My 5 Favourite Free WordPress Plug-ins
I have been using WordPress for a number of years, initially putting together websites for family before targeting local businesses who did not have an online presence.
One of the most impressive things about WordPress is the great range of functionality you can add to a website by using a plug-in.
The more sites I built, the more I found I was using the same tried and tested plug-ins. This blog post lists my 5 favourites…
Many of the WordPress websites I have built have been for local businesses. In the early days I would often be forwarded an email… “Jamie please can you add this testimonial to the website”. The formatting would never be the same and often an expectation would be there that the work would be done immediately as it wasn’t necessarily a large task to complete!
I was looking for something that would automate the process of adding a review to a website and found WP Customer Reviews. This plug-in allows a visitor to write a review on the business and once approved it then appears on the site. My clients were given simple step by step instructions on how to do this which made my life easier but better than that, the functionality is great with the ability to use custom CSS and the option to add moderator comments.
This plug-in is always one of the first I install.
Probably one of the most common WordPress plug-ins. This is a very simple to use contact form and can be set up within minutes. The default form allows for Name, Email, Subject & Message and once created it simply a case of adding a shortcode to the page you wish to add the contact form.
Of course, much more can be added – there is the possibility to add date fields, drop down menus, check boxes. Additionally, and importantly, CAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering can be enabled to minimise the number of unwanted emails.
I seem to have found a niche in providing websites to dog groomers around Lancashire…! The first site I created I was asked to create a gallery page where pictures of recently groomed animals could be displayed. Knowing that this was potentially something that would need to be updated regularly, I set about finding a solution that would require minimal involvement from me once the site was completed and was also easy enough for my client to add new images.
The answer was to integrate their Facebook photos to the new website. Srizon Facebook Album allows you to link through to a specific Facebook album which is then displayed on the site as thumbnail images which can then be enlarged. Of course, as this information is pulled live, any additions to the Facebook album are also displayed on the website. A great solution and a quick and easy way to keep an upto date gallery.
This plug-in has evolved a lot over the years I have been using it but it is one that has constantly delivered. Once installed you have the option to choose a focus keyword on your articles, posts & pages. By following the step by step instructions you will find your Yoast page score increase.
The page analysis checks to see whether you have mentioned your key phrase in the page, whether images are included and that alt tags have been set to use that phrase. Other items that are checked include meta descriptions and titles, subheadings and it will even tell you whether your post / page has enough content.
This plug-in is very much SEO by numbers but I have found that it works incredibly well. I have sites that have maintained top ranking positions on Google for their targeted key phrases over a long period of time.
Finally, this plug-in allows you to take a back up of the website and database and download to store locally as a zip file – perfect if you need to restore at a later date.
Additionally, Duplicator gives you the ability to move a site from one domain to another. The process is very simple and a great solution for businesses or organisations changing their primary url.