If WordPress is a set of building blocks for starting a blog or website, then WordPress plugins are the great bonus pieces that give your site the best design and function. Once you have decided to start your website using WordPress, choose ClickHOST for the best small business or personal website hosting. ClickHOST is the WordPress expert, so simple WordPress hosting begins here. Next, you will find that there are thousands of plugins at your disposal, and many of these are free. So how do you choose what you need and which plugins are best for your site?
To make this simple, let’s go way back and think about the first way you learned to build. For me, it was American Plastic Bricks, but you were probably more of a Lego kid. Did you follow the step-by-step directions to come up with the exact replica of the model on the box, or were you kind of a free-form designer with a better idea? Regardless of your method, you learned that adding the little extras, like doors and chimneys and wheels, gave your design the functionality that really made it special. WordPress plugins do the same thing for your website. With over 11,000 WordPress plugins available, the task of selecting what you need can be challenging. Start by considering these ten ClickHOST favorite plugins for your small business site, sorted here by function:
NEED FOR SPEED
1 – W3 Total Cache: Visitors are impatient, so give your site-loading time a turbo-boost. Once installed correctly, you will be amazed at the performance. Remember that ClickHOST is the WordPress expert, so support is just a moment away! Once you install W3 Total Cache, your visitors will see a marked improvement in how fast your page loads. <<<Read a review.
PUT IT WHERE YOU WANT IT
2 – Page Mash: In designing your site, you may have the best plan, but let’s face it, building a site is part science and part art. Moving pages and subpages can be time-consuming and confusing, but Page Mash makes this so easy, allowing you to drop and drag the pages from place to place. You will love this!
3 – Widget Context: Sidebars are great for drawing attention to special content, but directing specific sidebar content to specific pages can be challenging. Widget Context allows you to easily control the sidebar content for each page independently. <<<Read a review.
FILL IN THE BLANKS
4 – Gravity Forms: ($) Communications is a two-way street, so collecting a visitor’s information through a form should be a professional and flawless user experience. Also, designing that form and collecting that information with full-featured ease is critical for you. Gravity Forms is an affordable plugin that gives your amazing flexibility in forms design. Scheduling, pricing, multi-page forms are added features of this very versatile plugin. <<<Read a review.
5 – Thank Me Later: Everyone likes to be noticed when they post comments. Build repeat traffic by personally thanking each contributing visitor so that they feel welcomed and appreciated. This is exactly what the plugin Thank Me Later offers. You set the parameters for when and what the message includes. This isn’t a cold auto-responder, but instead if offers a great personal touch. <<<Read a review.
6 – Digg Digg: It’s all about being connected, and those little social media icons have become a mainstay on websites. If a visitor wants alerts when you post, then they will choose to have notification sent to the social media that they check often. Digg Digg is a great little sidebar that keeps social media icons in easy view instead of at the bottom of the page where they could be lost or never viewed. Consider Digg Digg because visibility is the key to linking your page to the visitor’s social feed. <<<Read a review. We now recommend JetPack‘s sharing buttons, as this plugin isn’t available anymore.
HIDE and SEEK
7 – All In One SEO: Think about the game of hide and seek, but completely opposite. You want to be jumping out from behind every tree in the park, hoping that the seeker is looking your way and can find you quickly. Traditionally, All In One SEO has been the plugin of choice to make sure that when visitors type in keywords, that they land on your site. But it is only as good as the extent to which you use it! So know the keywords that are important to draw your traffic, and use this plugin to assure those visitors find you first.
8 – Google XML Sitemaps: Help Google and other search engines do a better job of indexing your site. To better understand what this means, think about how hard it is to use a really outdated navigation system in an old car. You are looking for a local place, but it comes up with everything within 900 miles, and unless you entered the exact name in its database, it doesn’t find what you want. Amazingly, when you type that same request into Google Maps, it is like it is reading your mind, and the correct place, map, and contact information appears in a split second. Why? It is all about better indexing, and better indexing for your site a critical factor in assuring the crawlers retrieve the information efficiently. This plugin makes sure that your site is easily indexed so that you can be found. <<<Read a review.
9 – WordPress SEO by Yoast: It’s your SEO expert proofreader, allowing you insight to improve content, titles, permalinks, and meta tags. With this essential plugin, you can easily review what search engines find on your site, and then fine tune content to match what you want the visitor to find. It even allows you to preview how your site will be displayed in searches. <<<Read a review.
10 – Akismet: While it comes standard with WordPress, make sure that you are using this important plugin to filter out comment and track-back spam. It works unattended, so you can spend your time creating content instead of deleting web spam.
And the list of WordPress plugins for Business goes on… It’s hard to stop at just ten! Here are a few more great plugins that might be just what you need:
12 – Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: Keep everyone talking! This plugin allows commenters to subscribe to receive emails when subsequent comments are made. Are you upgrading from another plugin like Mark Jaquith’s Subscribe to Comments? No problem, as this allows importing and data cloning.
13 – Broken Link Checker: What a great plugin! It will check all the links, and detect those that do not work. And what is even better, you can edit the links from the plugin’s page so you don’t have to go to each page or blog entry.
14 – Insights: It is like dropping a portal to the information you need to display right where you want it. The possibilities are endless. Add in a Google Map, interlink your sites, insert a YouTube video, add a Google Search, insert a Flickr image. Imagine how rich your content can be with this plugin.
15 – Related Posts Thumbnails: Once you have a visitor’s attention, make sure that they can easily be redirected to a related post. Customize thumbnails to be shown at the bottom using the first image found in the post.
16 – WordPress Popular Posts By Héctor Cabrera: Keep thumbnails of your most popular posts displayed on the sidebar. And it has shortcode support so you can display your popular posts on your pages, too!
What is your favorite plugin? Please share in the comments.