5 Powerful Blog Plugins That Build Community & Increase Page Views

What are the best WordPress plugins to build community and traffic?

I’ve been noticing lately that so many really well designed blogs, that have awesome content, still lack an important crucial aspect….

Social proof and a sense of community!

It kinda got me thinking of the analogy of being invited to a party at the best looking house in your street. At first glance, it seems inviting because it’s well designed (just like many blogs).

Yet when you arrive and take a look around, you discover this house you admire actually has no guests. Right then and there you probably felt like going home (clicking off the page) but in the spirit of being a great guest, you decide to stick around for a few moments.

You then hear that this party did in fact have many guests, even though at the time you didn’t see any proof of their attendance…

In the blogging world, one of the fastest ways to increase loyalty is to build community. In order to build community, firstly you need social proof of the communities existence and secondly you need proof that you actively engage with your community. With all of the funky tools available today, it’s super simple to display your social proof through Retweet buttons, interactive commenting and community widgets that people can ‘join’, ‘like’, ‘friend’ etc.

I have to admit that when I started blogging, I totally missed the point on how important it was to ‘engage’ and build community. In fact I was so far off the mark with understanding how important this was, that I didn’t even reply to the few people who left comments!! It wasn’t until I became involved with the Empowered Tribe community that I realized the powerful relationship opportunities I was missing out on. Not to mention all the traffic I was literally ‘scaring’ away lol.

So lets get straight to the blogging tools that literally turned my blog around!

1. Google Friend Connect: If you don’t have this installed, you want to get it ASAP. It doesn’t matter how good looking your house is, if there are no ‘visible’ guests, people will be unlikely to come back. Installing this widget will not only add a sense of ‘community’ to your Blog, it will display ‘social proof’ that others value your site too.

2. Comment luv: This plugin is an awesome way to reward your readers for leaving a comment on your blog. Basically what it does is it auto-generates a featured link of the title of your commenters last blog post. I like to think of it as the ultimate reciprocity plugin!

3. WordPress Thread Comment: This little gem has completely revolutionized what was once one big nonsensical mess lol. If you’re like me, you don’t always reply to comments the day they are left. What happens then is when you do reply to a person, your comment just ends up on top of the last comment which might be from a completely different person. So basically the entire comment thread has no flow and doesn’t make sense. Well not once you install WP thread Comment plugin! Oh and if you’re wondering if you install it now will it ‘nest’ all of your current comments, the answer is yes. Quite ingenious really :) Update: Now included in the latest WordPress upgrade.

4. Linkwithin Widget: This one caught my eye one day when I came across a Blog post on Google while researching a particular topic. As I finished reading the article that had caught my attention, this funky little widget boldly suggested “You might also like this…” and displayed 5 visual thumbnails of other posts. Well the widget was right, I did also like some of the other blog posts! So instead of leaving the person’s blog after a few minutes, I left about half an hour later! What an incredible way to increase ‘stickiness’. You can grab your widget by clicking here.

Tip 1: For it to work effectively, it scans for pictures to produce the thumbnails so make sure you add pictures to every post before you install the widget.

Tip 2: When entering your details to grab the code, it will ask if you would like to display up to 5 thumbnails. Even if you don’t yet have 5 blog posts, choose the option for 5 anyway so that you don’t have to go back later and generate a new code as your blog posts grow.

5. Homepage Excerpts: You might have noticed that on a lot of blogs, each and every post is displayed on the home page in its entirety. There is nothing wrong with this but it does make it difficult for people to ‘scan’ your content to find another post that might be interesting to them. Once you install this plugin, you have the option to choose how many of your posts display in full on your home page. The rest will then convert into nice little tempting paragraphs which allow your reader to quickly scan and jump to the post that most interests them. Personally I like to have only my most recent blog post displayed in full and let ‘Linkwith’ & Homepage Excerpts work their magic :)

There are loads of amazing plugins and widgets out there that can add all kinds of incredible features and functionality to your blog. These are just 5 that I use to increase page views, encourage and reward comments and engagement and build community.

If you’ve found a plugin or funky widget thats made a big difference to your blog, leave me a comment as I love hearing about these cool little add ons :)


P.S. It goes without saying that Tweetmeme and Simple Facebook Share buttons are ‘must haves’ for content syndication!




