10 Best Time Saving Apps and Plugins To Optimize Your Blog

This is a guest post by Natalie Sisson.

wordpress-plugins

Building a blog that matters is a full-time gig these days, especially if you want to stay ahead of close to 200 million other competing blogs – which you do, right?

You need to be on you’re A-game all the time, and as a result it’s just too easy to get caught up doing ‘everything’ on your blog. If you’re like most bloggers, you spend your time constantly tweaking your sidebar, installing new plugins, changing your optin form and rewriting your about page.

These are definitely useful activities, but only if you can see they are optimizing your blog – like the load time, the bounce rate, time people spend on your pages, or increasing your conversion rate – like more subscribers, more sales, or more referrals.

If that’s not happening then why are you wasting your time on these things?

I can assure you there are better ways to spend your precious time, and I want to show you how with these great apps that are made for helping busy bloggers, like you and me. Plus we will look at the best plugins that alleviate a lot of this ‘extra tweaking’ time you’re currently engaged in.

Spend Your Time Doing The Right Things

First off I’d like to say that if you really want a blog that sparkles like a diamond in the blogosphere sea, you need to focus on three things:

1. Writing killer content that provides your audience with, either a ton of value, or high quality entertainment, so that your posts are shared like crazy.

2. Guest posting on other sites with audiences that you would like to lure back to your blog, who would benefit from reading your posts, watching your videos, listening to your podcast – whatever your ‘unique thang’ is.

3. Writing amazing emails or newsletters, alongside your blog content, that people look forward to reading every week or month and actually forward to their friends. That way you increase your subscriber base, so you have a bigger audience to reach, empower and sell your goods and gifts to.

So let’s get on to the juicy stuff, shall we?

3 Time Saving Apps For You And Your Blog

Hootsuite

If you haven’t heard of the most popular social media dashboard in town, then let me introduce you. Hootsuite allows you to post one message to several different social media sites from one simple place. You can select your LinkedIn Page, Google Plus Page and your own Facebook profile for example, to post a specific update. What’s even better is you can autoschedule a time that’s optimized for your audience. You can keep tabs on keyword searches for your name, Twitter handle or competition. You can have your Twitter lists streamed in a tab so you’re only digesting tweets and updates from people who matter – not the general noise. It works with Google Analytics and keeps stats on your clickthroughs and sends them in pretty reports. It’s that useful.

Dropbox

This should be in every bloggers toolkit. This free cloud storage app allows you to sync files across computers, smartphones and the website, so you can always access your key stuff. Dropbox is perfect for sharing public links to your free or paid eBooks, podcasts or videos. You can also store your blog images, blog articles – anything you need to access at any time – even if you can’t access your computer. It’s great for sharing folders with others so they can access large files and it’s a fantastic backup solution if you lose stuff off your computer too. Time saver, user friendly – get it.

Stay Focused

Let’s face it, since we’re online so much, it’s very easy to get carried away with visiting other blogs, commenting on them, wasting time on social media that does NOT serve a purpose for our blog, and having way too many browsers open at once. All great bloggers know that you get your best work done offline, when you can write uninterrupted and let your creative juices flow. Say a big hello then, to the StayFocusd Chrome extension.

Get started by selecting which sites you spend the most unproductive time on like Facebook, Twitter or Mashable. StayFocused blocks that site when you try to go to it, and also makes it hard to disable it. So you should get a lot more work done, and free up time later in the day for fun stuff.

7 Plugins To Save Your Bacon

Tweet Old Post

If you’ve got hundreds of posts from the ‘good old’ days that people aren’t discovering then welcome to your new best friend. Tweet Old Post is a free plugin that does what it says on the label. You can define what categories you want it to pull posts from, and exclude posts that were time dependent like events or product launches. It’s brilliant for keeping old content alive! You can also define the hashtags you want used with all tweets. I have more of my old posts retweeted sometimes than new ones, and it reminds me of the popular posts I used to write… and whether I can ‘rehash’ them to form a new post.

Yet Another Related Post

While we’re on the subject, what better way to tell your readers who are enjoying your current post about XYZ, then to show them your related posts from the archives about similar topics. Yet Another Related Post is the best plugin I’ve found for showcasing blog posts that match the same terms included in your current post. It guides your readers to learn more and stay on your site by clicking on the next post. You can set it to use text links only or a thumbnail too (highly recommend including images to attract their attentions).

