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Five Useful WordPress Plugins

Plugins   In my last post, I was writing about adding plugins to WordPress blogs, and I said that I had recently installed five which were generally held to be well worth having.
Two are to do with helping search-engines introduce visitors to your blog; two are to help your visitors, and the last one is to keep unsullied your blog’s electronic reputation.

The first one is the ‘All-in-One-SEO-Pack’.
SEO stands for “Search-Engine Optimisation”. This is a process by which the coding of web pages is tailored to suit the way search-engines such as Google examine and index them, to make them easier to find.
So if someone’s using a search-engine to look for information about a subject, they’re more likely to come across a page which has been optimised than one which hasn’t. Obviously you want as many visitors as possible, which is why SEO is a good idea.
SEO can be done manually if you know what you’re doing, but this plugin does it automatically for your blog pages. It has customisable options, but it’s designed to work effectively ‘out of the box’, so you don’t have to worry about the options if you don’t want to. Find out more here.

While we’re talking about Search-Engines, there’s another plugin on my list which is designed to make their indexing job easier as they work their way around your site. This is the ‘Google XML Sitemaps’ plugin, which does what it says on the tin; i.e. it generates a ‘sitemap’ compliant with Google’s requirements. Sitemaps are just web documents (in this case XML files) which list all the site’s links hierarchically. They can be useful for visitors, too: you may have used them yourself on some websites. You can read about the Google XML Sitemaps plugin here.

Next up is ‘CommentLuv‘, which is a plugin designed to encourage visitors to comment on your posts. If they leave a comment, the plugin will automatically append to it a link to their own recent blog posts, tweets, etc. – they even get a choice of which one they want shown! The plugin is configurable, and you can read more about it here.

ShareThis‘ is a plugin which allows users to show your post to to their friends and associates via social bookmarking sites, or to send it to them via email, Facebook etc. You can configure the way it looks on your blog if you like, and you can also track the referrals if you register. Go here to find out more.

The last plugin for now is the ‘Maxblogpress-Ping-Optimizer’.
Whenever you create a new post, your blog sends an electronic signal (a ‘ping’) out across the web to notify search engines and blog directorieetc. that it has been updated. However, because this ultimately results in traffic (more visitors), this process has often been abused by ‘ping-spammers’ sending multiple pings around the web just to get attention; and they usually end up being automatically banned by the services concerned.
The trouble is that your WordPress blog pings too, every time you edit even the smallest thing; so that if you make a number of progressive alterations in publishing a post the way you want it, you run the risk of being banned too.
Unless, that is, you install this plugin, which ensures that your blog pings, not with reckless abandon, but appropriately, and with decorum. You can find out more about it here.

So that’s the list, then; five useful plugins to add to a blog:

All-in-One-SEO-Pack
Google XML Sitemaps
CommentLuv
ShareThis
Maxblogpress-Ping-Optimizer

You can explore plugins further at these WordPress links:

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
http://codex.wordpress.org/Plugins

However, there are many other useful sources of information on this subject, such as this guide to plugin installation from UrbanGiraffe.com.
Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment.
See what works for you, and – without going overboard and making things unnecessarily complex – have fun!

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