If you’ve ever searched for a WordPress plugin to achieve a certain goal on your website, you may have been surprised at the many plugin options available out there.
Plugins can be very useful tools on any website – enhancing its quality and adding to the bottom line. However, a website with too many poorly coded or unnecessary plugins will impact your website negatively.
Some key areas of your website where you want to have excellent tools in place include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Speed and performance
- Customer Service
In this article, I’ll discuss a few plugins and tools that I’ve found useful and efficient in the above categories.
There are many hackers and spammers out there who are looking at taking down unsecured websites or deploying its resources for their own benefit. The #1 thing I do after building a website is to ensure that it’s properly secured.
As a website owner, first ensure that you have a strong password – not the “Abcd1234” or “Qwerty” type passwords that hackers easily break into, or the “Admin” username that comes with WordPress by default.
Useful security plugins include:
This will monitor your site for vulnerabilities, protect against brute force attacks, block malicious users, alert you if there are file changes, and keep backups of your website. There are free and premium versions.
This is another excellent WP security plugin and it has been downloaded more than 22 million times! I find that the 100% free version is good enough for most users.
This plugin enforces strong passwords for administrators and users, plus other similar protection offered by the iThemes Security plugin. You can download it here.
It doesn’t take time before your new blog starts to attract spam comments. Akismet is great at quarantining spam and keeping spammers at bay. For most personal sites or blogs and small business sites, all you need is the free version.
In addition to security, it is important you always have an automated backup system in place. If your website crashes, breaks, or an update goes South, you can easily restore it back using the last backup files. Great plugins I recommend to do this include:
This plugin will automatically make backups of your website and can also be used to restore your website from a backup. It has pretty good reviews on its WordPress page.
UpdraftPlus gives you the option to backup directly into Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and a host of other cloud storage services. There’s a free and premium version. I have found the free version gives me all I need for backup.
This plugin is from the iThemes stable. It does an excellent job backing up your site and migrating your website to a new server is a breeze.
The plugin is not free and starts at $80/year.
Search Engine Optimization
It goes without saying, that SEO is what makes the difference between a successful website and one that’s doomed for failure.
This plugin is in my opinion a must-have for any WordPress website. Yoast SEO makes it easy for you to get started on making your posts, pages, product descriptions, portfolios, etc. search engine optimized. It also comes with an option to create XML sitemaps for your site, and fights scrapers by adding a link to your RSS feed.
The free version is great. If you want additional functionality or premium support, you can also opt for the paid service. You can download Yoast SEO here.
Speed and Performance
In my article on your website’s need for speed, I showed that for a 1 second increase in the time it takes to load your website, you suffer a 7% loss in conversions, get 11% fewer page views, and have a 16% decrease in your customer satisfaction. In summary, a slow website will suffer immensely as visitors go looking for alternatives.
In order to improve your website’s overall speed, performance, and ranking, look at using caching and content delivery networks effectively.
W3 Total Cache
If properly configured, you should immediately see an improvement in your site’s performance after installing W3 Total Cache.
This plugin also allows configuration with some CDN’s including Cloudflare and Amazon Cloud Front.
The plugin is not free and a single 1 year license will cost you $49.
At some point when conducting business via a website, you want to know how your visitors or customers are interacting with your product pages, posts, and so on – i.e. their online behaviour, location, time spent browsing through your content, etc.
There are several free and paid plugins that facilitate this task right from on your WordPress Administrator page. One free option I have found very useful is the:
Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress
This plugin allows you to track your site using the Google Analytics tracking code. You can access in-depth page and post reports, see number of visitors, and look at stats including:
- Page views
- Bounce rates
- 404 errors
- Traffic channels
- Device categories, etc.
You can get the plugin here.
As a business person, you definitely want your visitors (customers) to be able to contact you. This is why a reliable contact form is needed on your website. You can achieve this through:
Contact Form 7
This is one of the most popular contact form plugins out there. Current active installations are well over 5 million. The plugin allows you to install multiple contact forms and customize them. The best part is – it’s free!
This is an excellent paid option when it comes to contact forms. They are very simple to use with the drag-and-drop interface.
A basic 1 year license will cost you $59.