WordPress plugins are bits of integrated software added to your website to improve functionality. They are also an excellent way to customize your website. Plugins have been created to help you write better content, add links to your business Facebook page or twitter feed, and even enhance the security features on your site. On WordPress, you have the option of using free or premium plugins. The main difference between free and premium plugins is the support services between the two options. The free plugins are created specifically for WordPress and will work well with the site and, normally, with other plugins. Sometimes, however, certain plugins can get in the away of others already integrated. With premium plugins, you have support services worked into the price, enabling you to get help if you are having issues integrating all your specifications.
As you can imagine, if you can think of a functionality you want on your website, there is most likely a plugin that you can download to make it happen. While there are many that do the same thing, below are a few of the most popular and easiest to use for a beginning website creator.
- Google XML Sitemaps: This feature helps search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo better index your blog through a specially generated XML sitemap. It will also notify major search engines every time you create a new post about new content. This great feature is free on the WordPress website and under the GPL, is free to use on any personal or commercial blog.
- Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO is a fabulous feature that helps you write better content and ensure full optimization of your site. There is a free version, as well as a premium version that allows for one-on-one email support and multiple focus keywords. The basic version, however, provides plenty of excellent help. Snippet previews of how your post will look in search results, recommendations on how to simplify the content for readability, and ensures that your content is the type that search engines will love to show! Yoast SEO also includes XML sitemaps for both your content and the images added, and are readable to the human eye!
- Hummingbird: For the most part, your visitors won’t want to wait for your site to load. The general recommendation is about two seconds for full loading. Hummingbird helps improve your speed by scanning and analyzing your site, then providing a site speed score. Then, it allows you to fix any issues with just a couple of selections. Hummingbird is a premium plugin but is extremely useful when looking to improve your usability.
- Social Media Widgets: Any of the social media widgets on the WordPress Plugin Directory are going to be great for your website, you just have to determine what types of social media you want to be associated with your content. Any of the free widgets available are going to provide you what you need. Normally, they allow for the social media icons to be made visible on your site for easy linkage.
- MailChimp: For WordPress, MailChimp helps convert more visitors to your site into subscribers. You can try the free version of the plugin, or sign up for the premium version with more options for customization. You can create good looking and user-friendly sign-up fields for your newsletters and updates, and use the emails that people sign up with to send out campaigns easily and effectively. With the MailChimp Premium plugin, you can have unlimited forms for your site, priority email support, and a year of plugin updates. You are able to try premium for 30 days, no risk, as well.
In the end, the options are endless when picking and choosing the best plugins for your website. Think about how you want to use your site and determine what is necessary to help improve your business. There are plugins to create payment forms for PayPal, which are great and secure for customers to pay online. Additionally, there are plugins like iThemes Security which help lock-down your WordPress site and fix common security holes.
Have fun when determining what types of plugins you need and want- they will help create a professional but personal atmosphere on your site!