Blogs and blogging are gaining in popularity among home builders large and small, and for good reason. A blog is a publishing platform that can help a company increase brand strength and communicate with potential and current customers. They’re a great way to increase targeted traffic and they help keep a website fresh.
I hear great things about the top publishing platforms: WordPress, TypePad, Blogger, Joomla, Moveable Type etc., but I’ve only extensively used WordPress because it has always been more than enough. I’d recommend it to anyone, it’s Free and easy to use and install. Best of all, a library of useful plugins makes it easy to do nearly anything with your WordPress blog – it has few limitations.
If you use WordPress, or are thinking about using it, here are 12 WordPress plugins (in no particular order) that will make your new home publishing platform better. Most of these plugins are super easy to use, but if you can’t get one to work, let me know and I’ll try to lend a helping hand.
Google XML Sitemap – An XML sitemap helps search engines find and index content on your website. This plugin generates an XML sitemap of your blog/website and submits it to the top search engines every time you publish a new post or page. This is a must have and it can improve your website’s rankings.
4.5 out of 5 stars with 1006 ratings – download Google XML Sitemap
All in One SEO Pack – All in One SEO is a great tool that lets you tell search engines more about your content. It gives you the ability to create unique titles, keywords and descriptions for your web pages. In addition, it lets you customize Page titles throughout your website. It’s a way to give search engines the information they need and a way to increase your rankings.
4 out of 5 stars with 639 ratings – download All in One SEO Pack
WP Super Cache – Google recently announced that a web page’s load time is now a ranking factor. If your website loads slow, you might rank lower because of it. The details about WP Super Cache may be hard to understand if you’re not tech savvy so I won’t bore you with them. Just know that it can dramatically speed up your web site’s load time and that it’s a great addition to any publishing platform.
4 out of 5 stars with 438 ratings – download WP Super Cache
Dagon Design Sitemap Generator – HTML Sitemaps help users and search engine spiders easily find pages and posts on your website. An HTML sitemap is different from XML sitemap, because it’s main purpose is to help a human navigate your website. You need both versions on your website, this is a must have
4 out of 5 stars with 38 ratings – download Dagon Design Sitemap Generator
NextGen Gallery – Pictures sell homes and help highlight selling points in communities, they’re also a great way to make any post better. NextGen Gallery offers an easy and slick way to display your images in a Flash Gallery. We used the NextGen Gallery to highlight this new home in Houston. (NextGen Gallery is about half way down the page)
4 out of 5 stars with 740 ratings – download NextGen Gallery
Ad-minister – The Ad-minister plugin is amazing. It allows you to display in any location on your blog. You can schedule an ad to go live when a promotion ends and the system will remove it when a promotion ends. In addition, you can put ads “in rotation” so that you can test which ads perform the best. The developer claims that ad impressions and clicks can be tracked, but we haven’t been able to use Ad-minister to track impressions. Nearly every ad on New Homes Section is delivered using Ad-minister.
4 out of 5 stars with – download Ad-minister
Sociable – This plugin adds links to popular social bookmarking sites at the end of your posts. You can choose from 99 of the top social sites, but don’t choose them all. It encourages users to share you content and makes it easy for them to do so.
4.25 out of 5 stars with 624 ratings – download Sociable
Contact Form 7 – Allows you to easily manage multiple contact forms and it’s very customizable. It features Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, and Akismet spam filtering. Allowing your blog users to contact you is a cinch with this plugin.
4 out of 5 stars with 494 ratings – download Contact Form 7
WordPress Mobile Edition – This plugin helps make your WordPress blog mobile ready making it easy for mobile phone visitors to find and read your content. To install, you need to upload a mobile theme and the plugin, but that’s it. More and more users are accessing the web from their phones, so making your content ready for them is a necessity.
4 out of 5 stars with 56 ratings – download WordPress Mobile Edition
WordPress Popular Posts – This plugin lets add quick links to your most popular posts in your sidebar. There are tons of options making it easy for you to customize which posts you want shown and how you want to display them.
4 out of 5 stars with 40 ratings – download WordPress Popular Posts
PHP Execution – This plugin is for the more advanced users. It allows you to write PHP code on WordPress blog posts and pages – it comes in handy if you’re trying to use Ad-minister to display ads at the bottom or top of a post or page.
5 out of 5 stars with 7 ratings – download PHP Execution
I always recommend installing WordPress on a sub domain or in a directory on your current website e.g. xyzhomes.com/blog – as opposed to running the blog on the WordPress domain e.g. xyzhomes.wordpress.com or an entirely different domain i.e. blogxyzhomes.com.
See Also & Resources:
Ultimate List of Home Builder Blogs