Ah, the world wide web! If you are building your presence online, chances are you have your very own website. And now you wait for visitors. As you wait, maybe you’re wondering if you have everything you need to succeed.
Why Use Plugins In WordPress
WordPress plugins are pieces of software to enhance your website; they add functionality and enhance the experience of visitors. They can also make your WordPress life easier -or harder- on several fronts from following new laws (GDPR, CCPA, COPPA) to capturing new leads. Plugins can help run things in the background of your website, protect your website, and make everything run smoothly.
Where to Get Plugins
Now, you may be wondering where to find these plugins. On the dashboard of your WordPress site in the menu on the left, you will find Plugins. From here you can:
- install new plugins
- see what you already have
- activate, update, or remove plugins
WordPress has a plethora of plugins to customize almost anything you could imagine. There are free plugins, plugins with basic (free) or pro (paid) options, subscription-based plugins, and paid-only plugins. Once you perform a search and find the plugin you want, most only need a click of your mouse to install and one more to activate. Ones which need to be set up generally will have a setup wizard for new users to easily follow.
But how do you sift through all the options to know which ones you need? How can you tell a good plugin from a not-so-good one? With plugins, less can be more. You want to choose them strategically because having too many -or the wrong ones- can slow down or even break your website. Here are our top six plugin recommendations and why we think you need them.
1. Added Security
These days, everyone worries about security. At the airport we have TSA, we have badges to let us in or out of our workspace, even concerts have more security than ever before. So why not our websites? Having a plugin specifically for security does two things.
- Protects your site from spam, hackers, and malicious bots
- Shows visitors you care about their safety
While there are many options for a security plugin, many of them are a bit sketchy. Our top picks for adding security are Sucuri and WordFence. Both of these plugins are constantly on alert and will let you know if and when they find something suspicious.
2. Optimize Your Search Engine Presence
A top DIY website mistake is not allowing for a way to boost your SEO capabilities. SEO helps you connect search engines to the content on your website. This, in turn, draws more visitors to your website as they find you have the answers to their search queries.
The main reason you want an SEO plugin is to write the meta title and meta description easily. Having the ability to set a target keyword and get suggestions to better optimize your content can make a world of difference!
We have two favorites for solid SEO plugins:
- All-In-One SEO
3. Forms for Leads
If you are looking to grow a following on your blog, sell your product or services, or take on more clients, you need forms to help capture the contact information of interested visitors is critical. These plugins help create forms for your website and send you new leads as people fill them out:
- Ninja Forms
- Gravity Forms
- Contact Form 7
If you already have forms on your website, you may have experienced them going down for a time…how many leads could you have missed because people couldn’t fill out your form? FormTester 365 is a plugin we developed to work with Gravity forms. It tests your forms every day so you don’t have to. Weekly emails are sent letting you know your forms are doing fine, and the plugin emails you immediately should a form break.
4. Backups to Save Your Work
Hackers and malicious bots are just two forms of destruction your website could face. Having a plugin to help you regularly backup and save your hard work will make restoring everything a piece of cake should anything ever happen. If you fail to backup your website and a server crashes or hackers do get in, you will have to start all over again in creating your content, images, videos, and design. Backups are also handy to have if you’re trying that new coding trick you learned but it goes horribly wrong!
Make sure the plugin you choose will backup your entire site. You also want to be able to easily connect to a third-party storage option (like Amazon or Google) so you don’t lose those backup files. Our plugin picks are quick to set up, easy to use, and give peace of mind should the unthinkable happen:
- Backup Buddy
5. Adhering to Regulations
The information your visitors share with you is a valuable asset, one which has been abused by some websites. Being transparent about how you collect, use, store, and how long you keep this information is now an enforced law. Websites not adhering to the regulations set for by GDPR, CCPA, and COPPA will end up shuttered.
These laws are lengthy and can be confusing on how to ensure you’re following them. Thankfully, programmers have created plugins to help you easily comply. While you could feasibly comply manually, having a plugin specifically for this can take the guesswork out of the process. In our research, we have found these two plugins:
You can also check out these additional plugins for other free and paid options.
6. Site Performance
Some plugins will slow down your WordPress website, and some will speed it up. Choosing the correct site enhancing plugin will help with speed, image optimization, and caching. Visitors are expecting your website to load in under 3 seconds, and if it takes longer, they may move on. Images and videos are the usual culprits of a slow-loading website. While learning how to best optimize files before you even upload them, there are also plugins to help you further optimize the speed of your website. Here are our choices for site performance plugins:
- WP Rocket
- WP Fastest Cache
- W3 Total Cache
Having a plugin for each of these six functions will give your website an extra boost to gain the traction you need to succeed online. If you have additional questions about plugins, website development, or want to learn more about how we can help you, connect with us today! We have the knowledge you need to grow your online brand exponentially.