Do you have a blog?

In the digital age, it seems that almost everyone has a blog or website where they can showcase their skills, talk about issues that are important to them, or just go on about everyday life. Some children as young as eight or nine years old even have their own blogs, so you know it can be made simple and easy to use. While there are many blogging platforms to choose from, the main players in the blogging industry are Blogger and WordPress. Web hosting solutions make hosting your blog very inexpensive. Both of these platforms are intuitive and easy to learn to use and here we’re going to take a look at some free add-ons and plug-ins that you can use to make the most out of your blogging experience.

Tracking Traffic and Visitors

You’re going to want to know where your visitors are coming from and a little bit about them. For this reason, one of the first things you’ll need to add to your blog is a tracking plug-in. One of the best free tracking plug-ins is by Google. It’s called Google Analytics and the entire setup process doesn’t take more than a couple minutes.

Google Analytics allows you to track where your visitors are coming from, what time they’re coming to your blog, how long they’re staying on your blog, and what they’re reading. From this information, you can extrapolate a bit to figure out what you could write about to keep them coming back. Google Analytics will also tell you about repeat visitors and what Internet browsers they use, which can be useful information in the future.

A Subscription Form

If someone comes across your blog and likes it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will bookmark it, or even come back to it. How many times have you found a website you liked, but forgot to bookmark it, and was never able to find it again? Many other people do this as well, and one way you can combat that is to offer them a chance to subscribe to your blog.

When someone subscribes to your blog using a free service like Feedburner they will receive an e-mail once per day listing any posts you added for the day. If you haven’t added any posts that day, they won’t receive an e-mail. This is an easy and simple reminder for readers, and will also help you to build a reader base more quickly.

Choosing Keywords for Blog Entries

If you want to choose topics that interest your readers, you can use a keywords tool to figure out what people are searching for and what people are interested in. The Google Keyword Tool is really great for this. The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is free to use, and has a lot of features that are normally only found in pay-to-use software.

The general process for using this tool is that you choose what topic you want to write on before you write your post. Let’s say, for example, you want to write about cooking. Then you search for cooking-related keywords in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Next, you go down the list until you find a few keyword phrases that would naturally fit in the blog post you were considering writing, and you throw them in where they fit. This method allows you to come up in search engines much easier, which means more traffic in the long run.

Keeping Readers on Your Blog Longer

When a person comes across your blog, they will probably start reading a post of yours. If they don’t immediately see something they want to read after they have finished reading that post, they will probably hit the back button and leave your blog. Instead of making them look for something else to read on your blog, there’s a way you can make it easier on them by using what’s called a “related posts” plug-in.

The way a related posts plug-in works is that a website script will look over each of your posts and find the main keywords and topics in each of them. Then, at the bottom of each post, it will give a list of three to five other posts that have similar topics. This way, related posts are listed right in the reader’s line of sight when they have finished reading a post. A free related posts plug-in keeps readers on your blog longer by giving them more posts to read that they are likely to be interested in.

Keeping an Eye on Your Blog’s Performance

Once you have your blog up and running, it can be interesting to know how your blog is performing in the search engines for certain important keywords. A free plug-in that allows you to track these results is called Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools is free, easy to install and tells you everything you want to know about your blog’s performance in the search engines.