Here are my top six WordPress plugins for small business websites. Obviously one size does not fit all but I would recommend these plugins as a must have list for virtually any small business websites.
There’s no denying that WordPress is one of, if not the best content management system available, but even with all the performance that it offers, it still lacks some features and that’s where its plugins come in. There are plugins available to do almost anything for WordPress to adapt your website to suit your every need and to do virtually everything you could ask from it… well, apart from make the tea …
If you’re developing small business websites using WordPress, then you’re going to want to have the best of these plugins installed to make the most of the software.
Facebook Like Box
While the latest version of WordPress’ own Jetpack plug-in has plenty of features that will offer most of the tools you might need for social media integration, I have found this one, written by Vinoj Cardoza, to be one of the most useful.
Most Facebook plug-ins just offer a basic option to allow your site’s visitors to follow through to your Facebook page and follow you there, but not this one. As well as linking to your page so visitors can “like you”, you can customise the options to show small photos of various Facebook users to give the page a more personal touch. That in itself isn’t that significant, but its real strength lies in the fact that it allows you to run a live feed from your Facebook page to your site, so all your posts and comments can appear on your site to help you better engage with your customers.
W3 Total Cache
Even with the speeds offered by ISPs today, as sites become more complicated, loading times increase. Despite its power, WordPress can slow sites down because of the way the content management system works; splitting your site into the actual content and the WordPress software itself which has to be loaded in separately. W3 Total Cache will speed up loading so your visitors will be more inclined to stay on your site.
W3 Total Cache enhances your site to ensure a faster loading, optimised site that removes redundant information that doesn’t need to be downloaded each time a page is viewed. It compresses many of WordPress’ system files to make them more efficient, and can increase the site’s loading speed by up to ten times. As a side benefit, this increase in performance can have a positive impact on SEO for small business sites because Google rankings will be significantly improved as a result of this site optimisation.
We all think about safety online but what about our websites? Wordfence takes care of that by monitoring your WordPress site continually for you. Not only will it protect your site from malicious attack, but it can scan and repair your site for damage caused by malware and viruses, can limit access to your site from specific countries if this is of concern for your business, and act as a firewall to prevent unwanted attack, enhanced security for your users and site visitors… the list is endless and this is something that I can’t live without on any of my sites.
Akismet is a very underrated but one of the most useful plugins that you’ll encounter for a WordPress site. It’s one of only a couple of plugins that comes pre-installed and many people don’t make use of it, but I’ve found it to be the most important plugin I have ever used.
To put it in simple terms, Akismet is a spam filter. Once you activate and register the the plugin, it will automatically screen comments for every post made on your site. I’ve used this for several years now and it’s screened out thousands of spam and junk messages that could have flooded my sites with all manner of unsavoury adverts and comments.
One thing I have found when it comes to WordPress is that once you have found a plugin that is useful, the chances are that the developer will have produced others that may help with your site as well and Yoast is one such developer. They have been producing a range of plugins for several years covering all aspects of site management including several SEO plugins which would be ideal to help manage the SEO for small business websites of any kind.
The most useful I have found is their Google Analytics plugin. This will prove invaluable in tracing exactly who is visiting your site, what parts of your site are actually being viewed, how long your customers are staying on your site for, how people are getting to your site and much more. This will tell you all of the browsing habits of your site’s visitors apart from what they are wearing while they are using their computers.
It’s all well and good having small business websites, but what if you have something you want to sell? Telling people how great your latest product is isn’t of much use if they can’t actually buy it, so you need to turn your WordPress site into a fully-fledged e-commerce site. None do that better than the WooCommerce plugin.
Whatever features you could ask for in an online shop, WooCommerce will offer you whether it’s a small scale addition to your site, or whether you want to build your entire site around the WooCommerce plugin. Need to offer different shipping method? Handle mailing lists for customers? Run promotional discounts? Not a problem with this one. The only thing you will need to worry about is what to sell!
WordPress can be an incredibly powerful tool in the right hands and not only can you get a great website up and running quickly, but the right tools can point you in the right direction very quickly, giving you a head start over the competition before you need to go to the expense of bringing in the professional site developers and an SEO team. When your business is ready and in a position to afford to, then it’s time to turn to them, but when you’re just starting out, then these plugins will put you and your business ahead of the game.