WordPress is a powerful platform with thousands of themes that are strong choices for your small business website, straight out of the box. However, one of the biggest advantages WordPress has is the ability to customize, with a vast array of plugins for third-party services that can enhance the functionality, effectiveness and performance of your site.
With so many plugins available, it can be hard to decide which ones to use. These 10 are what I consider to be essential WordPress plugins – brought to you in no particular order of importance. They will add to the performance of any website built on a WordPress platform.
Online Backup for WordPress
There’s no getting around it, you need a data backup plan for your website. This free, easy-to-use plugin comes with everything you need. Online Backup for WordPress lets you schedule automated daily or weekly backups, perform manual backups, and will even encrypt stored files for additional security.
Both your database and file system are backed up, so you won’t lose a thing if disaster strikes.
Comments are always welcome, but spam stinks. The Akismet plugin saves you time and keeps the reputation of your small business site intact by weeding out spam comments before they get posted. This way, you don’t have to delete them yourself and your visitors don’t have to worry about wading through badly written spam comments to get into the discussion.
Some third-party commenting systems, including Disqus and IntenseDebate, also support the Akismet plugin.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
This is one of the highest rated in the WordPress library, and easy to use for beginners and advanced website owners alike.
This plugin comes with all the features you need to improve your site’s search engine optimization, including a snippet preview, page analysis, technical SEO tools, meta and link elements, XML sitemaps, RSS optimization, and much more.
Visual Form Builder
Integrated contact forms add a professional touch to your small business website. It’s easy to do this with the Visual Form Builder plugin which lets you create all kinds of forms for your site with no coding required.
A simple drag-and-drop interface means you can have fully functional forms up and running in no time.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Sure, WordPress gives you a way to insert a tracking code from Google Analytics directly into your theme, so why add yet another plugin to your site?
Because with the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, you get extra features: Automatic tracking for site speed, outbound links, downloads, custom variable support, link tagging, debug mode, login and registration form tracking and more.
W3 Total Cache
Did you know that site speed is now factored into Google’s ranking algorithm?
The W3 Total Cache plugin improves your site’s performance and makes it run faster by showing users a pre-created version of your pages, instead of executing the PHP scripts every time a page loads.
Both search engines and site visitors prefer faster-loading sites.
The default search feature for WordPress is unfortunately not the best around. Results are ranked according to publication date, rather than relevance to the search term. If you have a lot of content, your visitors can get frustrated trying to find what they’re looking for.
Relevanssi uses a relevance-sorting search similar to Google (the one most people are familiar with) for your site. This plugin automatically replaces the native search when it’s installed, so you don’t have to tweak your theme or go through the settings manually.
It’s ready to go, right out of the box.
After the Deadline
Get a personal proofreader for your content that catches more errors than the native WordPress spell check. This plugin comes with basic spelling and grammar, and includes contextual spell checking, advanced style checking and intelligent grammar checking to virtually wipe out mistakes in your posts.
Social media sharing is vital for your small business. The ShareThis plugin supports your social marketing by automatically adding social share buttons at the end of your pages and posts. Other features of this plugin include social analytics, Open Graph sharing, CopyNShare and an optional Hovering Bar that keeps sharing buttons always present on your sidebar.
SEO Smart Links
Improve your on-page SEO automatically with this easy-to-use plugin. SEO Smart Links scans your content and blog posts and inserts relevant internal links to other posts and pages based on keywords. Features include nofollow links, open links in new tabs, custom keyword links and more.
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