Why WordPress Rocks!

Posted on: April 24th, 2012 by benegourmet
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Another Reason Why I Love WordPress – Plugins

If you've read my books or read my blog posts, you know that I'm a big fan of WordPress.  It is free, easy to work with, and well supported in the development community.

Check out this article from Quicksprout on WordPress plugins…

wordpress

If you are blogging to promote yourself or your company, then there are two trends you need to be very concerned about…

The speed of your site and social sharing.

For the last two years, search engines like Google have been putting heavy emphasis on these two issues. Plus, web users are abandoning sites that are slow to load and they are moving towards reading content with high social shares.

But how do you make your site faster? And how do you encourage more shares?

Fortunately, if you use WordPress, then most of the work is done for you. You just simply have to download one of these plugins, tick off some boxes and you’re off to a faster site with more shares.

Here are the ten plugins that you ought to use:

Plugin #1: WordPress SEO by Yoast

All in One SEO used to be the go-to plugin when it came to easy SEO for WordPress blogs and sites. That’s until Yoast came out with WordPress SEO.

This plugin has so many cool features like a snippet preview, and a page analysis to help you optimize a page’s content, including meta data like titles, keywords and descriptions:

wordpress yoast

Other options include:

  • Robots meta configuration – Keep single posts or pages out of the index…or entire sections with this simple feature.
  • Canonical - This allows you to control the correct canonical on each page, including the homepage, tags and categories. (This got messy when Yahoo, Google and Microsoft started supporting a new link element to clean up duplicate URLs on sites.)
  • Breadcrumbs – Control which taxonomy to show for each post and control which title to use for each post, page and taxonomy.
  • Permalink clean up – You can make sure that links pointing toward you are clean (they don’t end in a weird variable like /2 at the end of them) by directing those weird links away from you.
  • XML sitemaps – Using a XSLT stylesheet renders your sitemap readable by humans but also talks to your SEO plugin so that when you noindex a page, it won’t accidentally still end up on your sitemap, which happens when you use a different XML sitemap generator.
  • RSS enhancements – Add a piece of content to the beginning and end of your content, which allows you to link back to your blog and the particular blog post…helpful if you content is getting scraped.
  • Robots.txt and .htaccess editing – This makes editing the robots.txt and .htaccess easy. You can now do it straight from the plugin files menu.

Plugin #2: HTTP Compression

If a browser supports compression, then a blog using the HTTP Compression plugin will compress pages in gzip format…

Rendering a 60-80% reduction in the size of your pages, which turns into a 3 to 4 times increase in page speed, which is essential if you don’t want to lose visitors.

If you’re not using the latest version of WordPress, you may not be able to use the gzip compression. Test your blog using the simple tool at Is My Blog Working?

wordpress compression

If the “Your blog application doesn’t support gzip compression” is showing up, then you probably need to install the latest WordPress version.

By the way, this plugin won’t work if you are using WP Super Cache, since it uses compression functionality. Your blog will still work, but WP Super Cache will stop caching new pages.

Plugin #3: WP Super Cache

Another plugin that speeds up your site, especially in the case of a sudden surge of traffic, is the WP Super Cache, which creates static HTML files that are served instead of the heavier PHP scripts in WordPress.

Super Cache helps in two ways: when your server is underpowered or when you are experiencing a heavy surge of traffic.

It’s been tested under some extreme examples…and proven to work without a hiccup.

For example, Scott Beale had a page show up on the Digg front page twice, a mention on Slashdot and some major media exposure…with over 200,000 page views in one day:

wordpress traffic

Scott was using Super Cache and didn’t experience a slowdown in server speed.

Plugin #4: Facebook Comments Box

Comments Box is a social plugin that enables users to comment on your site.

facebook comments

There are two key benefits to using Facebook Comment box for your comments:

  • Social relevance – The most relevant comments, comments left by friends, the highest liked comments or active threads are all ordered from top to bottom; basically leveraging the social signals of users.
  • Distribution – Using this plugin allows you to spread a discussion onto Facebook. When a user keeps the “Post to Facebook” box checked their comment will show up on their Facebook streams, exposing their comment and your blog post (and the link) to their friends.

That last point allows your friends to now comment on the discussion by liking or replying to your comment, which is done directly in Facebook. However, these discussions are all linked and connected back to your site. This perfect social commenting ecosystem is why Raven Tools made the switch to Facebook Comment Box.

Unfortunately, this plugin renders your comments in an iFrame (yes, that means Facebook owns your comments), which search engines will not crawl.

The workaround is to grab the comments from the API

facebook api

…and stick them in the body of your page behind the comments box. But that’s a lot of work, so you need to decide if the advantages gained in social sharing are worth the losses in SEO impact.

Plugin #5: WPtouch

More and more people are accessing the Internet via their smart phones. Unfortunately, most websites and blogs are not mobile phone friendly. That means you need to get your site ready for mobile use…or miss out on opportunities to spread your content in a new way.

Fortunately, if you have a WordPress website or blog, adapting it to mobile is pretty simple due to the WPtouch plugin.

This plugin takes your WordPress blog and turns it into an app like theme:

wordpress iphone

The plugin works on iPhones, iPod Touches, Android, Blackberry 0S6 and Palm Pre/Pixi and gives users control to switch between the WPtouch theme or your regular view.

And keep in mind this does not change a bit of code.

The WPtouch Pro gives you more options with theme style, color, 10 languages and even advertising options. Also, the 2.6 version gives you iPad theme support.

…More at 10 WordPress Plugins for a Faster, More Search Friendly Blog

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