WordPress add-ons to improve your blog

You want to have people find what they want to read on your blog? Well, you can customize your WordPress blog so that is easier.

Is the appearance of your blog important to you? Do you want to have the appearance match the mood and style of your writing? You can have that.

Changing the overall appearance of your blog

There are hundreds of ways you can customize how your WordPress blog looks, and dozens of great features you can add. So many you could spend hours just picking which ones interest you the most.  Then you’d have to spend hours installing them, testing them, finding out which options to use. Even if you’re tech-minded, it’s too much to do, and trying out different looks is not what you should be spending your time on.

When you are starting to blog, what is most important is writing. So here’s what I found that experts have recommended or people have said they really want to have on their blogs.

Start with these WordPress add-ons, and configure them this way. (Later, when you’re rich and famous and have lots of people reading your blog, you can add more enhancements if you want to.)

Themes and Appearance

I found many themes I liked (themes specify the overall structure of how is information organized on the page) at http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress/themes and styles (the colors and fonts that make up the “look” of your blog) at http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress/styles and was done searching. I’m using the Carrington template, and haven’t changed the style: it looks professional, easy to read, and is organized better while I am composing my posts than the default template is.

Social Networking: how do I let people on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc know I’ve blogged?

Twitter lets people who are interested in what you are doing stay connected with you. Let them know a mixture of your activities, what you enjoy, what you need, what you are working on, and what you offer. With these tools, you very easily post on Twitter what you blogged about.

Twitter Tools -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-tools/
Creates a complete integration between your WordPress blog and your Twitter account. Create a daily digest post of your tweets. Create a tweet on Twitter whenever you post in your blog, with a link to the blog post.

Twitter Widget Pro -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-widget-pro/
A widget that properly handles displaying twitter feeds on the sidebar of your blog, including @username and link parsing. It supports displaying profiles images, and even lets you control whether to display the time and date of a tweet or how log ago it happened (about 5 hours ago, etc). Requires PHP5 on your server.

Facelook WordPress Plugin -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/facelook-facebook-badge-wordpress-plugin/
Brings your FaceBook badge into your blog

How can I make it easier for people to find what they want to read? (How do I do search engine optimization on blog posts?)

All in One SEO Pack -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
I’ll write a tutorial on using this tool well. Briefly, you can easily change all the important elements of your blog posts so search engines bring people to the specific posts they are interested in.

I want to know what people think of what I write. Can I have people rate my posts?

Rating of posts and pages and comments
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gd-star-rating/
(the manual is available at http://wp.gdragon.info/plugins/gd-star-rating/, or direct link for the GD Star Rating User Guide 1.0.5 – http://wp.gdragon.info/download/12/)

My blog is very important. How can I back it up?

WP-DB-Backup -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/

I have great quotes I’d love to put on my blog to make it more interesting. Can I?

Quotes Collection
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/quotes-collection/
This adds a nice interface to add, edit and manage quotes. Quotes can be displayed in a page by placing a piece of code (quick tags), selected by source or tag . This also helps keep your blog entries fresh, in a way that adds content, that search engines love.

I want to mention books, and have links to Amazon near them. How do I do that?

Amazon Showcase WordPress Widget -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/amazon-showcase-wordpress-widget/

Where’d you get those amazing space photos from?

NASA Image Of The Day -
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/nasa-image-of-the-day/

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