Jetpack by WordPress.com
I like Jetpack because it works brilliantly with WordPress (since it is developed by the same team), but also because it’s really a bunch of plugins in one.
My favorite Jetpack tool is the Statistics. While I don’t find the numbers to be as accurate as Google Analytics (all those bots), I think it can be easier to understand and find important information at a glance. It’s super easy to see what your most viewed blog post is for the day, week, or even month. I’ve also caught numerous people stealing my photos and content with the Jetpack stats.
Another handy thing Jetpack can do is email you if your site goes down. This way you can act right away, contact your host to get more information about when things might be resolved and maybe even a credit on your account. It will also send you an email once everything is back up, so you know how long your site was down.
I highly recommend installing and setting up Yoast SEO from the get go. It’s a pain to go back and update relevant info to help boost your SEO after you already have several hundred blog posts… trust me. Plus, SEO only gets better with time. If you set up a post to rank well from the beginning for relevant terms and it brings in clicks and readers, then you’re post will be more likely to stay at the top in the future.
Plus, I do better at completing tasks when I have a checklist. Yoast does that for you. It breaks down all the different sections you need to think about and set for each page or post and it gives you an overall rating of how SEO friendly your post actually is.
If you happen to forget to set these values, Yoast actually goes ahead and puts in some logical default values. You can always update them later, but at least you have something to start with.
This is mostly a personal pet peeve of mine. Let’s face it… blog posts can get pretty long. While you’re reading and looking at the photos, all the scrolling doesn’t feel so long. But, once you’re done it can be super annoying to scroll all the way up to the top in order to click on a link or navigation button. You want to discourage your visitors from leaving your blog by making it as easy as possible to click on another link.
jQuery Smooth Scroll adds a little button on the bottom right side of your website that when clicked will automatically send the reader all the way back to the top of your website. Some themes include this automatically, but if yours doesn’t please add it!
WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta
This is another tool for keeping your bounce rate low. While I don’t personally think the number is super important (I’d be happy to have a reader come back to read each post soon after it’s posted and leave), I do think it’s important to encourage readers to stay on your blog for as long as you can.
I typically do it in two ways. The first is by linking to posts I deem relevant within the body of the post and the second is by using a plugin to pull in related posts based on categories and tags. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about plugins not working properly, but I’ve found that if you have a good system of creating categories and tags then it’s pretty accurate.
Click to Tweet by CoSchedule
If you are working hard at creating amazing content, but not seeing as much traffic as you would like, then you might need to focus on the social sharing and advertising side of blogging. One super easy way to do this is to include a Click to Tweet in each blog post. This way your readers will be doing some of the sharing for you and can help you get your awesome content in front of more people and maybe even go viral.
If you plan to sell advertisements, participate in affiliate marketing, or work with any brand on a product review of sponsored post, then listen up. Any link that was “paid” for by another party must NoFollow according to FTC Guidelines and good old Google. Paid can mean a number of things including cash, gift cards, free product, giveaway prizes, and even exposure.
Making a link NoFollow isn’t too difficult, but it can be very tedious because you have to do it on every single one. When I finally found Ultimate NoFollow, I was thrilled. It makes my life so much easier when it comes to product review posts. Instead of manually having to modify the link’s HTML, you can just click an extra check box when you add your link to indicate it as NoFollow. The plugin adds the extra bit of code for you. Super simple, but oh so helpful.