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5 Essential WordPress Development Plugins

Chris | Tuesday 28th July, 2015

A few weeks ago I received a Yellow Pages in the post. How very handy, I thought, and I tucked it away in a drawer in the lounge; I always need plenty of scrap paper for starting the open fires we like to have on those cold winter nights.

I used to hang onto the Yellow Pages and the phone book, perhaps just out of habit or sentiment, however a gradual realisation that we simply NEVER use them occurred, so now I don’t allow them to clutter the house. Fire-starting paper they become, or if I’m well stocked they go straight into the blue recycling bag in my garage.

The growth of the internet was incredibly harmful to the need for printed directories such as these. Of course, it created the growth of the likes of Yell.com as an online advertising website. Yellow Pages had to evolve and they did, probably just in time. They have even tried to tap into the online requirements of businesses, not just selling an advert but a small web presence for a local business such as a plumber or an electrician. But one thing’s for sure, if the growth of the internet was the ‘action’, the ‘reaction’ was:

  1. The slow death of the printed business directory & phone book industry.
  2. The pivotal influence of a business’s website to its overall success.

For the purpose of our blog post today, we’re going to be focusing on the latter.

If you own or manage a business, more often than not your website is the place your customers (or potential customers) will find out about you – the services or products you sell / provide, who you are, who you work with, how to find or contact you and so on. In order to do that they first have to find your website of course, so it has a job to do in appearing when people aren’t searching for you by name (see our SEO for small businesses article). It could certainly be argued that your website is one of, if not ‘the’, most important marketing areas of your business to get right. But what functionality or content should a business website include? What will make it the powerful marketing tool that it should be?

The answers to these questions obviously differ for each business however there are fundamental things that should be implemented to give you the best chance of success. Being a WordPress development agency in Harrogate, in addition to other platforms such as Magento and OpenCart, we often work with WordPress / WooCommerce, a powerful web platform for business websites and today, we will introduce you to 5 WordPress plugins for business websites that really work and really should be considered when owning, running, managing or supporting a WordPress website.

To avoid delving into too many similar plugins, we will focus on one plugin for each feature, which enables us to cover an array of business website functionalities.

Sound interesting? Then let’s begin:

SEO Plugin: SEO by Yoast (FREE)

Yoast SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) agencies that know what they’re doing, should always begin their work with on-site optimisation. There’s not much point going off and doing things elsewhere to drive people to the website if the website itself isn’t doing what it should be doing. This goes for human and search engine robot visitors. We must ensure the website page titles, URL’s, Meta Data and key term information is relevant to each page’s content and promotes the services you wish to rank for.

It’s our recommendation that all WordPress websites install an all-in-one SEO plugin to make this task as straightforward as possible, our preference is WordPress SEO by Yoast – and with almost 20 million downloads, there’s a lot of WordPress users who would agree.

What this plugin does is enable you to work through a pre-configured SEO checklist that ensures you’re fulfilling all of Google’s SEO best practices. The In addituion to the details mentioned above, the Plugin includes options for custom meta descriptions, XML sitemap creation, and RSS optimisation.

Other similar plugins include: All-in-one SEO, SEO Ultimate, Premium SEO Pack.

Speed Plugin: WP Rocket 

WP Rocket

The speed of your website not only affects user experience but also where you rank in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) – Google has been very clear in its rhetoric that speed is a ranking factor and should be considered when optimising your website. As such, we would strongly recommend that you take website speed seriously. After all, do you really want your potential customers to contend with a slow, frustrating to use website?

There are many plugins that can resolve or support different elements of a website’s speed. For ease and to avoid any confusion we’d recommend an all-in-one solution, such as WP Rocket.

WP Rocket has an impressive list of features, that include:

  • Page caching
  • Browser caching
  • GZIP compression
  • Minification
  • LazyLoad
  • Image optimisation
  • Seamless integration with CDNs (Content Display Networks), including free solutions such as CloudFlare

By implementing WP Rocket, in one step you have taken care of all the important speed optimisation functionality your business website requires.

Alternative plugins include: W3 Total CacheWP Smush.itBJ Lazy Load.

Sorry, you were expecting 5 plugins right? I started this article with gusto but client work has, as it should, taken priority…. I will be back as soon as possible to complete this list so please bookmark the page and check back soon for the other 3 I would heartily recommend!

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