A question I see a lot when it comes to WordPress blogs are what are the best WordPress plugins for my blog?
It’s a good question and it’s certainly been answered in adequate detail by many bloggers.
So in this post I want to take it further than just ‘plugins’ and give you some of the best tools available to us all for free. In this list you will find five of the must have tools that I couldn’t live without.
Here are my top five…
1. Google Analytics
Maybe this is an obvious choice but I can only continue to spout just how important it really is. If you’re a serious business or blogger you absolutely must use Google Analytics to track your sites progress.
In the most basic of ways it breaks down for you where your traffic is coming from.
– Allowing you to determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
To track conversions.
– That’s right Google Analytics allows custom event tracking which means you can set up Analytics to track visitor flow and most importantly if people are landing on the right pages.
– One example would be if you wanted to focus on growing subscribers and once subscribed you redirect your visitor to a ‘thank you’ page… In Google you can tell it to track how many people reach that page. Of course this isn’t the greatest example as you will get those notifications if you’re with a good mailing list provider anyway.
If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed then follow this simple to follow guide to install Google Analytics on your site in under five minutes.
To find out where you can improve on-site.
– Indeed it is known that using bounce rate and visitor time can give you at the very least, a basic idea of if your site is designed well and engaging enough for your audience.
A simple service that simply allows you to get credits for re-tweeting content that you like and then you can submit your own tweet on the site and offer a credit incentive for others to re-tweet the content if they find it interesting and it’s relevant to your audience.
I like JustRetweet because it allows me to get more reach to people who may enjoy my content.
Top Tip: Offer a high incentive of credits while only allowing influencers to re-tweet your content. I do this by selecting people with only 10,000+ followers to be eligible to re-tweet my content.
3. Google Search.
If you’re not taking advantage of the power of using Googles advanced search operators then you should be.
Google has been one of my best resources for finding places to guest post, submit my blog to for syndication, and submit links to for web directories.
I know finding for example directories through Google may seem like a waste of time at first but you can get additional traffic from submitting new content to directories you may never hear of unless you do your due diligence.
I got 45 visits from BizSugar in the last month which 31 of I’ve never had before. It adds up!
A site where you can get feedback for your website. Criticue works similarly to JustRetweet in the sense that you have to perform an action to get an action from others. In this case reviewing sites but some of the feedback you can get will be enlightening and will definitely help you improve your design.
Not everyone on Criticue is a designer but you can at least take the suggestions on board.
A big part of your blogging strategy should be building a community.
– Do you get a lot of returning visitors in your Google Analytics?
If you don’t have a community then using Topsy to find people to connect with can be a great way to start. Topsy is a social search engine that will give you the kind of data you need to find influencers in your niche to outreach to, connect with and it can also be a great way to start researching competitor blogs and their most popular posts to give you ideas for your own content strategy.
Five tools for your blog may seem like not a lot and really there are hundreds of others I could have put into this list. When time is our greatest resource and most finite one you just can’t use them all.
At some point or another you’re going to have to use each one of these tools if you want to run a truly successful blog or content marketing campaign.
In a community obsessed with plugins it’s good sometimes to take a step back and look at what you can be doing outside of WordPress to improve your blogging efforts.
If you have any other tips or tools please let me know as I’d be interested to hear and try them out!