The New Year is a great time to either start a brand new blog or revamp your exiting website. One of the ways to improve your blog in 2012 is by using plugins that make it more social media optimized and SEO friendly.
Having the right plugins can give you an edge over other blogs and can also assist you in gaining the extra functionality you need for your WordPress-powered site, especially if social media is an important part of your marketing strategy. Let’s have a look at the top plugins that I recommend you utilize in 2012. There’s a few new plugins in the mix together with several plugins that I recommended in my Best 2011 WordPress Plugins for Social Media and SEO that you’ll want to reference if you haven’t done so.
Social Media WordPress Plugins for 2012
There are many ways to utilize the power of social media to help spread the word about your blog posts. The 3 essential types of plugins you need to have here that I cover below are social sharing, social commenting, and integrating Twitter:
- Sharebar – While there are many social share plugins available, Sharebar provides you something that none of the others do: The flexibility to add the “share” code before it is “officially” supported by the others. In doing so, and with its other customization features, Sharebar allows you to feature only the share buttons that you want on your site. If you want to install the Buffer (one of the essential Twitter apps I use) code on your website, note that this is their “officially” supported social share plugin at the moment.
- Disqus Comment System – Disqus is a separate comment blogging system that supports threaded comments and replies with varied indentions. WordPress does not support this by default, so this will make reading comment threads much easier. It also adds the ability to have your readers easily share their comments – and a link to the commented blog post – in social media. If you haven’t looked at Disqus recently, they have revamped their user interface and it is now much more responsive and easier to use.
- SEO Facebook Comment – This plugin helps you leverage the power of Facebook by embedding comments in your site. It’s easy to setup and you can have it running within a few minutes. The plugin also allows you to define the width of the Facebook comment box to better fit your site’s theme. The debate is out as to whether you should utilize an all-inclusive comment system like Disqus or leverage the power of Facebook to help spread the wealth of your content on the world’s largest social networking site. But if you do want to take the Facebook route, this is the plugin that I would recommend to you.
- Tweet Old Post – If you have been engaging and building a community of followers on Twitter, then this plugin is the perfect way to sprinkle your archived posts into your tweets. Tweet Old Post simply creates a tweet out of your previous blog posts, and sends them to your Twitter account. It even has options to add hashtags and leading text to it. The customization capabilities – and ease of doing so – give this plugin my thumbs up in the field of Twitter integration.
SEO WordPress Plugins for 2012
SEO is a never-ending battle for your blog, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right weapons on your side:
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- All in One SEO Pack – This plugin optimizes your site by letting you easily add a Title and Description that will be indexed by Google instead of the default title of your blog post and first words of your blog post that is the present WordPress default. While All in One is and older platform that has seen a lot of new competition these days, it is still the default and no-brainer option here. All in One is also supported out of the box by Scribe (see below).
- BWP Google XML Sitemaps – After successfully installing and setting up your WordPress site, you need to make sure that all your work doesn’t go to waste. Make your site known to search engines by using this plugin. As new posts are added, this plugin indexes your site quickly by updating the XML sitemap and pinging major search engines to let them know you have new content. There are other Google XML Sitemap plugins out there, but this one was recommended to me by a web hosting service sometime in 2011 – and I have stuck with it with good results.
- Scribe SEO - I do not blog without optimizing my posts for SEO, which I do using this plugin. This is a plugin that helps your content rank higher in search engine results by analyzing your posts and making suggestions about how you can improve your post from an SEO perspective. With a click of a button, your content is evaluated and given a score based on its structure and keyword density – and you can rest assured that Google will see the same targeted keywords that you intended for every blog post and page of your website.
- SEO Rank Reporter - This plugin gives you the ability to keep track of the keywords you want to rank on or are already ranking with inside the comfort of your WP dashboard. It can even issue you a report every three days by notifying you via email whenever certain keywords experience major changes in search engine ranking. A smart tool to help you monitor where your website stands in the search engine wars.
- WP Smush.it - Images are the most resource-intensive content on a webpage. So, if you’re looking for faster load times, which Google has already announced is a factor in determining search results, then optimizing pictures is a good place to start. Smush.it automatically optimizes image compression when images are uploaded to your media library, and provides a simple interface where you can decide exactly how big or small you want your image to be. A no-brainer addition to your collection of plugins.
Web Conversion WordPress Plugins for 2012
Social media and SEO are two of the best ways in which your blog, and blog-equipped website, can be found. But once someone sees your content, how can you ensure that stay on your website and increase your chances of “converting” them on whatever call to action you might have? Check out these plugins to help you achieve just that in coordination with the above SEO and social media plugins:
- Premise – Premise makes building effective WordPress landing page templates easy. It’s loaded with features including graphics for your landing pages, copywriting advice, customizable landing page templates and full compatibility with the email newsletter services of Aweber, MailChimp, and Constant Contact. You can use Premise not only for traditional “landing pages” but also to create “Content Pages” to optimize the SEO of your past blog posts.
- The Slide – The Slide is a free plugin that helps you increase your site’s page views. This plugin analyzes your articles and recommends past articles that are similar to it. It slides a discreet window at the bottom right of the screen which has a link to related articles the reader might be interested in. You can see The Slide in action on this website.
- Outbrain – Showing related posts on your site helps reduce bounce rates and retains visitors so you can turn them into subscribers, clients and customers. Outbrain adds extra interactivity to your site by letting users rate your articles and check out related content based on the rates they’ve given. It also provides a reporting system that allows you to view your most popular, highest click-through articles. I’ve tried a few of these plugins, and right now my recommendation would be to use this one for ease of customization, good look-and-feel, and performance.
- Hello Bar – This is a simple and unobtrusive web toolbar that sits across the top of a website. It lets you catch your user’s attention and leads them to a call to action. You can even customize the color of your bar, the text font, text color and a few other options so that it blends perfectly with your site. Don’t let the most valuable part of your website – the top horizontal space – go to waste! Guide your visitors to where you want to send them!
- WPtouch – This plugin detects requests from smartphones and loads an alternate mobile theme for your site that best suits small touchscreens. The styling mimics that of iPhone applications, so the interface looks and feels intuitive to many mobile users. If you haven’t checked your latest Google Analytics you just might be surprised how many mobile visitors are visiting your website. Give them what they deserve – an easy to use and optimized user experience – for free!
For me, these are 14 of the best WordPress plugins for those who want a truly optimized blog for social media and SEO in 2012. Which plugins do you use to optimize your WordPress site for social media and SEO? Any ones that don’t appear on this list? New ones that you recommend to be included in this list? Give me a shout out in the comments below. Thanks!