404 Redirected

This is an especially useful plugin if you’ve found your blog is ‘leaking’. If someone tries to search on a page or post on your site that you’ve since changed the permalink for, then you will lose them in an instant if they get directed to an ‘Error, this page does not exist’ message. So instead use 404 Redirected to easily redirect people to existing page, or to an even better page based on the URL the visitor was most likely trying to visit – this plugin is smart. Plus it tells you where that visitor came from and where it sent them so you can keep track of what’s going wrong on your site.

Broken Link Checker

Carrying on from above, you now need to do something about this once and forever. That’s why you’re going to love Broken Link Checker for its life-saving abilities. This plugin monitors links everywhere on your site and detects links that don’t work, bad redirects or images that are missing. It tells you how many broken links you have from your dashboard view, so you can set about fixing them (or outsourcing this so you can get on with running your business instead).

All In One SEO Pack

Even if you’re not an SEO whizz,you can take a damn good shot at it with this fantastic plugin, All In One SEO Pack. It’s simple to install, the settings allow you to optimize your blog settings to be found in search engines, it integrates Google analytics, and automatically optimizes your titles and meta tags. It works by providing a simple option at the bottom of each post to enter in your blog post title (which you can make different from the one displayed when people read your blog), a short description and keywords. There’s the pro version too that has even more features like automatically optimizing your titles for search engines.

Simply Backup Your Blog

All of the time you spend lovingly nurturing your blog would be wasted, if one day it crashed, got hacked or was taken prisoner by your hosting company. So the most useful thing you can do today is to install Simple WordPress Backup. Not surprisingly this is exactly what it does. Makes backups for your WordPress site simple. You can choose to have your site emailed to you once a week. Just do it.

Twitter Anywhere Plus

Hat tip to Benny Hsu for pointing out this great plugin which you can see in action on his blog. Twitter@Anywhere Plus installs a simple retweet box on your blog post that makes it dead easy for readers to retweet your post by prepoulating the text in it for them. Making it super simple and showing them what they will retweeting on the page makes it much more likely they will.

So to recap, as a blogger, you need to remember what counts most. That is writing epic content, guest posting to get known and build a community and writing fantastic, shareable emails or newsletters to keep people engaged.

In order to do this you need to focus in on your most productive activities – the above, by using free apps such as SmartFocused, Hootsuite and Dropbox to keep you on track and minimize your time spent doing extra curricular activities.

Then you need to install the key plugins we discussed above to ensure your blog is optimized for the search engines and your readers, and is saving you valuable time spent doing things manually.

All this means happier you, better quality blog, more time to do stuff you love. Win, win, win all round.

Now it’s your turn – tell me how you’re going to save time and focus on the important stuff?

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Natalie,
    These ten tips that you have shared are just great and definitely helpful. I like the drop box app that you have said. It’s really time saving and even the plugin that you have said are also great. These are definitely helpful. Thanks for the share!!

  2. says

    Hi Natalie!

    I agree with you 600% on backing up – blogspot lets you download your entire blog, which I do once a week. There are alternative ways: keep a copy on CD – print it out, etc.

    HootSuite is a great tool – but I prefer to do all of my social networking “by hand” – that’s just me!

    I DO NOT AGREE with “tweet old post” – I’ve witnessed that plug-in make respected bloggers look ridiculous when it goes haywire! And besides that, advice you might be sharing relating to, for example, SEO, might not be valid in 6 months, so that “old post” you’re tweeting may end up giving others the impression that you’re not keeping up with the latest buzz.

    Blog On!
    Dave Lucas just posted Blog Guru Madness

    • says

      Hi Dave

      Those are some big percentages :) I like Hootsuite as I pretty much use it all by hand but I can schedule tweets and updates for different times and do it in one hit rather than as and when I jump online – not productive.

      The respected bloggers for Tweet Old Post clearly do not know their settings. I had it happen a few times when I’d have an event post go out and people would tweet back saying `that was last year’. But I changed that quickly and I love that it throws up old but valuable content regularly.

      In fact I’ve found people enjoying previous blog posts that are timeless, they would have never found them without this plugin

      Natalie
      Natalie Sisson just posted From Terror To Exhilaration – Lessons Learned From My First Webinar

  3. says

    Great, solid set of tips there! HootSuite is great, and like Evernote, a life saver! Speaking of which, I recommend checking Evernote out – for a blogger, it is an absolute godsend!

