8 Best WordPress Plugins For Your Small Business Website

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Matt MansfieldWhenever I build a WordPress website for my small business clients, I always include my personal list of the eight best WordPress plugins as part of the package.

That’s because an “out-of-the-box” WordPress site is missing some key pieces of functionality; pieces that need to be there for your small business website to succeed.

That’s where plugins come in handy. You see, WordPress plugins add functionality to your website, extending the already great features that WordPress provides. Plugins can be used to:

  • Create an online store;
  • Manage your site’s search engine optimization (SEO);
  • Add a newsletter sign-up form; and
  • Much, much more (as I write this, there are 22,129 plugins available on the wordpress.org site!).

While it’s easy to get excited about all the possibilities (well, at least for me), you should cover the basics by first focusing on the eight top WordPress plugins that I’ve listed below (if you’re not building the site yourself, make sure to discuss this list with your developer).

Installing these plugins will fill-in the majority of gaps present in an “out-of-the-box” WordPress site and will assure that your small business website is ready to take on its job as your home online.

8 Best WordPress plugins for your small business website

Akismet (SPAM Protection)  One of the most frustrating aspects of a WordPress site is all the SPAM comments you will receive.

Yes, SPAM comments – comments that are meaningless and exist only as a way for spammers to create a link on your site that leads to their site, a tactic designed to increase their search engine rankings.

While the Akismet plugin is installed as part of an “out-of-the-box” WordPress site, you still need to head over to their site to sign up and pay. The cost is $5.00 per month, more than worth it for the timesaving protection and peace-of-mind that the plugin provides.

Gravity Forms (Contact Form)  Believe it or not, WordPress does not come equipped with a way to create a contact form “out-of-the-box”.

My favorite solution for adding a contact form is the premium (i.e. you need to buy it) Gravity Forms plugin, a very functional and easy-to-use web form builder. It includes most if not all the types of fields you will need and also handles confirmation (to the user) and notification (to you) e-mails very well.

The 2nd best (and free!) form builder plugin is Easy Contact Forms.

BackupBuddy (Website Backup)  Another unfortunate oversight in the WordPress “out-of-the-box” installation is a method to create a backup of your website to use in case something unfortunate happens.

The BackupBuddy plugin provides an easy-to-use process for backing-up your WordPress site, but it does cost money to buy and keep your license up-to-date. The 2nd best (and free!) backup plugin is XCloner. It’s a bit harder to set up, but not by much.

Good Old Gallery (Image Galleries)  If a picture says a thousand words, then a picture gallery says so much more.

The Good Old Gallery plugin adds a button to your WordPress interface that enables you to easily create a stunning image gallery.

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded (Comments Subscription)  The Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin allows your visitors to both subscribe to comments (i.e. they will receive an e-mail every time a comment is added to that page) and to unsubscribe from comments (because sometimes the amount of notification e-mails gets pretty high which can be annoying).

This feature keeps conversations going and is a great way to bring folks back again and again to your site.

Google Analytics for WordPress (Data Capture and Reporting)  As with all marketing tools, you need to closely monitor the effectiveness of your website. The free tool, “Google Analytics”, is a great way for doing so.

The Google Analytics for WordPress plugin is an easy-to-install and easy-to-configure plugin that integrates Google Analytics with your WordPress site.

Google XML Sitemaps (Search Engine Optimization)  A sitemap enables search engines to easily add the pages that make up your website to their database (a.k.a indexing). The straightforward Google XML Sitemaps plugin creates a sitemap for you and, when you update or add any site content, it notifies not only Google but also a whole bunch of other search engines to come on by and re-index your site.

Redirection (Web Page Redirection)  The Redirection plugin enables you to set-up and manage the redirection of a site page.

This is handy when you change or remove a page that past visitors many have bookmarked. Instead of getting a “Page Not Found”, you can redirect those visitors to a similar page on your site.

matt mansfieldAbout the author:  Matt Mansfield is a recognized expert in online business and the President of Matt About Business where he helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies figure out what their business SHOULD be doing online.

Day 27: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013This article is from the SmallBizLady special blog series: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013. #Boost2013

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve discovered that if you don’t want to pay $5/month for the Bayesian logic of Akismet, a good alternative is the Growmap Anti Spambot plugin. It adds a checkbox that says “check if you’re a human” or whatever you want it to say. I’ve seen a *dramatic* decrease in spam comments just from that simple little trick.

    If you want to see it in action, look at a blog post from Marcus Sheridan’s The Sales Lion blog, http://www.thesaleslion.com. The “check if you think lions are cool” checkbox is from that plugin.

    It’s effective, and it’s free. That’s a combination which is hard to beat.

  2. says

    I’ve stayed with Akismet rather than use the GASP plugin. It’s too easy for people to miss the check-box, and I’ve found that when I miss it, my comment sometimes disappears.

  3. says

    Great list!These are some great template tips. I personally like Contact Form 7 for WordPress site forms. and a great little anti-spam plugin for it (GASP does not work with it) is Honeypot. Best thing about Honeypot is that your users don’t have to type in anything…because the Honeypot scheme is to trick bots into filling in an invisible field that only bots can see, ’cause bots love to fill in all available fields. If the field is populated, it’s spam! I also think Yoast SEO is key because it helps remind small business folks what aspects of the pages and posts are important to prepare with keywords. Plus, Yoast takes care of the XML sitemap for you. I definitely will be trying the gallery plug-in! Feel free to check out http://www.basictemplatetips.com for more WordPress tips.

    • says

      I am pretty careful with my post tagging which I believe helps readers find their way to my content more easily and assists in boosting SEO.

      However, if you are autoblogging, this make sense, but I feel that autoblogs might not last through the onslaught of Google algorithm changes…

      -Matt

  4. says

    Hey Matt great list of plugins. I want to add Yoast in the list as it is a superb plugin for SEO purpose. It is so good that many times, I added a new post and it can be found in google within minutes. I have seen my posts with the time tag of 2 minutes ago- in the results. I am not even adjusting the post options. There are a few tricks but beyond that it is easy to set up. Highly recommended plugin

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I definitely need to give Yoast another spin – it’s been a while.

      I will say however that I see results similar to the ones you’ve mentioned using the “Google XML sitemaps” plugin.

      -Matt

  5. Timmothy Rodriguez says

    Great list, I use most of these on my blogs. Just a shame Skreedl was not on this review, you should definitely review that plugin next as it offers one touch backup and restore.

      • Timmothy Rodriguez says

        First of all it’s a lot cheaper and doesn’t charge recurring payments like BackupBuddy. It literally takes me 10 seconds to entitely back up a 100+mb WordPress install whenever I’d like (without straining the servers memory one bit). All in all, it’s a solid, reliable WordPress backup plugin at a great price. Full descriptions are on their website.

        Thanks Matt!

        - Timmothy

  6. says

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  7. says

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  8. says

    Hi Matt,

    You have compiled an awesome list of plugins – great job and thank you!
    I have tried many of these myself, and I really like Gravity Forms as my all-time personal fave. Another quality plugin on your list that I have always enjoyed using is Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost de Valk. Thanks again Matt.
    Regards,
    Damian

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