5 of the best WordPress Plugins

wordpress-pluginsWe have always developed our own Icebreaker site on WordPress and have a lot of experience doing this for other companies too.  Even though we are not a web development agency, we have always felt we should know how to code as some of our clients do.  Therefore, we have learned quite a bit over the years and ended up developing sites for both agencies and companies we know too.

This is a quick rundown of 5 of the best WordPress plugins that we know of.  I wouldn’t say that we are experts by any stretch of the imagination here, but we do know how to set up websites and how to optimise them too.

So here goes…

1) Askimet

If you are blogging on your site, then you simply have to install this plugin. It simply picks up the spam comments for you and packs them away in your spam comments folder. Some do slip through the net but that’s okay as we get thousands and thousands of spam comments that we never have to look at. A massive time saver.

Another two good plugins that go with your comments section are Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin, which adds a little checkbox to your comments box and helps minimise those spammers too, and Subscribe to Comments which simply lets anyone putting in a comment to subscribe to any subsequent comments.

 2) Custom Contact Forms

I’ve found this highly customisable contact form plugin to be brilliant. There are lots and lots of options available to make your contact form look exactly the way you want it to. Plus, it isn’t complicated at all.  I’ve tried lots of different contact forms and have form that none come close to this one.  You may find it a little fiddly at first until you get used to it, but then it is brilliant.

 3) Google Analytics by Yoast

What can we say about this man Yoast.  He has created two of the plugins in this post – inevitably involving search engine optimisation. His SEO plugins are brilliant.  Simple.  It just works and works easily. Furthermore, these plugins are getting better and better with new functionality being added all the time.

This plugin at the moment has yet to be turbocharged, but I know it will be soon.  At the moment it just simply makes authenticating your website with Google Analytics, and therefore also Webmaster Tools, a piece of cake. Universal Analytics has recently been implemented here too which is a great step. There are some advanced setting for the more experienced of you, but the initial set up is the most important part and it’s a breeze.

4) WordPress SEO

This is the Rolls Royce of all the plugins.  Firstly, you can register your site with webmaster tools for Alexa, Bing, Google, Pinterest and Yandex.  All just by putting little snippets of code that you’ll find at those sites.

Then you have all the titles and metas for every page on your site. The options are quite something. XML sitemaps, permalinks, RSS. The list goes on and on, and it really is wonderful.

There is a section to implement things in social media – Twitter cards is marvellous. Dead easy again!  And it really does make a difference when you’re posting on Twitter to have cards.  You can also link with Facebook’s Open Graph and Google + (but publisher is dying out anyway).

The on-page composer allows you to completely change the SEO title and meta description. Plus, you can add the focus keyword and the plugin tells you how well you are doing.  And gives recommendations in the Page Analysis on how to improve your SEO in these areas.  There’s also an advanced section which allows you to make changes to robots.txt, redirects, sitemap priority and more.

5) W3 Total Cache

 This plugin is great for the performance of your site in general.  Just activate it and off it goes. There is quite a lot of complicated options here that I don’t quite understand myself, but I promise you that this plugin does improve the quality of you site. You’ll be able to decrease you page load time as well as empty all caches which is great if you update the site often.  I am not going to go into great detail here, but trust me, this plugin is a must.

Other notable mentions:

All in one Favicon gives you an easy way to have a lovely little icon for your site. Broken Link Checker does exactly what is says on the tin (Google doesn’t like broken links on sites). Do you want some nice icons on your site? Then you can’t really go wrong with Font AwesomePo.st makes your pages and post shareable across all social networks.  And finally, MapPress Easy Google Maps is so easy to insert maps into your pages.

I hope this helps a bit. Please share your opinion with us or do let us know if we’ve missed any that you think are great.

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