How can you produce a professional looking website when you’ve never written a word of code and your budget won’t stretch to hiring a developer?
Answer. Use WordPress. Or more specifically, WordPress and plugins.
WordPress, is a popular blogging and content management system used on over 74 million websites, including 16.7% of Alexa Internet’s “top 1 million” websites. Plugins are pieces of code you can install on your site to enhance its functionality. There’s a huge selection to choose from, both free and paid, so whatever type of site you want to build, there’s sure to be something for you.
Here’s my pick of 21 top WordPress plugins to keep you safe, get you seen, improve your presentation, monetize your blog and build a list.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links I’ll earn a commission – but you won’t be charged extra. This article is for guidance only and does not constitute advice. As with other things in life, you should always do your own research before making a purchase.
1. Bulletproof Security – WordPress Website Security Protection
It may be used on millions of websites, but how many bloggers would know what to do if their site got hacked? I doubt there’s that many. But why take the risk? Bulletproof Security provides one click .htaccess WordPress security protection.
2. AntiVirus – Added Blog Security
Like it or not, malware, worms and viruses exist that can attack your WordPress site and give you a headache that no amount of Nurofen can get rid of. AntiVirus will automatically scan your theme templates for malicious injections and warn you of possible attacks. Why look for a cure when you can prevent instead?
By default WordPress offers unlimited login attempts. So using a bit of brute force, someone can access your site. Limit Login Attempts restricts the attempts that can be made to access your site in a given period of time, thus making entry via a brute force attack far more difficult.
4. EU Cookie Law Compliance – For those on my side of the pond!
The EU Cookie Directive was introduced in May 2012. So if you’re operating from the EU you now need to notify your visitors if cookies are being used on your site. EU Cookie Law Compliance is a neat little plugin that allows you to do just that!
5. SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam – Keep the bots out!
We all dream of having an audience which engages with us, and this can be achieved with great content and allowing comments. The only downside of this is it inevitably means we attract spam. Fortunately a number of plugins exists which weed out the spam for us. I like SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam, and with over 1.3 million download it looks like a lot of other people do to!
6. WPtouch – Be seen on the go
With more and more people accessing sites from a mobile device, you’re likely to be presenting your viewers with a poor user experience and potentially leaving money on the table if your site’s not mobile friendly.
WPtouch allows you to transform your site into a fast, user friendly mobile version. There’s a free version available which means you can be up and running in no time at all. Alternatively, if you’d like access to more features, including the ability to create tablet versions of your website, then take a look at WPtouch Pro.
7. WordPress SEO by Yoast – Optimise your site!
If you want your website to rank well in the search engines, and who doesn’t, you need to make sure you’ve at least got the SEO basics covered. Now, before the thought adding tags and getting involved in code brings you out in a cold sweat, relax. There’s a host of plugins out there that make this as easy a 1-2-3. My personal favourite is WordPress SEO by Yoast. Not only does it make optimising your posts a breeze, but it also helps you to write better content. A win for you and your readers!
8. W3 Total Cache – Speed up your site!
Your sites speed is a major contributor to both your viewers experience and your search engine ranking. W3 Total Cache is the fastest and most complete performance optimization plugin.
9. Broken Link Checker – Say goodbye to 404 errors!
I don’t know about you, but I get annoyed with broken links. If I’m interested enough to click a link, then clearly I want to see what’s being referred to. If I’m greeted with a 404 error page, I’m likely to lose interest. It’s easy to see how it happens, external pages may be removed and a site reorganisation could break some internal links.
Don’t let your visitors lose interest in your site. Broken Link Checker checks your site and notifies you, via your dashboard or email, of broken links and missing images. Update your links and keep your readers happy!.
10. Covert Copy Traffic – Get more backlinks with copy & paste!
Despite all the social sharing icons on the web, many people still share content via email. A quick copy and place, hit send, and it’s gone. Now it’s nice that people think your content’s worth sharing, but it would be nicer if you could get some credit for it. Well now you can.
Covert Copy Traffic, automatically includes a link back to the original source when your content’s copied. It doesn’t matter where your content’s copied to – Facebook, Twitter, forums, you get a link. Great for increasing your visibility and driving traffic to your site.
