If you’ve made the sensible business decision to use WordPress to build your business website, then it’s likely that you’re looking at the wide range of plugins available and wondering which would best suit your particular needs.
A plug-in is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing application. When we’re talking about WordPress, then WordPress is the existing application and the plug-ins are designed to add specific features in order to tailor the WordPress website to the owner’s requirements.
We’ve put together a list of the Top Forty WordPress plugins which are most likely to be useful for business website owners with a short description of each plug-in to give you a better idea of what it does. This means that, instead of trawling through all of the (860,000) plug-ins available trying to choose which would best suit you and your business, you can just check out our list which has narrowed it down to the ones that are likely to be the most useful for you. We’ve divided the list of plugins into different categories to make it a little easier for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- WordPress SEO – this is a free plugin designed to attract more visitors to your website. These types of plugins have everything you need to optimise your website (including its titles and descriptions for Google), with built-in content analysis functions, an XML site map generator and easy removal of bloat from your site’s code and the ability to tidy up permalinks. There is a premium version available that offers more functionality, including a redirect manager, integration with Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) and tutorial videos on how to use the plugin.
- All in One SEO – another SEO plug-in which will automatically optimise your WordPress website for search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. Please note that you should not use WordPress SEO and All in One SEO for the same website.
- SEO No Duplicate – This plug-in helps you to manage your search engine duplicate content by setting your pages’ canonical to the permalink, which will improve your site’s SEO.
- Google XML Sitemaps – this will generate an XML sitemap to help search engines to index your website more effectively. In addition, these plugins will notify all major search engines each time you add new content.
- Shareaholic – whether you want Share buttons, Related Content or Analytics, this plug-in will help you to get people sharing and grow your fan base. You can find out who’s looking at your website, how well your content is performing and highlight relevant content that may not be discovered from across your website.
- WP Social Sharing – this plug-in delivers attractive-looking and responsive social sharing buttons for all the major social networks including Facebook Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. The responsive share buttons will work across all devices for a fully integrated experience.
- Add Link to Facebook – automatically adds links on your Facebook Page or Timeline to any new content you add to your website.
- WP to Twitter – This plug-in automatically adds links to new content to your Twitter account.
- Social Tags – will enable your posts’ tags to be seen as hashtags and allow your readers to join the conversation on their social network of choice by using a dropdown menu.
- Social Login – this one will enable your visitors to register, login and comment via a wide range of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Paypal, Google, Yahoo and a host of others.
- BuddyPress – this plug-in enables you to build a social network on your WordPress website, complete with member profiles, user groups, messaging, activity streams and more. It’s easy to install and use and will allow your community of users to make connections, create and interact in groups and have private conversations.
- iThemes Security – this is a quick and easy way to secure and protect your WordPress website, reducing the risk of hacking. It works to fix common holes, stop automated attacks and strengthen user credentials with one-click activation for most of its features.
- BackWPup – your website will need to be backed up at least once a week and this plug-in means you can schedule complete automatic backups and decide which content will be stored (via Dropbox, S3, etc.) in a single backup zip file that you can easily use to restore an installation.
- UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration – this plug-in simplifies backups and restoration allowing backups of files and database on separate schedules.
- Email Encoder Bundle Protect Email Address – protect the email addresses on your website and hide them from spambots by using an encoding method. Mailto links, phone numbers and plain email addresses will automatically be protected.
- Emu2 Email Users 2 – send email (either manually or on a schedule) to single, multiple group or blog users. You can also extract all email addresses for external mass mailings.
- WP Hide Dashboard – a plug-in that removes the Dashboard menu, the Personal Options section and the Help link on the Profile page, hides the Dashboard links in the toolbar menu (if activated) and prevents Dashboard access to users assigned a Subscriber role.
- W3 Total Cache – this is a powerful performance optimisation plug-in that’s recommended by many of the popular web hosts (GoDaddy, Hostgator, Dreamhost, etc.). It increases server performance and reduces download times, providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.
