Jetpack By WordPress.com: A WordPress Plugin Engineered To Make Blogging Enjoyable!

One reason the WordPress blogging platform has become very popular today is the abundance of plugins that makes your blogging experience an enjoyable one. With wordpress plugins you can do a whole lot of things with your blog.

However, there is one drawback to the use of plugins – the more the plugins you install the more the load on your site resulting in increase in use of server resources.

This has several negative effects on your blog. For example, slow loading sites are a headache to online users and therefore many will readily click away before the site loads. Also the search engines would penalize your blog with low page rank if it is too slow in loading. Besides,  the increased use of server resources will help up to your cost as your webhost will expect you to upgrade your hosting package to accommodate the increase!

You can see therefore, that though using wordpress plugins can very beneficial to your blog they can also add some unnecessary cost and inconvenience to the blog.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

Jetpack to the Rescue!

I recently started using the Jetpack plugin by wordpress.com across several of my wordpress blogs; and this is for a reason.

I remember using the plugin on the Web Income Journal blog a couple of years back but had to remove it after I read a blog post that spoke some negative things about the plugin. Yes, without actually really investigating and substantiating those claims, I pulled out the plugin and even made an uninformed post titled:

WordPress Stats Plugin: I Dished JetPack; Long Live JetPack!

However, of recent while doing some research I read another blog post that mentioned Jetpack as one plugin that could do one of the things I was looking to do. This made me to take a second look at the plugin and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised at what is contained in this plugin.

I’ve just discovered that besides helping to reduce site load, because it will help you reduce the number of plugins on your blog, Jetpack also gives you a wide range of blogging tools that will make your blog the better for it.

Why I Have Again Made Jetpack My #1 WordPress Plugin!

As I mentioned earlier, I once considered Jetpack as an unnecessary plugin but today that opinion has been reversed! I now consider Jetpack as one plugin that every blogger must have.

But why this sudden change?

Let’s take a look at some of the tools contained in this plugin to help you understand why I have suddenly made this “about-turn!”

1. Site Stats – All of us love those figures! Nothing gives you more joy Site Stats using Jetpack by wordpress.comthan when you load your stats page and you see how many people have visited your blog, where they came from, what pages they checked out on your blog, how long they stayed on the blog, from which page they exited, etc.

I know that there are different plugins that helps you with this. However, while most of them require you to visit a third party website to know these stats, Jetpack gives you the ability of knowing all of these right on your wordpress blog dashboard.

2. Contact Forms – This is another very important aspect of your blog that is contained in the Jetpack plugin. Contact forms help you on several levels both as a feedback tool and a way of communicating with your blog readers.

Before now I have always used the Fast Secure Contact Form plugin for adding contact forms to my blog. But I’ve just dished that plugin for Jetpack! Why? Because that’s one plugin less on the blog!

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3. Social Sharing – In these days of our socially connected internet giving your site visitors some easy way to share your posts with their social media friends is something you don’t want to do without. Again, Jetpack has this built in and therefore you don’t need to add some extra plugin to your wordpress for your blog readers to share your posts on social media.

Jetpack Social Sharing4. Publicize – Beyond the ability of your blog readers sharing your blog posts on their social media profiles, Jetpack also has a built-in module that helps you to automatically submit your blog posts to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Path. To me this is really a great resource as you don’t have to manually submit your posts whenever you publish a new one.

5. Blog/Comments Subscription – Giving your blog readers a way to stay connected with your blog is important for the success of your blog. Once a reader is subscribed to your blog, they are able to receive new updates automatically without any extra work on your side. Also, readers can subscribe to comments enabling them to receive notifications anytime a new comment is added.

Several other plugins offer these separately but with Jetpack you have all in your package! The good thing about Jetpack subscription you can add a check box beneath the commenting box giving the reader an easy way to subscribe. Also there is a sidebar widget for adding the subscription box on the blog sidebar.

6. Mobile Theme – No doubt, at a time when more and more people are going mobile in all areas of life, enabling your blog for these users is the best thing you can do for your blog. Right now there are various plugins and tools that will help you do this. Some are free but others come with a price tag.

It will interest you to know that Jetpack come packed with a mobile theme that is ready for use on your blog. I actually found this to be one of the greatest tools you don’t want to miss.

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7. Jetpack Comments – Of recent different third party blog commenting systems have come on stream. Most of these commenting systems seek to replace the default wordpress commenting system with their own while others simply integrate with the default commenting box.

Jetpack Comments will replace the default commenting box with a new design, readers can still use the default features when commenting.  But beyond that Jetpack enables your blog readers to easily log into their WordPress.com, Twitter.com, or Facebook.com accounts when commenting on your site.

Jetpack wordpress comments

8. Extra Sidebar Widgets – This one helps you to easily add widgets for RSS feeds, comment RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook Like Box and Images to your blog sidebar. I know that many of us are already using some other plugin to add these to our blog’s sidebar but why use something else when this on just one plugin?

9. Enhanced Distribution – This is one of the tools that are automatically activated when you activate the Jetpack plugin. What it does is to automatically take your published content and share it instantly with search engines. This is actually a plus for your blog as it helps to increase your reach and traffic.

