WordPress websites are great as they’re so flexible, you can build anything you want using the WordPress framework. When it comes to adding different functions to the site – for example online stores, contact forms, calculators, popups etc, you’re going to need to use Plugins.
Plugins are software which ‘plugs in’ to your website to extend the functionality. They’re coded by developers outside of WordPress itself then made available via WordPress. Some are completely free, others have free and pro versions (pro is always paid-for). Some plugins are so complicated, they also have ‘add-ons’ which extends the functionality of the plugin – this happens a lot with WooCommerce as each online store will have different requirements.
You can download plugins directly from your WordPress dashboard by navigating to ‘plugins’ then ‘add new’.
Here are the 5 types of plugins which are essential to the running of your WordPress website.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Whilst these don’t configure everything for you (SEO doesn’t work like that sadly), they offer a detailed guide on how to achieve the best rankings with your content. They’ll give you a score (or traffic light system in Yoasts’ case) and tips on how to improve your content to rank higher. Most have a free version which usually is enough to give your content a good push up the Google Ladder.
Cacheing is where a snapshot of each page of your website is taken and stored on your hosting server so when people search it they’re seeing the snapshot, rather than the live version. This lightens the load on server resources and more importantly, means the response time from your browser enquiry to seeing the website is fast (because it’s not loading the live version of the website). Snapshots are taken throughout the day so the visitors are always seeing relevant information, it’s just lightening the load on your server and their wifi connection. You can get both, free and paid for versions of cacheing plugins. My favourites are:
Siteground Optimizer (this comes bundled with Siteground hosting).
One of the most important factors in websites is consistency. Seriously – you need your padding, margins, fonts, buttons etc to be consistent. Because consistency builds trust and trust = sales.
When building or rebuilding your website get the design right on one page. Test it on your mobile to check it displays properly and if it doesn’t, build in the changes to the page (I often build separate containers for Desktop and Mobiles when using Hero images). Once you’ve done this, rather than have to go and do it for every page on the website, clone the page and you’ve got your very own template to work off. You’ll know all the settings are exact and all you now need to do is focus on filling in the content.
Duplicate/clone plugins are usually free. My favourite one is Yoast Duplicate Post but you can choose any, as long as they have a good star rating, are compatible with your version of WordPress and have been updated within the last month.
You can get both, paid for and free versions of Cookie Consent plugins. Usually the free version will do all you want it to. My favourite one is: Beautiful Cookie Consent Banner.
All websites are vulnerable to attacks, from malware, hackers and bots. Just as you wouldn’t leave your front door open when you went out for the day, it’s important you lock down your website. Security plugins will provide a firewall to your website, delete files in the back-end where hackers and bots often get in, they will also give the option of changing the login URL so it’s harder for bots to try to get in via user accounts.
You can get both, free and paid for versions of security plugins. Here are some of the most popular:
Siteground Security (for people using Siteground Hosting)
I’m not a fan of having too many plugins on a website, particularly non-essential ones, as they’re all coded by different people/companies and there’s the potential for coding clashes, which can negatively affect your website, even breaking it in cases. However, these 5 types of plugins are a must.
If you’re looking for support with your WordPress website, or would like to chat about plugins and the best solution for you, you can book a complementary coffee and a chat, using the button below.
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