Creating a WordPress blog for your business can be a great way to keep in touch with your customers and increase interest in your product(s). For some people, their blog is their whole business.
Making a successful blog may seem like a daunting task. There are millions of blogs out there and it may seem impossible at first to stand out. The major thing that will help your blog stand out is the content you provide. It needs to be useful for your visitors. But besides that, there are free services and business plugins for WordPress to help you along the way.
We’ll take a look at five of the essentials for WordPress business blogs.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is an essential service to help with your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Google wants your site to be Google-friendly and their tools will help you.
Getting started is simple. Log in with a free Google account (register for one if needed) and go to Google Webmaster Tools. Google will ask you to verify you are the site owner by adding a meta tag to your homepage or uploading a HTML file.
Once verified, you’ll have access to information about your site, such as which keywords are ranked the best on Google and tips on how to improve your site.
Google XML Sitemap
A sitemap is a XML format that will help Google (and other search engines) index and crawl your site efficiently. WordPress plugin author Arne Brachhold has created a great plugin for this specific purpose called Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin is freely available for download from the WordPress download page or from WordPress’s built-in plugin finder.
To access the plugin finder, log into your WordPress site. On the left hand menu, find the Plugins header and click “Add New“.
After installation, select XML-Sitemap from the left-hand Settings menu and click the link to generate your first sitemap. When finished, your sitemap is available at http://your-blog.com/sitemap.xml. You can then log into your Google Webmaster Tools (from above) and submit your sitemap.
Twitter has proven itself to be a useful way of communicating with clients and customers for businesses. It’s a great way to promote new products, share the latest news, answer questions and get feedback. If you would like to show your tweets in a sidebar on your business blog and seamlessly integrate Twitter with WordPress, there’s a great plugin called Twitter Tools by Alex King that will let you do that.
Download the plugin here or use WordPress’s built-in plugin finder. After installation, go to your Settings and then Twitter Tools to complete the setup. You will need to enter your Twitter username and password.
To add the sidebar in the admin area, go to Design and then Widgets. From here you can add the Twitter Tools widget to your sidebar with a simple drag and drop move. You may want to change the title to something other than “Twitter Tools”, like “Our Tweets” or “Twitter News“.
When you’re running an online business, making it easy for your customers to communicate with you is a must. Having a contact email listed on your site will work, but it’s more professional and convenient to provide a contact form. One of the easiest ways to build a contact form is with the Cforms II business plugin for WordPress by Oliver Seidel.
After downloading and installing the plugin, go into the configuration. The plugin has a thorough set of documentation to walk you through the creation of your form.
As shown in the screenshot above, you’re able to easily add new fields. After creating your form, be sure to verify your email settings are correct. Go to the “Admin Email Options” in the configuration and double-check that the “from” and “admin” email addresses matches what you set up in your blog originally. You can then choose to add the Cforms II button to your toolbar, which will let you easily click and add the form to whatever pages you want.
WP Super Cache
As your audience grows, you may find that you need to start thinking more about optimizing your site for heavy loads, especially if your site ever becomes popular because of a site like YouTube or Digg. Without optimization your site could likely run slow or even crash completely.
The WP Super Cache plugin can help you prevent any slowdown problems and it’s a good thing to set up BEFORE your site hits the big time. Note: You need to have mod_rewrite enabled on your server to use this plugin. If you’re unsure if you have it, please ask your web host.
To get started, download the WP Super Cache plugin, upload it to your plugins folder, and activate it. Then go to “Settings | WP Super Cache“, and set the plugin status to ON. After that, scroll down the page and click “Update mod_rewrite rules“. Now as you visit your site, WP Super Cache will begin to cache pages and this will help them load faster.
If you notice any strange behavior on your site, or some other plugins not working correctly, it is possible they may not be fully compatible with WP Super Cache. In this case, you can occasionally choose to “Delete Cache” in the Cache Contents section of the WP Super Cache configuration, or you may need to uninstall the plugin completely. If so, then there are some other plugins like “WP Cache” that you could try instead, but chances are WP Super Cache will work great for you.
Have you tried any of these business plugins for WordPress before? Do you have any other recommendations for anyone with a business blog? Please leave us a comment and let us know!
Image credit: remedix