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93 thoughts on “5 Powerful Blog Plugins That Build Community & Increase Page Views”

    • Hey Donna,

      Yes I guess plugins & widgets can have their ‘moments’ lol.
      I’ve had Linkwithin not display properly at times but their support is fantastic. You send them and email and by the next day, presto, they fix it!
      I can’t wait to find some more cool things to share :)


    • Hi Teresa,

      I agree there are just way to many plugins and widgets to wade through.
      I’m just glad that because other people have shared information with me over time, I’m now able to compile a list.
      I just had a look at your Google Friend Connect and see you have quite a strong community growing. Well done :)


  1. Michaele,
    You have shared a goldmine here. These are probably the 5 must have plugins for your blog. It builds your credibility, rewards your reader and keeps people interested in what you have to say.

    As the others have said, there are a ton of plugins out there. It takes a lot of time to research them and decide if they are right for your blog. Even then, so often I can’t figure out what they do and don’t do anything for fear of messing something up.

    Thanks for taking the time to show us what has worked for you. Many will benefit with this information.
    .-= Don Enck´s last blog ..Do You Love Your Competition? =-.

    • Hey Don,

      I know the feeling only too well of not knowing which plugins to install.
      It boils down to choosing the essentials that match your goals.
      There are the ‘must haves’ for basic functionality: SEO, spam etc etc and then there are the ‘must haves’ for your particular aim.
      In this case it’s creating community!
      I’m glad you enjoyed them :)


  2. Hey Michaele,

    These are all great plugins, and all serve a great purpose.

    I use one that produces a “bio box” type of signature at the bottom of every post, that can be customized… I use it to draw people back to my squeeze page, so that I can add people to my list.

    I forget the name of it tho. :)

    Take care,
    .-= Justin Glover´s last blog ..What Is The Best Internet Business Model To Have? =-.

    • Hey Justin,

      I’m sorry but that’s just not allowed lol.
      You can’t tell all of us about such an awesome plugin and forget it’s name!
      Looking forward to you re remembering ;-)


  3. These are great plug in’s Michaele – and definitely a must for anyone that is syndicating and working with tribes. I also like the Facebook Fan Widget for social proof – and now with all of the Facebook upgrades you can put it anywhere and people can become a fan! Thanks for sharing Michaele’.
    .-= Jan Hill´s last blog ..Do You Think Social Media Marketing is a Fad? =-.

  4. Michaele,
    I hadn’t known about the Homepage Excerpts plugin. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Makes the page cleaner and easier to check out the content.

    Awesome, thanks for explaining these all in detail!
    .-= Val Wilcox´s last blog ..A Journey into Self- Discovery =-.

  5. Hey Michaele,

    Thank God your on the ball! and doing some great research on plug-ins, with so many things to consider and implement in social media strategies to optimism for maximum delivery of engagement for the community, its great to see you have found great plug-ins like Comment luv, lam going to see if l can added this to my blog to give back some of that little thing they call love.

  6. Google Friend Connect is something I’m not familiar with, all of your advice here I have implemented except for this one. I’m sure glad to know this. :-)

    • Hi Walter,

      You have an incredible amount of valuable content on your site.
      If you decide to install Google Friend connect let me know so I can join your community.


  7. Hey Michaele, I LOVE your site!

    You made some really GREAT points about such a broad topic… not just the widgets, but about the entire scope of social interaction and community.

    If we want to participate actively and help or perhaps genuinely “influence” others we need to have continued interaction.

    It’s important to actually “be” part of the fabric of of the community as you’ve suggested… it then takes on a entirely new perspective of belonging. It’s funny how a simple thing like a “widget” can be a catalyst for community.

    Great observation and advice! (I made some changes to my blog accordingly… before even writing this! :)) Thanks for sharing.

    .-= Chris McCargar´s last blog ..SIVA’s Table =-.

    • Hey Chris,

      Thank you and you have an awesome site yourself. I love the colors :)

      And yes it’s amazing how a tiny ol widget can have such a powerful impact.
      Obviously creating community is a long term vision but getting the foundations in place really helps.
      I’m going back to your blog now to see the changes you made lol.


    • Hi Ilka,

      As I don’t have the ‘related posts’ plugin installed, I can’t answer that one.
      My suggestion would be to instal Linkwithin and if it causes any trouble you can always uninstall it.
      I’m guessing that the two wouldn’t interfere with each other as Linkwithin is a widget and not a plugin.
      My concern would be more on how they both display.

