What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free web-based software program created in 2003. More specifically, it’s a content management system. This means that it’s useful for creating and managing the content of websites. So, if you run a business and you pay someone to update the content of your website, you should seriously think about converting your existing site to WordPress. It’s like having the keys to your own car.
What are WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins are add-ons you can install to extend and expand the functionality of your website.
As of November 2016 WordPress.org listed over 47,500 available plugins. How many plugins you need depends on what you want to do with your website. On the Wildheart website we currently have 21 active plugins, but a complex WordPress site could easily have around 40 active plugins.
Most plugins are free, with an optional paid or premium version. This is a great model because it allows you to get most of the functionality you need for free, and if you need extra features you can upgrade.
Our 3 essential WordPress plugins
At Wildheart we’ve established a standard plugin set that we always install, starting with these 3 essentials. Remember this is just a starting point and our focus (as a content marketing agency) is making sure that:
- Your visitors can find your website content using search engines,
- Your visitors can interact with you via messages and comments,
- Your website is kept safe from malicious attacks.
Essential WordPress plugin #1
Get found in Google searches with Yoast SEO for WordPress
SEO stands for search engine optimisation and making sure your content can be found by search engines is nearly always a priority for website owners. This plugin is particularly good because it helps you choose a keyword focus for a page or post and then provides you with a workflow to help you optimise your page with this keyword in mind. This plugin starts with a free version but the premium version is great because it allows you to manage your redirects too.
A redirect is used when you change a page’s address (url) – you need to make sure that people linking to the old address get redirected to the new page address. You’d be surprised how often this happens. Here at Wildheart we’re constantly refining our pages and posts.
Check out the Yoast SEO for WordPress page for a full list of features.
Essential WordPress plugin #2
Stay in touch with your website visitors with Gravity Forms
Most websites need a way for visitors to send website owners a message or allow for comments and feedback. A very common way of doing this is having a contact form on your website. Forms are usually complicated to build and manage and require programming knowledge.
Not any more! Gravity Forms by Rocketgenius is a premium (paid) plugin which allows you to create as many contact forms with as many fields as you like.
Gravity Forms also comes with add-ons which allow you to extend the standard feature set. Basic add-ons include linking with email marketing providers like MailChimp (our favourite!) Advanced add-ons include payment integration with Paypal, adding coupons to forms with Coupon, taking credit card payments with Stripe, as well as add-ons that allow you to collect data from your website visitors with Polls, Surveys and Quizzes.
Check out the full list of Gravity Forms Add-Ons.
Essential WordPress plugin #3
Protect your website from malicious attacks with WordFence
There are an estimated staggering 16,045 attacks per minute across the globe on WordPress websites. WordFence is the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress websites. They provide a comprehensive set of security tools in their plugin to stop you getting hacked and alert you as soon as there’s a threat to your site. They’ll even send you regular reports so you can see how many times there have been attempted security breaches and from where in the world.
We use and recommend the premium (paid) version of WordFence because it is updated in realtime when new threats are discovered and uses something called remote scans which use the power of WordFence’s own servers to more deeply scan your site. The free version is very comprehensive and a good start towards getting on top of your site security.
Check out the full features of WordFence.
Remember to keep your active plugins to a minimum and make sure you update them regularly. It’s also good practice to periodically review your existing WordPress plugins and replace them with newer and improved versions. Of course, if we manage your WordPress website we’ll already be doing this for you so you can just relax!
Need some help with your WordPress plugins?
As part of our Essential Setup package we’ll review and update all your WordPress plugins and much, much more!