Why do we love WordPress so much here at TM? The reason is simple- there are so many functionalities and features available via plugins that the possibilities are almost endless! But, since TM is a web development agency we’re also very excited by the basics and that’s where these plugins come in!
The plugins we’ve outlined in this blog post can, and should, be used universally by every website as there isn’t a single site that wouldn’t benefit from their use. Let’s dive in to the good stuff!
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is the only framework for WordPress Performance Optimization and is designed to improve user experience and page speed on WordPress sites. W3 Total Cache promises at least 10x overall site performance when fully configured. That’s a pretty hefty benefit when you consider that site performance is a key factor in search engine ranking.
Basically, W3 Total Cache is the ultimate choice in improved user experience without having to spare anything.
Simply put, the Gravity Forms plugin allows beginners to build their own functional contact forms. Ultimately, it’s one of the most necessary plugins available today. The goal of nearly every website, other than eCommerce, is for the user to make contact. Even if that’s not your end goal, your users are inevitably going to appreciate being able to get in touch with someone from your business.
Every business has different needs when it comes to their contact forms, and Gravity Forms allows for that flexibility. From the most basic contact forms to the most advanced forms, this plugin is packed with features. Starting with custom configuration such as titles, descriptions, confirmation messages, even the styling and layout of your form. It only gets more advanced from there, which other features such as:
Multi-Page Forms – If you have an extensive form, such as a job application, Gravity Forms allows you to break that form up into multiple pages so that your user isn’t confronted with a lengthy and intimidating form.
Entry Limits – What if you’ve got a special promotion, or are running a contest, and you can only accept a limited amount of entries? Gravity Forms has you covered. Once you’ve set a limit, Gravity Forms will take over. After you’ve reached your limit, a custom message will display stating that entries are no longer being accepted.
Form Scheduling – You can also decide when, and for how long, certain forms are available for. Just select the start date and end date, configure your custom message to display once the end date has passed, and sit back and relax.
Conditional Logic – Gravity Forms offers conditional logic for the most advanced forms, so that your forms are intuitive to your what each individual user needs. Conditional logic will allow you to show of hide fields, sections, or even entire pages, based on the selections and information output from your users.
Wordfence is a comprehensive security plugin. When you first install Wordfence, they do a deep scan of your site to make sure it’s free of infection. Once that’s complete, Wordfence works in real-time to keep your website secure. Wordfence does this through multiple security features — blocking, login, security scanning & monitoring.
There’s real-time blocking of known attacks. When another site using Wordfence is attacked, the attacker is blocked, therefore protecting all Wordfence users from that same attack. You can also decide to block or throttle anyone who tries to break your security rules. On top of that, there are capabilities to block possible security threats such as scrapers, bots and aggressive crawlers that check for security vulnerabilities — even entire malicious networks!
Wordfence also offers login security, such as Two Factor Authentication. Two Factor Authentication means you login using your password and your cellphone. This method is used by banks, government agencies and militaries. You can also enforce strong passwords among all the WordPress user ranks, as well as login security components that will lock out brute force attacks, preventing WordPress from revealing comprising information.
Another impressive feature is Wordfence’s continuous security scanning. And I really mean continuous. Wordfence continuously scans core files, themes and plugins against the WordPress repository. This continuous scan checks for 44,000+ signatures of known malware and security threats, as well as backdoors that create holes in security, phishing URL’s, trojans, and suspicious code. It also checks to see how your files have changed, and gives the option of repairing changed files that identify as a security threat.
Last but not least, Wordfence comes with a firewall to block fake and malicious bots that are attempting to find and poke holes in your website’s security.
Written by Joost de Valk and his team at Yost, this plugin helps you go the extra mile by forcing you to pick one focus keyword when writing content. It then lets you know, via a green, yellow or red “light” whether or not you’ve used that keyword enough times in your post!
Yoast SEO has the most advanced XML Sitemaps functionality in any plugin made for WordPress. The sitemap includes images from your posts and pages, in order to help your photos to show up in search engine results.
By utilizing the Yoast SEO’s snippet preview you can view what your post will look like when people see it in search results, and lets you know if what you currently have is too long, too short, or just right. This helps you use your snippet preview to its fullest potential and aims to increase organic search result click through rates.
Yoast SEO’s Page Analysis function also checks several things for you including:
- Making sure any images on your page have alt tags,
- Checking to see if your post’s length is long enough (we suggest 400 words or more),
- Ensuring your meta descriptions are written properly and that your keyword is contained within it,
- Checking to see if your keyword is used in your subheadings, and more.
CallRail Phone Call Tracking
You know how sometimes when you call a company, that little message will play stating “Your call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.” That’s probably CallRail. CallRail is a software that allows you to pinpoint which of your marketing efforts are making people call.
With a CallRail plan, you’re able to create tracking numbers that can be assigned to a source. A source can be your website, ads that you’re running, organic search results (and you can differentiate between which search engines as well), social media accounts, etc. The CallRail plugin then streamlines this process by dynamically changing the phone numbers that display on your website.
Another major feature of CallRail is call recording. Recording your calls has a large variety of benefits, such as qualifying leads, training, and customer service improvements.
If you really want to get down to the nitty gritty, there’s a bunch of different details that you an customize. Such as custom call routing, which allows you to build a call flow, set up a specific number to track it, and when the interested visitor calls the tracking number, CallRail will direct that call based on the call flow you set up.
Even better, if you setup keyword tracking, CallRail will send session data to their server, allowed you to view your call data similarly to Google Analytics.
Of course, in order to do all this, you’ll need a CallRail plan. CallRail offers a 14 day trial, with no contract or credit card. Once you’re ready to make a commitment, their plans start as low as $30 a month.
Of course, there are many other plugins that would benefit every site out there. But these are just some of our favorites — our absolute must-haves, if you will! If you don’t have these plugins, or are interested in learning about more, go ahead and contact us! We really love to talk WordPress!