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My 8 Favorite Free Blog Plugins

The Plugins That I Can’t Live Without —

blog plugins LIKEI was such a newby when I started blogging over a year ago, and I bumbled about trying out various plugins, reading as much as I could — articles like “200 Plugins That You Absolutely Must Have.”  Have you read a million of these too?  SO frustrating.

But I have now tried a bunch of plugins. Some have failed, some were too difficult to get running, and THESE are the ones that have truly been great.

(Just for background, if you are just thinking about blogging and need to know a little more about what blogging could do for you, click here. If you want to know more about the essential elements for your blog and how to blog for fun or fame, click here.)

But today is about the free plugins I think you should start with, and here are the ones I can’t get along without:

1. Akismet

Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. Once you start getting noticed, there are a huge number of spammers! Akismet has caught over 170,000 spam comments in the last year on my site. I can read them before I delete them, so I know they’re real. Where do these people (and bots) find time to do this? Why?

2. Google Analyticator

You’ll want to watch the Google Analytics information about your site very closely since it gives you valuable information about who is reading and how they are finding you. This plugin adds the necessary JavaScript code to enable Google’s Analytics application.

3. iThemes Security

blog plugins

My security plugin blocked this company after too many tries to get into my blog.

On average, 30,000 new websites are hacked each day. WordPress sites are an easy target for attacks because of plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords and obsolete software. Most WordPress admins don’t even know they’re vulnerable, but iThemes Security works to fix common holes, stop automated attacks and strengthen user credentials.  It either fixes it for you or tells you what you need to do.

4. Shareaholic

This plugin adds the buttons that you see floating along the left of this post and at the bottom, too. You hook it up to facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other sites that you think would be of interest to your readers, and then you invite people to tap a button to help you out. Please do share this post using the buttons to see how well it works. It adds those pithy little handwritten phrases, too, like “sharing is caring.”

5. Subscribe2

I have always wanted my subscriber list to be completely private and not share it with any other programs. Subscribe2 does a lovely job of that and lets you do some emailing. However, when you want to start creating more attractive emails, you’ll probably need to use an emailing program, and then you’ll end up with dual lists. So pick Subscribe2 or go with Mailchimp or another emailing free program.

6. ToTopLink

This nifty little plugin adds an arrow at the lower right so that when you scroll down, you can tap the arrow to get back to the top fast. See that little arrow down in the right corner?

7. WordPress SEO

Yoast SEO Author

Joost de Valk, author of the SEO plugin

This one is REALLY helpful!  In fact, I have written an entire post about it with a cheatsheet to help you use it. It asks you to choose the keyword for your post, then it tells you how many times you used it (keyword density) and where you could use it to help you more.  It does an analysis of your post to tell you if it’s too difficult a reading level, if you have used outbound links, and it lets you write your own meta description (the sentence that is used when someone shares your post on facebook and other sites).

8. Jetpak

Jetpak is actually a pretty powerful plugin — it looks like it does a lot of stuff that I don’t understand. What I use it for is widgets — those boxes on the right that can do so many things:  ask you to subscribe, or they list my most popular posts, or keep a list of categories so that you can find my previous posts on any subject that you want.

9. Not Free

All the plugins above are free, but I have purchased several others, most of which are too complicated to figure out, and I end up not using them. However, I really like Selz and you can see how it works from the free customer demographic survey (on the right of this post) that you can receive if you subscribe.  Selz helps you to offer your whitepapers and freebies in order to enhance your subscriptions. (So please subscribe to my blog and download the customer survey so that you can save money on your marketing by focusing on your ideal client demographics.) See how this works?

Thanks so much for reading — please share your favorites using my Sharaholic buttons!

If you are just thinking about trying to blog and need to know a little more about what blogging could do for you, click here

If you want to know more about the essential elements your blog should have and how to blog for fun or fame, click here

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