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9 of My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Basic WordPress Plugins for All WP Users

Basic WordPress Plugins for All WP Users

Where would we be without plugins for WordPress?  They expand our sites and enable us to do some very impressive stuff.

Over the years I have tried a lot of plugins — many did not measure up and were less than impressive, but some have proven to be helpful little winners in my book.

As an aside, when you are thinking of installing a plugin, make sure that you get it from a trusted source such as http://wordpress.org/plugins  They tend to purge plugins that don’t measure up, have scripts in them that intend injury to your site, and are no longer supported.

(But even at the WordPress home base, it is prudent to check the stats of the plugin you intend to use to see if it has been updated recently. If it has not been updated in the last two months or so, do not install it. Plugins (and WordPress sites themselves for that matter) that don’t get updated are at a very high risk of being hacked. While you are at it, check the feedback– if it gets good feedback and has been updated recently, you are pretty safe installing it.)

Here are 9 of my favorite WordPress plugins:

Contact Form 7 plugin

Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. Put a little code onto your “Contact” page and it will take care of the rest.

FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin

Redirects all feeds to a Feedburner feed (so your visitors can subscribe to your blog posts via RSS). It’s all done behind the scenes and anonymously. Feedburner is still responsible for a lot of traffic to my site.

Google Analytics for WordPress plugin

This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics features to your site. Get your Google Analytics code, paste it into the field and let google do its thing.

Google Analytics Dashboard plugin

While Google is doing its thing, you can view the analytics right in the dashboard of your site with the Google Analytics Dashboard plugin.

Google XML Sitemaps plugin

This plugin generates a sitemap sitemap of your WordPress site which is supported by Ask.com, Google, Bing, MSN Search and YAHOO.

Page Links To plugin

This great little plugin allows you to link to an external URL of your choosing. For example, I created a page called ‘Free Videos’ that, in turn, created a the same link on the nav bar, but redirects people to my YouTube Channel. Just think of the uses for your own site.

Insights plugin

Insights allows you to quickly search and insert information (links, images, videos, maps, news..) into your blog posts from either out on the net or from within your own site (awesome for a little interlinking SEO). Automatically gives attribution for the images, videos, news etc to keep you out of hot water.

Simple Image Widget plugin

If you are at all like me, you struggle with getting a picture onto your sidebar. With this plugin you never have to struggle again. Install it, add the code for the pic and voila!

Editorial  Calendar plugin

Keeps my writing on track like nothing else can. I am able to see at a glance as to what is coming up, what I still need to do, and what has already been posted. Drag and drop your scheduled posts if you need to change the order. Basically I’m organized, I’m on time, and I’m happy.

You’ll find them all at no charge here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/

How did my feed become invalid?

Feeds can go bad when they start hanging around with the wrong group of kids.

Feedbuner iconsActually, the most common cause of feed problems is the content that you post. A lot of folks like to use Microsoft Word (or other word processors, we just know this one has caused us a lot of headaches) to write up their blog posts.

When they do, sometimes these word processors can sneak in characters that are very difficult to render in XML. The most likely culprit is the dreaded Smart Quote, especially it you are putting quotations in your feed posts. Also, Word (we think) likes to put in special tags for formatting paragraphs, as well as address information. We don’t always know where these things come from, we just know that when they are introduced, they cause problems.

So how do I keep that junk from coming into my feed/blog?

Our best advice is to compose your postings in a straight text editor, like Notepad on Windows, or TextEdit on the Mac. You can get away with putting HTML tags in your posts, as most blogging engines correctly format those tags for placement inside a feed.

Source:  Feedburner

See this earlier blog post with an explanation on how to add your Microsoft Word content to a post or page without taking down your site:  Why Can’t I Copy and Paste Content Directly From MS Word?

Why WordPress: The Top 9 Reasons

Make Your Business Building Efforts That Much Easier With a WordPress Website

How? Well first and foremost, WordPress sites are great looking, easy-to-navigate, and super optimized for the search engines. After that,

  • WordPress helps to build your business quickly and easily. With WordPress, you will start getting traffic immediately after clicking the “publish” button. Why? Because the search engines love WordPress. Click on ‘Publish’ and the search engine bots go into action. Your content will be crawled and available on the market shortly thereafter.
  • WordPress causes every post, new page, and any new content in general, alert the search engines that you’ve posted it. With them crawling your site regularly, you get higher page rankings, and therefore more traffic.
  • WordPress is a super simple time saver–easy to move around in and get stuff done quickly. It’s extremely user friendly. You don’t have to be a computer expert to use it. You can create content rather than mess around with your server settings. Most people find it pretty easy to work in after they’ve had a chance to play around in the dashboard.
  • WordPress is free, regardless of whether you are running a personal website or a business site, and saves you tons of money. And you get the same, no, even better exposure on the internet for a fraction of the cost of a website. All you need is a domain name and hosting.
  • WordPress is used by some of the largest companies in the world. If they trust this platform with their multi-million dollar businesses, surely you can.
  • WordPress content is delivered via an RSS feed, simply and easily.  As an example of all the great plugins, the Feedburner plugin is an aggregate for all RSS readers–no matter which reader someone is using, Feedburner can manage that reader.
  • WordPress is open source, meaning that there are people out there who are constantly tweaking its performance, features, and any vulnerabilities. You will always have the latest version available to you, and for free of course. Up-to-date software is secure and stable software.
  • WordPress is a very secure platform to build your site on. Any WordPress security issues are usually related to not updating to the newest versio of WordPress, or to using passwords that are easy to guess and therefore, not secure. If you keep your site up to date, there won’t be any issues with security.
  • WordPress allows you to create user accounts that have different levels of privileges, making it easy for those who need a site with multiple authors. Have you been looking for a platform for your group blogging aspirations?

