Unlike other web building platforms that box you into pre-cut, pre-washed themes, WordPress is totally customizable to meet the web building needs of those who use it. And, for those of us who balk at clearly defined boundaries and who like to live in the land of limitless possibility, WordPress can be a website builder’s Wonka factory. What makes WordPress this way is the open-source nature of the website building platform where third-party developers have created a vast and extensive array of plug and play products and services. One category of these products that enhances its feature customization are WordPress plugins.
Plugins are downloadable bits of code that are installed into your WordPress theme that add a layer of functionality that your original theme otherwise lacks. Looking for a better way to collect visitor information? There’s a plugin for that. Or, wanting to up your SEO game? Yep, there are plugins a-plenty. You get the idea. If there’s a feature you’re looking for, much like the line from a beloved ad campaign ran by a certain fruit computer company, there’s probably a plugin for that.
But, be warned. Not all plugins are created equally. Nor is it guaranteed that they’ll work as flawlessly as you might expect. Adding plugins can be like adding people to a group project. The more you add, the more you have to manage, and the more likely it is that something doesn’t work like you thought it might. But, if you use the right plugins, you’re going to be able to do work that you couldn’t have done with only a standalone theme. With that in mind, here are four must have WordPress plugins to make your theme work, because theme-work makes the dream work:
- Gravity Forms. Gravity Forms is a plugin that helps you create simple yet comprehensive forms on your WordPress site. One of the greatest advantages of utilizing Gravity Forms compared to other form plugins is that although it’s extremely customizable, it’s also extremely easy to use. You can set up a quick form with ease, but if you want, you can also painstakingly create a form where every detail and process has been fine tuned. Gravity Forms works with a bunch of the top CRM’s, like HubSpot and Salesforce, so as your leads enter their information, that data is immediately entered into your CRM. It also integrates with PayPal, so you can set up secure transactions via your forms as well.
- Yoast SEO. Yoast is an incredibly powerful SEO tool that covers almost every aspect of your SEO needs. With loads of features like keyword optimization, editable preview snippets for Google, readability checking, and comprehensive technical support, it’s one of the plugins that will help your website go further in 2018. Oh, and it’s continually updated to work with Google’s ever-changing algorithms.
- Google XML Sitemap. Sitemaps are what inform Google bots (aka “crawlers”) how your website is laid out so they can more easily access and assess whether the content on your website or webpage is relevant to a user’s search query. This plugin helps you generate a sitemap file that search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing can access to get a solid read out of what your website has to offer. While Yoast SEO has sitemap functionality as well, Google XML Sitemap is a plugin solely dedicated to ensuring your sitemap is as useful to search engines as possible. It’s not by accident that Google XML Sitemap is one of the highest rated plugins on WordPress and has been downloaded over 2 million times.
- W3 Total Cache. This plugin is vital to helping your website load quickly for users, especially for users who are jumping back and forth through different pages while browsing. W3 Total Cache does exactly what its name implies by implementing page cache, database cache, browser cache, and object cache. In other words, it takes care of all your cache needs so your website can load faster, thus increasing your SEO. W3 Total Cache also integrates with content delivery networks that geographically distribute cashed content to users from dispersed servers so your servers aren’t carrying all that cached data, speeding up your website’s load time.
With these incredible tools handy, you can improve the performance and overall usability of your website helping to drive more traffic your way. Not sure what to do once your site traffic increases? Give our web experts at Wingman at call today at (855) 390-8570!