10. Photon – We are all aware of the importance of having super fast-loading blog. There are different solutions for this, one of which is the use of third party content delivery networks. The Jetpack plugin comes with a built in content delivery network powered by WordPress.com. Activating this module will enable you to load your blog images from the WordPress.com content delivery network thereby reducing the burden on your Web host.

Jetpack Marketing Takeaway

The above are just 10 of the 26 different tools contained in the Jetpack plugin by WordPress.com. Implementing this plugin has helped me to remove about 7 other plugins which to my own estimation is definitely a great plus for the blog.

And so my advice is, if you have not tried it, now is the time to do so. Simply go to Plugins >>> Add New and then search for Jetpack. Looking forward to reading your own review of this plugin once you have installed it!

Over to you: Are you presently using the Jetpack plugin? What are your experience using it? If you are not using it right now do you have any specific reason why?

How to Avoid Google’s Wrath When Building Back-links Using Blog Commenting!

blog commenting for backlinksJust this Monday in our community time out discussion, I related a story of how a site owner contacted me asking to remove all links pointing to his site from my blog!

At first I was surprised why he wanted those links removed since we all do love backlinks – at least they are good for our search rankings or are they no more important!

However, I knew somehow that something must be wrong on his end, possibly Google’s wrath must have fallen on the site. And true to my presumption, when he later replied it was just as I thought.

RECOMMENDED: 5 Blog Commenting Mistakes to Avoid!

But then, his reply raised some questions in my heart but since I was more concerned with helping this person, I went on to remove the links and left it at that.

The Question of Building Backlinks with Blog Comments Revisited

But then, I saw a Comment by Harleena, who said,

“When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting? Personally, I doubt this could be the case, as then people will avoid commenting on each other’s blogs or sites, and the web would lose its meaning.

I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?”

This is in response to what the site owner said in his email (Harleena that was not said by me!). Here again is the graphic:

blog commenting problems graphic

Harleena’s question moved me to again consider this issue of building back-links with blog commenting as a strategy. Please note the issues in that question,

>>> When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?

>>> I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?

I’m sure this is also a concern to you, right?

To me it was, at first, but a second look at the site concerned and Google’s demands, I discovered that this is not a problem for blogs and sites with good and valuable content!

This is made clear from Google’s Panda and Penguin Updates, which this site had, ran afoul of. (I wrote a detailed article comparing Google’s Panda and Penguin Update sometime ago. You are advised to read for better understanding of this issue.)

In this post I will simply highlight the possible areas our dear friend has violated Google’s terms which warranted the sledge hammer from Google!

1.    Low-Value Add For Users:

When Google announced the Panda Update in early 2011, Google stated:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

This is one area which the site in question violated. The site in question is an e-commerce site, featuring only product information without enough user-centric content. From all indication there were no in-depth reports and content containing thoughtful analysis!

These were clear signals to Google that the site is of low-value to users and so, the hammer fell!

2.    Aggressive Use Of Exact-Match Anchor Text In Backlinks

This is the biggest culprit!

While removing those offensive backlinks I discovered that all the anchor text were the same! Not only that, all were the site’s primary keyword phrase which are also in the domain name!

Hey, big red flag 🙂

Yes, that was a big signal for Google.

Here again is what Google said about this in the Pengiun Update:

“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.”

And this is what I said while writing on the Google Panda and Penguin Updates ,

“Backlinks is one big factor used by search engines to rank sites. It is quite clear that many SEO service providers now use automated link building software to generate backlinks using specific anchor texts. The simple way for the Google Penguin to pick these out is to look for a high volume of exact-match anchor text in your backlinks and your site will be flagged as engaging in webspam.”

Can you see why that site was blacklisted?

One, it lacked in-depth reports and thoughtful analysis and now it has hundreds of backlinks from my site (I’m sure the SEO provider who was using this tactic for the client must have also used hundreds of the same exact anchor text on other blogs) using the same exact anchor text in those links!

Phew, another red flag, and so…

Sorry, but here’s your RED CARD! 🙂

Now to Harleena’s questions, again:

1. When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?

Ans. As we have seen above, it depends on the site involved. If it’s a site with low value-add for users, simply building links with blog commenting can be dangerous.

2. I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?

Ans. No! Your site is a blog with good valuable content. You have content that are insightful and in-depth in analyzing the subjects treated. Google actually love this and so rather than punish you for those backlinks, Google will love you for that!

Another Good Point For Blogs Using Blog Commenting For Backlinks

Apart from the points above, I have also discovered that this problem will not easily affect blogs for the fact that most blogs use the CommentLuv plugin which allows blogs to deep link to individual pages.  E-commerce sites using blog commenting on the other hand can only link to their home pages in the “Name” section of the comments.

With different anchor text linked using CommentLuv, blogs can actually benefit with blog commenting for building back-links. Good points to CommentLuv!

Marketing Takeaway:

E-commerce sites should find ways of adding more quality and high-value content for a better user experience. They can do this by adding a blog to the site. Besides, they should also use different anchor texts based on their target keyword phrases for backlinks. Where possible, using synonyms would be a wise step in the right direction.

Remember, Google’s Panda and Penguin are still watching!

[Before I draw the curtain let me say, thank you to Harleena for inspiring this post!]

Over to You:  What lessons did you pick up from this post? Do you have any other possible reasons why that site was penalized for building back links with blog commenting? Please share your views in your comments.