Blogs are all the rave online today; everybody from a twelve year old in Bangladesh to a seventy year old in California has one. Blogs are excellent for two main reasons:
- Blogs allow you to publish your thoughts and ideas online instantly, even if you have little technical experience.
- Blogs, by design, allow quick notification to search engines about your recent posts. This typically means nearly instantaneous exposure to search engines even on a brand new blog.
Because blogging is so popular, there are many free blogging solutions available:
- Blogger.com – Blogger is a free blogging platform offered by Google. You only need to fill out a few details and you will have your blog up and running, with very little technical know-how required.
- WordPress.com – Much like Blogger, you can have your own blog setup and run on the wordpress.com website.
- WordPress.org – WordPress blogs are run on your own website, but this blogging software is undisputed as the most popular blogging software on the planet, and it’s free no less.
We’ll focus on self-hosted WordPress blogs because of not only the ease of setup, but because of the substantial support from the open-source community, which affords us an almost unlimited number of plugins and even customized theme (skins), depending on what you’re using your blog for.
WordPress blog plugins
Maintaining a huge database of blogger tools, the WordPress plugin database offers a directory of plugins for their blogging software, from the most popular to the most obscure WordPress tools available. You can find the WordPress plugins database here:
WordPress blog themes
If you don’t like the default skin of your WordPress blog, which many of us don’t, you can grab a theme (skin) that better suits your blog’s personality. While the exact number of WordPress themes isn’t clearly available, but there are thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. There are also Premium WordPress Themes available, the price for one “unique” WordPress theme starts at ca. $40.
Popular WordPress plugins
Using a WordPress blog, you have nearly unlimited freedom to customize your blog to meet your needs. In order to customize your blog, you need plugins; here are the most popular plugins available for WordPress blogs.
The Google XML sitemap generator plugin for WordPress will help you, as the name implies, generate a Google sitemap. Using a Google sitemap can be helpful when you’re looking to “expose” all of the pages of your website to Google for indexing. While simply creating a Google sitemap does not imply that you will have all of your pages in Google’s index, it can certainly help.
A simple, yet detailed statistics system for your WordPress blog. Being remotely hosted, you don’t have to worry about additional load being placed on your server. This plugin is self-described as being one of the fastest, or the fastest statistics systems that you can use.
While blogs are inherently beneficial for exposure of your blog to search engines, this does not mean that the default blog setup is search engine friendly. What the All in one SEO Pack does is allows you to tweak your title tags for search engine friendliness, create META tags for your posts and helps you to avoid the duplicate content “penalty” that is common with WordPress blogs.
Subscribe to comments is a fantastic blogger tool that will help make your blog “sticky”. Your readers will have the option to receive notification of new comments made to certain posts, thus increasing your chances of return visits to your blog exponentially.
Blogging is fun, and blogging can be financially advantageous as well. Choosing blogging software that will allow you to customize your blog as you see fit and avails the wealth of support in the form of free plugins and themes from the open source community is priceless. If you don’t already have one, you really should setup your own blog today; you don’t know what you’re missing out on!