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!

Recommended: The Uncommon Guide To Crafting Blog Post Titles That Drives Attention & Traffic!

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.

Recommended: A Step By Step Guide on How to Migrate WordPress Site like A Pro!

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?

Put the WOW Effect on Your Blog with these WordPress Plugins!

4 powerful Plugins to WOW your readers!WordPress shares an existential problem with plug-ins. In fact as bloggers, we are very much accustomed if not dependent on plug-ins when it comes to adding some nice features in our wordpress blogs.

WordPress plug-ins are so easy to use and they come with so many benefits that you will be left with fewer choices once you disregard them. But WordPress plug-ins have their own share of shortcomings, like they can make your blog really heavy and sometimes, one plug-in may conflict with another thereby hijacking the performance of the website.Despite these disadvantages however, the advantages are far more numerous.

And so, to help you supercharge your wordpress blog and make it look smart and sharp so that it makes your readers go WOW! here are some hand picked plugins for you. Put them to use right now and set your blog apart from the pack!

1. WP Separate CSS: If you are an aspirant designer like me and much in the habit of making occasional changes in the look and feel of your wordpress blog by doing minor tweaks in the CSS file, you need a plugin that will allot you a separate space to try your fancy. With WP Separate CSS, you can have the best of both worlds. This small and nifty plug-in will let you write separate CSS with whatever editor you would like and that too without affecting the main CSS file of your wordpress blog. All you need to do is to create a separate .css file in the plugin directory and all the codes will automatically get included in the main theme CSS file.

2. WP Put The Meta: This plug-in is best for those who want to add a custom field to some posts without affecting the rest of the post in one way or the other. WP Put The Meta has got a nice addition for this purpose. All you need to do is to install the plug-in and then put this shortcode – [putthemeta key=””] into the posts where you would like to make the changes appear. The blank quotation field needs to be filled out with the name of the custom field. This plugin comes in handy if you are to add adsense code in a particular area of a particular post.

3. Be It Facebook Sidetab: Are you unsure and looking for a way out as to where to put your facebook like box, your worries will be coming to an end with this awesome WordPress plug-in coded named as – Be It Facebook Sidetab. This plugin will not eat up anymore space on your blog which is creaking under the pressure of so many diverse elements. Your facebook like box will be floating around causing least distraction and making it easier for visitors to become a fan. It comes with zillions of customization options and that means, you will be able to change the width, height and other things fairly easily.

4. Google Web Fonts for WordPress: If you want to change the font type but unsure about whether they are web safe fonts or not, this Google Web Fonts for WordPress can save hundreds of hours of man-work. With it, you will have access to almost 350 web fonts and that means, you would not rely on the same old and trusted fonts such as Times News Roman and Lucia. Though I have no personal grudge against them, there is no harm in making your blog post look good and impressive.

There you have it, my 4 wordpress plugins that will help you put that WOW effect on your blog. Do you know of some other plugins that will help you do something similar on your blog? Why don’t you let us know of them in your comment below?

How to Enhance Your WordPress SEO Elements with Plugins

This is part 2 of our WordPress SEO series. In part 1 we dealt with how you can correct WordPress default settings so as to gain more seo power with the search engines. You are advised to read it for better understanding.

So, on to part 2,

Do you know what essentials to concentrate on when it comes to wordpress seo?

Or,  do you know that the search engines are not so intelligent as to figure out what your blog content is about and that they need your assistance to do that?

What about this …

Do you know it’s what the search engines understand about your blog content that will determine where they rank it in the SERPs?

If you’ve not known any of these basic facts then you’ll need to read the next paragraph carefully because it is important if you want to optimize your blog for the search engines.

Your blog’s title, description meta tag, content, keyword density and links form the essential SEO elements which the search engine spiders focus on when they crawl your blog. It is the information they gather from these elements that they use when they index your blog.

That is worth noting because it should form the bedrock of your wordpress seo.

Whenever someone request information through a search, the search engines check the keyword phrases used against the information indexed and then returns the pages that best agree with those keyword phrases. Because of this, it’s important that you focus on these elements no matter the niche you’re targeting.

And so, in this article I want to present to you some  wordpress plugins that will help you deliver your content to the search engines in a way that will make it much easier for them to read it, understand it, digest it and then rank your blog well.

WordPress SEO – Using the Right Plugins

There are presently over 15,000 plugins that will help you do almost anything you can imagine with your wordpress blog. Most of these plugins are built to enhance particular operations of wordpress. One of such area is wordpres SEO.  We know search engines have a special favor for blogs because they are frequently updated and have lots of relevant content. But as we have said, wordpress default settings sucks when it comes to SEO. The use of these pugins therefore is to garner some more love from the search engines for your blog.

