WordPress has grown immensely over the years commanding more than 27% of websites on the internet. Being the most popular Content Management System (CMS) for the construction of websites, developers have come up with many plugins that make management and deployment of the websites to become easier and more efficient. WordPress plugins help developers, and users get more out of the website beyond the typical installation. The WordPress plugin market has thousands of plugins for users to choose from. Whether you want to expand or add some cool features on your website, plugins are there for you.
It’s important to note that most of the plugins you’ll use are determined by the niche your site will be dealing with. However, there are must-have plugins for every website. There are concerns such as speed, security, and SEO which are universal. As such, ignoring them would be a huge error in judgment on your part. Many plugins offer the same services. As such, you need to know which one is the best so that you can get the best results. Without further ado, here are the best WordPress Plugins for 2017.
Jetpack is a powerful plugin developed by the team behind WordPress itself. It is one of the most critical plugins every WordPress website needs. The name itself clues you in regarding to what it can do for your website; help you soar to new heights. One of the key features jetpack handles is website performance, site security, image optimization, traffic growth, website appearance and so much more.
Concerning security, the plugin protects the site from hacker attacks such as brute force attacks and monitors your website every few minutes to ensure that there is no downtime. When there are issues, the plugin notifies you so that you can fix it as soon as possible.
Jetpack is one of the most important plugins because of its enhanced distribution features that automatically shares the content you publish to third party apps like search engines, which in turn increases your traffic and visibility on the internet. Additionally, it generates sitemaps which are essential to search engine indexing. The faster the website is indexed, the faster it can be discovered on said search engines.
2. Really Simple SSL
Security is one of the most important features in any website especially if it is a business one. This is why research shows that many customers are only willing to buy goods of whatever kind on a website that has HTTPS in its address bar. Any website that displays HTTPS has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. This means that whatever communication between the server and the browser is encrypted.
If your WordPress site is expected to collect client information such as names, credit card information, addresses, etc., the customers will feel more at ease providing such information on a secure website. When a website is not secure, clients fear for their information being intercepted and sold to malicious persons.
Nowadays SSL certificate is necessary for every website and variety of SSL certificate currently available in the online market. But if you are managing a medium or large scale business, then it is suggested to have an EV SSL for your professional website. You can buy cheap EV (Extended Validation) SSL Certificate from popular SSL providers to protect your website and enable browser green padlock bar and display your verified business name on it. Extended Validation certificate improves trust of your visitor and conversion ratio.
Really Simple SSL is a champion when it comes to providing a WordPress site with secure communication. Being a lightweight application, Really Simple SSL detects the settings provided and configures the entire website to use HTTPS. The plugin helps in several ways such as;
- Handling most SSL and WordPress compatibility issues such as load balancing and when there are no variables set at all.
- Changing the home and site URL to HTTPS
- Replacing all URLs with HTTP:// to HTTPS with the exception of hyperlinks to other domains.
3. Google XML Sitemaps
Every website owner knows the importance of indexing by Google. Since Google is one of the world’s biggest search engines, proper indexing by them is essential to your site’s visibility. What many people don’t know is that Google uses bots to scour the web to find new websites. These bots don’t use the internet as humans do. Therefore, depending on how you have structured your website, the bots can have an easy time or some trouble putting together a full image of the site. This is where the XML Sitemaps come into play. When the bots are crawling the web, they look for a file called sitemap.xml in your root directory and use the list of pages in the archive to make sure they don’t miss a single page on your website. Whenever you add content on your website, the Google XML Sitemaps plugin pings Google and other search engines so that their bots can index the new pages.
Sitemaps are very useful if;
- Your site has many pages – Google and other search engines might have some problems indexing all of them especially if you’re using an unconventional site structure.
- Your website is new – when your website is relatively new and doesn’t have many links on the web pointing to it, sitemaps becomes a critical aspect to indexing your website.
- Your website has a unique structure – some websites are designed in such a way that not all the pages are linked together. In such cases, the search engine bots might index some pages and leave out others. Sitemaps ensure all the pages are indexed regardless of structure.
When it comes to e-commerce platforms, none is as famous as WooCommerce. This plugin helps to transform your WordPress website into a robust online store. This is why the WordPress founders added it to their portfolio in early 2015. Unlike other open source solutions, WooCommerce is open source meaning you can install it anywhere provided you install WordPress. It’s important, however, to note that this plugin is not an e-commerce platform by itself but rather a shopping cart plugin for WordPress.
WooCommerce comes with more than 300 extensions, and as such, there isn’t much you can’t do with it. Since people like testing out things for free at first, here are a few features that are available with the free version of WooCommerce.
- Switching coupons and special offers on and off – this comes in handy when you need to promote something for a short time.
- By default, there are five payment gateways available for the user – PayPal is the most popular, but cash on delivery, bank transfer, or even cheque is supported. A small store might just need a single method of payment but as the site grows, providing users with more payment options is a smart idea.
- You can also choose your default currency and detect your customer’s location automatically so that tax and delivery logistics can be calculated automatically.
5. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a well-known fact that search engines are responsible for a huge chunk of traffic for every website out there. As the number of people using search engines continues to be on the rise, the importance of SEO cannot be emphasized enough. Fortunately for WordPress users, there is a plugin that makes life a bit easier on this front. This SEO plugin comes in handy for situations where WordPress cannot do much. Some of these areas include creating content, submitting sitemaps, managing keywords, using webmaster tools among others. Some plugins can handle each of the features mentioned above. It’s very convenient, however, to have all of this in an SEO context. By using Yoast SEO, you can;
- Produce better content – content is everything when it comes to business websites. Companies rely on good content for their websites so that users can not only know the organization and the services/products they offer but also to provoke engagement by the audience. To this end, the Yoast SEO plugin examines the post content against predetermined focus keywords and gives it an SEO score. From there, a user is given tips on how to better this score.
- Choose what search engines index: in as much as search engine indexing helps websites become more visible on their platforms, there are pages and content you don’t need indexed. You might have a landing page designed for advertising, which you don’t need indexing. Yoast SEO helps by adding canonical link elements throughout the entire website, effectively helping search engines know what to index and what not to index.
This is another must-have plugin. Many users have described it as the Swiss army knife for internet marketers. Some of the best features of SumoMe are social sharing, heatmaps, content reading measurement and ways to grow your email list. The social sharing functionality of SumoMe is one of the best in the industry. Due to the high reconfigurability, it’s easy to operate and incorporate to your website. Heatmaps and content reading measurements are also important for tracking user activity on the website. Heatmaps help the administrator to see where people are clicking and consequently where they have challenges. What’s more, the content reading measurements assist the user to know how far down the website visitors got to read your posts. This is a useful insight to the administrator because it helps them understand how engaging or entertaining their content was. If many users abandon a post halfway, then it’s automatic that there is a problem in the content.