Recently, it’s become tremendously easy to install and make automatic upgrades your blog using WordPress (thanks Keith!) and I actually use it for all of my clients who are trying to build their first blog or simple content site on the web.
Because WordPress is easy to install and navigate (and there are a number of free themes to get you started), I highly recommend that anyone with a good amount of HTML experience give it a whirl. If you don’t have HTML experience but are a small business owner or potential blogger - let me know.
Of course, my Top 5 WordPress Plugins all rotate around good Search Engine Optimization practices and improving the user experience so that both the blog visitor and the blog owner get more value from the website experience.
#1 All in One SEO Pack
Anyone who is anyone will have the plugin on their top plugins list. It’s a great WordPress Optimization for Search that naturally helps catalog and effectively organize your webpages for search engines.
Search top plugins for WordPress and you’ll see how popular this one is. (In fact, you’re probably already searching for good plugins). It’s amazing to me that WordPress hasn’t bundled this plugin with the initial download so it automatically adds ability to create unique title tags and descriptive URLs. The plugin works so nicely and provides a measurable, noticeable difference when it comes to being found via the search engines.
#2 Permalink Redirect
You never want to loose link equity if you don’t have to. Whenever you move pages around your site and change the url you are inadvertently uprooting a valuable investment and giving it away.
If you ever need to rename a post or change a link, this great WordPress redirect plugin automatically creates a 301 redirect so that you can safely maintain all of the value through your link building and SEO efforts. Without it, your visitors could be linking to broken content and you will be throwing away valuable link equity unnecessarily – and who wants to do that?
#3 Google XML Sitemaps
If you want to give your site a little Search Engine kick, get this quick and simple WordPress XML Sitemap Optimization Plugin to help Google keep tabs on your valuable content.
This XML Sitemap file will be updated every time you post and give search engines a single place to look for new content. Once you’ve enabled this plugin you want to make sure you register your sitemap with all the search engines using their various webmaster registration tools so that when they crawl, they can utilize your XML sitemap for new indexable content.
The nice part of this plugin is that it gives WordPress the power to auto-generate or you as the user can manually set your post’s individual value.
#4 WordPress Database Backup
In general, having a great back up can save you from unfortunately loosing your data. I recommend this sturdy WordPress Database Backup Plugin as a simple way to quickly and effectively create backup files so that you can restore your blog in the event that you loose your site goes sour.
If order to get the best out of the plugin, make sure to backup your data regularly. At this point, it’s a manual process but I’m hoping they come out with an automatic backup shortly.
#5 AdSense Manager
If you decide to sell advertising with Google AdSense, this plugin works great. There’s nothing too flashy and although there’s nothing tremendously amazing about this WordPress AdSense Manager - you can do most things via the plugin when directly in Google’s AdSense Manager.
But it provides a quick way of adding ad blocks to your website through the Appearence > Widgets menu. Also, having all the AdSense Manager options available within the WordPress tool can help save time when making a quick ad change.
Bonus: Setup Feedburner!
This isn’t neccesarrily a plugin, but I thought it would be good to include, as setting up a feedburner feed gives your audience the option of quickly and easily staying up-to-date on your posts without having to manually visit your website everyday.
Obviously, more tech-savvy folks use RSS feeds to keep track of all of their favorite blogs but I regularly come across surfers who haven’t yet grasped the RSS revolution and would rather stay updated through regular emails – which can be done for free with Feedburner’s Email Syndication. There’s also plenty of other tools from Feedburner to help grow your visitor traffic.
Note: If you are using an analytics tool to track visitors, adding an email feed will lead to an immediate drop in site visits but overall it will provide a better user experience that – in time – will reap greater returns for your site.