To help you digest this article much better I’ve laid it out under 3 major subheadings. These are:

1. Operation Related WordPress SEO

2. On-Page WordPress SEO, and

3. Link building WordPress SEO

For each of these areas you’ll be presented with various options of plugins that will enhance your work.

So let’s begin.

Operation Related WordPress SEO

One very important element Google uses in ranking sites is the site’s loading time. The reasoning for Google is that a slow loading blog is poor in terms of site usability. Some of the things Google takes into consideration here is the bounce rate and repeat visitors. Where the bounce rate is high and the number of repeat visitors is low, Google reasons that something is wrong with that site. It is a wise thing therefore to work on reducing your blog’s load time.

Unfortunately, most of the content in your blog contribute to this problem. For example if your blog has been online for some time chances are that it has acquired a huge load of pages, images, flash, videos and javascripts. Now, these have their good uses but they, nevertheless, have negative effects on your blog’s load time. But there are few things you can do to correct this.

Here are 2 suggestions on reducing your blog’s load time:

1. Use Cache To Retrieve Information

Most of the data that tend to slow down your blog like images and javascripts are data that are not dynamic. That is, they do not change quickly. The best way to ensure that this type of data do not constitute a problem to your blog is to implement cache. Caching is a simple way of calling data from a ready storage (cache). This way, resources are not wasted to generate it every time the same information is needed. By simply using cache you make the retrieving of information quicker.

There are various ways of implementing cache in your blog but the easiest way, and of course the wisest if you know nothing about coding like me, is to use plugins.

Here is a list of a few you would want to check out:

WP Super Cache – Many bloggers tell of how wonderful this one is but I’ve never had any success with it! I tried implementing it a couple of times but each time it changed the blog’s appearance. This to me was not good enough. However, like I’ve said, many bloggers have some very good words about it. My only advice is, use with care and ensure you get good guidance unless you know what you’re doing.

W3 Total Cache – This is a newer alternative to WP Super Cache. In fact, it is presently rated far above all others.  But unfortunately again, my experience with it is nothing different. Ok, maybe I’ve problems with the settings and nothing stops you from checking it out.

Quick cache – This is the one I’ve found to work without any problem so far. If you’re technically challenged like me, then I advise you go for this one.

FV Gravatar Cache – Every WordPress blog today uses gravatars in the comments. Unfortunately, gravatars are not very good when it comes to site optimization because every gravatar image is a new HTTP requests (a page with 100 comments would have 100 additional HTTP requests. Funny right, but the trut is that while you’re working to have more comments on your blog, you’re unknowingly working against your blog’s SEO?). Ok, that was on a lighter mood. But nevertheless, gravatars are a big problem. But Cache Gravatars will give you the power to cache all gravatars locally thereby reducing their load time.

WP Smush.it! – Ok, this one is not a cache. Its work is to optimize your images, by reduce the image file sizes thereby improving performance. If you use graphics a lot, like I use on this blog, then WP smush.it is the plugin for you. On your first install, this plugin will automatically optimize every image in your images folder. Subsequently, every image you add to a post will be automatically optimized once you publish the post.

2. Optimize Your Blog’s Database

Most times the cause of a slow loading blog is not the size of the pages or images but the database tables. To overcome this problem the database tables should be optimized from time to time. The following are some of the plugins I have found useful for repairing and optimizing your blog’s database:

WP-DBManager – this plugin actually has different functionalities. It has a database backup, database repair, etc. With WP-DBManager you simply schedule and forget, and the plugin will take care of all the work automatically. It is a plugin that every blog must have.

WP-Optimize – This is database cleanup and optimization tool. Some of the things you can do with this plugin is removing post revisions (one big culprit of a bloated database), comments in the spam queue and un-approved comments with just a few clicks. Additionally you can use it to rename any username to another username with ease. For example: If you want to rename default ‘admin’ username to ‘someothername’ the plugin will do it for you.

TentBlogger Optimize WordPress Database – This is another simple one to implement for optimizing your blog’s database. As seen on the plugin’s page, the goal of this plugin is to be the easiest and most intuitive optimization process for your blog. It simply optimizes your WordPress MySQL database with a click of a button and then lets you get back to writing! It’s intuitive! It’ll let you know if you need a “tune up” by giving you a message that you should optimize. If not then you can just get back to writing!

On-Page WordPress SEO

The importance of using your target keyword phrase in your title tag is a search engine optimization strategy that everyone agrees on.  It is one way of telling the search engines what your content is really about. Of course many bloggers will want you to believe that simply creating and publishing content is enough to rank high on the search engines but that is not really true. Whenever someone makes a search on the search engines, they want to know what your page is about before returning it in the SERPs. To know this they check your page title slug, the headline and the content against the keyword phrase the searcher is using.

