Blogging isn’t always as easy as it’s pictured. And with over 30 million bloggers in the US alone, building your audience from scratch appears to be among the most challenging parts. But what does the process of building an audience consist of? Technically, your job is to drive traffic to your website, grab your visitors’ attention, and convert them into subscribers.
Today we’re sharing a roundup of 7 best WordPress plugins for blogs that will help you with each of these steps. We’ll speak about how to easily optimize a website for better search rankings, how to increase user engagement, and how to build your main asset – a list of email subscribers.
And since email list building has been such a trending topic in 2018, let’s start with this one.
When you’re working on growing an audience, there are two important steps your strategy should include. That’s attracting new website visitors and encouraging them to subscribe. If you’re not doing the latter, you’re leaving money on the table because 90% of first-time visitors will never return.
The best way to entice someone to subscribe today is proactively showing email sign-up forms. Ideally, they should include a convincing copy and appear at the right moment.
Say, when a visitor has scrolled down at least 50% of a webpage, it indicates that they are interested in your content, and that’s a good moment to suggest subscribing. Creating such forms is exactly what GetSiteControl helps you with.
GetSiteControl comes with a suite of 7 widgets designed to get people to subscribe, fill out a survey, contact you, or follow your blog on social media.
You can customize the way widgets look and the moment they appear on a webpage. For example, the email signup form that you’ll probably be using the most can be displayed as a modal popup, as a slide-in, or a bar at the top of the webpage. And you can choose the conditions it will be displayed under: time spent on a website, scroll depth, exit-intent, and more.
Your new subscribers will be automatically added to the mailing list after you connect GetSiteControl to the email marketing software of your choice: Mailchimp, Aweber, or any other.
While we’re on the topic of lead generation, here is another WordPress blog plugin worth your attention. It’s called Beacon, and it will make a perfect addition to your subscription form.
The challenge with building an email list is that people are not always willing to hand over their email addresses unless they get something valuable in return. One way to entice visitors to subscribe is offering a lead magnet. In fact, for Brian Dean from Backlinko, a lead magnet has increased email opt-in conversion from 0.54% to a whopping 4.82%.
High-quality content pieces like eBooks, fact sheets, toolkits and cheat sheets make perfect lead magnets, and Beacon helps you create them for your blog in a matter of minutes without a web designer. It also happens to be free!
The plugin allows you to combine existing posts into an eBook and design it using page layout templates. Once created, your lead magnet can be published in HTML or PDF, and that’s how your new subscribers will get access to the content.
To make your lead magnet even more enticing, make sure that whatever you’re offering people in exchange for their email address relates to the post they’re reading. For instance, if you run a cooking blog, you may want to offer different eBooks on the pages with desserts and low-carb recipes. Creating topic-related lead magnets won’t take much additional effort but it will surely boost the number of subscribers you’ll get.
Pop-ups, however, are not the key way to increase user engagement with your website – your content is. Showing pieces that are related to what your visitors are currently reading will make them spend more time on a website and explore.
WordPress Related Posts gives you an easy way to boost reader engagement and get people checking the other content you have published on your blog. By adding related posts to the footer of your blog complete with thumbnail images, you encourage website visitors to click and read more content.
With this WordPress blog plugin, you can hand pick related posts or let the plugin automatically choose them for you, customize the way your related posts are displayed, and rest assured your site will continue to load quickly thanks to the built-in caching feature.
And the best part of this, besides the fact you can get people reading more content and becoming loyal followers, is that the longer people stick around in your site, the better your search rankings will be (because user engagement is an important ranking factor for Google).
Improving your blog search rankings is one of the pillars of the audience growth because it increases the blog visibility. And the best way to get your website appear in the right search results is optimizing the blog’s content using SEO principles.
Optimization tasks may look overwhelming at first, as they include keyword research, studying your competition, and coming up with high-quality content on a regular basis. To make it easier and more efficient, consider using Yoast. It is by far one of the best WordPress plugins for blogs, and for a good reason. Its purpose is helping you optimize blog content to rank higher in search results and make it easier to read.
