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We've all played the game...your on a deserted island and you can only bring five books...or five CDs (I'm old, I've even played it with albums before). These are my five free "deserted island" WordPress plugins for anyone who is embarking on a content marketing effort.

A little about WordPress

WordPress currently accounts for almost 58% of known CMS-managed sites and nearly 20% of all websites. This one-time blogging platform has grown and evolved at such a rapid pace because it is 1.) easy to install: 66,130,651 worldwide installations; 2.) easy to customize: currently 26,639 plugins available; and 3.) easy to use: 47.2 million new posts per month. Oh yeah, and it’s completely free.

A little about content marketing

Content marketing is a marketing process designed to attract (through SEO, social media, links) and retain customers (blog subscribers, email) by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior. Essentially, you want to attract prospects with your useful content and engage them enough to be considered a “trusted resource” for your target audience. It's proving to be a very effective way to market online and has experienced rapid adoption and growth over the past year. When you couple the World's most popular content management system with the explosive growth of content marketing, you know you've got a winning combination as long as you can wade through the 25,000+ plugins available. Well, we're here to help.

Let’s Get Started with the Plugins

For this article we focused on free Wordpress plugins. There are some premium plugins that we use for ourselves and our clients every day, but we will save those for another post and focus on free so everyone can get up and running quickly.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

The Mirror - Getting found is always the main priority

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the main cornerstones of content marketing. If you want your pages to rank high in search engines you need to take into account several factors -- from how your site is organized to how well each page is optimized to which keywords you should target. This plugin helps you improve your SEO at the site, post and keyword level. It will also automatically handle several common technical issues that can negatively impact your rankings. That is why Wordpress SEO by Yoast makes almost every “Best Plugins list…”, because it helps people with little or no SEO experience avoid common pitfalls and improve their content. If you don’t feel comfortable with the initial setup of the plugin, there is a very helpful tutorial on the developer’s web site that will give you recommended settings.

Jetpack by WordPress

The Swiss Army Knife - A comprehensive set of useful tools in one convenient package

Jetpack by WordPress

For the purposes of this post, we are treating Jetpack as one plugin. However, as the name suggests, it is actually a package of plugins that are very useful for attracting and engaging your site visitors. There are actually around 25 useful components in the Jetpack plugin. Below, I've highlighted the components within Jetpack that will have the biggest impact on your content marketing..

  • Publicize - this is a really handy tool for spreading the word about your new post. Publicize can be integrated with your social media networks to automatically publish your post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Path and LinkedIn. Social media publishing and sharing is essential to content marketing and Publicize helps you put it on autopilot.
  • Sharing - If you want an easy way to enable your users to share your content on their social networks, Jetpack’s “Sharing” component is a quick and easy way to enable sharing and track your social interactions.
  • Mobile Theme - Make sure your content is optimized for mobile devices. With the rapid increase in mobile web usage, you have to always make sure you put your best foot forward, regardless of whether your users are at a desktop system or on their phone.
  • Contact Form - Easily create contact forms and insert them almost anywhere on your site. Contact Form automatically checks submissions for spam and only sends the good stuff on to your email address. It will also save all submissions on your site admin panel for a historical record.

WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta

The Metal Detector - easily uncover helpful resources

WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta

This is one of the newer plugins in the arsenal, but I’m pretty excited about it. There is a little bit of a learning curve because you have to create a Zemanta account (free), install a special browser plugin (also free), and generally apply a bit of trial and error on your first few posts, but the up-front effort will reward you in multiple ways. Based on the content of your post, the plugin automatically suggests royalty-free images for your posts, related posts from other blogs, link suggestions for your content phrases and automatically displays related posts from your own blog. The best part, however, is that your blog posts and images will also be available in the “related articles” panel for other bloggers to link to and cite. This is an automated way to build links into your blog posts and get referral traffic. All you have to do is publish quality content on your site.

Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast

First Aid Kit - diagnose and fix your problems

Google Analytics for Wordpress by Yoast

Google Analytics is a free software package that provides critical information about how visitors use your web site. It gives you the data you need to identify problems and continuously improve your content marketing. While the software is very functional in its default state, it can be customized to provide much more actionable data. The only problem is that most of that customization requires advanced knowledge of web metrics, advanced programming and more. The Google Analytics for Wordpress plugin automatically implements an advanced analytics feature set for WordPress blogs, without having to dig in to code or alter any tracking scripts. Like the SEO plugin mentioned above, Yoast has removed the complexity required to implement advanced functionality. In this case, making it easy to get useful reports out of Google Analytics that are usually only available to companies with a large staff of web experts.

Google Author Link

A Journal - the best way to stay sane is to write

Google Author Link

In 2005, Google filed a patent for a concept called “Agent Rank” where they wanted to rank authors and use their popularity and reception to rank content in their search engine results. Here we are eight years later and Google has integrated this concept through its Google+ profile. Content written by authoritative writers will rank more highly than similar content written by an unknown or lower authority writer. The Google Author Link plugin makes sure that you associate all the articles you have written and related metrics with your Google+ profile. This helps to improve your authority as an author over time and increase the likelihood that your articles will show up at the top of search engines. The plugin will work with multiple accounts, so if you have several authors on your blog or invite others to write guest blog posts for your site, everyone gets the credit they deserve.

Hooray, You've Been Rescued

While every company has a unique set of challenges and a distinctive content strategy that could require other plugins and custom functionality.  And, as mentioned before, there are several plugins that cost money, but can help you develop better content, automate processes to save you time, etc. The plugins we’ve listed here are our choice for best possible foundation for a solid online marketing effort.

What are Your Desert Island Plugins?

The game is really only fun if everybody gets to share their desert island items. So, if you could only use five WordPress plugins, what would they be and why?

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