If you’ve read my last post on the difference between plugins and widgets and why every author platform should take advantage of these user-friendly tools, you will be happy to read this follow-up guide. I present to you, savvy WordPress user, plugins and widgets for a successful author platform. These are just a few of the basic plugins and widgets we recommend (and use ourselves) at Swenson Book Development, LLC. It’s time to turn your website into more than just a landing page for your books and WIPs.
Google Keyword Tracker
A plugin for monitoring how users navigate to your website or blog through Google searches and an effective tool for improving SEO. It tracks an unlimited number of keywords and automatically generates a keyword list from search engine visits. The plugin can search for results up to 20 pages deep in a Google search and configured to monitor specific geographic locations. By determining which keywords are most commonly used in finding your site on Google, you can improve the accuracy of your metadata. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even use the tracker to test out which terms and phrases improve your SEO and increase your traffic.
This is useful if you don’t already have a custom contact form on your website. You can choose the fields, including which ones are required or optional, and then you save the form. In the settings section you choose a page for the form to appear, copy and paste the saved form’s code, and drop it into the HTML editor. Quick and easy. Now visitors – or agents! publishers! booksellers! – can contact you about your work in a safe and protected manner. No need to share your personal information with the entire World Wide Web!
A plugin that configures and optimizes your blog and website for mobile smartphones, like Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and others. There are setting options for being able to zoom in on your website (a box we recommend you check), for Google Adsense support, for creating a custom icon for your website (to appear like an app on the phone), and much more. Why bother, you may ask. Honestly, the difference in navigation and appearance for smartphones is staggering. The websites you view on your laptop or desktop do not appear the same on the small screens of phones. Content is either zoomed very far out to fit the screen size or chopped up and cut off. Not to mention the state of your pretty graphics. If you don’t have a smartphone, borrow a friend’s and check out your website before and after activating WPTouch. You will never delete it or switch back. Remember tape decks? And how hard it was to share a tape with friends? Record it? Rewind it? Well, your website before WPTouch is like a tape deck – outdated and irrelevant.
Trackable Social Share Icons or the Social Sharing Toolkit
Every author platform needs social sharing icons. Consider them a passive (some might say lazy) mode of conversation, like the bro-to-bro head jerk. A visitor that shares your post or page is providing you with FREE PROMOTION. There’s no need for expensive forms of traditional marketing because this is what social media is all about. Word-of-mouth sells more books than any other method. How do you think Harry Potter and The Hunger Games became so popular? (No, the NYT Bestseller List is not the answer). Because people talked about how awesome they were and recommended the books to their friends and family. This widget has icons customizable in appearance and display and allows for sharing on social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Myspace, Digg, Foursquare, Reddit, Tumblr, Stumble Upon, Delicious, LinkedIn, and a few others. Oh, and e-mail. E-mail is nice, especially for those of you tired of explaining to grandma that “tweeting” is not some obscene sexual act.
Appearing near the top of a webpage on either a left or right sidebar, this widget allows visitors to subscribe to an RSS feed of your blog, connect with you and follow you on your social network(s). Most visitors recognize them as square icons of a singular brand, logo, or image for a given network, like the Twitter bird and or those two little Flickr dots. When a user clicks on the logo, they are directed to your presence on that feed or network. Now it’s easier for fans to follow you on their preferred social network or feed stream. A widget like this is one of many ways to keep visitors engaged with your content and keep them coming back for more.
Twitter Profile Widget
The developers over at Twitter have created some neat promotional resources for its “tweeps”. One of four resource options, the Profile widget is a real-time feed of your tweets for your website or Facebook page. You can customize it in appearance (colors, fonts, etc), content (number of tweets, scrolling or static, etc), and dimensions (height and width). Just type your twitter handle into the text box, make your adjustments, and grab the code. Then run over to WordPress and paste it into a simple HTML text box widget, which you can place anywhere on a sidebar of your website and blog. (Note: Sometimes WordPress is temperamental and mangles the widget appearance because the code is third-party and HTML. Don’t stress: WordPress has several other Twitter feed options in its Plugin section. Just search for “Twitter” and you’ll get dozens of results.)
What do you think? Did I leave any important plugins or widgets out? Please add your comments below – we love to hear from you!