11. Google Analytics For WordPress – Easily track your WordPress site!
Measuring performance is essential if you want to take your success to the next level. Find out what’s working and do more of it. Find out what’s not working and either drop or change it. Google Analytics for WordPress allows you to easily track your sites data. Check out the video below.
12. Widgetize Pages Light – Customised your page layouts!
Do you ever get frustrated that typically widgets can only be included in sidebars and footers? If you could just include that relevant widget in the middle of your post or page it would have so much more impact. But unfortunately a coder you ain’t, so the opportunity goes begging.
Well now that’s all a thing of the past. Can’t code? No problem! Widgetize Pages Light allows you to drop widgets straight into the centre of your content. Build a custom page layout which encourages your reader to take action. Love it!
13. WP-Table Reloaded – Add tables to your post!
Sometimes displaying data in a table adds great value to your post. WP-Table Reloaded allows you to do just this. This article by Tom Ewer explains how to set it up.
14. Relevanssi – Make searching enjoyable!
Help your visitors find what they’re looking for.
No longer do your visitors have to struggle to find what’s relevant to them. And neither do they have to be subjected to a chronological list of posts. Give them what they’re looking for with Relevanssi.
15. Digg Digg – Share your content and gain new viewers!
Considering both the increasingly “social” online world we live in, and the growing emphasis Google is placing on social proof, I’d argue that including social sharing icons on your site is an absolute must.
Many people are more than happy to share good content with their friends if all they have to do is click an icon. Ask them to copy, paste, think of a comment, maybe set up a shortened link, well that’s a different story.
The plugin I use for this is Digg Digg. That’s it on the left hand side. It’s easy to install and allows you to link with 24 different social sharing sites. Furthermore, you can configure it to float down the screen. So as your viewer scrolls down, the bar is always readily available to them, making it easy for them to click. Go on, give it a try!
16. Comment Switcher – Strike up a conversation on social networks!
Increase the visibility of your blog, drive traffic and get more readers with Comments Switcher. This plugin replaces the standard comments box with one which integrates with Facebook. The pre checked “Post Notifications to my Wall” box means your post and blog details will appear on their wall, giving it the potential to go viral!
17. CommentLuv – Create backlinks to your last blog post!
Commenting on blogs provides a great opportunity to be part of a community, and it also provides an opportunity for a backlink to your site. Not only does this add power to your SEO efforts and hence your search engine rankings, but it can also drive targeted traffic to your site. CommentLuv allows readers to include a link back to their last blog post at the end of their comment.
For even more features, including the ability to leave links to multiple posts, protection from spam, and the inclusion of Twitter names, upgrade to CommentLuv Pro.
18. WP-Polls – Find out what your readers think!
A great way to get feedback from your readers is to conduct a poll. WP-Polls makes this quick and easy to set up. This post by Sanjeev Shrivastava takes you through the process and also shows you how to include the poll in your header or footer. Of course, if you want to include it in your post you can always integrate it in Widgetize Pages Light!
19. Covert Messenger – Grab your readers attention!
How often do you ignore those little messages that pop up in the corner of your screen? Never, right? They’re great at grabbing attention. Covert Messenger allows you to add your very own messaging system to your site. Use it to display other post titles your readers may be interested in, and hence increase your customers engagement, or pop in a few affiliate links and make some money! The choice is yours!
20. WP125 – Easy way to manage your ads!
If you’re trying to monetize your site via banner ads, this could be just for you. WP125 allows you to easily manage 125×125 ads on your site. Easy to display, the ads can be run for a specified number of days, taken down automatically and tracked to measure performance.
21. Optin Revolution – Great way to build your list!
The marmite of websites, you either love them or hate ‘em. Either way, there’s no disputing that they work. With Optin Revolution you can get your creative juices flowing. It offers full customisation without needing to know any code. For the additional functionality of split testing and analytics you can upgrade to Optin Revolution Pro.
So there you have it. 21 of my top WordPress plugins, which can power your website to another level! If you’ve got a personal favourite not included above, why not share it in the comments section below.
I’d love to hear from you.