Many blog content widgets can also aid in search engine optimization (i.e. a possible SEO tool), depending on the site you signed up, and it's procedures, for utilizing the widget. I have observed some of my blog's content widget appearing higher ranked in Google search engine results pages, than the actual blog themselves for certain search terms. Also, I think if a search term includes text (i.e. keyword) in your content, and of the widget name, then your blog can be displayed on search results pages. The BlogCatalog directory site, is an example of this nature (based on current google indexing methods).
Below are some free widgets, which I think are present in many blogs, and include some which I have applied (and later selectively removed), that can at least initially, add an enhanced look and feel within your blog - and hopefully to your visitors. Bearing in mind though, a blog is about quality relevant content (mostly), and widgets perhaps should be used as an extension tool to help visitors mainly to connect, engage, and perhaps strongly associate (e.g.as in popular freeware sites and blogs, social media, news sites, blog directories) with your content. Many popular blogs, news sites, download sites, etc, provide widgets which include the popular rss feeds widgets.
RSS Feed Widget (e,g, feedburnergoogle.com): Used by thousands of blogs and websites to attract visitors to sign up to the latest articles or posts. In fact the generated code, is often used in many other widgets or purposes, such as site maps (based on XML code), or content based widgets for your posts. Often a associated e-mail widget is includes as well, and for Google's Feedburner there are many options to help optimize, monetize, and promote your blog. I embedded their feed map, and rotating post banner on my profile in a few social media sites.
Widgetbox (widgetbox.com): You can create attractive colourful widgets, that display your content post's, optionally with images. There are several options, for sizes, colors, styles, and you can add a widget to their site as well. Also includes social media widgets for Facebook, Blogger, MySpace, and other platforms. Produces a streamlined informative article/post box to embed in your blog.
Comment Box (From madtomatoe.com): This simple, but very useful widget text box, once embedded, display visitors comments for you to easily view from your home page. This instantly lets you know, so that you can reply in a timely manner to your viewers.
Shoutmix (shoutmix.com): Basically a live chat box, to allow interaction with others, and I have seen in some tutorial based blogs.
Google Friend Connect: Engages and attracts visitors to your blog, and you can invite from contacts, and social media sites.
Twitter: Where you can submit your blog, and of course promote on your blog with twitter embedded buttons and widgets. I have seen many twitter widgets emerging to help simplify your twitter posts and connections. Many new twitter widgets I have come across from SEO sites, such as search engine journal, and search engine land in their e-mail feeds. Too many, with advanced functions - but quite useful (if you tweet that is).
BlogCatalog: The popular recent visitors with their profile image (and other people based widgets), evident on thousands of blogs. I know many promote themselves to varying degrees, to join in messages, forums, and groups.
MyBlogLog: Similar themed people based widgets as BlogCatalog. But their are many other blog directories that provide banner or widgets (Blogged, BlogTopList, Blog Engage, Entrecard, etc -See blog buttons below on the L/H side), not only to their sites, but for other factors, such as widgets for rating, voting, most visited content, and more.
Feedjit: The free version widget displays recent visitors (see R/H side), you do have a few options from their site. But I only embedded it, once I got sufficient visitors, with their popular stats widget.
Google Gadgets: Hundreds of easy to embed and customizable gadgets. I use the news gadget (based on RSS feeds), the translate widget, calendar, and maybe others, as displayed in my Auckland Hotels Blog. There are many other gadgets - currency converters, world time, audio output, weather reports, quotes, and more. Though the code can be a bit long, so be careful when copying and pasting.
Google Maps: Sign in to Google Maps, and create a map to embed/link to your blog. Maps are popular with commercial/corporate businesses, e.g. Hotels, Pizza Outlets, Tourism, etc. Note though, Google has implemented a "10 pack map display" for business and their maps in Google search results. Sometimes a "3 pack map" is displayed. I read about it in a SEO article, and can be a targeted approach to display prominently a business in search engine results.
Weatherbonk (weatherbonk.com): Mash up of a real time weather forecast on a Google map, with alerts, satellite, radar and other information.
Share (from add this.com): Popular social bookmark widget that allows visitors to bookmark your blog to social/bookmark/forum sites (example below - hover your mouse over the share widget) such as Facebook, del.icio.us, twitter, etc.
Technorati favorites: Widget to add your blog to the blog indexing and search site Technorati. here a popular blog can get rated by Authority.
Digg: The widget when clicked, places your blog post on Digg, a social news site, and if popular, then perhaps get listed on the first page. This has potential to increase visitors to your blog.
Ad Affiliates: These widgets display ads, as a monetary source for your blog, and widgets can come in a range of sizes, styles, display modes, with visibility options (e.g. only display via a search engine results, e.g. Chitika ads). Notable ad affiliates are Amazon, Click Bank, Chitika, AdToll, Stock photo sites, and others.
Widget Advantages: Adds attractiveness, visitor user interaction, monetization (ads), authority or status (voting widgets), popularity (stats widgets), with probably more advantages.
Widget Disadvantages: Can be slow to load your blog, visitors may leave your blog quicker by clicking away on widgets, may involve constant customization and searching to change/replace with better widgets, and may become too standard and hence visitor inactivity on certain widgets.
Thus there are several widgets that can be embedded and customized to suit certain needs for your blog. Perhaps to enhance a blog's overall layout, highlight/show case visitors numbers, allow sign ups (rss feed widgets), engage readers (content widgets), and increase search optimization. But widgets should be used carefully, so as to merge in with the general layout and theme or relevance of your blog, without creating too much clutter or irrelevance.
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