Ahh, WordPress. The entry-level blogging platform that powers countless websites (about 30% of all websites, according to W3Tech). WordPress users range from former Livejournalers to journalists to artists to entrepreneurs to small business owners. The beauty of WordPress is that it offers different levels of sophistication based on a user’s needs and budget. While a personal blog full of emotional poetry or GIFs of kittens cuddling with their dog friends probably doesn’t require more than a basic account, a more professional blog will likely benefit from a premium or even business level upgrade.
I’m going to admit something here — I’m a little biased. I LOVE upgraded WordPress sites, for a few reasons:
- The enhanced design options let me put together incredible-looking sites for my clients
- The higher-tier WordPress accounts let you install third-party plugins
If WordPress is a piece of bread, you can consider third-party plugins to be a range of tasty condiments and toppings. Mix and match those ingredients to build the blogging sandwich of your dreams! (Forgive the analogy, I really shouldn’t write before lunch.)
With so many plugins out there, I can understand feeling a little overwhelmed, so I’ve put together a list of five useful and well-reviewed plugins that will make your WordPress site look better and do more for you and your readers!
That’s right, you can sell right from your WordPress site! The WooCommerce WordPress plugin offers fully customizable storefronts and the ability to sell worldwide. If you want to get really fancy (and you know you do), they have hundreds of free and paid extensions that you can install for added functionality, including Canada Post, Stripe, PayPal, ShipStation, and more.
One of the first rules of content is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Humans love eye-catching visuals, and we’re more likely to click on and share content with images. Here’s the catch — high-quality images can slow down page loads and take up a lot of your storage space. WHAT DO? Thankfully, the WP Smush plugin was invented to tackle both of these issues. It compresses and optimizes all of your images, retaining their visual quality while cutting down on their loading time and total size. Now they just need to invest a real-life plugin that does that for my luggage.
Broken Link Checker
404 no more! This app does exactly what the title says — it searches your site for broken links and notifies you when it finds them, giving you the chance to fix them before another potential customer gets that dreaded “Page Not Found’ message. It also checks for missing images, which is great if you run an image-heavy online shop!
Google Analytics for WordPress
This handy plugin connects your WordPress with Google Analytics, allowing you to keep a close eye on all of your relevant stats. New Google Analytics updates are automatically integrated, so it’s really a one-and-done proposition (and no coding necessary!) It helps you answer all of the big questions in life: where are my site’s visitors coming from? What device are they using? Which key words led them to me? What is my Google ranking? What are the conversion stats for my forms? Where did I leave my keys? Okay, well, maybe not ALL of the big questions.
Yoast makes SEO accessible to everyone. It lets you choose key words to optimize for and helps you write posts that are easily readable by your audience and attractive to search engines. Plus, the plugin lets you know when important pages haven’t been updated in 6 months, so that you can keep them kept up-to-date. While you’re writing new content, it even suggests past blog posts for you to link to, so that you can send your readers into a dizzying black hole of internal linking throughout your website (move over, Wikipedia!)
Have a favourite plugin that I missed? Let me know in the comments!