Our top 10 WordPress Plug-ins – and why you need them today

Lee Mansfield 30th September 2020 B2B Branding, Industrial, MarTech, Professional Services, Technology

You’ve installed your WordPress site, it’s up and running along with a nice clean theme, and you’re ready to add content. But there’s a few things you need to know before getting started. In this blog we’ll help you add the ideal WordPress plug-ins to enable notifications, set up contact forms, ensure the security of your site and so much more. 


1. Wordfence Security – Lockdown is good

Security is an immensely important part of any website; seeking solutions to protect your website should be a top priority for B2B marketers. While WordPress is secure in its own right with a wealth of support and updates, it never hurts to double-down in this area. Wordfence is one such plugin that has a comprehensive free tier, plus a more advanced paid-for feature set. The capabilities it offers range from a firewall to a security scanner which checks all core files and uploaded files for signs of malware, backdoors and suspicious redirect/code injections. All the essential protection B2B marketers need to keep their website safe.

Additionally, Wordfence has an optional feature that keeps you updated on any breaking news surrounding breaches to popular plugins and advice on what to do, as well as checking your site for any plugin updates that you should tend to.

Visit the Wordfence Security site

2. ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) – Jack of all trades, master of…ALL

We are still yet to come across something that this Swiss army knife of a plugin can’t do! It can help you create everything from a simple checkbox to show or hide content to adding limitless rows of content or have design elements shown in any order, and build up custom pages from a defined pre-designed set of blocks.

ACF is a very powerful plugin that allows users to build a page as they wish or edit the content in an easy and elegant way. No more battling with layouts and themes that don’t support certain elements – just ask your developer nicely to add in any feature you wish!

Visit the ACF site

3. W3 Total Cache – Full throttle

Ensuring your B2B website is running at its maximum potential creates a memorable and enjoyable experience with your brand. In an ideal world, you’re aiming to keep new/returning visitors on your site for as long as possible and your bounce rate to a minimum. But what if your site isn’t running at optimal performance? If you’re noticing a quick drop off of visitors it could be that your site is taking too long to load the homepage. You might need the help of a cache plugin.

W3 Total Cache comes with plenty of options. All the major functions/features are broken down into easily managed chunks and decisions on what not to use, enabling you to make the right decisions for your B2B website.

As a basic requirement we suggest activating the following options:

  • Page cache
  • Minify
  • Database cache
  • Object cache
  • Browser cache

Those settings alone should help you see a marked improvement on your B2B site’s performance.

Tip: With cache plugins try and remember they are active and that when making changes to your website, you may need to clear/empty the cache to see the changes.

Visit the W3 Total Cache site

4. WP Mail SMTP – Sent!

Not the most glamorous of plugins, but it gets a rather fundamental marketing job done; allowing your site to flawlessly communicate with your B2B customers. WP Mail SMTP supports a lot of SMTP-ready services, such as SendGrid, GMail, Outlook and Amazon SES. With its paid tier you can log all emails/notifications that are sent (and those that are not, so you can easily troubleshoot) and manage global WordPress notifications. It even offers a ‘white glove’ feature where WordPress’ team of experts help you configure the plugin correctly.

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Visit the WP Mail SMTP site

5. WP Migrate Pro – Get live not lost

WordPress has some interesting quirks and one of those that can cause issues is the use of absolute links that it hard-codes into the database. This can pose a problem when moving the site across different environments e.g. development, staging and live.

WP Migrate Pro attempts to make this process easier by allowing you to define a new set of paths for the files and the URL the site will be hosted on. Once set, you can then export the entire database and simply import into the instance you need.  Your site should now easily be ported and up and running on the environment of your choosing.

Visit the WP Migrate Pro site

6. Yoast SEO – The SEO hero

Managing SEO across your site can be time consuming, but Yoast SEO is the go-to plugin to make your SEO easier.  Once installed, Yoast SEO allows you to edit and view all the pertinent details when editing posts/pages. There is also a nice quick-glance score rating so you can see what areas need your attention. Along with allowing you to edit and manage all of your site titles and descriptions, Yoast SEO also allows you to embed breadcrumbs (should the theme support it), preview your page in Google results, focus keyword exporting and more.

As with some other plugins mentioned here, there is also a paid tier that will open up a host of features for you to use and offer guidance on your site’s adherence with regards to SEO.

Visit the Yoast SEO site

7. Redirection – Let me find that for you

If you are looking to migrate an old site into a new design one thing to consider is all your historic perma-links, and if you are going to continue to support them. One way to do this is to setup 301 redirects which inform search engines that when a visitor goes to the old link, the new link found and then forwarded to, is the new permanent ‘address’.

With the Redirection plugin all of this – along with 302’s and 404’s is managed easily by way of an intuitive UI. It’s as simple or as powerful as you need, coping with standard redirects and support for reg-ex too (pattern matching for strings) so you can craft some elegant rules about which pages certain links should go to. The best part is that this plugin is well established (over 10 years of development) and it’s free!

Vist the Redirection site

8. Cookie Notice – Choc-chips not included

Transparency with user data is paramount and with GDPR guidelines it’s essential that you are as clear as possible with visitors about what your site will do. Cookies are a small file that store data and perform various roles from remembering that a user is logged in, to keeping track of shopping baskets on e-commerce sites. With the Cookie Notice plugin, you can inform your users that the site uses cookies for added site functionality, and give them the opportunity to accept or decline the use of these cookies.

Cookie Notice is a solid, free plugin and offers numerous options to help customise the users’ cookie experience, such as different ways for the user to accept the cookie on scroll or button clicks, cookie expiry (as and when), SEO friendly and WPML & Polylang compatibility.

Visit the Cookie Notice site

9. Contact Form 7 – Hi, hello, how are you?

This plugin is far more than just a contact form generator. Contact Form 7 allows you to define just about any form you can imagine, with all standard form elements such as text fields, text area, select/drop-downs and more. There is full support for validation baked in, such as email address verification and also a way of supporting attachments and limiting them to certain file types and size.

Spam can be a real problem when you have a site with forms of some description, luckily to help with spam prevention, Contact Form 7 also supports CAPTCHA which is easy to implement on all the forms, you just have to store your CAPTCHA keys and Contact Form 7 will do the rest.

Visit the Contact Form 7 site

10. Contact Form CFDB7 – Like an elephant, it never forgets

Contact Form CFDB7 means you no longer need to worry about losing sight of form submissions or notifications from your website visitors.  CFDB7 will record all form submissions from your site and store them in a central repository, so you can search and check to see what you may have missed.

CFDB7 also supports storing any attachments from the form(s) too – a handy way of gaining quick access should you need to, rather than searching through an inbox.

Visit the CFDB7 site


Finally a question…
Q. How long is a piece of string?
A. As long as you want it…or need it!

Plugin hoarding, or collecting, is always something to consider when setting up a WordPress site. There is certainly no real limit to how many you can add, but it’s always worth bearing in mind that the more plugins you add to your site, the more ‘bloated’, and resource-heavy, it may become.

Collating and culling those plugins that have reached their end-of-life is essential to make sure your site runs as fast as it can, and as secure as it can – so remember to delete and not hoard.

 

Lee Mansfield

Lee Mansfield

Lead Developer