10 Must Have Blogger Plugins, Gadgets or Widgets

When you are blogging with Blogger, you might want to expand the functionality of your blog. Besides displaying the latest posts on your blog home page, you might want to add more to it. Your blogger template will normally come with a sidebar. There might be one sidebar in the right if not left of your blog template. Some Blogspot templates even come with two sidebars. Those places are great for Blogger widgets.

You can utilize the space in the sidebar to display additional links to your posts as well as other interesting content. You can add functions that allow users to search your blog. You can even add popular posts, subscription links, social media profiles and social media share links to your sidebar area. Some of those can even go in your posts area, right below your posts. These are just examples of what you can do with the available screen space on your blog. These are usually added with the help of plugins or Blogger plugins.

Blogger/Blogspot has its own set of plugins that you can use to improve your blog. Plugins are officially provided by Blogger as well as by third party websites. In Blogger, they are known as Blogger gadgets. Third party websites might call them widgets. This post is dedicated to provide you an idea of what widgets you should be using in a Blogger / Blogspot hosted blog.

Here is a list of 10 must have plugins, widgets or gadgets for your Blogger or Blogspot hosted blog:

1) Recent Posts / Popular Posts / Random Posts
How to: Add recent, popular and random posts with thumbnails in Blogger/Blogspot

I have grouped these three types of post listings into one. Recent posts, random posts and popular posts are something that you usually see on blogs. These are shown to drawn the attention of your visitors so that they have additional things to read from your blog.

You might want to display recent posts everywhere except your home page where the recent posts are already displayed. Your popular posts have a high chance of generating your visitors’ attention. Random posts are a hit or a miss. If you do not have enough space in your sidebar, you can display recent posts and popular posts in a tabbed format. It is not always necessary to display random posts.

To display popular posts in Blogger / Blogspot, there is an official gadget for it. Just click on “Add a Gadget” in your Layout editor and you will find a widget that goes by the name “Popular Posts” displayed there. You have configuration options like to display most viewed content of all time or within the last 30 or 7 days. Making this choice is up to you. Also, depending upon your preference and the space you have, you can choose to display thumbnails as well as post snippets. You can also select the number of posts that you want to display.

Blogger does not officially provide recent posts and random posts widget. You will have to find a third party gadget to do this. Currently in the “More Gadgets” option available in your “Add a Gadget” popup, you can search and find recent posts third-party widget. They even come with configurable display options like thumbnails, thumbnail size, post snippets, text lengths and so o.

2) Related Posts
How to: Add Related Posts to Blogger

Another must have widget for your blog is the related posts widget. This keeps your visitors more involved in your site. You can reduce your bounce rates if you display related posts to your visitors. Related posts are generally displayed right below your posts. You can also configure related posts to slide out from areas of your blog. If you do so, it can be guaranteed that your visitors will look at those additional content available in your website.

There are no official related posts widget for blogger. You will have to dig into your template html editor and add codes manually. You must add the codes at the right area to make sure that related posts are displayed where you want to.

3) Contact Form Widget
How to: Add Contact Form to Blogger

A contact form page is a requirement in websites and blogs. You will always want to hear from your visitors. Besides comments, a contact form is a direct means of communication from your visitors. You will have to add a contact form page or gadget to your Blogger blog, if you want to hear from your visitors.

Luckily, for us, Blogger officially provides a contact form widget. You can add this gadget to the sidebar or any other region of your blog layout. Your visitors will be able to fill up their name, email and message; which will be delivered to you. To add this gadget, just go to your Layout options > Add a Gadget. In the popup, click on more gadgets and add the “Contact Form” widget which is listed on top. You can only add one contact form gadget to your template.

4) Featured Posts Slider or Carousel
How to: About adding featured posts slider in Blogger

Another thing about blogs is the popularity of the use of sliding or non-sliding featured posts. These are normally displayed on top of the blog right below the menu. Posts of high importance are displayed in this region. When a website loads, this is the region that is viewed at first. So you have your most important content placed here.

