Here on Bizzebee, we have talked about how important your website is to your business and why, when you create one, you should be using WordPress to build it. One of the great things about WordPress is that there are literally tens of thousands of WordPress plugins that you can install to your site to fill a number of different roles. That could be for a design purpose, security, SEO, etc. or in all likelihood, all of the above.
In this post we look at some essential WordPress Plugins for your website.
10 Essential WordPress Plugins
There is a reason I included this plugin at #1 on the list as it really should be the first plugin you install after setting up WordPress.
This fantastic plugin will help you with (surprise surprise) search engine optimization, specifically on-page SEO that will help you to rank higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages). There are lots of great features included in the plugin (such as setting up Google Authorship, organizing your permalinks, controlling redirects for individual pages, etc.), but the most useful feature will be the on-page SEO checklist that you can refer to when writing out your posts/pages.
There are certain on-page SEO factors that you can include and position in the right way to help you to rank higher. To make it easier to understand, the checklist works on a traffic light system (green = good, yellow = OK and red = bad) which makes it much easier when following the more technical aspects. The more green points you can tick off on your list for your post, the better.
If you allow comments on your site, then I can guarantee that you will get some spammy ones added if you are not careful. This can be especially bad when they include links to dodgy sites that could, if not removed, have a negative effect on your own site.
Akismet is simply a spam blocker (and a very good one at that) that will help get rid of these spammy comments for you, instead of you having to do it manually. Every time someone leaves a comment, it gets passed through the Akismet service to see if it is spam or not.
I have been running Akismet on OIT (one of my other sites) for a while now and it has literally helped block tens of thousands of them from my site.
Whilst on the subject of comments, why not install a much more professional looking replacement for the default WordPress comments with the Disqus plugin.
Disqus is a service that helps to make commenting on sites easier and more engaging. Not only that, but Disqus allows you to see who has commented/replied to you on your site when on another site that is using Disqus. It has a ton of useful features, including;
- Threaded comments and replies
- Notifications and reply by email
- Subscribe and RSS options
- Aggregated comments and social mentions
- Powerful moderation and admin tools
- Full spam filtering, blacklists and whitelists
- Support for Disqus community widgets
- Connected with a large discussion community
- Increased exposure and readership
- Earn money via advertising links
- Compatible with Akismet
We use Disqus on Bizzebee, so after finishing reading the post, feel free to take a look and leave a comment below.
Every site needs a sitemap as that is what search engines use to crawl your website. Without one, you may find that you don’t get indexed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. (or at least a LOT slower) as they would need to find all your pages organically.
This plugin simply automates the whole process. That way, when you add new content to your site, your sitemap automatically updates. You can even set it up to notify the search engines when this happens, helping your latest post get seen much quicker.
5. WP Smush.it
Site speed is very important these days and one thing that can significantly slow down a site are images. Images can be extremely large files that need to be downloaded every time one of your pages are viewed. The more visitors you get to your site, the more these images need to be downloaded, which can put a strain on your server.
The WP Smush.it plugin (developed by Yahoo) helps to decrease the file size of your images by removing unnecessary information. You should always optimise your images before you upload them to your site, but ‘Smush.it’ will help to reduce them further.
6. BJ Lazy Load
Staying on the topic of images and site speed, this plugin helps to reduce your page loading time further by only loading up the images (and video) that are visible.
Normally, when you open a page of a website, all the images on that page need to be downloaded. This can cause certain pages to be very slow when you have a very long page with lots of content included. ‘BJ Lazy Load’ simply loads up the images that are visible, so images lower down the page only get loaded when you scroll down to them.
You may have noticed this on this very post when reading it. It just helps to make your pages load the little bit quicker.
OK, so technically not everyone may need this plugin, but I bet the vast majority of you will at some point.
Premise is a both a landing page designer and membership site plugin rolled into one. It will allow you to design beautiful and, more importantly, engaging landing pages for your products and email subscription pages that convert. Landing pages are extremely useful when you want people to do something (i.e. buy, signup, watch a video, etc.) as they remove all other distractions.
If you want to create a membership site (like we have with ‘The Hive’) then this plugin will allow you to do that. You can create (multiple) paid membership walls around content that you choose, sell your own digital products, stagger your content (so your visitors gain access to X content when they signup, then a month later they get Y content) and much, much more!
Premise is perfect for business websites and blogs (or any for that matter) that want to create any of these features. The best thing though is that, because it is a plugin, it is compatible with any WordPress site, no matter what theme you are using. So if you had wanted to create landing pages/membership areas for your site, but were afraid it would mess up the look of it, then this plugin is for you.
Every site needs links to their social media sites (Facebook page, Twitter account, G+ page, etc.) so that people can find and subscribe to them for future updates, or perhaps get in touch and ask a question.
There is nothing worse than finding a site that you like and want to connect with, only you can’t find any of their links because they don’t display them.
This plugin not only lets you display icons to your social sites (or whatever sites you want), but you can customise the look of each icon by uploading your own. That is the reason why I chose to feature this plugin ahead of all the other ‘social icon’ plugins (there are plenty out there), as you can then customise the look of them to fit in with your site. Most of the others use predefined icons that you can’t change, which can look ugly in some instances.
Frankly, whether you use this particular plugin is up to you, just make sure that you have links to your social sites where people can find them.
As well as links to your social sites, you also need to display social buttons (tweet, like, +1, etc.) on your posts/pages so that people can share them if they choose. This can be a great way to get traffic; as someone may tweet your post to their friends, who may then tweet it to their friends and so on.
This plugin simply places all these buttons on your site without you needing to do any coding. What this also does is that it fixes to the top of the screen when you scroll down so that they are always viewable to visitors (as you can see on this post).
Again, there are plenty of these types of plugins, but I felt this was the best because it works on mobile devices as well. Many of the other social button plugins tend to only display properly on desktop sites, but as more and more people are using their phones to browse the web, it is important that you make sure it works on there too.
10. W3 Total Cache
Lastly, I wanted to share with you this amazing plugin. Now I touched upon site speed earlier when talking about images, but there are a lot more aspects than that that dictate how fast your site will be.
This plugin is a caching plugin, which will help you to dramatically increase the speed of your site in a number of different ways. You can turn on;
- Browser caching
- Page cache
- Object cache,
- Database cache,
- Setup CDN (Content Delivery Network),
- …and much more!
Search engines are increasingly taking site speed into consideration, so if your site is too slow it could be ranking much lower than it should be. Install and setup ‘W3 Total Cache’ and you will notice a difference!
What Essential WordPress Plugins Do You Have?
So there you have it – 10 essential WordPress plugins that you should install on your site! There are plenty of other plugins that I could have mentioned here, but I felt that these 10 were probably the most important.
Do you use any of these plugins on your site? If so, what did you make of them? What other WordPress plugins do you consider essential? Please let us know by leaving a comment below (in the Disqus section).