While it’s no great secret that WordPress grown become the best blogging platform on the planet, some are still surprised to learn that it’s also a terrific solution for a regular website with its stellar CMS (Content Management System).
Out of the box, WordPress works pretty well to build a website. In fact, in most cases I avoid using ANY extra plugins if they aren’t absolutely necessary. With that being said, here's 13 WordPress plugins that can really take your web presence to new levels.
1. All In One SEO
This is a great plugin that does a good job at optimizing your WordPress site for search engines. Some highlight features include automatic generation of meta tags, automatic optimization of titles for search engines and preventing indexing of duplicate content. In addition, you have access to all of your SEO properties (descriptions, keywords, title tags, etc) directly in the WordPress page editor. There are similar plugins out there but don’t waste your time… This one’s the winner.
2. Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin has a very specific purpose. It dynamically takes your entire site and converts it into a special XML file optimized for search engines (specifically Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com) so that they can re-index your site in a fraction of the time. In addition, it notifies these search engines whenever new content is added to your site.
3. Google Analyticator
This plugin is simply the easiest way to integrate Google Analytics with your entire WordPress site. It also makes it much easier to add the tracking snippet and provides a nice traffic overview to your WordPress dashboard when you login.
This is our first paid plugin to make the list, but it’s absolutely worth it. Though WordPress can be backed up manually - it can take a while. And even then there’s no automated way to restore it all. Enter BackupBuddy, which backs up EVERYTHING (content, themes, widgets, users, plugins, etc) with the click of a button. You can also schedule backups and have them automatically saved to your server or even emailed to you. But the BEST part of BackupBuddy is that it also comes with an automated way to restore your backups, which NONE of the free plugins can do. If you’re looking for a free solution WP-DB-Backup is decent but again only backs up your database and doesn’t provide a way to restore your site.
5. Gravity Forms
This is another paid plugin, but it really is the easiest way to create contact forms in WordPress (if not the easiest way to create forms period.) It has all sorts of features (like multi-page forms and conditional fields), but its real strength is its visual form editor. A decent free solution is Contact Form 7, but it’s not nearly as user friendly or robust as Gravity Forms.
This comes pre-installed with WordPress, but is absolutely essential if you plan on allowing commenting on your site. It monitors user submissions and has a way to automatically tell if it's spam or not (which is very accurate I might add). It’s free for personal users but the pricing for businesses is reasonable too.
Of all the social sharing tools, AddThis has risen to the top of the pack. Luckily for us, they’ve released their tool as a WordPress plugin, which makes it really easy to enable post and page level sharing on your website. It has several appearance settings, which I also find quite handy.
8. WP Super Cache
I remember hearing “yeah WordPress is great but not for an enterprise level site that gets millions of hits a day.” If this is a “problem” you’re encountering with your WordPress site, you should look at the WP Super Cache Plugin. It creates cached versions of your pages and posts, so they’ll load with minimal effect on your webserver’s processing.
The HubSpot for Wordpress enables you to easily capture leads on your WordPress site without sacrificing the value of your marketing automation platform.
This plugin enables lead capture between your WordPress site and Salesforce CRM. While you could always manually place Salesforce HTML forms throughout your site, this plugin makes it even easier.
Advanced Custom Fields
This one isn’t necessarily essential depending on what you’re doing with your site, but I have to give it a shout out since it’s brought me so much joy as a developer. In a nutshell, this lets you add custom content types to your site and allows you to add these new fields directly into your WordPress page editor using all of the standard WordPress editing tools. This plugin extends the WordPress CMS’ ability to work with highly custom sites and content types.
There are even better paid galleries out there and while it’s not always the most intuitive to use, this remains the best free WordPress gallery plugin based on flexibility and features. For most company’s needs this is a fine image gallery solution.
Now that you're WordPress is complete with all of the essential plugins, look through our guide to redesigning your website and make it a visual success as well!