You can use different jquery sliders or blogger plugins to display featured posts. But the thing about blogger is that it is not highly configurable. So, you will have to manually place the link and images to featured posts on top. You will use your layout editor or template html editor to feature your posts. It might be a complicated task for many.

There are also widgets out there which can use your blogger feeds to automatically display featured posts with a certain label like ‘featured’. There are also those widgets which just displays random featured posts.

5) Social Media Connecting Widgets

Another good use of your blogger sidebar is to add social media widgets. You can popularize your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, Pinterest etc profiles. Give your visitors an option to connect to you via these social networks. You can then use those social media profiles to notify your visitors of new and interesting content on your blog.

The best option to add these widgets is to manually place the social media codes in your sidebar. Just generate and grab those codes from sites like Facebook. Then using “Add a Gadget” feature, you should add a HTML / Javascript Gadget. Then place the codes in the available area and you are done. Choose only those social media profiles which your visitors prefer. Usually Follow in Twitter, Like in Facebook and Plus in Google Plus are the three best social media widgets to go with.

6) Social Media Sharing Widgets

A good way to attract social media visits to your blog is by allowing your visitors to share your content to social media websites. Give your visitors a chance to share to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Reddit etc directly from your blog. When those buttons are present in your posts page, your visitors will be encouraged to share your content to their friends and followers. This way there is a chance that you will attract more people to your blog.

Add social media sharing links at the end of your posts, before your posts or even in the left side of your posts where those share buttons scroll as your visitors scroll through the page. There are gadgets, code snippets and manual ways of adding such social media widgets.

7) Recent Comments
How to: Recent Comments Widget for Blogger/Blogspot

Another great widget for your Blogger blog is to display recent comments in the sidebar of your blog. This will show how active your blog is. This might also increase in your visitors going to those posts because of those comments.

Officially the recent comments feature is not available in Blogger. But you can use external codes that display your recent comments in the sidebar. It is easy as adding a few lines of javascript and html to your sidebar gadgets. There is also a gadget listed at Blogger’s “Add Gadget > More Gadgets”. The gadget is titled “Top Comments”. Search for it and see how easily you can configure the display of recent comments in the sidebar of your blog.

8) Featured Image
Information: Post Thumbnails and Snippets in Blogger

A blog look attractive if it has images. These graphical images are useful to gain the attention of your visitors. That is why many blogs choose to display featured images alongside posts. Those featured images can be displayed in Blogger blog homepage and labels page. They will make your post listings more attractive. Picture do indeed speak a thousand words.

Featured image is a bit complicated to add to your posts. You will have to edit the html of your templates to add featured posts to your post listing.

9) Subscribe using Feedburner

Another great way to get repetitive visitors to your website is by subscribing your visitors to your blog feeds. When it comes to blog feeds, the best way to publish your feeds is by using Google’s own Feedburner. Feedburner will not only allow your visitors to subscribe to your blog, but it will also deliver email notifying visitors of new posts along with the subscription stats. If your subscription base is huge, you can show it off to the world.

Blogger has an official gadget for this. The gadget is titled “Follow by Email” at the “Add a Gadget” popup. When you add that gadget, you will be able to configure your FeedBurner feed url. You can also directly implement codes provided by FeedBurner to your Blogger Blog using “HTML / Javascript Gadget”. You can also display your feed stats using this method.

10) Translate Blog

When it comes to the internet, it is a global community with visitors coming in from all around the world. To make your site accessible to visitors who understand a different language, you ca use the Translate blog widget. It is an official widget provided by Blogger and it uses Google Translate to literally convert your blog content to another language. Translations might not always be perfect, but at least, your international visitors will understand what you are trying to say.

The “Translate” gadget is officially provided by Blogger. Find it in “Add a Gadget” popup. It is listed as “Translate”.

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