    I’ve been a long time Hootsuite user (and a big fan), but I’ve recently started using TweetDeck. Its pretty cool, and a great social media dashboard if you use Twitter and Facebook.
    Mike Dawson just posted Surefire Ways to Get More Comments on Your Posts

  4. says

    Business blogging is a time consuming process. It’s important to be as efficient as possible. These tools are great in order to help get things done and keep you on track. An SEO plug in is essential on a WordPress blog so that each post can easily be optimized just like any other page of web content should be optimized.

  5. says

    Making your blog stand out from the millions is a must if you are going to make it big.

    Writing killer content and guest posting are one of the best ways to make yourself ahead of the rest of the game.

    I prefer the All-In-One SEO plugin, and am currently using that plugin. It is excellent.
    Samuel just posted Get More Followers On Twitter Like A King!

  6. says

    Hi Natalie,

    This article is really helpful. I would love to add my recommendation as well. I think we should also install some security plugins on our wordpress blogs.

    For example, Lockin Lockdown can help protect your blog from being hacked by limiting the number of login attempts from a given IP range within a certain time period.
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/login-lockdown/

    I am just speaking from personal experience because my sites have been hacked before and it is definitely no fun trying to restore those sites.

  7. says

    I love “All In One SEO Pack”, I have been using this and it fulfill the all requirements for blogging.

    I also using seo by yoast plugin for few wordpress blogs, that also really good

  8. says

    Hi Natalie

    I’ve been using all the plugins mentioned above except Twitter Anywhere Plus but when i visited WordPress.org Plugin section to download the plugin it says “plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.” Is it safe to use this kind of plugin in our blog.

    Regards
    Tauseef Alam
    Tauseef Alam just posted Bigrock VPS Hosting Plans Pricing Features Coupon Code Review

  9. says

    There is one more thing I would like to add here which I found out just yesterday on our blog: Caching is extremely important.

    This is a little bit technical, but I hope you stay with me:
    We are running the blog of our website http://www.getmomentum.com on a Linode server together with backend application. I read about the load testing service called “Load Impact” and when I used it on our blog the server crashed completely with more than 30 simultaneous connections.

    I could not understand the problem and tried to optimize it and finally also started with the installation of the WP-Super Cache Plugin. After some tweaking on the server to install additional Apache modules I was able to increase the sites performance 50x!

    So the problem was PHP and MySQL that just bogged down ressources. Now it seems that with caching everything works better. So my conclusion: Never, ever run a WordPress blog without Caching.

    Even if you don’t have that many users, response will still be much faster for your visitors when content can be server from cache and not through PHP and MySQL.

    Sorry for the long technical comment, I hope somebody can benefit!
    Bernhard just posted Momentum is now available in the Chrome Web Store

  10. says

    Very well written post, especially your inputs about HootSuite and stay focused extension. I mean we all spend most of the time managing social media profiles or just surfing internet which includes sites like FB, social media management tools like Hootsuite and extensions like stay focused can really help us in saving a lot of time which we can utilize to do something better and creative.

    Thanks a lot for sharing these tips, i am already using Hootsuite and will check out stay focused extension soon.
    akhilendra just posted It Can’t Get Better Than This-Hootsuite Review

  11. says

    Hi Natalie,

    Thanks for sharing, I’ve added the “Broken link checker” and “Simply Backup Your Blog” plugin to my blog, your tips really inspired me!

    But for “Yet Another Related Post” plugin, I replace it with “SEO Auto Links & Related Post (ALRP)”.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-alrp/

    The plugin is not only shows related below post body, it also can automatically shows “Recommended to read next” in bottom right of blog when visitor scroll it down. You must try it :D
    Hendry just posted Emeril Hard Anodized Nonstick with Pouring Spouts Scratch Resistant 10-Piece Cookware Set, Black

  12. says

    Dropbox for me has become one of those indispensable tools. They could probably triple the price and I would just pay it with a small whimper since I like it so much. Since a lot of my websites have digital downloads that can change frequently, it’s just such a great way to make quick changes before bigger ones go online with my servers. Also for other quick website fixes and hosting I find it very useful.
    Garrett just posted The Three Trade Types of Elite Range Bar Trading

  13. says

    Awesome Natalie,
    Really useful tools, all are time saving and user friendly, whole post was lesson for new blogger like me, I learn lot thanks Natalie to such a nice post and request you to keep continue.
    I share this with my friends and all are appreciating for it.

    Thanks..
    Brainpulse just posted Partnering with an advanced web host