WordPress is widely considered to be the world’s most popular content management platform. An estimated 34% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress – a staggering number. But when so many sites are relying on the same platform, how can you tweak and personalize your approach to maximize WordPress’ utilities and separate your site from those of your competitors?
Increasingly, the answer is plugins. Integrating WordPress with the right assortment of plugins can revolutionize the way your eCommerce site functions. Whether you’re hoping to attract more visitors to your site, reduce the bounce rate or improve your site’s speed, these plugins can give you a crucial edge.
In this post we’ll break down the key plugins you need to help you drive more traffic and leads.
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Yoast SEO – an SEO checklist for every piece of content on your site
Yoast is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. Made by a team of SEO experts hailing from Holland – who also curate this wildly influential blog – Yoast provides an easy-to-use SEO checklist for every page of content on your site. Based on a traffic light system, it identifies any flaws in your content – with red representing the worst mistakes and amber representing the less urgent ones.
Through using Yoast, even the uninitiated can get a handle of the fundamentals of SEO without having to immerse themselves in the extensive literature of the SEO world. For those who already know what they’re doing, it simply provides assurance that they’ve optimized the page correctly.
Having that guidance on the page itself makes SEOs lives much easier. With so many different facets of on-page optimization to consider, it’s nice to have them all detailed at the bottom of the page. If you have a momentary lapse and forget to include the keyword in the alt tag on an image, Yoast is there to remind you. Best of all, it does all this for free – making it an essential plugin for any WordPress user.
It doesn’t only help your content rank higher in SERPs, it also gauges the readability of your copy and assigns it a score. From there, it will detail a number of suggestions to improve how accessible and easy-to-understand your writing is.
Other worthy mentions
Rank Math is another one-stop-shop for all your on-page SEO needs. It helps you to easily optimize every type of content you have on your website. It also has a very nice feature that allows you to integrate with Google Search Console. By doing this you get to see key information directly within WordPress which is very handy.
It can also let you manage all important SEO factors such as XML sitemaps, Rich Snippets, noindex meta tags, and many more. RankMath will also give your posts a score after you enter the relevant target keyword and provide tips on how to better optimize it. From suggested to add images with alt-text, to including target keywords in meta data. It basically helps you keep track of small things you may forget when starting a blog.
All-in-one SEO pack
As the name implies this is a plugin that can handle all your SEO needs. It’s pretty popular with WordPress users boasting over two million active installations. The UX of this plugins dashboard is amazing and allows you to quickly get to important technical SEO issues.
If you want a quick and easy way to edit XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt files this will be perfect. It’s great for beginners and advanced SEOs alike.
WP rocket – a caching tool that’ll supercharge the speed of your site
All of these files take up space, resulting in longer load times. Attention spans are dwindling and the vast majority of visitors are going to close your site before it even has the chance to load. Sparse, uncluttered sites load faster than their busier contemporaries. Sometimes, keeping it simple is best.
However, if you don’t want to sacrifice the functionality of your site for speed, WP rocket may well be able to lend a helping hand. Installed and configured in a few minutes, it caches your site’s pages, providing an immediate speed boost.
It has been installed on well over a million sites, making it the caching tool of choice for the in-the-know website administrator. And for good reason too, site speed is one of the most crucial ranking factors for websites.
In 2018, Google even announced an update to its search algorithm that penalized sites for slow load times on mobile, underscoring the desperate importance of tools like WP rocket.
Other worthy mentions
NitroPack is a fairly new plugin but has caused quite a storm with the results it has been getting for WordPress websites.
This plugin aims to do everything, so rather than having several plugins and having to manually decide what to optimize, NitroPack does this all for you. You can even chose how aggressive you want your optimizations to be.
After that NitroPack will then begin to automatically optimize your website. From implementing a global CDN, to different caching types and compression, it really takes care of everything.
Akismet – take back control of your site from spammers
Unfortunately, part and parcel of life on the internet is a barrage of spam comments. Twitter trolls polluting timelines with ugly torrents of abuse and disreputable scammers purporting to be bank managers seep into email inboxes with alarming regularity.
Running a website certainly doesn’t make you exempt from the problem of spam. You can expect a barrage of spam comments (some even deceivingly genuine-sounding) on almost every single page of your website. Often, the sheer number of comments makes policing it a near impossibility.
