Blogging 101: The Beginner’s Guide To WordPress Plugins

by Ed Lau on April 15, 2007

I’m no expert on blogging so I usually avoid some of the more complicated, fancy pants plugins that you may see on other blogs which are more versed in WordPress than I. Content is, of course, king so when you start, concentrate on writing rather than making your blog look pretty. This isn’t Pimp My Blog. You could have the best looking blog in the known universe but if it doesn’t have anything anyone wants to read, you’re not going to get any visitors.

My page is rather simple looking and I think it is important to keep it clean since there are fewer distractions from what you have to say and, of course, your page loads faster with fewer plugins. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of PHP or the sort when I started but most of these are easy to integrate into your blog with a little trial and error. Most of these are aimed at essentials you should have when you start before you get to fancier plugins that are more about appearance and harder to edit. So here are some simple, useful and easy to use plugins to get you started.

1. Optimal Title: This plugin makes a very simple change in the way your blog pages show up. By putting the title of post before the title of your blog, it helps move your pages up in search engines (don’t ask me how Google works…me explaining it would just sound like giberish) and getting good positions in Google results is very important for blog traffic. If you recently updated your WordPress version to 2.1.3, there’s an update for this plugin that you’ll need.

2. Related Posts: This one is a little hard to position but with a bit of trial and error, it’s not too difficult. Related Posts is very helpful for…well, doing exactly what it describes. It’s especially good for first time readers of your blog who discovered it on a search engine since they may want more information on the topic they were searching for. If they came to your site in search of WordPress tips then they would have easy access to all your other WordPress posts.

3. Google Sitemaps: Another useful tool to help you get on Google early and often. This was probably one of the first that I activated. Again, getting your blog onto Google should be one of your priorities right after (well after) producing content.

4. Adsense-Deluxe: Manually adding Adsense codes into your blog would be a serious pain in the ass. Adsense-Deluxe simplifies the process by a lot and is very easy to install after you get approved. While Adsense is not difficult to get accepted to, it doesn’t just accept anyone so again, your first priority should be producing content. You’ll probably want a couple weeks of blogging under your belt before you apply.

5. Subscribe to Comments: You’ll want your readers to participate as much as possible with your blog so be sure to answer comments whenever you can. Subscribe to Comments promptly notifies readers of replies and new comments to your post through e-mail. Show Top Commentators also encourages reader responses but is a bit more difficult to use in comparison. I added both of these last month and noticed a good increase in comments.

6. Sidebar Widgets: This is included with WordPress and is absolutely essential especially if you’re a complete PHP noob like me. It allows you to put all those little boxes you see on the side marked Categories and such without having to get dirty in the PHP pool. Look for Widget-ready themes when starting up your blog if you want to keep it simple.

Hope I helped. The blogosphere could always use more good blogs and it seriously is a good mental exercise for personal improvement. Really! But be ready to commit some time to it because the biggest killer for most blogs is a lack of updates so produce some quality content and do it often. Let me know if you just started a blog and if I can help in some way. Maybe I could give you a shout-out one a Speed Link Sunday.

in Tech and the Net

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

krillz April 15, 2007 at 6:20 am

nice one mate, the Optimal title was just what I were looking for :D

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Saman Sadeghi April 16, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I was using that plugin for a while, but my current theme doesn’t need it!

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Michael Kwan April 15, 2007 at 4:50 pm

I just noticed that you changed the tagline to your blog. I like it.

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Kelly Cho April 15, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Your “Related Posts” to wasabi’s site is not valid. You may want to switch it to this:
http://wasabi.pbwiki.com/Related%20Entries

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Ed Lau April 15, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Fixed! Thanks Kelly.

Michael: I didn’t actually change it…it’s always been there but I fixed a little glitch in the optimal title plugin yesterday that was keeping it from showing up. I can’t believe it’s taken me almost 6 months to realize it.

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Saman Sadeghi April 16, 2007 at 2:25 pm

This is a great list! The only plugin I don’t run is the Sidebar Widgets – I want to force myself to get better in PHP!

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krillz April 19, 2007 at 12:27 pm

hehe nothing fancy in adding the php code :P

I recommend you to download and look on other’s codes, but also download code that is broken that you should fix this was the way I found the best!
By the way learn to code with security in mind as well so you pick that up along the way too.

:D

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