Creating a website from scratch can be difficult. Thankfully there’s WordPress, a free, open source software platform loaded with easy to understand, upgradeable parts. With WordPress, you can add nearly any tool, code, or function you want to your website provided you have installed the right plugins.
Installing WordPress is the easiest way to get started. However, WordPress alone is still just the starting platform. For those of you that are just getting started or are struggling to figure out how to generate traffic to your website, here are ten different WordPress plugins that are crucial for modern day business owners.
- SEO Plugin
Before you do anything else, you should install an SEO plugin. There are several valuable plugins that are relatively interchangeable. Look for something simple. We at Great Leap generally prefer the All in One SEO Pack for most of our websites, but occasionally use SEO by Yoast for highly optimized websites that involve a number of keyword-laden pages, since it has a self-check system that calculates and measures effectiveness scores for each individual keyword article. Many business owners also like the Platinum SEO Pack.
All of them are free.
It’s also important to make sure that your website is successfully integrated with the Google Analytics platform. That’s why you should also install an Analytics plugin for your WordPress. One of the best is also by Yoast, not-so-cleverly titled “Google Analytics for WordPress.” Ultimate Google Analytics is also a useful one, and one that we like to use when we’re looking for a simpler interface. Those on a Multi-site network may need something a bit more complex though, and may have to pay for one of the available plugins.
It’s best to do your own search for a multi-site network plugin to find one that suits your needs.
- Link Cloaking
Link Cloaking isn’t quite as relevant for businesses as it is for other types of websites, but it can be beneficial. The main link cloaking plugins include:
Link cloaking is more valuable when you have a lot of very ugly links. Buyers don’t like ugly links. Ugly links are associated with spam, and things like random numbers and letters make buyers feel a little less comfortable with a purchase or a redirect. Link cloaking plugins clean up these links to make them much more professional, such as: http://www.yourwebsite.com/product/name. The “name” link redirects to something that had an ugly link before, but the user is unaware. Hidden Affiliate Links is the simplest, while Pretty Link is one of the most popular because it has click tracking and other advanced features. Simple URLs by Studiopress is another option.
- Social Bookmarking Tools
While not all businesses will benefit from bookmarking, you do want to make it possible for users to Facebook “Like,” Tweet, +1, or otherwise share some of your content. WordPress often struggles with some of the more basic options that come straight through these websites, but there are plugins that can be a big help. These include:
Any one of these can potentially work, and will make it possible for you and others to easily share the content on your website.
- Popovers and Popups
As a business, it’s often useful to have a way to “list build.” You can do this by offering free content (written by Great Leap Studios, of course) that you give away to those that give you their email address. The best way to do this is with non-intrusive pop-up or popover. Some of the best plugins include:
These ones are the least likely to detract from your website or increase your bounce rate. But they do cost some money, so they should only be used if you have something to give away. The average cost is between $47 and $97. Free ones exist, but they’re rarely worth using.
- Split Testing
Split testing is an extremely useful way to test multiple forms of content and see which one nets you the best click through rate, most sales, lowest bounce rate, etc. In a way, split testing is a science, and a great tool for businesses in the process of designing their websites. Shrimp Test is far and away the best plugin for this purpose. Read the manual before starting, but once you’ve learned how it works you’ll find that you will see some very real results.
- Membership Software Plugins
B2B companies and any industry that could use regular contact from its customers would benefit from membership software. Running memberships can be a process, but if you’re willing to put in the work there are several plugins available that could be of use. These include:
Personally, we like to use Wishlist Member. It’s used by nearly 40,000 websites as of this writing, and a very effective way of managing memberships. The other plugins are popular with other marketers and may be worthwhile to try if you’re not fond of the Wishlist interface.
- WP Touch
Most modern themes already come with a feature that makes WordPress websites smartphone ready. But older themes – especially if you’ve run the site for a while – may not have this feature. WP Touch is the best plugin for this purpose. With so many people browsing the web from their smartphones these days, one might argue that WP-Touch is not even optional. It’s a plugin that should be installed right away.
Most businesses don’t have advertisements on their website, because their website is an advertisement. But still, you’ll often find that modern companies look for any way they can to increase their revenue. For these businesses, AdRotate is a great option. It rotates ads in a way that doesn’t violate the AdSense terms of service, helps to manage click through rate, and gives you a reading that tells you the most valuable slots for ad space available on your website so that you can better sell ad space in the future. In general, Advertising Manager is the best option.
- Setting Up eCommerce
Almost every business these days – even those with a storefront – can benefit from some kind of eCommerce area on their website to sell products and services to any type of client. The easier you make it for someone to buy something from you, the more likely you’ll be able to get sales. Rather than use some inferior third party option, consider the following:
These plugins allow you to easily develop your own eCommerce section on your WordPress website, so that your customers can make purchases more easily. Regarding cost, most eCommerce plugins are free, but themes that integrate these plugins can be expensive.
Bonus Tip – Use Themes
While there are thousands of free themes that can be downloaded from WordPress, you still want your website to stand out. Free is always good, but in many cases free also means “common” or “not fully equipped for your needs.” Luckily there are businesses that produce higher quality themes. They cost a bit of money (or a membership) but in the end they’re worth it, especially for a website as important as your company’s. Some of the places to get themes include
- Optimize Press – Optimize Press is better for landing pages that may be used by Internet marketers, but they have several themes that integrate well for those that have a great deal of membership content. It’s also a great tool for using with Wishlist Member.
- FlexSqueeze – FlexSqueeze is similar to Optimize Press, in that the themes may not be suitable for all businesses, but they are an effective solution for certain types of marketing strategies, especially opt-in pages and authority content distribution.
- Woo Themes – Businesses will likely find Woo Themes to be the best choice. The themes are aesthetically pleasing, highly customizable, and primed for businesses to make an immediate impact.
Use WordPress for Your Website Development Needs
WordPress is an outstanding website development tool. It’s easy to install, it takes far less HTML or coding knowledge than traditional websites, and it can be customized for nearly any of your business’s needs. Indeed, there’s almost always a plugin for a feature your business needs, and if one doesn’t exist it’s often easy to find someone to develop the program for you.
If you’re in need of a new website, or launching a website for the very first time, give WordPress some serious consideration, utilize the functionality of the above plug-ins, and contact Great Leap Studios to develop your content.