For example, I did a search with the keyword phrase “make money blogging” and here’s what the search engines returned. Note the titles and the descriptions.

The first one is actually an ad so we are not taking that into consideration. But note carefully the ones I’ve marked as #1 and #2. Look at the titles and the descriptions. Now take a look at #3 and #4.

If you are the one searching for information on “make money blogging” which of these ones will you click on? Is it the one ranking #1 or #2? Or will you go for #3 or #4?   You may want to give your answer in your comments below!

But for clarity sake, that graphic tells us one thing, leaving the search engines to determine what they should index for your article is a gamble you must not take. This is because what the searcher sees in the SERP will determine to a great deal the traffic that will come to your blog. It doesn’t matter its position in the SERPs.

The purpose of the following plugins therefore is to help you “instruct” the search engines on what to focus their attention on once they are on your blog and then index what you want. Used effectively these plugins will guide the search engine spiders to pay special attention to your blog titles, descriptions, links and tags.

SEO Slug – In part 1 we learnt how to enabled custom permalinks using your post name (title) as the slug. As much as that helps in creating SEO friendly URLs, there is however another flaw in WordPress that this plugin takse care of. WordPress is built to take the whole title of a post as you entered it and simply add dashes between the words to create the permalinks. Unfortunately the search engines hate this with a passion! They prefer something short with your keyword phrase contained in it. What this plugin does therefore is to strip common words like “what”, “you” or “can” out of your post slug to make it more search-engine-friendly.

NOTE: I must say that I prefer using the url shortener on the writing pane to do this. For one it gives me the power to choose what I want to put in the post slug and again it’s a way of using less plugins thereby reducing the load. However, if you feel you don’t have the pleasure of handcrafting your post slug, then using this plugin is a good decision.

For example, I’ve shortened this post slug from:

http://webincomejournal.com/3178/wordpress-seo-part-2-enhancing-your-blog’s-essential-seo-elements-with-plugins.html

to:

http://webincomejournal.com/3178/wordpress-seo-using-plugins.html

Cool right?

All-In-One SEO Pack – This one, as the name implies, is truly an all-in-one solution to most of the problems of WordPress’s on-page SEO. Most of what you need for an optimized blog is packed in this one. With it you will be able to put your post and page titles before the blog name which is good for SEO.  For your blog home page you will be able to choose a title tag, description, and target keywords. This is very important because the home page usually hold different posts targeting different keyword phrases. Left for the search engines they will simply pick whatever comes handy and most times that will not be what you want! Just as we have seen in the graphic above.

Again using this plugin you can actually choose a different title for your human readers and another one for the search engines.

For example this article is titled: “Wordpress SEO Part 2: Enhancing Your Blog’s Essential SEO Elements with Plugins!” but for the search engines I’ve used, “Wordpress SEO: Optimize Your Blog like the Pros Using Plugins!

You can check that by simply looking at your browser’s title bar. Read this post how I did that.

Here are some alternatives to All-In-One SEO Pack:

WordPress SEO by Yoast
Ultimate SEO
Platinum SEO Pack
HeadSpace

NOTE: Recently I started using WordPress SEO by Yoast and have found it to be a great plugin. Apart from the above mentioned features in All-In-One SEO Pack there is a powerful feature that I’ll be writing about in a later post. If you’ve not used this one before you’ll do yourself a lot of good if you’ll try it out!

SEO Friendly images – One powerful on-page SEO tactic that is very important is using the ALT and TITLE tag for your images. Why you should do this is because the search engines cannot read the images on your pages. The only way you can tell them what the images are is using the ALT and TITLE tags. This plugin saves you the time of manually adding a title and alt every time you add a new image. Besides, once you activate it, it will automatically optimize all the images on your blog.

Link Building WordPress SEO

Another crucial element in search engine optimization is link building. This consists both off-site links pointing to your blog from other blogs and on-site links linking your blog posts one with another. Indeed most times the off-site links cannot be controlled by you. But you can take full control of the internal links structure which will impact positively on the rankings of your blog.

The good thing is that there are some plugins that, when used, will effectively funnel link juice within your blog thereby giving your interior pages the ranking juice needed to get on page one of the search engines.

Here are a few:

Internal Link Building – As the name suggest, this plugin allows you to maximize the internal contextual anchor text links, which are incredibly powerful. It also has the options of using a variety of anchor text. To use simply go to “settings” and then add the keywords and the post slug you want to link within your blog. This is really great for SEO.

An alternative to internal link building is SEO smart links which will automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – This one is quite common on blogs and that is because of its usefulness. Its purpose is to display at the end of a post a number of relevant posts that are related to the current one. Doing this leads to visitors reading more of your content thereby staying longer on your site.

