If you want to start a serious online business you must take your website seriously and acquire all the necessary tools to take it to the next level. In this post I am listing some of the Must Have WordPress Plugins for serious website owners. Your website will not be doomed if you don’t have these installed but you surely will be reducing the chances of your blog/website’s success.
How is this list of “Must Have WordPress plugins” different than others?
The list has been divided in to categories to separate plugins depending up on the purpose they serve. The best thing about this list is that I have listed both Free and paid plugins for every category (except one). Free for those like me who are starting with little or no budget and paid for those who take things seriously. These must have plugins forwordpress will help your blog in almost every way.
Search Engine Optimization
There is no website owner that I know of, who created a website and does not want to see it dominating the SERPs. There are literally thousands and thousands of SEO plugins but only a few stand out.
It is by far the best Free wordpress SEO plugin that takes care of lots and lots of onpage SEO stuff. It makes it super easy to edit the website’s title and meta description. One of the recent updates in this plugin made it easier for you to add open graph information in your head section which businesses and website owners are now focusing on. It also makes the on page optimization on posts and pages super easy.
A separate module of the plugin appears under the text editor (on the page where new posts or pages are created) which helps generate SEO title and meta description for the post/page. It has a tab called page analysis that shows the overall onpage SEO score and also shows what could be done to increase the score.
Is SEO all about On-Page optimization? No, it is not. The search engine algorithms have evolved and they will not be pleased until they see lots of other factors tying in with on page, like image SEO optimization, social sharing, website load time, Off Page SEO (Backlinks), Google authorship, Sitemap generation etc etc. This plugin does it all and a lot more than that.
There are separate paid plugins for most of the functionalities listed above but this plugin is a beast which comes packed with 23 robust features and the developers are adding more with updates. Here are some features that will make your life easier:
- Killer On page SEO
- SERP Tracking (Easily track your keyword rankings right from your WordPress dashboard. Add as many Keywords as you please)
- Site map generation to allow search engines to index your website rapidly
- Internal linking as well as some off page linkbuilding features
- Create 301 redirects
- Local SEO (Add your business to google map)
- Facebook post planner (Schedule posts to facebook)
- Social Media Sharing Made easy
Website Speed Optimization
If you think website loading is not important, you are wrong. Google and all other search engines are now taking this factor in to account to rank your pages. After all it can make your visitors happy or unhappy. A speed optimization plugin is definitely one of the must have wordpress plugins.
WP Fastest Cache is not as old and popular as W3 Total cache plugin but it is gaining popularity very fast. The reason I prefer WP Fastest Cache over Total Cache is user-friendliness. Installing W3 Total cache does not do the work on its own until you do proper settings in it which I found very difficult. There was no guide for it. Where as WP Fastest cache is very easy to configure. Just keep the settings as you see in this image:
I observed immediate increase in performance after replacing W3 Total Cache with this one. The Google speed test score of the website also increased considerably.
It takes care of almost all the things that make your website load faster. Page caching, cache pre-loading, images on request, static files comparison etc. It has “Images on request” feature that free plugins do not have. This feature stops the page from loading all the images at once and only loads the images that are visible to the visitors. As the visitors scroll down, more images are loaded. This dramatically reduces the initial load time of the website. It is probably the most talked about paid plugin for website speed.
Another must have wordpress plugin for serious bloggers is a plugin that makes it easier for visitors to share their website on social media. I have been using both the plugins listed below and they have helped me start up really nicely.
It is a very decent free plugin that encourages readers to share good posts on different social networks. It can display a floating bar which scrolls down with the page and remains visible and also adds an additional share bar at the end of the post. Free version comes with option to add Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Linkedin and Pinterest buttons only. Do you see a floating social sharing bar on left hand side of the post (not visible to mobile users)? and one at the end of the post? It is cresta social.
This was perhaps the first paid plugin I managed to acquire and I must say it has played the best role in kick starting my brand new blog. It can easily make your content go viral if it is really good. Unlike social share bars this plugin adds a social content locker in your posts and pages. The locker can be used to hide all or part of your content behind itself like this:
It asks readers to share the page using available options to unlock the content behind it. In the above example (Taken from this post) I locked a download button behind this locker. Anybody willing to download will be asked to share. As soon the share button is pressed the locker will disappear revealing the download button. This can be done to hide all or part of posts, videos, downloads etc.
My strategy with this plugin was like this:
- Lock something that my audience craves for
- See the page go viral and once the traffic starts pouring in
- Use email content locker to build email list (coming next in the post)
I locked some GSA SER links lists that I knew my readers will love to download. Every next person who wanted to download the list had to share it. Which resulted in more social traffic. Once the traffic was constant, I replaced social locker on that page with email subscription locker (coming next in the post) that resulted in good amount of email subscribers.
Email List Building
Serious internet marketers do not rely solely on search engine traffic. They capture email addresses of the audience to call them back to their site whenever they want to. Instead of getting a one time visitor, it is better to get a repeat customer.
I could not find any free wordpress plugin that would collect emails and submit them to emailing services like mailchimp, aweber etc. There are some free ones available but they only gather the emails in wordpress which will not serve the purpose of sending bulk emails. Therefore, I am listing two paid plugins that I am myself using and can vouch for.
This is the plug in that I used in my strategy discussed above (under social locker for wordpress heading). This plugin locks a portion of content in a webpage either by completely hiding it or by blurring it and asks the users to submit their email address to unlock the content. This plugin has played a major role in email list building in my blog. On average more than 30% people opted in to my email list with this plugin.
You can easily lock a file download that your audience craves for, a piece of content that your audience will love to read, a video that your visitors must watch etc etc. See it in action here. Another example can be found in the end of this post. This plugin can be used with most of email autoresponder services like Aweber, Mailchimp, Getresponse, Mymail etc.
Another way of gathering visitors’ emails is pop ups. Did you see any popup while reading this article? This plugin was responsible for it. This plugin offers awesome features of creating attractive popups that can be shown to readers. You can make them appear after a visitor has spent some time on the page or the visitor has scrolled down to some percentage of the page or he is about to exit your page etc etc.
For me this plugin is converting 2% of views into subscribers which is a decent rate for a popup. It has an editor which allows you to style the pop up and divide different things in different layers. Animation of the popup also can be edited. It integrates with almost all of the major email autoresponder services like aweber and mailchimp.
As you are busy building an online empire, others are busy finding ways to hack it. It’s fortunate that we have these website security plugins at our service that apply different measures that make breaching difficult.
A free wordpress security plugin that comes packed with 30+ security measures. Most of them are click activated while others are for experienced users who know what they are doing. It is being used on six hundred thousand websites and is one of the most popular free wordpress security plugins.
This plugin comes with 37+ features that make your site safe from hackers. More new features are added with updates. The best thing about this paid wordpress plugin or any paid one is that you can always contact support in case of any query or if anything goes wrong. The support team is friendly and is always there to resolve the issue.
It performs scheduled scans of files, scans core files, logs events, prevents from dozens of common exploits and a lot more. Another thing worth mentioning is the user-friendliness. Anybody with little or no knowledge can easily use the plugin to secure the website because it is well documented and has lots of tips and hints.
Wrapping It Up
It is not mandatory to have any of these must have wordpress plugins and I don’t say your website will be doomed but you will greatly increase your chances of achieving your goals. Better search rankings, better social presence, better user experience, better communication with the audience and better website security are all the ingredients of online success.