February 17, 2016 Blogging Tips My Favorite WordPress Plugins A few weekends back I had the pleasure of talking at one of the round tables at the Blog Your Best conference hosted by the Windy City Blogger Collective. Kit and Erin did an incredible job of putting everything together and I left knowing more than I did when I came in! The round table I hosted alongside Jordan from Smile Sandwich was all about ‘the best tools you’re not already using’. There were so many good tools, but today I wanted to round up some of my favorite WordPress plugins and tell you why they’re so great! I actually thought I had written a post on plugins, but I looked back and actually couldn’t find anything! These are all plugins that I use and find incredibly helpful and valuable. Depending on your site, you might not need all of these, but it’s a good place to start! So here we go… Yoast SEO This is one plugin I recommend to anyone with a WordPress blog. It makes it easy for you to double check that your post is SEO-friendly. All you have to do is fill out a few fields and it gives you suggestions to make your post better for search engines. When the light is green, you’re good to go! I shared a tutorial a while back on how to properly use the plugin, you can read that here. Contact Form 7 If you want a simple contact form on your site, this one is great! It’s nothing fancy, but it’s super easy to set up and responses go to an email of your choice. Do note that a lot of servers will block Gmail email accounts though, so it’s best if you have responses go to an email that ends with your domain, so something like email@example.com vs. firstname.lastname@example.org. Disqus Comment System Wordpress has a built in commenting system, but I’ve found that Disqus encourages my readers to comment more. Depending on your audience that may not be true, but it works for me. Featured Images in RSS with Size & Position This one is for those using MailChimp and want to send out an RSS-email campaign that pulls in images from your latest posts. It’s easy to set up and works very well! JetPack JetPack has a lot of features, but I mostly use it for the daily, quick-view statistics to see how posts are performing that day. FYI, I do not use these numbers for brands. Google Analytics is the industry standard and is best to use when reporting to brands. Reduce Bounce Rate This one was a crowd favorite! It reduces your bounce rate which is good for SEO because it tells Google and other search engines that people are finding what they want when they come to your site. The reason bounce rate can be high on blogs is because of long, scrolling pages and those typically just count as one view. This plugin counts a scroll as an ‘event’, so that even if a reader doesn’t click through to another page, you’re not penalized for it. The one setting to change is ‘Scroll on Page’ is set to ‘Yes’! Public Post Preview My friend Jess showed me this one and it’s a game-changer for when brands need to review your content before publishing. It allows you to give them a link to preview your content before it goes live so you don’t have to type it into a word document or upload images. Related Posts This plugin by Zemanta is the best related posts plugin I’ve found so far. It’s clean, looks nice and easy to install! WordPress Editorial Calendar This plugin makes it super easy to drop in and move around posts on the backend of your site. I don’t use it for content planning, I use the Ultimate Editorial Calendar for that, but I find that it’s easier to move posts around and get a better idea of what I have scheduled with this view vs. the list that WordPress shows. WordPress Popular Posts I like this plugin because it gives readers an easy way to look around and see other content that you’ve posted. The goal is always to get people to stay longer and this one is a good way to do that! What are you favorite, must-have plugins?!