In this week’s guest post, Kelly Kilgallon from Tap House Media shares some helpful WordPress plugins to enhance your website.
Custom building WordPress websites can be a beautiful process for an agency owner like me. Seeing ideas come to life with thoughtful and strategic lines of CSS only solidifies that I’ve become the tech nerd I always dreamed I’d be. And I love it! However, my efforts would be in vain if it weren’t for help from the many WordPress plugins that I consistently call upon to take my website’s functionality to the next level. As an agency owner, I see website trends come and go, WordPress framework grow stronger, and plugins become even more plentiful and powerful over time.
I have my favorites — plugins that I use with every single website I build, ones that have stood the test of time and perform consistently without issues, and ones that have helped me grow my business immeasurably. They’re no big secret and I’m here to spread the love and my secret tips for choosing the most useful and important plugins to accompany your WordPress website.
Below are my picks for 12 Must-Have WordPress Plugins to help your website perform optimally, generate leads, and stay safe and secure:
LeadPages: LeadPages is definitely, without a doubt, one of the top lead generation software applications on the market. It comes with a plethora of integrations, including, our favorite, WordPress. This plugin allows you to incorporate your beautifully designed landing pages into your website. It also connects your opt-in offers right into your website with timed displays, location variation, and more. This is a must-have for ANY business focused on generating more leads and growing their email list. (Premium Plugin)
MailMunch: Like LeadPages, MailMunch is an amazing lead generation tool that should be on everybody’s small budget list. That’s because it’s FREE! When I started to work with this software, I had low expectations about it performing optimally since we paid absolutely zero for it. To my surprise, it offered full integrations with WordPress and a huge number of email marketing platforms. It was also beautifully mobile friendly, had timed displays and viewing options, and had built-in analytics. Mind you, this was the free version I was using. Their paid version offers more advanced options but for someone fresh out of the gate, this plugin will help you grow your list and start converting leads very easily. (Free + Premium Option)
WP Rocket: Website speed is important. Have you ever visited a website that took forever to load? What did you do? You abandoned ship and found something else, am I right? Let’s not let that happen to you. With WP Rocket, your website will be supercharged for speed with powerful caching, static file compression, database optimization, and more. Do a before and after check on GTMetrix to see the difference it makes. (Premium Plugin)
WP Smush: Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean ALL THE TIME, my agency sees websites that are completely bogged down by imagery that is poorly optimized. Not everyone has software to do this before uploading their beautiful photographs to WordPress, we get it. But it’s important to have appropriately sized imagery on your website to increase speed, performance, and conversion rates. This free plugin does all that for you. Just install and watch your pics shrink and your website speed up. (Free + Premium Option)
Yoast SEO: Seriously people, if you don’t have this plugin installed you’re crazy! This is by far the best, easiest tool to increase your SEO reach out there. It’s extremely easy to use and offers tutorials on pretty much every option you’ll need to build your SEO profile. With easy title tag, metadata, and keyword integration, you’d be CRAY not to install this on your website. Do it! (Free + Premium Option)
CSS Hero: WordPress themes rely on CSS for their visual appearance. If you need to make customizations, you’ll need to learn a new language (CSS). Ain’t nobody got time for that! CSS Hero is a plugin that allows you to customize any WordPress theme without writing (or learning) a single line of code. If you find your theme has limitations, this plugin is a definite must-have for you. (Premium Plugin)
Insert Headers & Footers: If you’re using Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel to track visitors to your website you’re already 10 steps ahead of the norm but adding the accompanying code to your website can get tricky. You’ll want to stay away from adding it into your main theme files as that can get messy and potentially break your site. We’ve seen it happen and it ain’t pretty. This plugin will allow you to add your tracking script to your theme files without a potentially fatal outcome. Two thumbs up for this one! (Free Plugin)
Backup Buddy: You need to back up your website often, especially if you’re making updates and blogging consistently (which we seriously encourage). Anything can happen in cyberland and an attack on your website or hosting server can result in a website disaster. This plugin will allow you to automate your backups and send to a cloud storage space like Google or Dropbox for safe keeping. (Premium Plugin)
WordFence: Security is a necessity with open source software like WordPress. WordFence not only comes with robust login security features but their security scan component alerts you quickly in the event of a security issue. Other amazing features include security incident recovery tools and powerful blocking mechanisms for complex and brute force attacks. They also provide a complete WordPress site cleaning service in the case that you DO get attacked before finding this amazing plugin. (Free + Premium Option)
Akismet Anti-Spam: The title really says it all. When you’re running a blog or have contact forms on your website chances are you’ve experienced a spam blast that was nothing short of annoying. With Akismet, you can kiss future spam attacks good-bye. It checks your blog comments or form submissions against their global database to prevent your website from publishing malicious content. It’s like having a ninja inside of your website. This is definitely on the must-have list. (Free + Premium Option)
Monster Insights: This is by far the BEST Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to connect your analytics right to your website so you can see stats fast and easy — no need to sign in to your analytics account. This will easily help you to measure your ROI and make informed decisions about advertising and optimizing your website. We suggest the Pro version for super simple breakdowns of how your website is performing. (Premium Plugin)
WP Forms: Oh WP Forms, how I love thee. This amazing plugin is the most intuitive, lightweight, and easy to learn drag and drop contact form plugin out there. It’s honestly our top pick for a contact form period! It’s so simple to use a WordPress beginner can handle it like a pro. Additional features include payment integration, order forms, file uploads, and more. There is a free version (which rocks) but we suggest springing for the pro version. You won’t regret it! (Free + Premium Option)
As a huge WordPress supporter, I hope you find this list useful when building your next website.
Kelly Kilgallon is co-owner of Tap House Media, a boutique marketing agency specializing in strategic website design, video production, and powerful brand development. When she’s not building websites or blogging about nerdy stuff like SEO, WordPress, and lead generation techniques, she’s hardcore momin’ with her 2 daughters, Matilda and Margaret. Kelly is extremely passionate about building websites for her clients that result in massive conversions and guiding them through the art of lead generation, keyword development, and social media strategy.