By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

WordPress has made creating websites easy for the average person. It’s very user-friendly and easy to update information, add pages and write blog content – which is what Google is looking for: fresh relevant content written for the human reader. But what many don’t know is all the freebies you can get with WordPress. And I’m referring to the self-hosted version (WordPress.org) not the free version (WordPress.com).

Which WordPress version should I use?

It depends on what you need. The free version (WordPress.com) is great if you’re just starting out and you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field before you start a company or have a domain name. You can add an “About” page and contact info. It also makes it easy to add social media and automate posting to the networks as soon as you publish a post. The downfall is that you can’t customize it without paying extra. You can upload your own banner graphic, but you’re stuck with their color schemes. They do give you a few themes to choose from, but you’re still limited with what you can do with it.

WordPress Themes

If you have a domain name and a hosting account like with GoDaddy, you can have WordPress installed for free. There are hundreds of themes to choose from. Pick one that allows you to customize the colors, background and banner, and add your logo and branding. You can always change the theme later on.

Great Must-Have WordPress Plug-ins

SEO By Yoast – This plug-in makes it easy to add meta descriptions and keywords for each individual post. It gives you a “grade” as to how optimized your post is and how to get the best SEO “juice”.

JetPack – This WordPress.com free plug-in has a lot of great features. You have to have a free WordPress.com account to use it. One of the best “modules” is “Publicize”. You connect your social networks and it will automatically post your blog posts as soon as they are published. Saves a huge amount of time! And they’ve recently added Google+! Make sure it’s set up to post publicly on G+ so it’ll get indexed in the search engine right away. Some of the other cool modules are subscriptions, comments, additional widgets, mobile site (Not bad for a free mobile site – does not work with all the themes.), G+ profile which establishes authorship, likes, enhanced distribution and galleries.
Related: 3 Reasons a Mobile Site Matters

Akismet – There are nasty people out there who use robots to spam your comments. This plug-in is essential to help stop them. It’s free and connected also to WordPress.com

Tweet Old Posts – Once you have at least 20-25 posts you can set this up to randomly tweet out post titles and links at any given hourly interval. If you only have a few posts, set it for every 12 hours. As you get more posts done, you can have them go out more frequently. This really helps to get traffic to your blog. You can add hashtags and exclude posts that are time sensitive.

WordPress Editorial Calendar – This was a find! I used to create a spreadsheet as an editorial calendar to help plan future blog posts. Here it is in a free plug-in will remind you to blog!

Every Calendar +1 for WordPress – If you hold events or want to help promote other events of interest to you readers, you can do it with this calendar plug-in. You will need to enter the events in Google Calendar, then connect it to the plug-in and it will stream it live on your blog. Just update your Google Calendar and they’ll appear automatically on your site.

These next few are security and utility plug-ins:

Broken Link Checker – As you add posts and link to external sites, over time, those site may go away. This plug-in checks your site for broken links regularly.

Bad Behavior – A while back, WordPress sites came under attack by another nasty person. This plug-in will stop robots from trying to log-in into your site.

WordFence – This plug-in is a firewall and anti-virus for WordPress

Limit Log-in Attempts – this is another that will catch those nasty robots.

You should blog at least 3 times a week to increase traffic to your blog.  These plug-ins should make it easier.

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for