Managing a popular WordPress site can become a very time consuming ordeal. If you receive a lot of visitors, chances are you’ll have to keep up with comments, manage your social media networks, create great content regularly, and so on. This, coupled with the occasional server hiccup can quickly deplete all your available time and energy. Fortunately, there are a number of WordPress tools and plugins out there that you can use to automate some of these tasks. By letting your website do all the heavy lifting by itself, you will be able to focus on more important things.

Automating Mundane Tasks

If there’s something machines are good at, it’s executing simple, mundane tasks as many times as they have to. Things like sharing your newly-published content or responding to general inquiries fall into this category, requiring no thinking on your part but at the same time being time consuming.

If you wish to boost your productivity, you should try to automate as many of these tasks as you can. Your brain was designed for thinking creatively, making important decisions and doing the sorts of things a machine is still incapable of. The following tools will help you do so with relative ease, performing some of the most essential things in your place and improving your overall workflow.

Fighting Off Comment Spam

While it’s important to interact with your community, often times you will have to sort all the comments from the spam. Depending on the popularity of your site, spambots can become pretty active and end up posting up to tens of times each day. To make matters worse, receiving too much comment spam can even make you accidentally miss a real comment, posted by one of your readers.

In the long run, Akismet can save a lot of time by getting spam out of the way.

In the long run, Akismet can save a lot of time by getting spam out of the way.

To solve that, there’s Akismet or Antispam Bee. These plugins will automatically filter all the spammy comments for you, you that you can spend less time filtering them out. They work fairly well, and if you receive a lot of spam you may see an instant improvement in the quality of your comments.

Posting To Your Social Networks Automatically

Sending your post updates to the different social networks is one of the most important task you need to do when creating content. Doing so can help you boost your web traffic by quite a bit, gaining more exposure and engaging your readers directly. However, this can be a very time intensive task since you may have to post to a lot of social networks. It doesn’t help if you blog several times a week, either.

Fortunately, there is a tool that can help you automate all these tasks with relative ease. It’s called SNAP– short for Social Network Auto Poster— made by NextScripts. This nifty little tool lets you automatically publish your new posts on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and so on. Even better, it lets you schedule multiple posting times to make sure your old content gets promoted too. The Social Network Auto Poster plugin is free, although if you want to post to networks such as Google+ or Pinterest you’ll have to buy the PRO version.

SNAP is fairly easy to use, and the time it saves you is worth more than its cost.

SNAP is fairly easy to use, and the time it saves you is worth more than its cost.

Alternatively, the Jetpack plugin made by Automattic also has the ability to post to the three major social networks: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. While being completely free, it doesn’t have as many options and doesn’t let you style the way you want your updates. If you wish to have full control over how you post on social networks, use SNAP. For a simpler and easier to configure solution, Jetpack will fit the bill.

Planning Your Content Strategy

Your content strategy should be well defined if you wish to have a successful website. However, this usually means planning all your content and scheduling it ahead of time, which can become a hassle. There’s also the possibility that you will miss an important update, given that you need to manually set the date for each of your articles.

In these cases, you can use the Automatic Post Scheduler. This plugin will automatically schedule your draft posts for you, in such a way that you will only need to focus on creating great content. All you need to do is specify the frequency and times you wish to publish an article, and you’ll be all set. Once configured, your articles will be assigned a publishing date automatically based on the number of posts you have queued.

Performing On-Page SEO

Lastly, there’s the task of carefully optimizing your posts for search engines. While this task cannot be entirely automated– remember, popular content should be well written– there are a couple plugins that can help you out. Last week we talked about using them to improve your internal linking, and they are great time savers since they will cover the need to link your website pages to one another. They are SEO Smartlinks by Vladimir Prelovac, and WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta.

Setting WordPress Related Posts is fairly straightforward. Once installed, it will automatically add the related links at the end of every post, so the only thing you need to do is tweak its behaviour a little. Configuring SEO Smartlinks is a bit more cumbersome, but yileds great results. Both of these plugins will do almost all the internal linking optimization for you, provided they are well configured. You can then focus on improving your content so it becomes more popular.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Pippin has said it already. You should always strive to optimize your workflow as much as you can. This includes automating the simpler tasks, so they go on autopilot and you can make better use of your time. If you’re interested on other areas of WordPress automation, here are some reads worth taking a look:

What plugin do you use to save time when managing your WordPress site? Do you automate your publishing workflow too?