      Let me know how you go!

      Oh and it was a pleasure to join your Google community tonight :)


  8. Hi Michaelé,

    So nice to be visiting your blog again and what an awesome post you have written, packed with value.

    I use all of the plug ins you mention except for Home Page Excerpts and it’s exactly what I have been after so thanks heaps for this. :)

    One thing I would warn others about is having too many plug ins activated can start playing “silly buggers” with one’s blog. When this happens it’s best to de-activate them all and then one by one re-activate them to see which one is causing the issue. It’s a pain to do but sometimes one just has to do it.

    Thanks again for a great post!

    .-= Marcus Baker´s last blog ..Multilevel Marketing MLM Doesn’t Work =-.

    • Hey Marcus,

      Thank you and nice to have you back :)
      Home Page Excepts made a big difference for me too as it keeps your blog looking ever so much cleaner.
      Thanks for the tip re too many plugins. I’m having one of them play silly buggers tonight so have had to go and deactivate a few to get to the bottom of it!

  9. Hi Michaelae, thanks for sharing the plug ins post. I went to my admin area and searched for linkWithin but it is a no show? Can you offer some further assistance. I have left a comment for the linkWithin guys. I see it must be there as you and many others have it. Not sure what’s happening here. Thanks Deb

    • Hi Dr John,

      Linkwithin can be a little temperamental at times.
      Having said that, I haven’t had it do strange things for months now so perhaps the issues are sorted.
      What I have found is that if you email them, they seem to fix the issue within a day!


    • Hey Oliver,

      I’ve noticed some of the newer themes coming out include comment threading but for those that don’t have it inbuilt, the WP plugin makes a huge difference!


      • Hey Freddie,

        I can see you did indeed shoot off and take action on the plugins :)
        I’m also using WP 2.9.2 and it’s working perfectly.
        A lot of plugins don’t say they are compatible with the newer WP versions, yet they work just fine.
        Try installing it anyway as I can’t see why it wouldn’t work since it’s working here.


    • Hey Freddie,

      I love to hear from people who read something and then take immediate action!
      Glad to hear you got something out of it :)


    • Hi Karen,

      Commentluv is such a nice way to be able to be able to ‘give back’ to people who took time out of their busy day to comment.
      I absolutely love it!


    • Hey Garth,

      I’m glad you were able to implement something straight away.
      You have a great clean layout on your site with lots of great content.
      The only thing missing was a pic of you in your header…

      If you are reading this comment, head over to Garth’s blog and become a part of his community by joining his Google Friend Connect.


    • Hey Pat,

      I think Linkwithin kinda gives a new blogger a benchmark to aim for in terms of getting those first 5 blog posts done.
      Since it displays the last 5, you know you’ve hit a major target once it’s all filled up!


    • Hey Amanda,

      I agree re these being essentials for anyone starting out with blogging and syndication.
      You mentioned using a different form of Linkwithin? I love new widgets so would love to hear what you’re using…

      Awesome work on your ‘Magic Mix’ video, you really nailed it!


  10. Hi Michaele,
    Thank you so much for a really practical post with truly valuable information! I am currently building my new blog, and will definitely include all the plugins you suggested. I do love Comment Luv – it is a wonderful way to grow our online communities and the collaboration between us! Thanks again!
    .-= Justine Simard´s last blog ..Choosing a Mentor for your Online Business. =-.

    • Hi Justine,

      I just visited your blog and wanted to compliment you on the beautiful header you had created!
      I can see your using Linkwithin but it’s not displaying the thumbnails of the pics you’ve inserted.
      My experience with Linkwithin is that you email them and tell them that things aren’t displaying correctly and they silently fix it!
      Although they don’t seem to verbally reply, their amazing support ninjas fix it in the background!

      I hope this helps.


  11. Thank you for the concise article on plugins and widgets. I particularly like the You Might Also Like widget. I guess I’ll have to start looking for some cool pics to include in my blog posts.

    • Hey Rebecca,

      I’m glad you liked Linkwithin. I just checked out your site and can see that you do have some pics inserted that it’s not picking up on yet. ( Well done on taking action!)
      Send them an email because they are amazing at fixing things in the background :)
      I’m sure in no time, you will see the funky, yet powerful picture thumbnails showing for your posts.


