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