It’s safe to say that WordPress is now officially more than your basic blogging platform. Often touted as a basic CMS (content management system), WordPress offers SMB’s a great opportunity to get a professional-looking website up in minutes – allowing for easy creation, updating and editing of content with little to no technical knowledge.
However, like any new website out there, a WordPress site needs traffic to meet your specific goals. The difference between WordPress and a basic website is that WordPress makes it easy to do the kind of marketing stuff that people pay substantial money for. How? Say hello to the WordPress Plugins Directory.
Offering more plugins than you even thought possible, the hyper-extendibility of WordPress is its killer app. Have an idea for your blog/site but don’t know how to implement it? Chances are that a savvy web developer has already done it, kindly hosted it in the WordPress plugin directory, and letting you reap the rewards. For free. From image galleries to recent comments, there’s a plugin that offers you what you need.
So, here are the top 15 WordPress marketing-related plugins that every SMB using WordPress should download immediately. I use most of these plugins already on http://www.CarbonGraffiti.com, and I also have a dedicated folder containing all of these that I activate immediately when I create any WordPress-powered site for a client. Enjoy, share, and please comment on any you feel are missing!
All in one SEO pack
This plugin auto-magically optimizes your titles for search engines, generates proper Meta tags, and allows you to create your own unique titles and descriptions for each and every post/page you publish.
Why? Better SEO means you get your site ranked higher in Search Engines, offering you free, qualified traffic to your site. What’s more is that organic Search Engine traffic is free, meaning this plugin offers you free traffic for very little work. Visit All in one SEO pack
Google XML sitemaps
This plugin creates a Google sitemaps-compliant XML sitemap of your WordPress site. Each time you create or update a post your sitemap is updated, and all SE’s that support the Google protocol are notified of the update.
Why? Notifying the SE’s when you update is like nudging them and asking them directly to send their robots to read your content. As soon as your content gets indexed, your SE ranking for the terms on your page can lift. Visit Google XML sitemaps
Sociable offers a great way to let your visitors do the legwork. By adding a Sociable footer to your posts, visitors can quickly and easily add your beloved content to their favourite social bookmarking site, such as Digg, Delicious, Facebook and many more.
Why? Social bookmarking is a great way to get free, qualified traffic from like-minded visitors. Referral marketing is one of the strongest forms of marketing, and social bookmarking uses the same principle to deliver interesting content to peers. Visit Sociable.
Note: this plugin also offers a built-in ‘Send to a friend’ option. Other F2F plugins include WP-Email and Tell a Friend.
This plugin automatically adds a ‘Digg’ button to your post, and auto-detects whether the post has already been Dugg. If so, it displays the amount of Diggs, enhancing the snowball effect Digg can have on your site.
Why? Digg can make or break your server with inbound traffic. If you create great content and get Dugg, you can expect upwards of 20,000 unique visits to your site. Great if you’ve just launched a new product or service! Visit Digg This
GA for WordPress
What site is complete without the ability to analyze its visitors? This plugin makes it a snap to include your Google Analytics tracking code to all pages on your site, making it simple to see where they’re coming from, what keywords they used, and what browsers they’re using (to name only a few).
Why? Web analytics is crucial to ensuring you’re offering the right content to the right audience, targeting the right keywords, and making it easy for your visitors to see the pages you want them to see (and convert). Visit GA for WordPress
This plugin makes adding an advanced contact form a breeze – offering customizable dropdown menus, radio buttons, Captchas, and styling – so that you can focus on the important task of getting your visitors there in the first place.
Why? What good is a site that doesn’t let a visitor contact you? Good sites engage visitors and prompt them to interact with you. Depending on your goals, a contact form might be your lead acquisition tool, and a good contact form can be the last step in getting those leads. Visit cForms II
SEO friendly images
No SEO strategy is complete without optimized images. This plugin ensures you have full control over the image attributes so you can match it to your content’s theme.
Why? Because images can’t yet be indexed, SE’s rely on the title and alt tags to get a feeling for the context of the surrounding content. Visit SEO friendly images
This plugin is for the online marketing voyeur in all of us. Watch in real-time as your visitors enter and interact with your site, or view a history over the last 24 hours of visits to your site, and filter by bots, referrals, search engines, or spam.
Why? Analyzing how your visitors actually interact with your site isn’t something most analytics programs can offer. Wassup’s functionality lets you address what pages result in dead-ends or loss of interest, and allow you to experiment with changes in real-time – a great plugin. Visit Wassup
Twitter for WordPress
This plugin makes it easy to add your recent Tweets to your blog, letting site visitors know there’s a real face behind the site they’re on.
Why? Twitter is here to stay, and only recently has started to get exposure as a great marketing tool. Best used for transparency marketing and/or brand management, Twitter is a great way to interact with like-minded peers or customers.Visit Twitter for WordPress
Although I haven’t had the fortune of getting Dugg yet, this plugin helps to guard against site downtime in the face of traffic spikes by generating static HTML files from your normally dynamically-generated pages.
Why? Letting more visitors see your site at once – especially if you’ve just delivered great content that’s been Dugg (or similar), means more eyeballs, more exposure, and potentially more returning visitors. Imagine if all they saw was a 404 page? Visit WP SuperCache
Maxblogpress Ping Optimizer
Pinging is the art of notifying multiple indexing services (including search engines, Technorati, Google Blog search, etc.) that your blog has just been updated. I liken pinging to Google Alerts – the blog alerts you see in your inbox are often a result of pings. This plugin automatically notifies all services that your blog has just been updated.
Why? Similar to a sitemap, this plugin notifies services that a specific blog post has been created, and asks them to come take a look at your new content. Pinging is crucial to getting into Google Alerts and similar notification services. Visit Maxblogpress Ping Optimizer
WordPress related posts & Recent Comments
These plugins lets you keep your visitors/readers on your site for longer by engaging them with relevant content and discussions. Based on what they’re currently reading, both of these plugins serve up related posts (by matching tags) or recent comments, allowing a visitor to keep reading or interacting.
Why? Relevant content is the key to any site visit. Don’t let your hard-worked content go to waste in just one visit – keep the visitor reading or commenting and they might come back for more! Visit WordPress related posts Visit Recent Comments
Note: Also check out WP-PageNavi
Subscribe to Comments
This plugin acts as a retention tool – making it easy for those who’ve left a comment to be notified of subsequent comments via email (that they’ve opted-in to obviously).
Why? Anyone who comments on a blog wants to get involved with the discussion and see what others have to say. Keep them coming back again and again to get really absorbed in your content! Visit Subscribe to Comments
WordPress Automatic Upgrade
This plugin is a Godsend. Although not particularly marketing-related, this plugin makes the normally laborious process of upgrading your version of WP almost too easy.
Why? Security is the one issue of using an open-source platform like WordPress. By upgrading to a new release, you’re staying one step ahead of the hackers trying to get into blogs around the world. Visit WordPress Automatic Upgrade
Note: Also check out BackUpWordpress
Learn more about your visitors by offering a poll to collect valuable information. Ask anything from first impressions to their favourite blog.
Why? Uncovering demographic or statistical information on your visitors can help in decision-making for content, style, or direction of your site. Polls are a great way to interact, and everyone loves to see the answer! Visit WP-Polls
Bonus: Build a ‘WordBurner’ Email Newsletter Manager using WordPress and FeedBurner
Although not a plugin, this is a great tutorial for the techies to show you how to use your regular WordPress website combined with Feedburner to make a simple email newsletter manager.
Why? Because WordPress has great potential to be so much more than even a CMS – it can even act as an email marketing campaign generator!