WordPress not only gives you the tools to build the perfect website for your business, but it’s also simple to manage and optimize even if you’re not a professional developer. Going into the new business year, these eight plugins will help you optimize your WordPress website for your small business.
WordPress has gotten more and more intuitive over the years and has become a go to tool for small business owners and online professionals. Grab a WordPress theme, maybe watch a few videos on how to navigate the dashboard and consider a drag and drop page builder to make the backend interface more visual. It can be that simple. Over 74 million websites use WordPress and it powers almost 30% of the Internet.
The widespread popularity of WordPress is partly fueled by its deep inventory of plugins. Plugins are basically little extensions that are often free (or cheap) and capable of turning your website into just about anything from a special appearance or functionality perspective. If you own a quaint little B&B, you can get a room booking plugin. If you own a restaurant, you can get menu and table reservation plugins. If you’re an electrician, you can get a plugin that allows you to quote your customers digitally. You get the idea.
Without any further adieu, here are some plugins you may want to consider to optimize your WordPress website for your small business.
1. Google Analytics
An effective way to start a new WordPress website is by integrating it with Google Analytics.
It’s completely free and provides detailed reports for monitoring visitor demographics, visitor counts, where people are coming from, how long they are staying on your site and much more. Many WordPress themes have areas to easily paste the tracking code Google provides, but you can also consider using an additional third party plugin for integration.
Learn more about Google Analytics here
2. VaultPress or BackupBuddy
We’ve written before about the importance of WordPress security. If you missed it, the gist is that hackers are going to attack your site, it’s inevitable. Therefore, you need a way to backup your website content for easy retrieval and restoration and also to scan your existing website content for threats or malicious code.
Both VaultPress and BackupBuddy charge fees, but they are relatively small for the amount of protection you receive. There are ways to perform manual backups, and HostPapa also offers its own automated backup service, but if you want to stick with well-known WordPress plugins, VaultPress and BackupBuddy are good places to start.
3. Yoast SEO
Luckily WordPress already optimizes your website for the search engines automatically. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best optimization available. For example, titles and meta data are pulled from each of your pages and posts to show up in Google search results. For more efficient SEO you can add the Yoast SEO plugin, which analyzes how effective your content actually is, if users will find it easy to read and whether or not you need more keywords. Yoast SEO will guide you through the steps for increasing the SEO power of each post and page on your website in an easy-to-understand way.
Learn more about Yoast SEO here
It doesn’t matter if you run a hardware store or a digital marketing agency, no matter what kind of business you run you need an email list. You’ll quickly discover that it’s more personal and effective than posting on Facebook or through other marketing outlets. Your customers’ inboxes are sacred places, so it’s important not to spam them but shooting them an email to let them know about important news, big sales or new products or services can be highly effective.
In order to collect email addresses from your customers, you’ll need a sleek sign up form to place on blog posts, landing pages and your homepage. OptinPress is the gold standard for this, since it’s customization tools are powerful and simple to use.
Learn more about OptinMonster here
5. W3 Total Cache
Caching is an overwhelming concept for some webmasters and small business owners, but it can be important to have a caching plugin on a WordPress site. If you’re unsure of what caching is, simply put, it stores elements of your site on the visitor’s computer to make it load faster. This is important because Google loves fast websites. We all love fast websites.
W3 Total Cache improves the visitor experience on your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration with an easy to use interface right inside of WordPress itself.
Learn more about W3 Total Cache here
6. Beaver Builder
If you’re a small business owner with very little website and/or WordPress development experience, you probably want to consider some sort of easy drag and drop page builder plugin.
Beaver Builder is a favorite plugin, since it’s affordable, integrates with all WordPress themes and you gain access to live, frontend editing. Dozens of drag and drop modules are packaged into Beaver Builder, some of which include images, post sliders, pricing tables and social media buttons.
Learn more about Beaver Builder here
VaultPress and BackupBuddy are useful for backing up your content and data, but Sucuri leads the way in fighting off attacks in the first place. The Sucuri WordPress Security plugin is a security toolset for security integrity monitoring, malware detection and security hardening. Best of all? It’s free to all WordPress users. If your WordPress site is compromised by malware, you’ll be notified immediately. The plugin will also help you avoid future attacks by guiding you through how to increase your security measures.
Learn more about Sucuri here
A content delivery network, or CDN, serves your website content to your customers faster, no matter where they are in the world. A CDN does this by utilizing a large international network of servers. So, if you run a business in Toronto but some of your site visitors are from Australia, without a CDN, your website will load slightly slower for them (versus someone visiting your website closer to where you servers are located).
With a CDN, your content is scattered securely across servers throughout the world, so your website loads nice and fast regardless of where the user is located. CloudFlare is a really great company and they have a plugin specifically for WordPress that does all this for you automatically, and it’s free!
Learn more about CloudFlare here
Don’t Go Plugin Crazy
Here’s a tip when making a small business WordPress website: keep your plugin count to a minimum. It’s tough, I know. Especially considering all the amazing things they can do and how many there are. Keeping your plugins to a minimum will make your website more secure and less likely to slow down. Also, for increased security, always make sure your plugins are up to date to avoid any security holes or backdoors that bots or hackers can exploit.
For more tips on how to make sure your WoprdPress website is secured from malware, hackers and other online threats, check out this comprehensive guide.