I’m a huge advocate of using a self hosted WordPress site for a writer or author website. So I thought I’d share some of what I believe to be ‘must have’ plugins for any writer or author website. All these plugins are open source, which means they are free for the WordPress community of users to use.
This vital plugin will create a special XML sitemap which is used to help search engines like Google, index your website better for improved Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The sitemap resembles something like a written list on a notepad with a few squiggles drawn. Rather than some information on a notepad, it’s in code form that the Google spiders understand.
What this plugin allows you to do is optimise your WordPress website or blog for Google. It places ‘Title’, ‘Description’ and ‘Keywords’ boxes below where you write your blog post within WordPress. The information in these boxes is what Google uses to define the relevance of your blog post to the topic you are writing about. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous Google Sitemaps plugin.
What a weird name, but it’s used by millions or WordPress users. Akismet protects your website or blog from trackback and comment spam. It is considered as the default standard plugin for protecting your blog. Once installed, you don’t have to do anything else. It simply works automatically in the background of your website or blog, constantly on the alert for evil spammers 24/7.
What this does is add what’s known as a ‘CAPTCHA’, mostly used on contact forms to eliminate email and comment spam. You’ve no doubt seen ‘Captcha’s’ when using Google or other websites that require you to type in the hard-to-read letters and numbers before submitting information. This is for good reason as it serves as a prevention against spam bots.
Smart YouTube PRO, previously called ‘Smart Youtube‘ is a popular plugin that provides added support for video playback such as Youtube, Vimeo and works on mobile devices. The plugin has been designed to be small, fast and not rely on external resources which can slow things down.
Some of the many features include better playback of standard and high definition video and extracts thumbnails for your archive and category posts.
This plugin allows you to place social bookmarking and sharing buttons to your website or blog. As the age of social media continues to progress you want to make sure your content is ‘share-able’ by readers. This helps with word of mouth marketing. Also, Google is now placing added focus on social media channels and giving those websites with social sharing capabilities more weight.
So if your website has blog articles that have been shared by readers with the ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons, Google will see this and give your article added SEO Ranking Juice. This plugin has excellent flexibility with options to move the share icons left, right, vertical, horizontal, a call to action box and the ability to customise their location and appearance with custom code. Make sure you have social sharing icons setup properly or have someone do it for you.
7. Digg Digg
This is an alternative to the Socialize plugin, which enables readers to click ‘share buttons’ such as Tweet or Like on your blog articles. You may have seen those cool, user friendly share bars sliding beside blog articles on other websites. Most of them are using this plugin.
What I like is the customisation. You can get right down to the nitty-gritty of how the buttons are displayed, whether the share buttons display on posts and pages and even how close the share bar is to the side and top of your website. It’s created by the team responsible for the fantastic buffer app I covered in a previous newsletter. This has become the standard share plugin now for all Book Cover Cafe created author websites.
What this does is allow people who leave a comment on one of your blog posts, to sign up for email notifications when a reply is made to their comment. It’s great for keeping track of conversations and building those all important relationships. You can see what it looks like below the comment box on this post, it’s the option “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail”. It’s handy, I use it myself on other blogs.
When you see those social media icons such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the sidebar of people’s websites and blogs, those are usually created from having installed a plugin. The icons are simply links to the person’s or business social media channel where you can choose to follow them. Social Media Widget does just that, with excellent customisation and expandability for any social network you can imagine. It also provides the ability to adjust icon sizes and even use your own custom icons.
Here’s to an effective website!