Real Estate Blog Lab Nice to Have Plugins

barrel cactusThanks to Eric Blackwell for his contribution of Eric Blackwell’s Must Have WordPress Plugins . By the way Eric now has the distinction of the post with the highest number of comments at 22. (Talk about give a guy a complex, a single guest post gets the highest number of comments since starting the blog).

I’m going to provide additional plugins that I find useful. Some I use on all my blogs, some just on the RE blogs.

A Word About Plugins

Not all plugins are created equal. It is very easy to end up with a blog of plugins. Many times there is a trade off when adding a plugin to your blog and you have to ask yourself if it is worth it. I break most plugins down into three categories:

  1. Utility plugins (add functionality to your blogs infrastructure)
  2. Feature plugins (add functionality to your blogs user interface)
  3. Bling plugins (add bling : ) enough said)

There are no bling plugins in Eric’s or my list (well maybe gravatar). Bling plugins often carry the highest overhead for load times to your blog. There are a few bling plugins or links on this site for testing and some of these plugins are borderline between added functionality and pure bling.

Eric’s list of plugins falls into the top two categories. No bling from Eric.

Here is my additional list of Nice to have Plugins by category.

Utility Plugins

barrel cactus orange flowersContextual Related Posts 1.1 I like this plugin because it does a pretty good job of listing other posts that could be associated with the topic or category of the current post. It provides inner linking to other posts on your blog and might entice a reader to go beyond the current post. I’ve noticed one thing that should be “fixed” with this plugin. If comments are closed on the post. Contextual Related Posts don’t appear at the bottom of the post.

WordPress Database Backup 1.8 Everybody hates to do backups. But we are all warned to back up our database before we upgrade to the latest version of WordPress (which it seems is almost every month). This is a quick and simple plugin to make backing up your database easy. I’ll be honest, I have know way of knowing how to restore this backup should I need it, but I figure I’ll cross that bridge if I ever need to when the need arises.

Feedburner Replacement 2.2 This plugin consolidates your feeds to feedburner and provides some other nifty stuff. 2.2 seems to be the latest version and has made some changes which appear to be more stable than earlier versions of the plugin.

Google sitemap Plugin 2.7.1 This is one of my favorite plugins. Everytime I hit the publish button on a post it generates a new sitemap and saves it to the root directory of the blog then pings Google. I still log into my Google webmaster account and hand resubmit the sitemap, but I know it is generated. There are a host of options that can be set for this plugin in the options page. If your site is all blog and not a directory of a website this plugin works great.

Feature Plugins

butterflyMany of these I’ve covered in separate posts I’ll only provide the link to these.

del.ico.us widget while not officially a plugin especially since integration of widget support is now direct inside WordPress it adds a nice user interface feature.

Share This I like this one because it lets your readers share your post on many of the social bookmark sites and it doesn’t create W3C errors or add a lot of bling to your blog.

SRG Clean Archieve 3.0.1 This is another of my favorite plugins for several reasons

  • It arranges the content of th site in a different way than a sitemap.
  • It makes it easier for readers to see what the history of the site is like from a posting standpoint
  • It provides good SEO for internal links to posts on your blog.

PXS Mail Form modified for askimet 2.6.1 This plugin works in conjuction with askimet. It is amazing to me how many blogs I go to that don’t have a contact form. Some provide an email address or redirect to a website contact form. I like this plugin because it provides an on site theme compatible contact form. YOU MUST put your email in the options page once the Contact page is created. Once you create the page (suggestion, when you create the page close comments) go to the options page for the plugin. Only fill in your email address and save. (Why? because anything else you fill in will be wiped out when you save) Then go back into the options page and make the rest of your setup changes. Since I have several blogs all using this same contact plugin I set the subject line for each with From and the blog name. I use this plugin on all the single property blogs as well for the contact form. Finally, test it. Fill out a form and submit it. I was in a hurry once setting up a single property site and forgot to do the setup and testing. A couple of weeks later I realized it wasn’t working and why. TEST IT.

Dagon Design Sitemap Generator This plugin is different from the Google Sitemap generator. This plugin creates a sitemap page for your blog which works in conjunction with your achieve page. Eric also had this plugin on his list. I mention it again because of some issues I’ve run into with this plugin.

It isn’t the plugin, but a combination of browsers and site structure. Just as the term sitemap, might mean a visible page for view, or a file to submit to search engines it seems the term sitemap can cause confusion. In IE from time to time this page can not be found. The same is true for Google it will report this page missing. Fire Fox almost always can display this page. I’ve upgraded with each new version hoping this issue would go away. It was never consistent and would appear from blog to blog at the strangest times. I finally theorized it was confusion with the term “sitemap” itself. I went to each of the blogs and changed the post slug from sitemap to site-map. Since doing this the page has never gone missing. If you find your sitemap page disappearing try changing the past slug to site-map.

Realivent has two plugins I like and use on most of the RE blogs.

Property Watch Form For SEO purposes I change this to: CityName Home Finder. It is a form providing a place to describe details of what a person would like in a home and submit it to you. We use it to then create an MLS email search to send emails of properties matching the criteria. You might want to modify some of the selection options to fit your area. Ex. In Tucson we don’t have basements.

Comparable Market Report Form Allows for the filling out of a CMA request form. I don’t much care for Zillow with regard to this part of the plugin and appreciate it being an option.