Here’s a list of Yoast SEO’s most notable features:
- Create an XML sitemap for Google and other search engines to crawl
- Control your site’s breadcrumbs
- Avoid duplicate content
- Assign title and meta descriptions
- Define keywords
- Make sure you have the right keyword density
- Edit the search result snippet
- Receive a readability score
When you’re preparing to publish a new piece of content, Yoast analyzes it and applies the red/yellow/green light system to offer suggestions for improvement. This is definitely the WordPress blog plugin you want to have installed because in the long run helps you increase brand awareness, boost site traffic, and generate higher quality leads. And it’s available for free.
You may not realize it, but your website’s loading speed plays a significant role in how successful you are at growing a large following.
Think about it.
Imagine you click on a website that has an article you’re interested in reading, but it takes forever to load. How many seconds have to pass before you give up and move on to another website?
If you’re like most people, you’ll wait 3 seconds max before abandoning a slow loading site, no matter what they have to offer in terms of content or products.
WP Super Cache is a WordPress blog plugin that’s ready to help you improve your site’s loading times by turning dynamic blog content into static files that can be cached and delivered to site visitors instantly. This way your site doesn’t have to process as much data when returning visitors click on your website. As a result, you create a much better user experience.
And you know who else loves fast websites? Google. According to Backlinko, speed is a major ranking factor. With that in mind, WP Super Cache developers have included CDN support, which is, when enabled, drastically speeds up page loading times.
Here is how it works. A content delivery network (CDN) stores your site’s content on multiple servers across the globe. When a visitor clicks on your site – say, among search results – the server geographically closest to the visitor delivers your content, reducing latency.
Naturally, more people get through and land on your website, therefore, you don’t miss the audience and lower the bounce rate. As a result, your site may rank higher in search results making it easier for the new visitors to find it.
Understanding how people end up on your website and how they engage with its content is crucial when you’re trying to optimize it for growth. And the only way to get this information without guessing is either to connect your website to Google Analytics and use its dashboard, or to monitor user behavior with the plugin bringing Google Analytics right to your WordPress admin panel.
This is where MonsterInsights comes into play. It is a freemium WordPress plugin for blogs that gives website owners an easy way to connect the most popular Google Analytics metrics to their WordPress dashboard.
From there, you can access important insights about website performance and make data-driven decisions about further strategy.
With this plugin, you’ll be able to track the following metrics:
- Number of pageviews and sessions
- Bounce rate
- Referral websites driving traffic to your site
- Your site’s top posts and pages
- New versus returning visitors
- Devices people use to access your site
And all these features are available in the free version of MonsterInsights.
If you decide to invest in the premium version, you can also access site visitors’ demographics data, specific locations they access your website from, interests, and even the top Google search terms that bring people to your site.
By the way, if you connect GetSiteControl subscription forms with Google Analytics, you’ll be able to track their performance as well. In the Events category, you’ll see how many times an email signup form was shown, filled out, and closed without being filled out. This is another way to evaluate the efficiency of your message and see which part can be optimized.
At the end of the day, the number one reason for your audience to stay connected with your blog is its content. And getting your content marketing plan under control is extremely important. It helps you organize the publishing process, plan ahead, attract a wider audience and entice returning visitors who have already subscribed to your blog.
Editorial Calendar is a free WordPress blog plugin that makes developing a solid content marketing strategy a breeze. Here is what you can do with it:
- Easily create, edit, and even publish blog posts from the editorial calendar
- Use the drag & drop feature to change publishing dates of your future posts
- Manage post from multiple authors if you have several writers
- Get a bird’s eye view of a blog post’s status
- View a list of unscheduled drafts
In other words, Editorial Calendar provides you with a simple blog content management system and helps keep everything under control. You get to see where the schedule gaps are and ensure the topic consistency to stay on track with your goals.
Growing your audience isn’t easy, but it’s certainly doable as long as you have a plan and stick to it. Hard work, consistency, and dedication are important for anyone who wants to become a blogger, but with the right arsenal of tools on hand it gets even easier.
We’ve reviewed some of the best WordPress plugins for blogs that have proven their efficiency hoping you’ll find the solutions to power up your website. And with many of them being free or affordable, there should be nothing stopping you from bringing your strategy to life. All you have to do is map out your growth plan and pick the plugins you think will help you the most with your goals.
Of course, you might want to start small and not install all these plugins right away. In this case, we recommend considering Yoast SEO, GetSiteControl, and Editorial Calendar – because search optimization, content strategy, and email list building are the tasks that are better be fulfilled in the first days of your blog being accessible online.
Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. You can find out more about her at The Digital Inkwell