7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    By Jessie-Lee Nichols | Small Business

    These days, WordPress is one of the most popular platforms that companies are choosing to use to build their websites. There are lots of reasons – user friendliness, low cost, and thousands of themes (templates) to choose from are some of the better ones. But the most popular feature WordPress offers is its plugin architecture. Plugins are pieces of code created with the purpose of expanding the functionality of the content management system (CMS) beyond the core installation. Think of them like the apps that you download for your smartphone. With over 28,000 options, it is easy to understand why plugins are the “go-to” for website customization. Plugins help tailor a site to a user’s specific needs with just a few clicks, and they are a large part of why we build on WordPress.

    With all of those options, how do you know what to choose? There isn’t a definitive answer to that question – you really need to base the answer on what your site is trying to accomplish. But, there are some core plugins that every website should be utilizing regardless of its audience. Here are our picks for the seven best.

    7 WordPress Plugins You Should be Using

    1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 3.57.51 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    Ahh, SEO. It’s the name of the game isn’t it? WordPress is great for SEO out of the box, but everything benefits from a little extra TLC. WordPress SEO by Yoast has a simple strategy – it helps you write better content. How? By forcing you to choose a focus keyword, and making you implement it.

    With this plugin, you have the ability to preview how your content will appear in Google search results, so you can tailor it to achieve the best click through rates. It will check your page for images and if they include an alt tag that contains your focus keyword, if your posts are long enough and even if you have used subheadings. WordPress SEO by Yoast is your built in checklist for achieving SEO success.

    We have implemented this plugin on every single WordPress website we have ever delivered and have yet to be disappointed. With additional features including RSS optimization, XML sitemaps, social integration and built in breadcrumb navigation generators, you would be at a disadvantage if you didn’t install it!

    2. Better WP Security

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 3.59.11 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    Generally speaking, great hosting is your first and most important buffer in terms of security, but Better WP Security comes in at a close second. WordPress is a target for hackers, plain and simple. The closer you get to the top, the more people want to bring you down. Let’s face it, the internet can be a scary place. Hackers are out there and while we can’t stop them, we can protect our virtual property as best as possible.

    Better WP Security has a myriad of settings for safeguarding your website. Initially it will protect you against their known blacklist. It then allows you to set up options for specific instances where you are most vulnerable. You can change the ID of users, lock out logins during sleeping hours, block IP addresses that land on too many 404 pages and limit login attempts. Most importantly, it has a built in backup system. You can choose to email a daily site backup to administrators, or save them to your server. It is quite possibly one of the most essential plugins you can ever download.

    3. Akismet

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 3.59.57 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    Akismet is so incredibly important to WordPress that it comes pre-loaded out of the box. If you have never managed a site on WordPress without Akismet, don’t. You will regret it. Spam. It is such a dirty word, and rightfully so. Monitoring site comments without a moderator is exhausting. You will be deleting more knock-off Louis Vuitton handbag comments than you can count.

    Akismet works behind the scenes on autopilot. It identifies spambots, spammers, comment factories, buffer sites and social engineering tricks, so you don’t have to. It will remove comments it believes to be spam, and catalog them for you without ever having to see them. For such simple set up, and little cost (unless you are a personal blogger), it is a must-have solution.

    4. HubSpot

    Of course! What is a Quintain blog post without a nod to HubSpot? Although HubSpot is designed as a CMS (just like WordPress), the company has built a wonderful plugin that seamlessly integrates it’s services with WordPress. You can track your page and blog post analytics through HubSpot right in your WordPress dashboard. Users also have access to their HubSpot dashboard through WordPress and have the ability to publish new blogs to social media accounts through the HubSpot platform right inside of WordPress.

    If you aren’t a HubSpot customer, this plugin is still incredibly useful. The Call to Action manager is arguably the best feature of this plugin. Add your calls to action through the plugin, then add the customized widget to your sidebar. You can choose which calls to action populate and upon page refresh, your calls to action will change. It is a great tool for maximum exposure of your content.

    5. Visual Form Builder

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 4.01.31 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    This is one of my favorite plugins. I am very aware of the advantages and the industry favoritism with Contact Form 7, but it’s just not simple. Visual Form Builder allows users to build forms with the exact same drag and drop functions as the widget and menu areas of WordPress. Form construction simply does not get easier!

    To top it off, Visual Form Builder adds a button next to the Media Library on the page and post editor. Build your form in the plugin and then add any form to any page with the on page prompt, it will add the shortcode into your text for you.

    It is important to note that Visual Form Builder has an extensive array of options with their Premium paid option. Users can connect to PayPal and other more sophisticated solutions.

    6. Image Widget

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 4.02.12 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    We always design WordPress websites with the client in mind. At some point, the client is going to take over their website and they are going to need to know how to make changes. Some of these changes are easier than others. Editing copy is a no brainer, but editing sidebars? That one is a bit trickier. With as many customizations as WordPress has out of the box, they have failed to add in an image widget to accompany their text widget. Image Widget eliminates the need to code in images with links via the text widget. A user can simply add the Image Widget to the proper placement in the sidebar and select an image from the media library, add a link, choose alignment and even control sizing. Snazzy!

    7. Fancier Author Box

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 4.03.17 PM resized 6007 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    Author boxes are nothing new, in fact I am sure you have seen them on most blogs you visit. Fancier Author Box allows users to set up a photo, social networks, recent blog posts and a customized display without the headache of coding in customizations or adding in bulky tables. It is plug and play. Plus, as long as you assign the proper author to each post, it will automatically populate on relevant posts.

    If there is only one reason to install this plugin, it has to be Google Authorship. If you have ever been through the process of setting up and verifying Google Authorship, you know it is more complicated than setting up the rest of the website. Fancier Author Box provides a straightforward aid to setting up this piece of SEO gold. Simply add in the link to your Google+ profile, and you are done! No header code necessary.

    Fancier Author Box also has a premium paid version that provides the user with more controlled options. We have had experience with both and we are confident you will find ease of use with either the free or paid versions.

    Do you have a favorite plugin that didn’t make our list? I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest plugins. Feel free to share in the comments or tweet me directly @jhyphenl.

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image cd9bcb82 42e2 4868 91f8 3d46c211eb4a7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    7 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using image 322fc259 a20a 4470 b3e4 123b4d5a155a67 WordPress Plugins Everyone Should Be Using

    More Business articles from Business 2 Community:

    Subscribe to our mailing list
    * indicates required
    Small Business Services