20 Essential WordPress Plugins to Turbocharge your blog in 2012

Essential WordPress Plugins for 2012

1. Akismet: This is the mother of all plugins. Almost 90% of WordPress users have installed Akismet spam blocker on their blogs. If you are getting sleepless nights due to plenty of spam comments on your blog, then, this is the right plugin for you. Just install it and kick all the spammers in to the bay. For personal use it is absolutely FREE.

2. All in One SEO Pack: The big daddy of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for WordPress blogs. It gives excellent results, if you judiciously use this plugin. The common mistake bloggers do is – after installing All in One SEO Pack plugin they just forget everything, and expect it will do everything for them. If you use it for your every blog post then the outcome is outstanding. Most interesting part is, you can control the title, meta description and meta keywords for each blog post and page very easily.

3. Personal Favicon: Favicon is considered to be the signature of the blog. And, Personal Favicon WordPress plugin is the best favicon manager. You have to just add the URL of your favicon in the URL box of the plugin, rest everything will be take care by Personal Favicon WordPress plugin.

4. WP-PageNavi: Most essential plugin for your WordPress blog, if you are a serious blogger. It adds a beautiful page navigation at the bottom of your page. Moreover you can customize the look and feel of the Page Navigation according to your needs. From SEO point of view and to increase the page-views I have added Page Navigation to my  categories, archives and tags also.

5. Slick Social Share Buttons: Social sharing is the latest trend and every body are just diving in to this holy river. Slick Social Share Buttons is extremely essential plugin for your WordPress powered blog for 2012 for sure. It works  wonderfully for Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon etc.

6. Google XML Sitemaps: Spidering and indexing of all your articles by search engine spiders are extremely essential for appearing in the SERP ( Search Engine Result Pages). Google XML Sitamaps generate a site map so many times in a day, there by providing essential data to search engine spiders for indexing of your blog articles. One of the BEST WordPress plugins for sitemap generation for 2012 for sure.

7. iWPhone: Responsive web design is the latest craze in webdesign world. Designers are making websites which fits for all devices available to surf the web, not just the desktop or laptop. By using this essential WordPress plugin your blog will be iPhone compatible. It is compatible with all the smartphones available in the market, not just the iPhone. Rock your blogging career in 2012 with this awesome WordPress plugin.

8. Contact Form 7: Contact form is most essential to communicate with your subscribers and clients. This plugin is updating its version frequently and definitely going to rock 2012.

9. Subscribe To Comments: If you want to engage your reader by making them visit your blog frequently, the Subscribe to Comments is the right plugin for you. Whenever a reader click the check box, she gets notification via Email about any new comments on the same article. A great way to engage your readers. Isn’t it?

10 WordPress Related Posts: This plugin display a string of related posts below each article, thereby offering your visitors to read more and more articles during each visit. You can set the number of articles you want to display by setting in the plugin.

11. Redirection: A WordPress plugin to manage all your 301 permanent redirection and also take care your 404 errors. This is a great plugin for changing permalink structure in your WordPress blog or simply changing certain URLs.

12. Really Simple CAPTCHA: It adds a captcha to your contact form to prevent spam. It is a must for all WordPress powered blog to avoid cluttering of spammy message.

13. WordPress Database Backup: Have you ever imagined – While editing your WordPress theme folder, you put some wrong codes and POOF !, everything is gone. Your all the hard work will be a big zero. Install this WordPress plugin and schedule a database backup, at least once in a week. This plugin is going great and gonna rock 2012 as well.

14. WP Super Cache: Imagine, you blog post is featured on the home page of StumbleUpon for a really witty article. 10s of thousands of visitors came to your blog. Is your blog ready to receive this huge traffic ? Certainly not. Here, WP Super Cache come to your rescue. This WordPress plugin keeps a cached version of your blog in the browser and helps to load your blog very fast. A must have WordPress plugin for 2012.

15. CloudFlare: The best WordPress plugin for CDN ( Content Delivery Network). Yes, it works great for WordPress Platform. It make your blog lightning fast. Definitely essential WordPress plugin for whole 2012.

16. WP-Polls: By adding a poll question, the interaction of visitors increases on your blog. Wp-Polls is a great plugin with plenty of customization option, making it a sure sort candidate for rest of 2012.

17. WP-Forum: If you want to extend your WordPress blog by adding a forum, then this plugin is certainly for you. Run a hassel free forum right from your blog.

18. SEO Rank Reporter: When you publish an article, do you eager to know its present Google rank ? Everybody do! SEO Rank Reporter instantly tell the present Google rank of your article.

19. Google Analyticator: It displays your Google analytics on your blog dashboard itself. You don’t have to visit your Google Analytics account every time. Most essential plugin for 2012.

