WordPress is a fantastic website platform for the small business owner. It’s extremely easy to use, has a huge community of developers and designers due to it’s open source code, and is the most search engine friendly platform currently available, which is one of the reasons it powers over 20% of every website online!
Originally created as blogging software, it has grown into a full-featured content management system that can rival many enterprise level CMS. One of the primary drivers of this is the extensively of the software due to the vast number of WordPress business plugins.
Plugins are a simple way for users to add and extend functionality to their website without having to know any code, which is one of the reasons WordPress has grown so quickly in recent years. There are over 21,000 plugins available to download for free from the WordPress repository.
Since we use WordPress for practically every small business website we build, we’ve learned a little about which plugins to use, and which ones to avoid. Not all plugins are created equal. With over 20,000 options to choose from, you can bet that there is a huge diversity in quality.
Since we’re constantly asked which plugins should be used for small business websites, we thought it might be a good idea to dedicate a blog post to this very topic.
Top 15 WordPress Plugins for Small Business
Here are a few of our favorite WordPress plugins that help extend the base platform functionality, increase search engine optimization, social media distribution, and site security.
(Note, these are not listed in order of importance, but grouped together by category.)
By default WordPress comes with 2 types of content, posts and pages. That’s great if you’ve got a small site with just static content and blog posts, but when you need more content types, you can either code it in, or install My Content Management. This plugin creates multiple types of content that many small businesses need. For example, it can automatically add sections for FAQs, Testimonials, Resources, Locations, Portfolio, and more. It saves lots of development time, and is super easy for the end user add content into.
If your business has events and activities throughout the year that need to be displayed on your website in a calendar format, this is the plugin to get. It is a full-featured calendar plugin that can create recurring events, show location information and directions, can be downloaded and added to the user’s phone or home computer, and much more.
This is one of those plugins that we install on EVERY site we build. If you need a form, no matter how complex, Gravity Forms can do it! We use it for everything from a simple email form on the contact page, to ultra complex applications and conditional forms. There isn’t a website we’ve built that Gravity forms wasn’t one of the first plugins we installed.
WordPress SEO is the ultimate search engine optimization plugin for WordPress. It includes XML Sitemaps, RSS optimization, custom title and meta description options, social media integration, and much more. If you want Google to rank your website higher, you need this plugin!
Technical SEO is important, but not more important than writing good content. Scribe helps you do both. It will analyze your written content for keywords, offer suggestions, remind you to write a custom title and meta description, and much more. This plugin alone has made a HUGE difference in the search ranking for several clients.
When doing any type of off-line advertising, it’s important to have ad-specific landing pages set up on your website to drive traffic to, so you can track the ad’s effectiveness. Lead Pages helps create beautiful landing pages and email opt-in forms to help you grow your email list and gain new customers.
If you want to display links to your social media profiles across the web in a simple but elegant fashion, Simple Social Icons is the plugin to use. It’s easy to customize the size, shape, and colors for your brand, and it has options for all the most popular social media sites.
You want site visitors to share your content with their friends, family, and professional network via social media, right? Well the Digg Digg plugin helps them to do just that. It is a robust social media sharing tool that has options for all the top social media sites and can be configured to display in multiple locations on your site.
If you want to see how much traction your content is getting across the social media landscape, then you need Social Metrics Pro. It’s a social media analytics plugin that shows you how many times your individual posts and pages have been shared across all the primary networks. You can even submit and share yourself, right from within the plugin dashboard!
Jetpack is built by the creators of WordPress, so you know it should be good. It’s a single plugin with a suite of options to extend the functionality of your site. It can do everything from display your site analytics, spell check your writing, create photo galleries, and more. You probably won’t use all the options it has, but it’s nice to know they are there.
If you want to sell products or services on your website, you need an e-commerce solution, and Cart66 is just that. It integrates with most payment gateways, including Paypal and Authorize.net, so selling your wares and collecting payment is a breeze. It also allows you to track inventory, sell digital goods, and download reports.
Since WordPress was initially created for bloggers, the ability to comment on posts comes standard. However, that can lead to spam. Akismet is a spam blocker that is built by WordPress, and it comes bundled when you install the software. If you want to keep the comment spammers at bay, you need Akismet.
Websites are a series of files that live in a database on a server. After a while, the database can become jumbled and disorganized, causing your site to load slowly and decrease performance. WP Optimize allows you to optimize your database and delete the unnecessary files that gradually accumulate there. Think of it as a defragmenter for your website.
iThemes Security is a complete security suite for WordPress. It provides real time monitoring, a firewall, brute force and IP blocking, anti-virus scanning, and even checks your theme and plugins for possible malware injections. If there’s ever a problem, iThemes Security will automatically email you about it.
Backup Buddy is one of those plugins that you hope you won’t need, but will regret not installing if anything ever goes wrong with your site. It is an automated backup solution that will back up your content, theme files, plugins, and database, all on the schedule that you set. It can email you a copy, or sync with Dropbox to automatically upload your backup. This is another plugin that we install on every site, and it’s saved our neck on a couple occasions.
There you have it. Our top 15 WordPress plugins for small business websites.
Now it’s your turn. What plugin(s) can’t you live without?