It’s easy to go plugin-crazy after installing WordPress.
Plugins add functionality to your site and a lot of them do really cool things.
But my criteria for a plugin is that it has to be useful and it has to be secure.
If it doesn’t help your site do what you want it to do, don’t add it. And be sure to only download plugins from trusted developers. Look at the reviews and ensure that the plugin you’re getting is up to date.
The bottom line is: think quality, not quantity.
And with that in mind, I want to share three plugins that I love, starting with one that will help your site be found in the search engines.
I wrote a post a few months back on how I suggest online teachers approach SEO.
In a nutshell: write articles that are valuable for those in your niche and customize your site for the search engines without going overboard.
Write for humans, not for Google.
The easiest way to customize your site (onsite SEO) is to use this plugin.
I use it to modify the title, description, and keywords of a page or post. There is so much more that you can use it for and things can get technical very quickly. Luckily, the kind folks over at Yoast have written a getting started guide to make things easier.
One feature that I particularly like about the plugin is you can change the way your posts look on social media. Here is a screenshot of what you can change:
This means that you can create click bait headlines inside Facebook – “You will not believe the plugins that this English teacher is using! Number 3 changed my life!” – while keeping your original headline on your website!
I use this to change the description on some posts and ensure that the picture is optimized for the Facebook news feed. This optimal size keeps changing (right now it is 470 x 246 – I usually double it) but it’s worth keeping up with this to make your images look great on Facebook.
Let’s see if you can follow along with this…
This link is an affiliate link that will take you to a site where you can add affiliate links on your site – just like this link. If you decide to start using this plugin and make money from it, I will get a small commission.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Affiliate marketing is where you promote products or services that you haven’t created yourself. If someone makes a purchase through your link, you receive a commission.
I have affiliate links throughout this site. For example, in my tutorial on WordPress, there are affiliate links for hosting, themes, and domain name purchases.
One problem you’ll face if you promote multiple products on your site is that you’ll have to go through the process of signing up with each merchant. Sometimes, the payment thresholds for these merchants are quite high meaning that it might take you a while to get paid. And it can be a pain to go into your account to find your affiliate link every time you need to add it.
Skimlinks has solved these problems.
It works like this: you get an account, install the plugin, and then all you need to do is type the merchant link directly onto your site. Skimlinks automatically turns the links on your blog into affiliate links.
Another benefit is that because they are dealing with high sales numbers, the company often negotiates higher commissions. And they allow those who can’t sign up to Amazon Affiliates due to geographical restrictions the ability to market Amazon products.
It’s difficult to make a living from affiliate marketing, but I certainly don’t complain about the extra income it brings in. And Skimlinks simplifies this for you.
This picture below – taken from this article – made me laugh.
I haven’t found this to be the case on my sites; I’m actually quite surprised at how many thoughtful comments are left (thank you!).
A part of this is down to me using Disqus. With most other commenting systems, you leave your name, email, and URL. Your name links to the URL you left. This gets spammers excited.
With Disqus, you can sign in with a native Disqus account (when you click someone’s name, it pops up with a bio), through your social accounts, or as a guest (just your name and email).
This reduces the amount of spam you get.
It looks a lot better than the native WordPress commenting system and there is a really cool thing about it too…
When someone leaves a comment on your blog, you are sent an email notification. Hit reply, type in your response, and your comment will show up on your blog. This saves you from having to go to the blog post each time you reply.
Over to You
Are you going to start using one of the above plugins? Already doing so? Please leave your thoughts below.
And please share any plugins that you find useful.