Contact me today to get yourself online with a WordPress site. Click here to check out my WordPress packages

WordPress and Feedburner: A Great Match

FeedBurner Flame (© FeedBurner, Inc.)How does Feedburner help you get your blog posts out there and in the hands of interested people?

Here are some suggestions:

Publicize

Headline Animator: Create and customize an animated banner that cycles through your feed’s five most recent items. It’s an easy way to promote your content anywhere you can place a snippet of HTML.

BuzzBoost: Do you maintain more than one blog, site, or podcast? BuzzBoost helps you cross-promote your content by repurposing your feed as go-anywhere HTML.

Optimize

Enhance and extend your feed with FeedBurner’s array of services.

FeedFlare™

Build “interactivity” into the content you create, making it simple for subscribers to tag, email or share their content with others.
Give your subscribers easy ways to email, tag, share, and act on the content you publish by including as many or few of the services listed below. FeedFlare places a simple footer at the bottom of each content item, helping you to distribute, inform and create a community around your content.

SmartFeed

Reach the widest possible audience while publishing a single feed on your blog or site. Translates your feed on-the-fly into a format (RSS or Atom) compatible with your visitors’ feed reader application.

BuzzBoost

Have feed, will travel. BuzzBoost republishes your burned feed’s content as go-anywhere HTML. Want to promote your blog on another site you manage? BuzzBoost gives you a snippet of JavaScript you can paste into your page templates.

Email Subscriptions

Give your biggest fans another way to keep up with your blog or podcast feed by placing an email subscription form on your site.

PingShot

Most web-based feed reading services will check for updates on their own time. Give ’em a push with PingShot.

Analyze

FeedBurner Stats is our analytics offering for blogs, Web sites podcasts and feeds of all kinds. The service is free with every FeedBurner feed and provides publishers with a comprehensive view of their audience.

Monetize

Earn revenue by displaying relevant text and image ads using AdSense for feeds.

Configure Ads

Activate Google AdSense for feeds and choose options that control how these ads display in your feed.

“Troubleshootize”

It’s true, some good feeds go bad. Learn how to diagnose and solve the most common problems FeedBurner encounters when working with your original feed. The best part? We also notify you about any issues we discover using our FeedMedic and PodMedic reporting services.

Oh Dear, What Kind of Trouble?

Troubleshootize contains general tips and a couple of quick-fixes to try with any malfunctioning feed. And yeah, we’re sticking with this tab title. For now.

Fouled-Up Feeds, and Quick Ways to Fix ‘Em

The most common problems that affect your FeedBurner feed are:

The trouble: Your FeedBurner feed isn’t up-to-date with your Original Feed.

The fix: Try pinging FeedBurner using our Ping page. This action tells FeedBurner to go check your feed for updates immediately.

The trouble: Invalid characters or XML markup in content items, often introduced by composing your posts in Microsoft Word
or embedding JavaScript code in a post.

The fix: Check your feeds for validity problems: Original Feed Validity, FeedBurner Feed Validity. See if any errors are reported,
Then, check out this help topic for removing unwanted characters from your posts if mysterious characters seem to be to blame.

The trouble: Connection timeouts between FeedBurner and the web server that hosts your original feed. If FeedBurner can’t
reach your Original Feed for any reason, we will report it as a FeedMedic item here on Troubleshootize.

The fix: Try a ping once your website service has been restored.

The trouble: For podcasters, the web server hosting your audio does not report the correct content MIME type for your
podcast files; FeedBurner doesn’t create podcast enclosures for these files.

The fix: Make sure your web server is configured to return “audio/mpeg” as a MIME type for your audio files (or whatever the
appropriate type for your podcast media may be). This confirmation may require some help from your hosting provider if you
do not manage your own web server.

The trouble: Your Original Feed is too doggone big! FeedBurner does not process feeds that are larger than 512K. Remember,
your feed is an update on your content — not an archive for it — and you should use your publishing tools’ controls to make sure
your feed doesn’t grow like kudzu possessed.

The fix: Follow this help topic to control feed file size with Blogger; other publishing tools have similar controls.

The Nuclear Option: “Resyncing” your feed:

As a last resort with a regular feed or a podcast, you can resync your feed. You should only resync if your feed is more than 1 hour out-of-date and pinging FeedBurner does not update it or your podcast files are not being turned into enclosures by our SmartCast service.