- Disqus – the Disqus comment system will replace the WordPress comments system, automatically importing any existing comments for smooth installation. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive and makes comments indexable by search engines (SEO friendly) which increases your website’s visibility.
- CommentLuv – this plug-in is popular with bloggers because it will automatically place a link to their last blog post at the end of their comment. This encourages interaction from your online community and enables them to find related content online.
- Subscribe to Comments Reloaded – a robust plug-in that allows commenters to sign up for e-mail notifications of subsequent replies to their comments. It includes a full-featured subscription manager to enable commenters to unsubscribe to particular posts or suspend all notifications.
- Thank Me Later – this plug-in automatically sends a “thank you” email to commenters on your website – this will enhance visitor engagement by reminding them to check back for responses or new content. The plug-in is configurable with multiple messages, a variable delay function and restrictions for fully customised functionality.
IMAGE OPTIMISATION PLUGINS
- SEO Friendly Images – don’t forget that Google also has an image search engine. This plug-in automatically adds the correct alt and title attributes for all images resulting in an increase in traffic from search engines.
- EWWW Image Optimizer – this is reckoned to be the best image optimisation plug-in and it will automatically optimise images that you upload to your WordPress website. It will also optimise the images that have already been uploaded and works on both JPG and PNG images. The result is a faster page load speed delivering an enhanced user experience.
- SP Smush.it – this is very similar to EWWW Image Optimizer – it has more downloads but has attracted a slightly lower rating from users. The plug-in strips bulky information from your images, reducing the file sizes (without any loss of quality) and allowing your site to load faster.
- BJ Lazy Load – If you use more than three images on a post or page, this plug-in will save on bandwidth and reduce page load time. It works with both images and iframes.
OTHER USEFUL PLUGINS
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – this will display Google Analytics data and statistics into the Admin Dashboard providing a quick and easy way to check your website’s performance.
- .html on PAGES – when using WordPress it’s possible to add .html in the posts, but not on the pages. This plug-in was created in order to enable users to add .html on pages, especially useful for those who want to convert a static site to WordPress.
- Akismet – this plug-in is an advanced anti-spam service which processes and analyses date from millions of sites and communities in real time. Akismet for business costs from as little as $5 (roughly £3.50, depending on exchange rates) and includes priority customer support.
- Contact Form 7 – this allows you to add a simple but flexible contact form so that your prospective customers can get in touch with any questions they may need to ask. The plug-in enables you to custom set the field values so that the contact form reflects your business needs.
- Shortcodes Ultimate – this one provides you with more than 50 WordPress shortcodes which will help you to create a better website by creating tabs, buttons, boxes, sliders and responsive videos. The premium version has even more shortcodes.
- Broken Link Checker – this will find any broken links on your website (Google and other search engines penalise broken links) allowing you to either edit or remove the links. Added value comes in the form of notifications of broken links so that you can rectify them immediately and not risk losing traffic.
- Shockingly Simple Favicon – this allows you to put a favicon on your website without having to fiddle with the theme code.
- SSQuiz – add questions or quizzes to your website, rearrange the questions, edit the answers and insert multimedia into the questions easily without needing to be a tech genius.
- WP-SpamFree – this anti-spam plug-in will practically eliminate comment spam (including trackback and pingback spam) on your website without the need to use CAPTCHA or challenge questions (which tend to be annoying for visitors).
- WP-PageNavi – add a navigation bar to your website and replace the ←Older Posts/Newer Posts→ links with pagination of your choice for a more professional look.
- One-Click Child Theme – this one enables you to child theme any theme from the theme.
- Quick Cache – this advanced cache plug-in will speed up your website, delivering an enhanced user experience to your visitors.
- Redirection – a plug-in to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors and tidy up any loose ends on your website for an enhanced user experience. You can automatically add a 301 redirection when a URL changes and create redirections based upon a URL, browser, referring site or login status.