20. Jetpack by WordPress.com: My favorite WordPress plugin for 2012. Its a plugin to die for due to its multi-tasking nature. Checkout this awesome and essential WordPress plugin for 2012.

Recommend your Essential WordPress Plugins for 2012 for blogging success, to make the list more better.

[AUS] Investors flee super funds due to reforms, poor returns

Five years of dismal returns and significant reforms to super rules has prompted investors to significantly reduce their voluntary superannuation contributions, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Self-managed schemes have lured many investors away from pooled funds with the benefit of greater control over how their investments are allocated and a greater diversity of assets.

Specifically, the federal government’s decision to reduce tax concessions on contributions has discouraged investors away from the super sector.

After-tax contributions by members of large funds, which oversee $920 billion worth of assets, fell $300 million to $3.1 billion in the three months to March 2012, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority as reported by the AFR.

The data underscores the motive behind the super sector’s support of Labor’s proposal to raise the level of compulsory employer contributions from nine per cent to 12 per cent over the next seven years.

People feel the rules are being made up as we go along,” Financial Services Council policy director Martin Codina said, according to the AFR. “How are they supposed to save for their retirement in the next 30 to 40 years?”

Paying for Penalties: Lies That Shady SEO Companies Tell

15 July 2012 – Jill Whalen

PoD_Cloud

Ever since Panda and Penguin (Google’s major changes to how they rank websites in order to fight web spam) have hit, a lot of companies have lost a large percentage of their website visitors. Bewildered by their sudden misfortune, many of these business owners have turned to me to review their websites and their SEO practices to determine where they went wrong and what they need to do to get back into Google’s good graces.

While many of them had been doing their own SEO based on what they’ve picked up through the years, a few have had SEO companies (and I use this term loosely) “helping” them. Sadly, what some of these companies do worked okay in a pre-Panda-Penguin world, even though it was garbage that doesn’t come close to following SEO best practices. The fact that it worked is what has kept SEO web spammers in business for so long. And it’s possible that to a certain extent, what they’re doing may still work for a short time — at least until Google reprocesses their ranking formula. That’s when the panda poop hits the fan!

If it were just a matter of the links no longer counting, it wouldn’t be so bad. But these days not only does the site lose any additional Google traffic they may have gained from the bad SEO, they start receiving even less traffic than they were getting before the bad links.

Here’s an example of this:

And here’s another example:

You’ll notice in both of these examples that the start of the major loss of Google traffic started toward the end of April, right around when ‘the Penguin first came to town. In the first instance, the client was (and is) very web UNsavvy. She knows very little about her own website and online marketing in general, let alone much about SEO. I’m not sure if she contacted the SEO company directly to “help” her, or if it was unsolicited. Either way, the web spammers quickly found they were dealing with their favorite type of customer — trusting and naïve. Not to mention desperate. The website had been losing traffic and sales since the early Panda days in 2010. (Due to not much content and simply not keeping up with what other companies in the space were doing.)

Signs That Your SEO Sucks

When I reviewed the site and looked at the links pointing to it, I saw a lot of terribly written spammy blog (splog) posts having been submitted to irrelevant, crappy splog networks, article submission sites, and fake directories. They all had a few different keyword phrases that pointed back to the home page of the client’s site. The dates of the posts were all from around the time that the site had its initial boost in Google traffic.

These links were obviously fake, purchased and extremely low in quality. For instance, one was in a directory on a domain that had a section pertaining to link building services as well as a splog full of wonderful articles which nobody in their right mind would be interested in reading — ever. In fact, the client’s site was linked from a number of directories that all looked the same, but were on different domain names and using a different name and background color. High class and high quality they were not! My favorites were the links right next to ones for “buying text links!” (They’re a nice change from the ones next to credit card and payday loan links!)

Shoddy SEO That You Pay For

In addition to creating barely readable content and submitting it to their icky splog networks, this SEO company also wrote useless, grammatically incorrect articles and put them into a blog on the client’s own site. Of course, these all had anchor text pointing back to the home page. I was surprised that they didn’t even go to the trouble of pointing the anchor text to the most appropriate pages within the site instead of the home page, but that may have taken some actual work to figure out where they should go! (Web spammers don’t believe in actually working.)

To top it off, they even stuck a link to their own SEO site with the anchor text of “SEO” on every page of the client’s site! (It wasn’t clear to me whether she gave them permission to do this or not.)

When I pointed out all of the above in my SEO site audit report to the client, I told her to have the company remove all of the links and explained why they were bad. And here’s where it got weird. The company emailed her back trying to convince her that they were not a spammy SEO company at all and that everything they were doing for her was on the up-and-up. When she asked them for a list of the links they had built for her, they had the gall to say that only black hat link building companies would be able to provide a list of their links. (Huh?)

Whom Do You Trust?