Fortunately, Akismet – a free-to-use WordPress plugin – can oversee this process on your behalf. It’s reliable and effective, which makes it no surprise that it’s the most downloaded plugin of all time. You can give Akismet free rein to eradicate spam as it sees fit or it can filter them into a separate area where you can review each under-suspicion comment yourself.
If you want to really shore up your website and guarantee a spam-free user experience for every visitor to your site, it might even be worth paying for the premium version of Akismet. It provides an airtight level of security.
Updraft plus – backups in the event of a disaster
Cybersecurity should be at the forefront of every website owners’ mind in 2021. We are only four years away from the WannaCry attack that crippled the NHS. Could you imagine the debilitating effect such an attack would have now? Fears aren’t going away any time soon.
Attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and hard-to-deal with – some are even state-sponsored. Phishing scams, self-proliferating ransomware, and denial-of-service attacks are just three of many threats today’s computer users have to contend with. Without competent security, malware can multiply with startling speed and efficiency.
In the event that your site does fall prey to unwanted visitors, having backups of your site to hand is essential. Updraft plus allows you to create backups of every page, your database, and files for free and send it to wherever you want. It turns months of downtime into a matter of minutes. Rather than painstakingly recreating the site from scratch, you can be up-and-running in no time at all.
Gravity Forms – making creating complicated contact forms easy
Attracting visitors to your site is meaningless if they don’t morph into leads and conversions. A well-designed site crafted with care is sure to help you maximize the potential of your business. SEO-optimized copy, an easy-to-navigate layout, and enticing call-to-action are all hallmarks of a successful web page. If you need help with your CTAs, have a look at Gravity Forms.
Ordinarily, without the requisite technical know-how, generating a contact form that captures data at the rate you need it to in order to be successful can be a real headache. Gravity Forms simplifies this process. A massive part of its appeal is how user-friendly and intuitive it is to use. Even if you want to create a complex, sprawling contact form with countless variables, it can be really straightforward.
Another reason for its popularity is its flexibility. Those versed in the world of click-rate optimization will really value this aspect of Gravity Forms. You can configure your contact forms to appear when you want, where you want.
For example, visitors to your site can be prompted to fill out the form as and when you please. And you can even decide whether or not to include a progress bar, letting customers know exactly how far through the process they are.
This configurability really does lend itself to A/B testing. By experimenting and tinkering with the range of choices you have with this plugin, you can determine what works best for the market segment you’re trying to capture.
Once you’ve collected a list of contacts, you might want to look into these email marketing plugins.
Live Chat & Chatbots
Having a live chat function is vital. Customers are always looking for quick resolutions to their problems without having to wait for a 24 hour SLA for a response from customer services. Live chat and chatbots give you the option to instantly be available and answer any questions they may have. The good news is that there are plenty of WordPress chatbot plugins available.
Over 300,000 websites use Tideo to provide live chat support to their website visitors, and that number is only set to increase. Tidio describe themselves as “Live Chat Boosted with Bots” so you do also have the option to add some automation to this live chat option if you wish to.
Tideo has a lot of options when it comes to website integrations so whatever platform you’re on it should be easy to set up and get going quickly. Combine that with a free starter account you’re good to go! You can start with this free plan and upgrade whenever you need to.
Even within the free version you can set up rules around when the chat box will pop up, for example if there was a certain page or time spent on site. You can even use the live chat to build your email list.
It’s all easily set up in their user-friendly interface as well so it’s a great option if you’re just starting with a live chat or chat bot function.
Other worthy mentions
Chatra is similar to Tideo but it’s not as widely used. There’s a free forever plan that you can sign up to, and you’ll also get a free paid plan trial for 10 days. So you’re good to test it out if you wish.
Chatra also has a really easy to use interface so again if you’re new to live chat it should be fairly straightforward to set things up.
With the addition of a select number of plugins, WordPress can be sharpened into an elite online tool built to realize your goals.
Whether your website is merely the online arm of your brand or if it’s something more complex than that – may be a more elaborate eCommerce site filled with product listings or a personal blog intended to show off your writing skills – you can configure WordPress and its range of plugins to make each visit to your site successful.
If you have an area of concern on your site, chances are you can find a solution in WordPress’ extensive library of plugins. Many of the best ones are free.