Newspack (a project of WordPress and Google News Initiative) is an all-in-one platform primarily built for small and medium news publishers. With Newspack these publishers can focus on pushing out content as the Newspack team bears most of the tech burden for them. Newspack can either be used as a SaaS solution or as an open source toolkit just like WordPress. Such an all-in-one solution is convenient for a small publisher but it can become limiting with growing traffic.
With growing traffic there is a need for better features to help build and nurture a healthy audience. The default plugins that are a part of Newspack hit their limit when your traffic grows beyond a point. In order to continue growing your website here are a few plugins that you must take a look at.
We’ve split the recommended list of plugins into three categories:
- Plugins for Audience Development
- Plugins for Audience Engagement
- Plugins for Audience Retention
These categories should help you jump straight to your urgent needs right away.
Plugins for Audience Development
Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress and the best part is that it is compatible with Newspack. Yoast SEO is easy to use and offers publishers a range of SEO tools to optimize the website for search engines.
You can get started with the free version of Yoast SEO which can help with meta descriptions, keyword and readability analysis, sitemaps, and a lot more. The Premium subscription of Yoast SEO unlocks more capabilities such as notifications for broken links and outdated pages. It offers internal linking suggestions which is a great way to link existing content across the website.
With this plugin publishers will be able to address their SEO issues, helping them rank better in Google search results and drive more traffic organically. Publishers on Newspack can start with the free version of Yoast SEO and can switch over to the paid premium version with growing website traffic.
Web Stories are the latest form of visual storytelling. These are tappable stories that offer users a full screen immersive experience. Google Web Stories allow publishers to primarily use photos and videos to narrate a story. These Web Stories have the potential to hook the audience and deliver very high retention rates.
If you are looking to add Web Stories to your content mix this Google Web Stories Plugin is the perfect place to start. This plugin will help you create Web Stories from scratch. The plugin has a one click install process and once done you will see the option to create stories in the admin panel.
Web Stories Editor
Google Web Stories have the potential to bring in a lot of traffic but it needs to be optimized for your readers. Here’s a guide from Google to help you optimize your content for Web Stories. If you are just starting out with Web Stories it’ll be a good idea to take a look at the best practices for Google Web Stories.
News publishers cover events as they happen, however updating an article multiple times is cumbersome and requires a reader to visit the page multiple times to see updates. This Liveblog plugin is a great way to push updates in real time especially when you are covering a sports event or reporting as a live event goes on.
This plugin allows you to post updates right from the front end of the site without needing to update from the dashboard. Your readers will be able to see new updates without needing to refresh the page for fresh content. Authors can also drag and drop photos in the Liveblog area without needing to go into the backend CMS.
Source: Liveblog Plugin
Once the live coverage is over, you do have the option to convert this into a regular post on your website. This plugin also has an auto-archive feature that will automatically archive a live blog after a preset amount of time even if the editor forgets to do so.
Frustrated by 404- Page Not Found errors on your website? You want to tackle them but don’t know how? The Redirection plugin is the most popular plugin on WordPress and has been around for a long time. It is easy to install and allows you to fix “page not found errors” quickly without needing any coding experience.
Source: Redirection Plugin
This plugin can also alert you of 404-error pages for you to fix. This is helpful for publishers who want to add more categories and include that in their URL structure. The older URLs will become redundant and give an error to visitors on that URL link. This plugin can help you redirect your audience to the right page.
Hit that publish button and found out that you missed adding relevant images? When you are publishing multiple articles in a day, it is possible that authors forget to do certain things. One might forget to add tags, while the other might skip adding the meta description entirely. This Publishpress Checklist plugin ensures that this never happens.
Source: Publishpress Checklist
This plugin provides a checklist that authors need to go through before hitting the publish button. As an editor you can keep certain tasks optional while marking some as mandatory for the author to perform before publishing. Doing this ensures that each news article that you put out is complete for your audience to read and well optimized for search engines to index and rank.
Plugins for Audience Engagement
Comments are a great way to engage your loyal audience. These enable the reader to voice their opinion or share feedback with the author of the article. WordPress has a commenting system in place but it has certain limitations and lacks some features. If you want to make the comment section more engaging this is the plugin for you.
Inline Commenting Feature. Source: Discuz Comments Plugin
Disqus offers features such as comment voting and allows a team member to moderate these comments to maintain hygiene on the website. It also enables your readers to upvote useful comments making it easier for others to find. Overall commenting has the potential to build a community which is essential for a growing publisher.
A good feature image is sure to grab your audience's attention. This plugin will help publishers upload a feature image directly from a URL. This is a very efficient plugin that saves a news publisher crucial time when publishing a news article.
When a publisher is posting a follow up to a previously published news story, it can be tedious to search for the same feature image in the CMS. This plugin allows you to take the image URL from your previously published article and add the image to the current one. You can also use URLs from other websites to use their images as a feature image for your article. However, do add the necessary image credits before hitting the publish button.
Plugins for Audience Retention
As a publisher it is crucial to keep an organic visitor on the website for as long as one can. This allows the first time visitor to sample all the different types of content on the website which increases the chances of converting them into a repeat visitor. A known practice of doing this is recommending such visitors the best content on your website. Curating the best content on your website can be tedious and time consuming, that’s where this plugin comes in.
This popular posts plugin automatically picks the best posts of the website based on pageviews and then shows them to site visitors. As a publisher, this plugin enables your readers to view your best content. The Top-10 Popular Posts plugin is easy to setup and configure and has the potential to drive additional traffic to your best performing articles.
If you are tired of relying on Google and Social Media for your traffic, you should definitely explore using push notifications to bring readers to your website. Push notifications can help you reach your audience directly. Once you publish a new article, you can directly send it to your subscribers’ devices for them to read.
There are multiple push notification services in the market that you can choose from such as OneSignal, iZooto, Pushly and many more. iZooto caters to publishers only and offers better playbooks and more features for publishers compared to the competition. You can also use iZooto for its other features such as NewsHub and AI-powered Content Recommendations.
You can push out a notification for an article you’ve just published or schedule a push notification based on your preferred time. The iZooto push notification plugin allows you to segment your subscribers and target each subscriber base differently. If you are already using a different service for push notifications, you can still use iZooto for its content recommendation features.
If you have an active newsletter, this plugin makes sending them easier. The Newspack Newsletter plugin is made by Automattic and allows you to use the Gutenberg editor of WordPress to compose your newsletter. The familiar editor makes it easy for you to compose your newsletter. You can also create different templates and save them for later.
You can use services such as Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor and more to send the newsletter. News editors can save newsletters as drafts or even publish them on the website. It also allows monetization by allowing you to include advertisements in the newsletter.
Source: Newspack Plugins
These were some of the plugins that you should consider to add more features and functionality to your Newspack website. This article will help you grow your audience, engage them and nurture them into subscribers. By using the audience development tools such as Yoast SEO and Google Web Stories, you should be able to grow the organic traffic on your website. Go beyond what Newspack offers to cater to your growing audience.