All Category SEO Updater – This one works in tandem with All In One SEO to deliver high quality SEO for your main category pages. With it you’ll be able to further customize category pages as well as additional SEO function.

One big alternative to this one is TentBlogger SEO Categories which optimizes your permalink structure at the category level to make them as functional (and pretty) as possible for both your users and the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) that index your content!

How about off-line links?

As I mentioned, the off-site links cannot really be controlled by you but there are a few things you can do to have some good links pointing back to your blog. With the popularity of social media you can actually use these to put your blog content out there increasing the chances of your content being noticed. If this is done well and the right buzz is created about it in the social media sites, it can help your blog’s rankings. (If you want a software that can help you easily do this, then check out the Magic Submitter. It’s a powerful tool for building one way links using the social media sites.)

Here are some plugins that will help you get your content out there:

BWP Google XML Sitemaps – This is a powerful plugin I discovered recently. A few weeks ago I had problems with Google XML Sitemaps. In my search for an alternative I came across this one and now nothing is going to make me go back to Google XML Sitemaps! Get the details and download here.

cbnet Ping Optimizer – This is another critical plugin you should install as it corrects another of wordpress’ default problems. . Every time you edit a post WordPress by default sends a message to your ping lists. Unfortunately this can label you as a spammer if not done well. So it’s either you take control or you run into problems. This plugin will help you out.

WP OnlyWire Auto Poster – This plugin will syndicate your blog posts to over 20 social networking sites simultaneously using the OnlyWire infrastructre when you publish a post. It is indeed an automated way of increasing your blog traffic overnight.

Read this post to discover how OnlyWire auto poster works.

Now, a Word of Warning!

Before rounding off this article it is important to sound this note of warning. As you’ve seen in this article your blog load time is very important seo-wise. Too much of plugins can cause more harm than good!  Instead of using too many plugins a wiser option is to get a search engine optimized wordpress theme like the Genesis Framework. With Genesis Framework most of the functionalities of these plugins are already built in making their use unnecessary.

Conclusion: This list of wordpress SEO plugins is by no means exhaustive. You can use the 3 subheadings laid out in this article to search for more. Indeed the list may be overwhelming but once you’ve mastered how to use them you’ll be able to better present your content to the search engines. Using these plugins will truly improve your wordpress blog’s seo potentialities making your content more visible which could lead to more traffic from the search engines.

Oh, before you go on to post your comment, don’t you think this is worth sharing? Just want to say you can encourage us if you’ll only help promote it by sharing with your friends. Better, linking to it will be greatly appreciated! 🙂

Spam comments and G.A.S.P. – Do You Think Something is Wrong?

Ok, my plan was to start off the new series on search engine optimization I mentioned a few days ago. However, there is something that I’ve just discovered and I truly want to draw your attention to it. I hope someone will be able to help out!

Some months ago I made a post discussing the problems I was having then with spam comments on this blog. To over come that situation I tried various strategies using different anti-spam plugins. It was while looking for a solution that I came to know of Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (G.A.S.P.) Since then I have been using this plugin and I must say it has worked wonders.

However, recently I’ve noticed another deluge of spam comments. I first noticed this about a month ago when the same type of spam comments that were so rampant then started showing up again. Most of these were held in the spam folder for my moderation.  Frankly, I want to believe that some may have slipped through.

From my experience in the past, I’m very sure that most of these spam comments are posted using automated commenting software. And so I’ve been wondering if by any means someone have found a way around the powerful spam-blocking features of Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin!

My bringing this up here is to know if any one is experiencing this problem with G.A.S.P.  and if so to know if there is any possibility that this plugin is already letting in some automated spam comments?

So if you’re using G.A.S.P.  and you’re experiencing anything like this, let us know in the comments below. If you think there is anything I’m doing wrong with this plugin that is allowing this spam comments to get through feel free also to let us know.

Here are some graphics of a few of these spam comments I checked out on Google.

1. This one that said something like: “I almost accidentally went to this site. But stayed there for long blah, blah, blah..”. had 252 results when I checked it out on Google.com.

 

2. And here is another one. This one says: “It’s always a pleasure reading your articles. Thank you for sharing such relevant topic with us..blah, blah… “

Now, do you know this one was actually posted on the blog post: “Are You Making These 5 Blog Commenting Mistakes?” which has been generating a good number of positive comments? Well, it beats my imagination! Here is the graphic with 91 of such comments alreay indexed by Google:

 

3. You want to see more right? Ok, here’s another one.  This one already have, now wait for this …. 2320 results on Google.com! Here’s the graphic:

 

 

4. And finally, here’s a graphic of some of these comments waiting for moderation! You can see one of them actually have a gravatar which makes it appear real indeed!

 So what do you think of these spam comments? What do you think I should do about this situation?