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Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, plugins are what will customize and optimize your blog so that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Here are the 12 plugins I think every book blogger should install.
Jetpack is the official suite of plugins by WordPress for WordPress. Connect it to your WordPress.com account and gain access to a host of tools that will improve the performance of your website, boost security, and encourage reader engagement. I don’t use all of the tools that come with Jetpack. For example, I use a different social sharing plugin (see AccessPress Social Share below) than the one offered by Jetpack, but I find that overall, Jetpack is critical to running my blog smoothly.
Askimet is one of the most useful plugins there is. It will save you time and headaches by filtering out the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of spam comments you will inevitably receive over the course of your blog’s lifetime.
Hackers are everywhere on the Internet, and it’s likely that at some point over the course of your blogging career, they will target your site. The iThemes Security plugin is like having a 24/7 team of security guards watching over your blog. Security plugins are not without their kinks. Sometimes they can be a bit overzealous and lock you out of your account, which is frustrating. It’s important to balance user-friendliness with effectiveness. If this is a problem you run into with iThemes, try another security plugin like Wordfence or BulletProof Security and see if that works better for you.
Backing up your files is super important. If you’re updating to a new version of WordPress, migrating to a new web host, or performing any number of routine maintenance activities, your blog is at risk of accidental deletion or unwanted changes. If the worst happens, you want a complete backup ready so you can restore your blog to its former glory. UpdraftPlus makes automated backups easy so you don’t have to worry.
W3 Total Cache improves your readers’ experience by increasing server performance and reducing the time it takes for your page to load. Studies have shown that people browsing the Internet have ridiculously short attention spans. This means that it’s important for your site to perform well, lest readers become impatient and give up on a slow-loading page.
Broken links are an inevitable reality of having a blog. Perhaps you changed the URL of a post, but forgot to update the link in your review index. When someone clicks on the faulty link they will receive an annoying 404 error message. The Redirection plugin tracks these 404 errors and allows you to easily change them to 301 redirects so that readers don’t get lost in the maze of broken links and give up on trying to find the content they’re looking for.
7. Yoast SEO
If you’re site runs on the Genesis Framework, you already have a search engine-friendly site, but it’s still important to have a dedicated SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin. This will make it easier for search engines to index your site and readers to find your content on the World Wide Web. Yoast is by far the best SEO plugin in my opinion.
Jetpack comes with a traffic measurement plugin, but I’ve found that it’s not always accurate (it tends to be on the high side) and it doesn’t provide the same in-depth analytics that Google does. To use Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, you need to sign up for a Google Analytics account.
If you want people to share your blog posts on social media, you have to make it easy for them. See the little social media icons beside this post? That’s the Shareaholic plugin at work. There are many different social sharing plugins out there and I’ve tried quite a few of them. At this time, Shareaholic is my favorite. It’s attractive and performs well, which is really all you can ask of a social sharing plugin.
In a few weeks we’ll be talking about why Pinterest is a book blogger’s best friend and how to capitalize on that, but for now just know that it’s critically important that you make it easy for people to pin images from your site to their Pinterest boards. Notice how when you mouse over the graphic at the top of this post a red Pinterest button appears in the top left hand corner. That’s what the AccessPress Pinterest plugin does. It makes pinning faster and easier than it would be if you simply had a Pinterest share button at the bottom of your posts, and it also reminds people that they can pin any image on your site.
In case I haven’t made it clear by now, making it easy for people to share your content is really, really important. The Better Click to Tweet plugin reminds people to tweet your content while they’re reading your post. Here is an example of the Better Click to Tweet plugin in action.
[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging: 12 Essential WordPress Plugins for Book Bloggers”]
The Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin is the only plugin designed specifically for book bloggers by a book blogger! This is the only paid plugin on the list and it costs $35. If you write a high volume of book reviews, the one-time fee is well worth it. One of the most time-consuming parts of writing a book review is formatting it. This plugin makes formatting as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is enter the book’s information–title, author, publisher, etc. into the form and voila! The plugin will automatically format all of that data into a beautiful, uniform blog post. It even sorts all of your book reviews into an archive automatically.
This list is certainly not comprehensive. At the time of this writing I have 36 plugins installed on my blog. You will figure out which plugins are essential for you personally as time goes on. Your WordPress theme may also have dedicated or recommended plugins. For example, I use the Genesis Framework, which as a number of dedicated plugins such as Genesis eNews Extended (great for building an email list), Genesis Simple Hooks (which makes it easy to add code snippets to my site), and more. Foodie Pro, my child theme, also has recommended plugins to enhance the function and aesthetic appeal of the design.
Questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!