  12. Hi Michaele,

    Thanks for sharing these. I have wondered about the pics at the end of each post. Isn’t it a bit of a challenge finding a unique public domain pic to fit every post/topic?
    .-= Linnea´s last blog ..Do What You Love… =-.

    • Hi Linnea,

      Not sure what you mean about finding a unique public domain pic for each post?
      If you are talking about copy right etc, I know a lot of people search through ‘google images’ for free images, but personally I don’t have time to read all of the potential copy right infringements.
      I was using a super cool site that unfortunately closed down, so in the interim I’m using http://www.pixmac.com/
      It’s basically $1.00 per pic!
      I’ve never had trouble finding pics for my posts there but am certainly open to new suggestions :)


    • Michaele, I have a question about the google friend connect plugin. In setting it up I am asked for a Friend Connect SiteID. I’m not sure what I need to put in there.

      Thank you!

      • Hi Stacy,

        I never installed mine with the plugin that asks for a site ID. I did it by just following the steps and generating the code.
        It was 3 simple steps which were filling in Site Name, URL and then Language.
        In a matter of seconds the code was generated and I was able to install it.

        Let me know how you go and when you have it installed so I can come and take a peek!



  13. Great post! I went ahead and installed the first 2. The last 3 I already have on my blog via DIY thesis.

    Warning for those of you who run on thesis… do NOT install the wordpress comment thread plugin. I did this and all of my replies vanished. I deactivated the plugin and deleted it and they all came back. Thesis already has this feature integrated nicely. Also, for thesis users , you do not need the homepage experts either.

    I did not install the link within widget because I already have a similar plugin. But, the first 2 should help me a lot so thank you!!!
    .-= Primal Toad´s last blog ..Living A Primal Lifestyle While Traveling – Chicago & The 80/20 Rule =-.

    • Hi Primal,

      Thanks for the heads up on Thesis!
      Phew glad you managed to save your comments.
      Many of the newer themes seem to be integrating comment nesting which is great to see.
      For those that don’t have themes that support threaded comments, it’s still the best plugin I’ve come across :)


  14. Michaele,

    Great plug in recommendations! I have most of them but I will have to try out the “homepage Excerpts” plug in….keeps the posts tidy and neat!


    • Hey Jeff,

      I can see you do have most of them as I just joined your Google Friend Connect tonight.

      Let me know how you go with the Homepage Excerpts.


  15. Hi Michaele, Thanks for the great tips. I’m in the process of setting up my blog and am definately on the lookout for ideas for improvements. I wondered how you get the first post only to display in full, now I know! Thank you.
    .-= Rowena Coshan´s last blog ..How To Become Successful In Life =-.

    • Hi Rowena,

      Congratulations on taking such an exciting step!
      I had a look at your blog and see you are using the Flexx theme which is awesome.
      There are a few things with ithemes that seem a little tricky but their support forum is amazing.
      Make sure you head over to the newbies area of the forum where you are able to submit your blog for feedback and help on the layout.

      Stop by and let me know when you have your Google Friend Connect widget in place so I can join your community :)

      You will be an awesome blogger!


  16. Sweet Michaelé –

    Gonna check out #4 especially!

    Thank-you so much for joining the Blogging Basics discussion with me – the more the merrier :)

    I appreciate you,

    • Hey Andrea,

      Linkwithin is a cool little widget and it’s certainly kept me on some blogs for a lot longer than I had planned.

      Great idea you had over on the MLM Launch Formula community. It’s awesome to be a part of it!

      Catch you in the community,


  17. Hey Michaele,

    Great post once again. I particularly like the linkwithin widget!

    A few of the plugins that I use:

    1) XML Sitemap Generator for WordPress. Generates sitemaps which are vital for indexing by the major search engines. After each post is “notifies” the big search engines about your updated sitemap (don’t know how)..

    2) SH-Autolink. This one allows you to set up links based on text you may type. For instance, I could set up the “marketing” and give it a url to a page about marketing. That way, when I write a post and it has those words, I get links to specific pages.

    3) Subscribe to Comments. This allows readers to not only post comments, but to subscribe to them so they get an email each time someone replies to the thread.

    4) Dofollow. Can’t remember what its exact name is (I’m not using it at present), but it converts all the no follow links your commentators make into do follow, which is a big bonus for SEO.


