You have launched your small business site using WordPress and picked a theme that will do a good job at representing your company. But what’s next? Will you just stick with the basic functions WordPress has to offer, or try to expand the possibilities when it comes to your site’s feature set? If you are serious about the success of your business online, you’ll have to go with the second option.
Plugins will provide you with plenty of additional functions, but it’s important to choose the right ones. You don’t want to overload your site with plugins, even if they all sound great. Too many plugins can cause issues during WordPress updates, as some of them might get broken in the process. It’s a lot easier to fix and update a few essential plugins, than have to go through a long list and figure out which ones are slowing your site down by no longer working properly.
First you will want to check whether the features you are looking for are already present in core WordPress. Browse menu areas such as Appearance and Settings to figure this out. WordPress adds new features to improve user experience with every new release, so chances are good that you’ll find what you are looking for. If not, then plugins are the way to go. Here are 10 essential free plugins every small business site should consider.
W3 Total Cache
There’s a reason why some of the most prominent sites use W3 Total Cache. It will significantly boost the speed of your site, which is an important factor for search engines and human visitors alike. Plus it saves on the value commodity most take for granted, bandwidth.
Better WP Security
Your never want to risk your site’s security by not taking appropriate measures of protecting it from hackers. This is especially relevant when it comes to your small business site, which could contain a lot of sensitive information, such as financial transactions, private customer data and more. To avoid any breaches, install a security plugin early on. Better WP Security is a good choice, being one of the most popular and highest rated security plugins among WordPress users. It will scan your site for vulnerabilities, detect and block attacks, regularly back up your database and help you recover your information if anything does happen.
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
It’s a good idea to also start blocking any comment spam early on, and you should consider the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin for that. GASP adds a checkbox to comment forms, which can be clicked by real users, but which automated spambots can’t get around. It’s a much simpler anti-spam tool than CAPTCHA. Many people have problems with reading CAPTCHA. This leads to a lot of frustration on behalf of readers, who might leave your comment form after filling it out half-way for this reason. GASP also lets you sort through your own spam, unlike its popular competitor Akismet, which holds your spam comments hostage and won’t let you read the majority of them, deeming them “too dangerous” for you to even see. While this may be the case with some extreme cases of spam, site visitors often complain of their legit comments never being published because of Akismet. This can lead to lost comments and readers, which is a problem you can avoid with GASP.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Search engine optimization should be part of any successful small business site’s strategy. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a user-friendly plugin that will help your site quickly climb up in search engine listings. It’s regularly updated and new features are often added, which is an important aspect for any good plugin. As you are optimizing each new article on your site, the plugin will give you green, yellow or red light depending on how search engine friendly that article is. You want to try to hit the green light with most of your posts to be really successful in your SEO. Another popular plugin for this is All in One SEO Pack. You can try them one at a time and see which SEO tool works best for your site.
Jetpack provides a variety of features that are already present in hosted WordPress blogs, but aren’t otherwise available to self-hosted WordPress users. It includes a Follow button for your site, social media and Like buttons, contact forms and visitor stats, among many other useful features.
WooCommerce is a must if you are planning to sell products via your small business website. The plugin will let you customize your online store, keep track of your sales and product reviews, accept various payment methods, offer coupons and much more.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
YARPP will let you display posts and pages that are relevant to what the visitor is currently looking at. It’s an easy way to introduce your readers to other content on your site, as well as to showcase content from your other sites or even display sponsored content.
Providing a live chat option is part of excellent customer service, which is why you should consider adding a plugin like ClickDesk to your site. Besides the live chat feature, it also lets you add things like voice chat, help desk and social toolbar. The live chat is fully customizable to match the design of your site, is mobile compatible and supports multiple languages.
If you are planning to run ads on your small business site, AdRotate is a good plugin to have. While it does have a more advanced Pro version, the basic features are free. You can display ads in different areas of the website, adjust their sizes and rotate them. The plugin also shows daily and monthly stats for your ads and has great geo targeting options for when you want to display different ads to users from different parts of the world.
The comment form that WordPress provides is pretty basic, so you might want to add a plugin to give your users more options when it comes to leaving comments on your articles. CommentLuv is a good choice, as it gives readers an incentive for commenting and allows them to promote their own posts in your comments. This, in turn, makes them a lot more likely to come back to your small business site and comment again. You can also use Jetpack’s comment feature, which will let you enable comments via social media sites, or go with another popular option, such as Disqus, Comments Evolved or Intense Debate.
Sources for this article include: