If you use the WordPress platform for your website, then you probably know how powerful plugins can be. You can find a plugin for just about anything! However, it is important to install quality plugins that will help improve the functionality of your site and won’t cause any compatibility issues. Here are a few WordPress plugins that I use, on just about every site that I design. They are all reliable, easy to use, and will instantly improve the quality of your website.
Every site needs some kind of caching solution to ensure that it loads quickly. If your hosting company doesn’t already provide this service, then give W3 Total Cache a try. The plugin is very easy to implement and also has lots of options available for more advanced users! The basic settings will reduce CPU usage (load time) and bandwidth consumption, which are both, very important steps to increase the speed of your site. After you install this plugin and follow the simple instructions, you will see an instant speed increase on your website.
This is one of the most popular SEO plugins available and for good reason! It incorporates virtually everything that you would ever need to optimize your websites content, image titles, meta descriptions and more. If you’re new to the world of SEO, then I recommend doing a little research about how to best utilize this plugin. It’s very robust so that more you learn and implement on your site, the better this plugin will perform for you. Aka it will lead to more visitors to your website and, really, who doesn’t want that?!
I’ve been using Contact Form 7 since I started building WordPress websites back in 2011. In my humble opinion, it’s still the best free contact form plugin option available. Right out of the box, it allows you to manage multiple contact forms that you can customize, to include a series of questions. If you know a little bit of CSS you can style the forms to look beautiful and fit in with any existing website design. The form also supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, and Akismet spam filtering.
I occasionally use a premium plugin called Gravity Forms instead of Contact Form 7 when I’m building forms on a website. However, I really only use a plugin when the form requires payment or has conditional logic applied to it. Otherwise, Contact Form 7 is my go-to here!
I recently discovered this free plugin, which, allows me to move websites that I’m developing to a hosting server with ease. They do have a premium option available that, I will probably switch to in the near future. If you aren’t a developer, you will likely only need to install the free version on your website.
If you have a WordPress site, you should have some kind of system in place to backup your website periodically. This plugin will send backups of your website to Dropbox, automatically, to ensure that you always have a fresh backup of your website available. It will even backup the database for you! If your website is ever hacked or goes down for any reason, you will have a recent backup that you or your hosting company can install. Having a backup handy will save you A LOT of stress if this ever happens to you, trust me!
If you have a blog on your website then you need Akismet. Once installed, it will scan your comments and contact form submissions for spam. The plugin will store any blocked messages in a spam folder, under Comments, in the WordPress dashboard. That way, these messages never hit your inbox. The good news is, that you don’t even need to install this on your website because it comes packaged with your WordPress install. Just activate it, and follow the instructions to get an API key to implement the plugin on your website.
It’s always a good idea to improve the security on your WordPress website, to prevent malicious attacks. One of the best things you can do is to install a plugin that will do the bulk of the work for you! In short, Wordfence will provide security for your website against malware and malicious IP addresses. It basically, equips your website with the most up to date firewall rules, providing you with top-level protection. This is one of those plugins that I install on every single website that I build, to ensure, that my clients brand new sites are protected from threats!
As the name suggests, this is very simple plugin to use. In fact, it only requires one step to implement on your website. The plugin inserts your Google Analytics tracking code, into the heading of your site, so that Google can collect your analytics.
Now, you could get a more advanced plugin that displays your analytics right when you log in to WordPress. However, I prefer to use this simple option and track my analytics by logging into my Google account. I choose this option for a couple of reasons. One, I can get more information from Google Analytics, than I would be able to with a shortened version of WordPress. Two, Super Simple Google Analytics takes up less space on your website’s server, meaning, that your site will run more efficiently. If you also prefer the simplicity of this plugin and don’t mind logging into Google Analytics separately, then go with it!
I would not recommend adding any high-resolution images to your website. Large image files are one of the main reasons that websites become sluggish over time. EWWW Image Optimizer will shrink these image sizes down and optimize them for the web. It will optimize images that you have already uploaded, convert images automatically to a smaller file format, and also provides options for lossy compression. After you run the plugin, your website will become more efficient, which, will keep users on your website longer. For the best results, you should save your images for the web and then use this plugin to optimize them even more.
This is another new to me plugin that I’ve recently fallen in love with. It’s a premium plugin but I think its well worth the investment. Bloom allows you to create gorgeous email opt-ins and lead generations, anywhere on your website. It goes beyond a simple pop-up plugin, by allowing you to target specific pages or posts with unique forms. This is perfect for blog posts, where you are offering a free item to someone who signs up for your mailing list. It allows you to target a user with a direct ask, on any page on your site, and also ensures that they get the free gift.
Out of the box, it comes with a few different choices on how to display the opt-ins. My two favorites are the Require Opt-in to Unlock Content and Below Content Opt-in Form because they are not as in-your-face as a traditional Pop-up. Oh, and did I mention that this plugin integrates with 16 popular email marketing companies?!
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