    • Hey John,

      Awesome info you have posted!
      I’ve never heard of the SH-Autolink so will have to check it out.
      Oh and I don’t have the Dofollow plugin either so would love to hear your update (if you remember the name).


  18. Hi, Michaele

    Great tips! I certainly need to implement these on my blog. I didn’t know Google Friend connect had anything to do with social proof.


    • Nahl,

      You are on the mark.
      There is no access to widgets such as Google Friend Connect or any of the awesome plugins unless you change to a WordPress.org site.
      What do I need to do to help you change over to this awesome platform so you can have it all?


  19. Hi, Michaele

    I really appreciate these 5 tips… I’ve created the Google Friend Connect but somehow can’t seem to find the widget for it in my WordPress. And I can’t seem to find Comment Luv plugin either… are there themes that don’t support these features?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hey Kim,

      With Google Friend Connect, it’s a 2 step process. You create the code (as you’ve already done) then you need to go to your widgets area and create a text box.
      This box will then allow you to paste the HTML code which you created in your Google account for GFC.
      Does that make sense?
      Re commentluv, you need to go to plugins, then add new, then type in the exact words commentluv.
      It’s an easy install from there.

      I don’t want you left in overwhelm so if I can help, just connect with me on skype via ozorganics


  20. Brilliant, Fabulous, Wonderful.

    I love this article so much Michaele. I had included most of these in my blog, and for those who can’t find them in wordpress try googling them they are there.

    I really like how different it makes my site look especially with the recommend other posts on. Included with images and it looks great.

    The only thing I want to find is the facebook community one instead of the google community photos. I don’t use google, so if you know how to do that, please share.

    Thanks so much for writing a fantastic article, it has made a huge difference to how my site looks.

    It’s still in the building stage, another week and it’ll all be done.

    Kindest Kayley ♥♥♥

    • Hey Kayley,

      Thanks so much for pointing out to just google the widgets. I had made links in my post clickable but perhaps they were easy to miss.
      You mentioned wanting a Facebook community widget rather than Google Friend Connect… Did you mean you want a Facebook page widget on your blog?
      Can’t wait to see how your blog looks so definitely come back and post your link when it’s ready :)


  21. Hi Michaele,
    Sometimes when I am in my blog’s dashboard, I feel as if I have TOO many plugins, which gets me wondering how many is too many and are there some I need to get rid of, are there some I need to add? I do have all of the ones you list here activated on my blog, except for CommentLuv which continues to give me grief despite uninstalling and re-installing it multiple times. I see from other commenters here that other people have trouble with CL, too, which makes me feel a little better, but I do wish it would just work.
    Anyway, building social proof on one’s blog is indeed very important and as usual, you have provided some stellar tips on how to do just that!
    Mary Lou

    • Hi Mary Lou,

      The plugins are all trial and error.
      I’ve been lucky and personally had very few problems. But I know they sometimes can throw in the odd compatibility issue here and there.
      One that Kimberly pointed out recently was the WP thread comment plugin, which helps comments nest properly.
      What I didn’t know was the recent WP upgrade solved the issue and therefore literally made this plugin redundant!
      Fingers crossed for commentluv finally working for you :)


  22. I’ve seen so many blog who have been using commentluv. I must say that this plugin is very useful to both parties. A blog owner attracts possible site commenters, on the other hand, commenters get some links there.

      • More than that reciprocity benefit, there’s a great possibility to build a good relationship between blog owner and commenters. In this way, it might be a start of their great friendship too. Why not right?

  23. Among all the searches in helping find the widget for link within, you provided the answer! Hallelujah! Super helpful post! thank you! I will be signing in! (I’m a new blogger you know…and any help would be great) would be happy if you’d drop by and leave a comment too…cheers!

  24. I’m so glad you found what you were looking for with the Linkwithin widget.
    It’s one of my favorite blog tools.
    I went and had a look at your blog and can see you’ve installed it straight away.
    Well done!

    I’m not sure about the capabilities of Blogspot, but have you thought of switching to WordPress.org? This will make it really easy to add some ‘social proof’ to your right hand side, side bar.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  25. There is a whole universe of plugins out there, and each one you add cranks the value of your site even higher. An easy one that most people think of is the comments plugin, which makes your blog more interactive.

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