WordPress is one of the most popular website CMS platforms for small businesses. Flexible and easy to manage yourself, you can keep your site updated, adding valuable content as and when you choose. You can get a lot of things done with a few clicks of a mouse button, but what sets WordPress apart from others is the range of useful plugins that will allow you to customise the look, feel and functionality of your website.
Here are 10 of our favourite WordPress Plugins:
WordPress SEO from Yoast
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is not everyone’s cup of tea, it can seem daunting to the uninitiated, but this plugin from Yoast makes everything simple. It will analyse the content of a page and suggest improvements for your search engine ranking, with its traffic light system. Making the science of basic on-page SEO available for all levels of understanding. The basic plugin is free; the premium costs but provides greater functionality.
Social Media Widget
A simple sidebar lets you list your social medial urls which then open into a separate browser window. Allowing your readers to ‘follow’ you, rather than sharing your content. The Social Media Widget supports practically every site you could want from Twitter and Facebook to Flixter and the Better Business Bureau, Skype and iTunes. It makes it easy for people to stay connected to you and all your sites.
The Jet Pack plugin professes to “supercharge your self-hosted WordPress site” with features that were only previously available to users on WordPress.com. This means that you have access to functions like a social networking enabled comments section, more complete stats for your site, posting your blog from an email client, and a CSS editor that lets you customise your pages. As well as a number of funky aesthetic additions like galleries, continuous scroll and social share buttons for the bottom of each post. Jet Pack has all the plugin power you will need to boost your website power.
If you have your comments section open then you are vulnerable to spam. Akismet checks your comments against its web service and tells you if something looks like spam or not (ham). This is an invaluable tool if your site attracts a lot of visitors or rather a lot of spammers, which is an unfortunate side effect of WordPress. Still with Askimet these need never bother you again, especially with their auto delete function.
This Wordpess plugin helps you make simple content blocks with a header, image, text and a footer. The basic free version will help you make your site more professional looking and aesthetically pleasing. The pro version takes you a big step further with custom boxes and multi-column support. Somethings are just worth investing in and this author believes that these pro version plugins are reasonably priced when you consider the effect they have!
This simple plugin will add Google Analytics to any WordPress blog. It will give you access to Google’s deep analytic tracking of traffic on your posts, and includes widgets to display the data in the admin section of your blog – automatically posting the tracking code to each and every post and page, unless you tell it not to of course. Coming soon to this plugin are the advanced features to match Googles event tracking, definitely worth keeping an eye on this plugin!
Google XML Sitemap
If you want search engines to have better access to your blog, index it more deeply and have a better chance at having your pages optimised, this plugin will help you do just that. It supports a wide variety of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Allowing you to keep from Google that which shouldn’t be crawled (terms pages or payment pages) and giving the programs a directed path to follow.
Disqus Comment System
This plugin replaces the WordPress commenting system that is already on your site. It is designed to make commenting easier and increases interactivity across the Disqus community. Many people who use this find that more people are willing to leave a comment on posts than with the standard WordPress system. And will drastically reduce the number of spam comments and nasty links.
Srizon Responsive YouTube Album
If you want your YouTube videos in a nice gallery on your site, Srizon will create it for you and allow visitors to access it. If you use video on your site for explainers or promotions, they can soon stack up in numbers. Listing them in this simple page layout makes them easily accessible for your readers!
Contact Form 7
Online contact forms can often be complicated and difficult to manage. If you need a contact form on your site then this simple but elegant, the Contact Form 7 plugin will provide them for you. It supports Akismet spam filtering and you can have multiple forms on one site. With completely customisable formats including drop down boxes, radial buttons and even the option to add a Captcha filter should you wish.
We hope you take the time to review some of our suggested WordPress plugins. We all have our favourites and with constant releases it is always worthwhile having a browse through the forums to see what everyone is using. There are hundreds if not thousands of WordPress plugins.
A word of caution, not all plugins are safe to use, before adding a new plugin do your research. Most free plugins will include a sneaky link back to the developers site, which let’s face it, if that’s all it costs then it is well worth it. However, not all links are friendly, nor would you want your website associated with them, some will even contain malicious code. The best way of checking a new plugin is to search WordPress and the other online forums for reviews, look to see how many people have downloaded the plugin and how often the developers update them. There is absolutely no point adding a plugin to your site if the developer has stopped updating it as it will quickly become incompatible and will eventually fall over, causing problems for the rest of your website. Stay safe and check the plugins out!
Do you have your own favourite plugins? Feel free to share them below, here are just 10 of our favourite WordPress Plugins, we can use approx. 20-30 plugins per website we build. How many do you use?
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