What is a Plugin?
WordPress plugins are bits of software that performs specific jobs or have a specific feature for your website. They make it easy for you to customize your website and make it more accessible.
WordPress uses PHP, which is their programming language. Using plugins is easy with PHP because you can simply install it to your site without knowing code. Keep in mind that WordPress plugins only work when you have a self-hosted site.
Plugins are a great way to improve your WordPress site. They function by helping you create better content, increase web traffic, and keep the site running smoothly. Plugins come with their own set of functions that you can usually customize and configure to your preferences.
There are over 60,000 plugins available to use on WordPress. You can view the official directory of plugins at the WordPress Plugin Directory. If using the directory, you can instantly install the plugin to your site. If you are using a third-party plugin, you can upload the file to your WordPress page.
Many of these plugins are free with limited options, while a lot of them offer paid versions of their software with a lot more features. They are usually divided by free, basic plan, pro plan, and elite plan.
Is There a Limit to How Many Plugins Can be Used?
Using too many plugins may eventually slow down your website as it creates more room for error and misconfiguration. 40% of users will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Small websites will only use a couple of plugins while larger ones can use over 20. However, try not to use more than you need. Check to see that each plugin is working correctly before adding another one. One error in a plugin is enough to take down your entire site.
Too many plugins can also make your website vulnerable to security breaches. WordPress itself is safe, but you open up a gateway for hackers when you install a plugin. At least 47% of WordPress site hacks happen due to cross site scripting vulnerabilities, which is a type of vulnerability that is found in plugins. Hackers will add malicious script to your plugin, causing major problems.
You can look up the vulnerabilities of your plugins at the WPScan Vulnerability Database site.
While you can have as many plugins as you want, make sure to choose them based on popularity, rating, and whether or not they are updated regularly. Don’t want to waste your time on a plugin that can become outdated and incompatible with other software.
Here is a list of some of the best WordPress plugins that you can use to improve your business’s website.
SEO Press is a very popular plugin that helps you get your website onto Google searches. It produces metadata for you, creates Twitter cards, and comes with Google News. The plugin also uses structured data types to improve your Google search presence. An additional benefit of this plugin is that it analyzes content for you.
The plugin can either be free or paid annually with options from $39/year up to $118/year. The top-level service gets you all of the features available. This includes backlinks for monitoring and Google Trends, which analyzes the popularity of top searches on the web.
Wordfence is the most popular security plugin for WordPress. It provides all-in-one security features like: a web application firewall, malware scans, and login hardening. It works better than cloud security, which has been known to have data leaks and security breaches. Wordfence also boasts leaked password protection, advanced manual blocking of malicious networks or suspicious activity, file repair after a hack, and two-factor authentication.
Premium services include real-time IP blacklist, firewall rule updates, and malware signature updates. It costs $99/year.
It is extremely important that you back up your WordPress website in case anything goes wrong. UpdraftPlus is a great choice as a backup service because it lets you back up your site with a single click. It can even automatically back up the information to a cloud-based storage, like Google Drive or Dropbox.
You can purchase the premium version of this software for up to $175/year, depending on the type of features that you want. Premium features include cloning and migration of websites to other domains, customer support, removal of advertisements, and reporting, which makes you aware of any warnings or errors.
Another feature of Autoptimize is its integration with ShortPixel, which optimizes images on your site. It can also create WepP versions of your site images. This means that your pictures will become smaller without changing how they look. This can decrease the file size by 25%, which makes your website load a lot faster.
Query Monitor is a free, open-source software. The plugin is a developer tools panel that lets you review and debug aspects of your site like: languages, theme template files, hooks and actions, database queries, and PHP errors. This plugin is effective because it shows you information in a presentable and streamlined way. It organizes database queries by the plugin, theme, or function that dictates them. Then you will be able to debug the error.
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MonsterInsights is a great Google analytics plugin that lets you know how effective your marketing strategies are. First, it provides real-time statistics about who is on your site and what they are doing. The software will organize your users’ ages, genders, interests, and devices to show you exactly what type of people are visiting your site.
It also tracks clicks and actions taken on your site. You can even track categories, tags, and searches. MonsterInsights provides detailed statistics on specific posts and pages to see how much your customer has engaged with them. It even has ad tracking, which tracks all outbound clicks as well.
The packages available for MonsterInsights range from $99/year to $399/year based on the amount and type of features you want for your site.
This plugin is a forms builder that lets you build contact forms, payment forms, surveys, newsletters, registrations, and more. It comes with hundreds of pre-formed templates that you can use, or you can make your own. It sends out notifications so you can quickly follow up with customers who submit a form. WP Forms can be integrated into a number of marketing and payment platforms to make the process easier for you as well.
