Youâ€™re a savvy marketer/businessowner, right? So you know that it’s not enough to just have a website, upload content and an odd blog, and sit back hoping your target market find you online â€“ right? As a business, you need to take proactive steps in order to ensure that you are visible to search engines, that you are optimizing content that is contextual, and that you are doing all you can to ensure your website ranks well so it appears high up on the SERP (search engine results page).
But here is the thing, with the ever evolving algorithm updates that Google, Bing and others undertake, not only do you need to ensure you have a good search engine optimisation strategy in place but that you are considering options for the back end of your site that will help boost site performance â€“ specifically essential plugins designed to improve site metrics.
Whilst we will help clients with a number of different CMS platforms (from WordPress to Kentico, to Shopify etc) in this article, we wanted to focus on improving WordPress sites with plugins.
First things first… why do we need plugins?
Plugins are tools that expand what you can do with your WordPress website without having to manually write or edit codes. These website tools make it easier to add more functionalities to your website.
But best of all, not only do plugins improve your codebase, but they can be used to effectively ensure that two different components or even platforms can work together where they may otherwise have operated individually.
Here are some of the most commonly used yet highly valuable Website plugins that you can take advantage of.
SEO plugins you should consider for your WordPress site
This is the most popular SEO plugin on WordPress. With an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars, it is deemed as the favourite optimisation tool that those with little to no knowledge of SEO can use.
Yoast SEO has XML sitemaps functionality and technical WordPress SEO options. It will tell you how to best incorporate your target keyword, whether you have used the keyword enough times on the page. Further, it makes the process of optimising your title, meta description, and URL for the keyword relatively simple.
It comes with a page analysis feature, allowing it to quickly scan any web page for images, ensuring that each one has an alt tag that matches the primary keyword for the post. It checks your content for length and confirms if your meta description is satisfactory.Â If you are not using Yoast, or something very similar, you should be.
All In One SEO Pack
The All In One SEO pack has a lot of the same functionalities as Yoast SEO, however, it’s just a little more customisable and has a few extra features.
With this website plugin, you don’t need any experience to get started. All you need to do is input the right data in the right fields, and the plugin will do the rest. In fact, some inputs are designed to limit your interaction, as you can stick to the defaults or you can change the format, whichever you prefer.
Additional features include automatically generating and submitting sitemaps to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other popular search engines that can help maximise your web presence.
Overall, this must-have WordPress plugin will let you control your site however you want.
W3 Total Cache
Site speed is a big ranking factor for search engines and that is where W3 Total Cache plugin comes into the picture.Â Although it is often called site speed, it should be referred to as Page speed as it is a measure of how quickly key pages of your site load. As Moz reports, page speed affects User experience and thus, is one of the signals used by the Google algorithm to rank pages.
This must-have WordPress plugin can Â help identify where and how to improve your site’s speed as well as the overall user experience through caching, minifying, and CDN integrations so that you can minimise your download times.
Rank Math is perhaps the most powerful WordPress SEO plugin. How so? Well, it is a combination of being feature-packed and user-friendly.
It has Google Search Console Integration, redirection (301, 302, 307, 410, 451), card previews for Facebook and Twitter, and Rich Snippets Markup, which displays additional valuable information alongside the title, description and URL.
Also, it has 404 error monitor that can let you eliminate the issues by redirecting or reinstating a dead page and removing internal links to the 404. Rank Math even tells you the referrer so you can see where the link was clicked.
But the best part is that this WP plugin helps you optimise your site by providing real-time insights about your posts without having to leave the WordPress interface.
Optimisation and Insight Plugins for WordPress
Jumping back and forth between your website and Google Analytics can take up a lot of time. If you are finding this is the case, then MonsterInsights will be of great help.Â MonsterInsights brings Google Analytics right to your WordPress dashboard which provides insights on how to improve your site.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to see exactly how people find and use your website. It has a content report that shows which pages on your site are visited the most, Â allowing you to make decisions on how to create more content that is interesting, engaging, and which drives end goals; all without leaving your site.
If you want a simplified and streamlined way to look at your stats, then MonsterInsights is the right website plugin for you.
Broken Link Checker
When you create more and more content, it can be difficult to manage your site. So, this where Broken Link Checker comes to the rescue.
By its name, this WP plugin helps check your content for broken links and images, both internal and external. Broken Link Checker keeps a watchful eye on your website by notifying you of any broken links.
Once you’re notified of any problems, you can easily fix the issue as it provides you a list of suggested replacements built from working links. Plus, it runs in the background all the time, so it continuously checks for issues.
As your site expands, as pages go offline or are replaced, you don’t want your site to be littered with broken links. Broken Link Checker allows you to focus on your work, not worrying about broken links that may affect the UX or search crawlers.
WPtouch Mobile Plugin
In today’s day and age, your website should be mobile-friendly, right? So, let WPtouch Mobile Plugin help you out. From logging in to social media sites to browsing services and products, it is important that your website can easily be viewed with just a touch of the fingertips.
