Tip #5 – The 5 Plugins You MUST Have on Your Blog

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  • Written on: April 23rd, 2007

Plugins are small pieces of code that once installed in your CMS will change the way it works slightly. There are literally thousands of plugins available at no cost online that can modify your blog to do amazing things. In this post, I will cover the top 5 that I feel any beginning blog needs to install to ensure quick readership growth.

Spam Control
No one likes to visit a forum or blog that is polluted with tons of garbage comments that do nothing but promote the interests of the commentator. If you do not set up controls to stem the tide of spam on your blog, readers could get the impression that you don’t really pay to much attention to what your readers have to say.

No one likes to talk to themselves, so you defiantly want to show your readers that you are listening and paying attention to what they have to say. However in reality, it is nearly impossible for the lone blogger to manually police the thousands of posts you will accumulate on your blog over time.
The plugin you choose will depend greatly on your selection of a CMS. I use WordPress, and by default it comes with the Akismet plugin. You need to get a free WordPress API key and activate the plugin for use, but after that it is fire and forget without an annoying captchka (that also prohibits the visually impaired from commenting on your blog).

With a normal website, content that is created can sit on the web for days or even weeks before it is crawled and indexed by a search engine. Because blogs deal with breaking news and fluid situations at times, most major search engines and blog rating websites allow bloggers to send a “ping” to the search engine when new content is added to the blog. That way, it can be immediately indexed for those searching for information.

Most major blogging packages already have an integrated pinging system that notifies all of the big search engines (like Google) and blog ranking services (like Technorati) when something new is posted on your blog. However, if you selected a smaller CMS like Nucleus, you will have to manually locate and install a plugin to make these automated notifications for you.

Subscribe to Comments
This plugin allows your commentators to be informed when someone else responds to a comment they placed on one of your posts. You can choose to have commentators subscribed to comment responses by default, or make them check a box to subscribe (opt out versus opt in).

The Do Follow Plugin
This is a little controversial in the blogosphere, but I have found that this plugin increased the number of valid comments from readers on my blog. By default in most CMS platforms commentators are allowed to provide a link back to their website when they post a comment. The website links are appended to include the rel=”external nofollow” command that tells search engines not to count these links toward the target website’s rankings.
The original intent of this command was to prevent comment spam by making the links generated worthless to non-human eyes. Because they would not count toward a site’s search engine ranking, no one would have a reason to comment spam.

Since then however, anti-spam technology has progressed to the point that links in comments could be allowed, while still controlling spam. The Do Follow plugin allows these links to be counted, and consequently bloggers wishing to promote their own sites will take the time to comment on yours because you are giving them some “link juice.”

This can be a great way to stir up some conversation on your blog, especially when the subscribe to comments plugin is used as well.

Google Sitemaps
This plugin is absolutely essential. It automatically generates a Google compliant XML sitemap of your blog in both standard and compressed formats. When Google finds this sitemap, it can index your entire blog much more quickly than it would if it had to crawl through each page individually looking for unique content.

With this plugin installed your blog’s quality content will find its way into Google’s search engine faster, which means you could be ranked higher for particular search words (at least until all of the other bloggers catch up).

Next Tip – Populating Your Blog With Quality Content.

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