There is no shortage of amazing WordPress plugins out there for businesses to take advantage of. With over 54,000 available, you can find a plugin for just about anything you want to do on your website.
This dizzying array of options can be overwhelming for small business owners. To cut through the clutter, we’d like to offer some suggestions for must-have plugins to consider in the coming year that will help your website stay secure, optimized, and search-engine friendly.
Read on to learn about plugins that can help you get the most from your business website in 2020.
WordPress Website Plugins to Help Your Business Grow
It’s true that there are tens of thousands of plugins out there to choose from, some free and some paid. But it is worth noting that not all plugins are created equal. In fact, some plugins can be “buggy,” conflict with other plugins, contain vulnerabilities, and wreak havoc on your website.
Before adding a new plugin to your site, be sure to check its reviews, developer support, and frequency of updates so you can ensure that you have support in case the plugin causes an issue or doesn’t work as it should..
The plugins listed below are ones that have been highly rated, thoroughly tested, are frequently updated, and offer good support.
It’s important to have well-designed forms on your website that work correctly and are easy for visitors to complete. Gravity Forms is currently our form builder of choice. As one of the most robust form plugins available, Gravity Forms offers a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface to help website owners create the following:
- Website contact / booking forms
- Online ordering
- Support requests
- Online registrations
- And more
With its conditional logic feature, this plugin allows users to create complex forms where fields are displayed based on what is entered in previous form fields. You can also control the availability of the form based on specific dates or number of entries. Form submissions can be routed to specific people or departments. Gravity forms are optimized for mobile users and include an anti-spam honeypot to reduce spam. For additional functionality, you can utilize PayPal, Stripe, Mailchimp, Freshbooks, and a number of other add-ons. You can learn more about Gravity Forms here.
One great benefit of having a WordPress website is the sheer number of paid and free WordPress SEO plugins available to help you optimize your website content for search engines. We like to use the RankMath SEO plugin for many of our clients. This tool helps you stay on top of website optimization so you can enjoy higher visibility in search engine results.
Beginners will appreciate the user-friendly interface and set-up wizard, where RankMath basically configures itself with a couple of clicks. This tool offers you the ability to:
- Optimize your posts in a number of ways (rich snippits integrated)
- Choose up to five keywords per page/post
- Integrate with the Google Search Console
- Track keyword rankings
- Use the integrated LSI Keyword tool
- Perform an SEO audit of your website
- Run up to forty detailed SEO tests
- Use local SEO features
- Optimize breadcrumbs
- Monitor 404 errors
- And more
Want to shop around some more? Three viable alternatives to consider are Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and SEOPress. Most of these plugins offer both a free and paid version, so you can see if you like the plugin before you commit.
IMPORTANT: Choose only one SEO plugin for your site or you will likely run into a plugin conflict.
Email Marketing Integration Plugins
Your website is a great tool for generating leads. And once you start to capture those online leads, email marketing can help you convert visitors into customers and boost current customer retention rates.
There are several powerful, easy-to-use, and highly-rated WordPress email marketing plugins available. Some are free and others are paid, so your decision will likely depend on what you want to spend and how advanced you want your tracking and analytics features to be. We often suggest MC4WP: MailChimp for WordPress.
This plugin connects your website to MailChimp, one of the top email marketing platforms on the market. In order to use this plugin, you’ll need to use MailChimp’s email marketing service. You can get a free plan (2,000 or less subscribers) or scale up depending on your number of subscribers. Key features include custom sign-up forms to add to your website and integration with eCommerce and form builder plugins.With a paid subscription, you also get detailed campaign reports and automatic notifications for new subscriptions.
If you are interested in learning more about comparable WordPress marketing plugins, check out this article by WPEngine.
Do you want visitors to be able to make purchases from your website? WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin going right now. It gives you everything you need to run a successful online store. Designed to allow business owners to run their own eCommerce sites, this free plugin offers:
- Checkout, cart, and product pages
- Secure payment options via credit card and alternate payment methods including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, etc.
- Modular block format to integrate commerce in various areas of your website
- Flat rate, label printing, and other configurable shipping options
- Local and global shipping options using a variety of carriers
- Automatic tax calculation
- Integration with Facebook, Google Analytics, and more
- Key metrics displayed in the central store dashboard
- Fully customization and extendable with free / paid extensions
With WooCommerce you can sell digital goods, physical products, instant downloads, affiliate goods, subscriptions, product bundles, memberships, and more.
If you are looking for an alternative to WooCommerce, take a look at BigCommerce. BigCommerce is a good option for those not wanting to handle the technical end of things.
Website Backup Plugins
Having a backup plugin for your website is insurance in case something goes awry-- whether an update goes wrong, your server crashes, you make a mistake that you can’t correct, or you get hacked. Every website should have backups done on a regular basis.
Regardless of the price of your backup plugin, the cost will pale in comparison to the time and energy (and possibly money) it will cost you if you don’t have your website backed up. We recommend choosing a plugin that allows complete backups and gives you the ability to schedule automatic backups so you don’t even have to think about it.
Also, for increased security, look for a plugin that will send your backup files to a remote location (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive) so you can get to your files even if your website is hacked.
We typically use UpDraftPlus Premium for our websites. You can opt for UpDraftPlus, the free version, if you want only the essentials. This is a powerful plugin with a wide array of options. Here are some of its key features:
- Backs up files, themes, plugins, and database
- Restores from backup
- Sends backups to several of the most popular cloud storage platforms (Amazon S3, Google Drive,Microsoft OneDrive, etc.)
- Allows for automatic scheduled backups and manual backups
Premium (paid) features include incremental backups, migration/cloning of websites, advanced reporting features, database encryption, network/multisite support, and more.
Alternatives to check out include BackWPUp, BackupBuddy, VaultPress (with Jetpack), and Duplicator.
The good thing about WordPress sites is that there are millions of them, which means that there are tons of third-party themes and plugins available. The bad news is that since so many websites are built using WordPress, hackers focus on exploiting WordPress vulnerabilities.
How can you prevent your website from being hacked? Along with finding a good host with their own tight security measures, the best thing you can do if find a high-performing security plugin to combat malware and attacks by hackers.
We recommend and use iThemes Security (formerly WP Security) for our WordPress websites. This plugin protects and secures your website in over thirty ways. Installation is easy and you can quickly prevent automated attacks. iThemes also fixes many common security issues on your website.
Here are some of iThemes’ most important features:
- Scans website to detect and fix possible vulnerabilities
- Prevents bruteforce attacks by banning users who have broken into other sites and reporting IP addresses
- Blocks hosts / users who have too many failed login attempts
- Strengthens the server security
- Blocks attacks to your database and file system
- Detects and bans bots, user agents, and other hosts
- Increases the security of passwords and other important information
- Allows for the management of more than one website from one dashboard
- Hides common vulnerabilities so attackers can’t learn too much about sensitive areas of your website
- Detects and blocks malware
- Offers a two-step authentication process for added login security
- And more
Equip Your Small Business Website with the Best Plugins
By using the plugins above, you can ensure that your business website is set up for success. If you need help building a professional WordPress website that will help grow your business, get in touch with us. We specialize in helping small businesses grow with stellar websites and targeted internet marketing solutions.