WPtouch Mobile plugin “automatically adds a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors to your WordPress website.” This ensures that any mobile visitor of your website can review your content in a seamless manner.
Once the plugin is installed, you can use the administration panel to customise the mobile appearance of your content or select a default option which takes the decision making away.
If you don’t have the time, money, or resources to hire a developer to make your website mobile-friendly, then WPtouch Mobile Plugin might be the plugin you need.
Security Plugins for WordPress
All In One WP Security & Firewall
A super fast, well indexed website is great, but not if it comes at the expense of site security. Sure, WordPress is designed to be secure, but there are a lot of risks and â€˜nasty peopleâ€™ out there, so doing a little bit more to protect your website (and customer data) from these risks is essential. This is where All In One WP Security & Firewall is a godsend.
One of the best features is it provides a security points score based on your current set up, but beyond this there are many security features this website plugin offers such as password strength tool, stop user enumeration, and most importantly, the ability to detect any accounts with identical display names or logins, which poses a high risk from hackers trying to access your website.
This tool exists to protect your site. And we highly recommend you implement this or a similar tool. Not only does it protect your data, but evidence shows when a website is hacked your search performance may be negatively affected.
Similar to All In One WP Security & Firewall, Wordfence offers great security for your website. This is probably one of the most popular WordPress security plugins and for good reason.
Wordfence provides powerful protection tools such as strong login security features and security incident recovery. One of its best features is you can gain insight into overall traffic trends and hack attempts.
From firewall blocks to protection from powerful attacks, Wordfence is an impressive free solution. Whilst there is a paid version which may be an option for larger sites and organisations, the free version is powerful enough for smaller websites.
In a nutshell, Wordfence checks online core files, bad URLs, SEO spam, malicious redirects, code injections, themes and plugins for malware, and backdoor access code. Plus, it has the added benefit of checking your website for known security vulnerabilities.
WPForms is the most beginner-friendly WordPress contact form plugin out there; but best of all it is both easy and powerful.
WPForms has drag & drop online form builder which makes it easy to use. You can easily create an amazing form in only a few minutes without using or writing any code. Plus with pre-built form templates which you can choose from you can save even more time.
The platform allows you to develop forms which allow you to not only design contact forms, but forms that you can use to collect payments, donations, or process online orders, survey & polls add-on all without hiring a developer. And for those of you who need to facilitate subscriptions, WPForms can integrate with your preferred email marketing platform.
Another thing is WPForms has survey & polls add-on which we have found to be one of the best WordPress survey solutions. Use it for things such as interactive survey reports, real-time polls, and survey fields like star rating, likert scale, NPS, and more.
But, it doesnâ€™t stop there: WPForms also offers you the ability to build forms with smart conditional logic, file upload, geo location, form abandonment, and user registration for WordPress. You can see all your form submission right inside your WordPress dashboard and get customised email notifications.
If this is not one of the best tools out there, weâ€™d be highly surprised.
UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress backup plugins. With over a million active installs, it is regarded as the most popular backup solution for WordPress.
One of the main benefits of UpdraftPlus is that is allows you to perform full, manual, or scheduled backups without a fuss. This lets you backup your entire website including your database and all WordPress files. Additionally, you can schedule a backup to run automatically, giving you peace of mind that at all times, you have a copy of your important data.
With the ability to backup to a remote location, this is highly recommended to help you secure your information from server-wide risks. It supports multiple cloud storage options such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon S3.
UpdraftPlus has an Importer add-on that helps you restore your website from any other backup plugins as well. Â This website plugin makes it easy to set up and restore a backup for new users and it supports more cloud backup options than most other plugins.
ShortPixel Image Optimiser
ShortPixel is an easy-to-use, lightweight, and install-and-forget-about-it image optimisation plugin. This WP plugin can compress all your previous images and PDF documents with a single click while new images are automatically rescaled and optimised in the background.
The best part is that it increases your website’s SEO ranking by optimising any image or PDF document on your website. It has both lossy and lossless optimisation available.
It offers glossy JPEG compression which is a very high-quality lossy optimisation algorithm. Optimised images means better user experience and better UX means better site engagement.
As it supports almost all image formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, WedP), with no file size restrictions, it is a powerful and easy to use tool. Plus, it has the option to automatically convert PNG to JPG or GIF that will result in smaller images, with little to no impact for most sites (If you are a photographer wishing to show off your image quality, then maybe this is not for you).
If your website has been found to be too slow because of a number of uncompressed images, then ShortPixel is the tool that will help you.
This list may seem quite comprehensive, but truth is, we are really only scratching the surface. We will do another blog in the next little while focused on plugins which can aid business performance. This was more a look at plugins designed to improve site performance and to simplify your CMS life. For any advice, help in updating your CMS or existing plugins, tidying up your WP environment, or anything else, get in touch with us and letâ€™s have a chat.