But the really scary part is that their answers sounded credible and believable to one who wouldn’t know better. This poor client was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She had me on the one hand telling her that what this company did was likely a big reason why she was no longer making any sales, and them telling her, “But you’re ranking for the keywords we chose together.” (This was true to some extent because the site was still ranking for some of the non-competitive phrases that nobody searches for.) And then they tried to scare the client by telling her that if they removed the links, her rankings would plummet and she’d lose even more traffic. They also tried to weasel out by saying that perhaps her shopping cart was not working properly (which, even if true, wouldn’t account for the nearly complete loss of Google traffic).

Finally, in answer to their half-truths, I told her that any reputable SEO company knows that the types of things this company does are considered to be web spam — certainly after Google Penguin, if not before. And the very fact that they were continuing to claim that what they were doing was all well and good showed just how horrible and unethical they were. In fact, I was so enraged by this that I told her to tell them that if they didn’t want to remove the spammy junk and wouldn’t give her money back, I’d be happy to write about them to my 25K newsletter subscribers.

At this point I haven’t heard back from her. I decided to write this article anyway (without naming names) so that others can learn from it. I hope that the more this kind of SEO gets talked about, and pointed out as the web spam that it is, the more others will stop spending money to get themselves penalized by Google.

Dashboards, Infographics, and Visualizations – Best Practices

2 May 2012 – John D’Arcy

PlusOne Dynamics - Dashboards, infographics, visualizations
PlusOne Dynamics – Dashboards, infographics, visualizations

Dashboards, infographics, and visualizations have been on my mind a lot this year. I’ve always loved turning data into pretty colors and patterns, which is great as the number of dashboard projects for consultants like me has gone through the roof in the past couple of years.

The projects I’ve worked on, even just in 2012, have been at times affirming as an analyst, have driven some key business relationships, but sometimes have been very frustrating. I’ve been made to feel like Leonardo da Vinci when in one project I simply merged two data sets with a customer ID, drew a two axis line chart, and saw the client nearly fall off their chair in amazement. But I’ve also been involved in projects that made me feel like Leonardo the Turtle, wading through a sewer of data and misunderstood objectives.

It’s made me think a lot this year about the responsibilities and checklists from both a client and agency perspective. To get the best out of your dashboard project, whether it has two data sources or 202, here are a few key learnings and things to think about for both sides.

For agencies or those internals teams tasked with building the tool:

  1. Be a Doubting Thomas and don’t scope out your project until you physically see the data. Clients love to say to you, “Here’s my data, I just want you to pop that in a beautifully visualized set of charts.” But under the bonnet of any tool, web analytics, sales, or customer relationship management (CRM) could be a whole mess of data that will take weeks to get to a point where you can easily visualize. This is particularly true of multi-data source dashboards, say ad serving and web analytics data. If you don’t have a long-term relationship with your client and they want you to scope without seeing the data then walk away now.
  2. Deliver a data audit. This should include profiling the data you receive so that you can understand underlying data distributions and also a quality assurance review of calculated metrics. Too often clients believe their data house is in order and when resulting visualizations don’t look the way they want, the person building the dashboard gets blamed.
  3. Visualization is less important than data structure. Did I really just say that? Stop scratching your head deciding if you agree with Stephen Few about pie charts and start thinking about the database or data tables you are storing your data in. Does it need to be based on a data cube? Are you likely to have to build a gazillion summary tables? Will your dashboard have to read new data sources in the future and is your data layer flexible enough to do that quickly?

Learnings for clients or the teams, like marketing, who are going to be using the tool:

  1. Beware the funky white elephant. “Sex sells” and you want a bit of wow factor to impress your boss. But your company is already littered with reporting packages. Ensure that the visualization tool that you use can be shared across a number of users and that internal security settings won’t mess up everyone being able to view the pretty Flash charts. To be frank, if you are impressed by a moving chart, then you shouldn’t be the person deciding what software to use.
  2. The value of the data layer is probably 10 times the value of the dashboard. If you are merging multiple data sets and building a multi-channel dashboard, you are very likely to be pooling data that has previously been sat in disparate data silos. If this is the case, the data layer you get built for you, say a SQL database or even a set of Excel workbooks, is going to contain data over and above that which is summarized in your visual layer. You must get ready to mine this data like you would have mined each data source separately. Do you have the people in place to do that?
  3. Cost of ownership is likely to be way more than cost of development. If you haven’t thought yet about who is going to own, run, and analyze your dashboard then stop now.

I haven’t even begun to talk about which is the right visualization tool or what metrics are the right ones to include. From a structural perspective, data is a messy plate of spaghetti. But if you are prepared to audit properly, spend time developing the right metrics, and ensure there is an after-life for your dashboards then the visual impact will be dwarfed by the business impact from all your hard work.