Must-Have Plugins as Featured on Growmap

I asked Ivin to write this post about plugins because other bloggers have recently been asking what plugins I use. Ivin Viljoen has been blogging successfully since 2006 and recently launched an awesome Self Publishing Blog where he helps writers write better and also assists author – especially the bloggers – to publish their books.

Ivin has been working closely with me and our extended blog family on various projects, learning from them how to better himself as  blogger and become the pro we all aspire to be. Here is his take on the plugins I use on this blog and other plugins he recommends:

BLOGGING BEST PRACTICES:

What makes a blog great has two parts:

  • The content and the aesthetic effect of the blog that draws you into the content.
  • The back end of the blog. This is unknown and strange to 80% of bloggers. A part of the back end making that blog ‘work’, is its plugins.

Here are some of the top plugins used here on Growmap that I think makes the blog work well (seen and unseen things) and then a few from my own. I will divide them into ‘must have’s', ‘nice to have’s’ and ‘technical’ for both Growmap and Authopublisher.

Must-have’s

  • The All-In-One SEO Plugin – This plugin takes the key areas of your blog and places keyword in them to attract visitors to your blog. You can thus optimize the Page Title, Site Meta Description and Site Meta Keywords. This plugin is number one here because across all the blog teachers this is the absolute most important ‘must-have’ plugin. Download here. [UPDATE: The free version of this plugin appears to be no longer available. That link is to the Pro version. Note from GrowMap: We were using All-in-one-SEO when we started because at that time it was the best, most recommend SEO plugin. We now use the Thesis Theme and it has built in SEO capabilities so we will be importing the data from AIOS to Thesis. If we were not using Thesis we would possibly have switched to the Platinum SEO plugin which is explained in more detail on their WordPress SEO Plugins Benefits page. ]
  • CommentLuv – Where the above is not really one of my favorites, however essential, COMLUV is one of them. This plugin is great if it’s installed in other blogs too (make recommendations) because the commenter can insert the link of his latest post below the comment. It helps with link building and blog post promotion.  ComLuv also has a feature where if you register on the website, the plugin will give you an option to choose from the last ten posts to insert as a link in your comment (see image below). If you really like this, you can even sign up for a fee and create anchor test links which you need for link building permanently featured in your dropdown. Read how ComLuv increases your blog traffic. Download CommentLuv plugin here.
Comment Luv

Comment Luv dropdown feature

  • GrowMap Anti Spambot Plugin (Or G.A.S.P) for short) – Yes, it is a plugin related to this blog and has been developed by the influence and hard work of many people. It was born out of the frustration of high profile bloggers who had to contend with spam comments (even those who weren’t spam) needed to be ‘moderated’ as per being banned by Akismet. It was great as spam comments were banished from your blog but real people leaving genuine heartfelt comments were also sometimes removed by Akismet. This is bad for business. I commented on a very prominent blog for a day or two until I realized my comment is not getting posted or moderated. You lose readers and clients. G.A.S.P. has a simple checkbox below your comment section asking you to ‘confirm you are not a spammer’ or whatever else you want it to say and only real people are let through to your blogs comment section. I recently raved profusely on this plugin on my blog comparing G.A.S.P vs Akismet. I believe I called it ‘the best thing since sliced bread’. You can also read the testimonials of G.A.S.P Download the G.A.S.P plugin here.
  • Simple Trackback Validation – I recently did a post on Dragonblogger thinking these were new spam tactics getting literally thousand of supposed ‘trackbacks’ from sites that are in no way relevant linking to me from the weirdest posts. Needless to say they show up in my comments section. It obviously looks good when there are hundreds of comments, but not so good inside. STV solves this problem by matching the IP address of the sender to the IP of the site it’s referring to and discards it if there’s no match. Download the Simple Trackback Validation Plugin.
  • KeywordLuv – Don’t confuse this plugin wuith CommentLuv like I did. It has a totally different function. Simply put, what it does, is separate your name from your keyword. So instead of you placing your name and a link attached to it (which means nothing and defeats the point), your name appears and you can place anchor text next to it with your keyword/phrase in it. See image below. You can download KeywordLuv plugin here.
KeywordLuv Plugin

KeywordLuv Plugin effect

  • Dofollow – This is an incentive for the readers that comments on your blog, getting a dofollow attribute added to the comments they leave. These are usually given a nofollow attribute by WordPress itself and gives the commentators no-love for coming to your blog. Download Dofollow Plugin
  • Supr by StumblUpon – StumebleUpon is an actual machine when it comes to driving traffic. This plugin converts your links to SU links when they are shortened. This means the post shows up on SU’s website. Can someone say TRAFFIC JAM! I have been using this feature in the Tweet Old Post Plugin and since then SU has become one of the top drivers of traffic to my blog. Download the Supr by StumbleUpon Plugin here.

Those are the must-have plugins on Growmap. Following are combinations of plugins from Growmap and my own blog that are nice-to-have. They aren’t essential but they make your blog look good and work nice.

Nice-To-Have Plugins

  • Subscribe to comments – This plugin inserts a check box into your comments section that subscribes the user to those comments and emails them to him immediately. This way the commenter don’t have to constantly come back but will be notified of a new comment immediately. Download the subscribe to comments section here
  • Reply Me – (From my blog) Unlike the Subscribe to Comments plugin this one send you an email when someone responds to one of your comments and not all comment in the post.  Download the Reply Me Plugin.[Note from GrowMap: Justin Germino aka @Dragonblogger who has much experience as a WordPress expert has been strongly recommending this plugin and I have asked Ivin to install it for me since he has experience doing so.]
  • Dashboard: Pending reviews – [From my blog] This is great for admin when you have a busy blog and a few guest bloggers. If you want to review posts before they are scheduled or posted, this plugin will portray the posts in your dashboard so you can see which ones need to be attended to. Download the Dashboard: Pending reviews plugin here.[Note from GrowMap: Kristi Hines @Kikolani who is another of my most trusted blogging experts suggested this plugin to me and it is another I have been wanting to install so I have asked Ivin to install this one here as well. The reason I need it is so that I can give guest bloggers author access and set some to be able to publish their own posts and others to allow me to moderate them first.]
  • Contact Form 7 – Say you inspire a reader and he/she wants to get in contact with you for a JV or guidance or needs a service you offer. How do they get in contact with you? If you want your readers to be able to get in contact with you, you need a contact form. This one is said to work better in conjunction with the Really Simple Captcha Plugin to keep those spammers away. The RSC plugin is actually designed to work together with CF7. Download the Contact Form 7 Plugin.

Technical.

  • All-In-One Webmaster – (From my blog) This plugin is very complicated to configure. But once it is done, it submits your sitemap to major search engines. It adds your Meta tags to those search engines as well as analytics scripts. There are a few other things involved, but along with the All-In-One SEO plugin your site will be supremely optimized. Download the All-In-One Webmaster Plugin.
  • W3 Total Cache – This one dramatically improve the speed and user experience on your blog. You can cache your browser, page, object and database. This is so powerful that a friend on whose blog I guest posts’ blog loaded super slow every time and he added this when he got a lot of complaints. As soon as it was, the blog loaded in a flash. Download the W3 Total Cache Plugin here.

Of course these are only a handful of the plugins and we use many others, but these some of the highest priority plugins to use. They are the main ones. Do you have any plugin you would swear by? Feel free to tell us all about them in the comments section. (You will get lots of love!)

Image credited to Simon Howden

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