The basic plan is $39.50/year and the elite package is $299.50/year. Paid packages have additional features like conversational forms, form landing pages, user tracking, form abandonment tracking, and geolocation tracking. Upper-level packages come with priority support to help you use the plugin successfully.
SeedProd is a great way for businesses to create effective landing pages for their websites. Using the drag and drop page builder will help you do this without code. The pages feature smart sections, which are professionally designed pre-built sections like calls-to-action. It takes away the hassle of being a webpage designer yourself. The plugin will make the website both computer and mobile friendly. It displays its own layout navigation that lets you rearrange columns and blocks of text. It also provides subscriber management, which is when the software tracks every subscriber without using a third-party email.
You can use the SeedProd lite edition, but it won’t have a lot of the features discussed above. The basic plan begins at $39.50/year and the elite plan is $239.60/year. Plans above the basic one provide over 2 million stock photos, email marketing integration, and priority support.
This pop-up software is considered the best at conversion rate optimization. The goal of this plugin is to turn your website visitors into subscribers and customers. High-converting templates are provided to increase sales by creating WordPress pop-ups, slide-ins, announcement bars, and welcome mats to capture your customer’s interest. It uses drag-and-drop functionality to let you customize your campaign templates. Display targeting can be used to personalize advertisements for certain viewers to get the right message to them at the right time. Advertisements and pop-ups are also mobile friendly.
There is a free version of OptinMonster, but the paid version begins at $9/month and goes up to $49/month, depending on the features you want.
PushEngage is a plugin that aims to boost your sales through push notifications. Specifically, it notifies your customers if they have items in their cart, promotional offers, or available discounts. You can personalize the notification to further engage the customer and customize it to showcase your unique brand. PushEngage also comes with analytics tracking to determine the success of the push notifications.
The basic package by PushEngage is free, but more advanced packages can cost up to $29/month. When you purchase this plugin, you gain access to its customer support, advanced analytics, and various campaigns like smart cart abandonment.
Smash Balloon is a high-rated social media plugin for WordPress that creates a custom social media feed for your website without having to use code. It automatically matches your website’s font and style. It also boasts an smart feed caching and backup system to keep your website fast. Even if social media platforms are down, the plugin has a backup system for your feed so it can continue working. Additionally, Smash Balloon helps you create shoppable feeds for your customers to increase online sales.
The best part about this plugin is that it automatically integrates SEO-friendly social media feed text into your website, which helps improve your SEO ranking on Google.
Plans offered by this plugin are divided by social media platform, but you can purchase an all-access bundle for $239.40/year that includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. The bundle includes priority support and access to all future products offered by the plugin.
The Drip plugin is an email and SMS marketing software that doesn’t require code and aims to boost sales and create loyal customers. This plugin lets you: customize messages for customers, determine their value as a lead, categorize emails, create a point system for user actions, and tag users based on a variety of categories. It also provides a variety of eCommerce tools to assist you.
Drip offers a segmentation feature that automatically sends messages to customers with content relevant to them. For example, you can program Drip to send a message to every customer that purchased a blue iPod recently.
Prices are dependent on the number of contacts on your email or text list. The basic package with 500 email contacts is $19/month and with 140,000 contacts is $1599/month. It costs more to add on text messages, which are paid by number of texts sent out per month.
WP Rocket is a plugin that increases your website speed and Google PageSpeed without technical skills. One of the ways it does this is by automatically building your website cache when the user enters your website. This means that the pages the user goes to will already be loaded for them.
It also uses GZIP compression, which compresses the web pages on a server and decompresses them in the browser. This decreases the size of your files and increases the loading speed of the website.
WP Rocket is a paid-only service. Every plan comes with the same features, but prices vary based on the number of websites you want to upgrade.
Although this list is not comprised of all of the best plugins for WordPress, they represent the variety of features that plugins offer. Searching for your own plugin requires paying special attention to its accessibility, popularity, and maintenance.
The plugin should take care of most of the work for you and require little to no coding. It should also be popular and highly-rated on WordPress plugin blogs and websites. Lastly, the plugin should be regularly updated or else it could cause an error or security breach on your page. Choosing a plugin is a very important part of website building on WordPress.
Click here to read about 14 more plugins from another one of our guest authors.
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Joshua Lyons Marketing, LLC was established in 2015. Since that time we have provided digital marketing services to business and professionals. We help our clients increase their online exposure as a means to increase sales and revenue. Our core services include search engine optimization (SEO), website development and content creation. We also provide other online marketing services, such as email marketing, marketing consultations and various types of advertising. Our team is based in the Milton, Pace and Pensacola, Florida area. However, we work with clients throughout the United States. Read More