Here are 6 Plugins I use on my travel sites to improve the usability and customize the look and feel. If you are not the webmaster or website programmer, you probably won’t find this post interesting. (Sorry just for nerds!) If you don’t know a little programming, don’t fool around with plugins too much, ask your webmaster.
This post is for the nerdy travel bloggers who do their own programming and use WordPress as their blogger platform. WordPress is a free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL. Plugins are pre-programmed packages that improve your site’s performance and usability. They help you customize your site without having to change your design template.
Widgets on Pages By Todd Halfpenny
The Plugin’s description: The easiest way to Add Widgets or Sidebars to Posts and Pages using shortcodes or template tags.
I was looking for a solution that would allow me to add the subscriber widget within the content of my page.
I found Widgets on Pages. This Plugin creates a code-snippet which allows you to add elements like a widget anywhere on your page. This is how I added subscription registration at the beginning of each page on this blog and on my travel site ItalyTravelMore.com.
Ad Inserted By Igor Funa
The Plugin’s description: An Ad management plugin with advanced advertising options to automatically insert ad codes on your website.
I was looking for ways to start selling ad space on my website but I couldn’t find anything that would give me the options I was looking for until I found Ad Inserter. This plugin gives you ad slots, then with a code-snippet, you add it where you want. You also have the option to automatically display or exclude certain posts or pages.
Originally I wanted to use it just for ads but I also found that you can use any code and display it where you want. This is useful for making announcements or adding temporary holiday messages or creating customized “related posts” at the end of an article. You do need some programming skills to use Ad Inserter but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use.
Instagram Feed by Smash Balloon
The Plugin’s description: Display beautifully clean, customizable, and responsive Instagram feeds
This plugin allows you to display your Instagram feed. It’s easy to use and set up and gives you the option to select the number of rows and columns to display. You can show a maximum of 33 photos from your Instagram feed.
VigLink by Viglink
The Plugin’s description: The easiest way to monetize the links on your site. Link directly to other sites, just like you do today. VigLink automatically affiliates those links — even links on posts you’ve already written — with no extra editing! Get stats on which links are making you the most money, which are most clicked, and more.
VigLink allows you to monetize your website without having to join a million affiliate programs. I was going crazy trying to keep track of the affiliate programs. Some were in Commission Junction, some in FlexOffers, some in Tradedoubler, I couldn’t remember which link was from which affiliate. With VigLink , you get a smaller slice of the commision but for me the convenience of having it all in one place is worth it. Its easy to install and use. In fact, you don’t have to do anything really, VigLink will scan your content and automatically add monetized links. You also have the option to insert direct links or offers form their “trends” and “featured promo” lists.
You don’t get the benefit of fancy affilate widgets but you can link directly to brands or products your readers might want.
Revive Old Post By revive.social
The Plugin’s description: WordPress plugin that helps you to keeps your old posts alive by sharing them and driving more traffic to them from twitter/facebook or linkedin. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and no of posts to share to drive more traffic.
After installing Revive Old Post, my website stats started booming! Steady social media is absolutely essential today. Revive Old Post does exactly that – it posts your old posts. If you offer “evergreen” information, then it is perfect for you. The free version will only post text, with the pro version it will post the text and main image as well as give you the option to exclude categories, for example, I don’t re-post anything from the Events or Archive sections. The pro version also gives you the option of post frequency, you can set it to post every hour, every 5 hours or every 72 hours, it’s up to you.
W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes
The Plugin’s description: The highest rated and most complete WordPress performance plugin. Dramatically improve the speed and user experience of your site. Add browser, page, object and database caching as well as minify and content delivery network (CDN) to WordPress.
I was looking into ways on how to improve SEO. One thing I learned was that faster loading pages improve search engine ranking. SEO consultant Adam Abernethy taught me a trick: Ping your site to see how fast it loads. The test shows you how your site performs in upload. If your site is full of images like most travel blogs are, you will definitely want to check how its loading. W3 Total Cache improves upload speed by creating caches which improve upload speed.
Customizing your site is easy with Plugins and will help improve usability for your users. As I find more tools I will share them with you. Follow the blog or follow me on Twitter to get updates.