Finally: Remember to check for Plugin Updates Regularly

Like remembering to change the furnace filter it is important routine maintenance of your blog to check for updates to your plugins. Especially before upgrading WordPress itself. While doing the research for this post I found several of the plugins had new versions which I needed to download and install.

tucson lighteningFor those of you that have managed to make it all the way to the end of this tome. I’ll say, there aren’t any really good images that I haven’t already used about plugin. I didn’t want more electrical plugs and I didn’t want to plug a commercial plug it in, plug it in, Plug. Since the lab is located in the desert Southwest I decided to put a few images from around the lab for your viewing pleasure.

Please feel free to comment.   Comment all you want.   I’ll even take a “Nice Post” comment.   Okay, no I won’t take that last one, but I’ll count it : )

Comments

  1. Didn’t want you to have “comment envy” – so figured I’d be the first to respond on this post. 🙂

    Great article. I like the backup database one. I think thats something that could be very useful if something really bad happened.

    Also, on the sitemap plugin you list – the one you listed is from 2005. They have a new beta one that was released in July 2007; have you tried it yet?

    Again, thanks for providing the information/help. Thanks.

  2. Dave;

    That is an impressive list of plug-ins! (There’s my “nice post” –grin.

    First of all, thank you for being so kind as to let me post on your blog. This thing has turned into a good vehicle to help REALTORs learn to blog effeciently and effectively. I am all about that.

    I actually think Maureen get’s the credit for a great topic. (We are all interested in what tools are out there.)

    I can vouch for a couple of these plugins. Dagon Design Sitemap is a good one. I will be trying some more of these out and comment some more soon.

    You are right that I am kind of plain jane–grin. I need to learn better from you on how to soup ’em up a visually.

    Best.

  3. Yes, I was aware this is a stable version of the google sitemap plugin. Since I haven’t tried the new beta version, which honestly, when it comes to sitemaps, I’m very hesitant to “Screw with Google” with potential errors on something as critical as the sitemap.

    Recently Google has added some new features to webmaster tools which give quick diagnostics. So I guess I have to bit the bullet and try this along with the UTW extension.

    But only the brave or foolhardy should run this beta version, IMHO.

  4. Eric,

    I think you are spot on! as Malok says. There’s nothing plain Jane about you. You are just a good solid resource for RE bloggers. I’m glad more than just the REW crowd are being introduced to you.

  5. Being new to the blogging, I love all the helpful tips. I am rapidly progressing from complete techno illiteracy to merely techno handicapped. I’m happily trying out plug ins, so thanks for the heads up on these.

  6. OK so I will say it. Nice post! 🙂
    I’m new to the WordPress universe. Each evening I spend reading and learning and figuring things out. Your blog is most helpful. One day I will actually publish my blog…maybe.

  7. Kristal,

    I’ll be glad to help your little typepad soul any way I can. If you have a question you can always email me, plenty of others that drop by the lab do.

    It would be nice to see your bouncing baby wordpress blog some day soon.

  8. The bouncing baby wordpress is going to be a travel site. The baby sister site will be for real estate, by then I should be a world class expert. hahaha
    So what plugin do you use for your signature? Ms. Maureen has a cool one, which one do you use, or is it part of your deezign?

  9. Kristal,

    It is part of the theme design. Same is true for all of my WP blogs.

  10. Your comment about Eric having the most comments is interesting. I think in the spirit of bogging that it makes sense to have guest authors. It exposes your blog to new viewers and that is what it’s all about.

  11. And the heck of it is..he has since eclipsed that mark on one of his articles…(grin) You are right. traffic (and authority) builds on a blog along with the exposure that a guest poster brings….

  12. Dave-
    I keep coming back to this page as I build out my WP blog. This is a great reference post.

    I saw a site that inserted a small text box at the top of each post for all new user asking them if they want to subscribe to your RSS feed. I emailed the author and he said it is the WWSGD (What would Seth Gordin Do) Plug-in for WP.

    I am not putting a link to the plug-in, because I know the spam filters will filter it. Google What would Seth Gordin Do and take the top one.

    Anyone have experience with this or thought about this?

  13. Scott,

    I found it and installed it.

    I’ll see if it makes any difference. Personally, I don’t like the look of it.

    Too intrusive to the format and design. And there is a subscribe to feed button at the top of every page now.

    But I’ll leave it there for November and see if it makes a difference.

    Thanks for the find.

  14. Dave-
    Any idea if the WWSGD/RSS plug in helped?

  15. Scott,

    I have no idea what WWSGD/RSS is? Brain dead today, but don’t remember and plugings with rss except feedburner.

  16. Dave-
    Check out the comment on Nov 1 under the post “real estate blog lab nice to have plugins”. I asked if anyone had used a plug-in called What Would Seth Gordon do. For the first 3 times you go to a new site, it pops up a floating window asking if you want to subscribe to the RSS feed for that blog.

    You replied that you installed it and would see if it made a difference in the month of November. Just checking on that.

  17. Scott,

    LOL! I totally forgot all about that. I did install it. Since I never see it . . . I have noticed an increase in subscriptions to the site. Not a lot, but up about 30 since I installed it which I’m going to say is probably with it.

    I will admit when I ran into it on a couple of blogs it was just plain annoying and I dismissed it. If I want to subscribe I just click the RSS feed chicklet. But apparently others need a shove in that direction from the beginning.

    I’ll install it on the two newest blogs I author and see if I notice an increase in subscriptions on those. Might be a better guage since they have small numbers of subscribers.

  18. I installed Fast Secure Contact Form based on several recommendations here. It works great and is easy to setup. Anybody have a favorite performance plugin? Total Cache or Super Cache?