few tweaks to their titles as well as Meta Description tags taking advice from Neil Patel.
All in One SEO Pack WordPress plugin helps you change the Titles as well as Meta Description tags without much hassle. Again it may sound a bit too theoretical for now but once you try it out and then you can see the difference yourself. The simple thing to do is to keep it short, catchy, and keyword-rich and you can generate some good search traffic to your blog.
Being said that, you need to make sure that you don’t create titles as well as Meta descriptions only to rank on search engines. Remember that these title tag and Meta description is displayed when your blog post is ranked on popular search engines and even if you rank on top the probability of the user clicking your link completely relies on your Title tag and Meta Description altogether. Hence, don’t create title tags containing repetitive or spammy keywords just to rank your post higher as it won’t and even if it does it won’t stay there for long.
That’s it. Above are the 7 highly important WordPress plugins you must know about. As mentioned earlier, there are more than 30,000 plugins out there and you must be wise to choose only the best of the lot for your blog rather than cluttering your blog adding a number of unnecessary plugins. Avid web surfers visit your blog searching for some information or interesting stuff and you must never distract them with unnecessary plugins.
I personally use only the most important plugins that add value to my blog. Thus, if you want to install a plugin then first analyze its worth to your blog and to the readers and later decide if you really want to use it.