A Digital Marketing Specialist’s Recommendations for Web Development
The design of your website makes a significant impact to your business, and you need to understand that your customers decide whether they trust your brand within milliseconds of viewing your website! When first thinking about building a new website, it’s essential to carefully consider how you will create a wonderful user experience that is easy to navigate and includes great features. As web developers we love that the popular WordPress platform, with its ease of use and constantly updated technology, offers a variety of free plugins to easily integrate innovative features into our new website projects.
First and foremost, we are a digital marketing company, so we are always going to favour the plugins that ensure the utmost in security for your website, ease of navigation and of course that help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
So, we thought we would outline our top 5 picks for WordPress plugins, from the view of a digital marketing specialist!
- SEO Yoast
There is no surprise that this is our number one, as well as being WordPress’ number one SEO plugin! This plugin means we can make both website visitors and search engine spiders happy with such features as:
- Functionality to ensure a focus keyword is set and used appropriately on each page (the search term that you most want your page to rank for)
- Allows you to easily set and update your meta data (what shows when your website appears in search engine result pages like Google)
- Ensures better usability and visibility for search engines (so that users can find you)
- Functionality to set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content (to avoid a Google penalty)
- The ability to choose whether search engines show or hide your page (e.g. ticking a simple box can prevent Google from crawling and showing pages like thank you pages, or member-only pages)
- Helps you improve the way your page or post looks in search results (this will greatly increase click-through rates)
If used correctly, these features are essential in boosting those search engine rankings.
Available in a free or premium paid version, you can download SEO Yoast here.
- Google XML Sitemaps
So, you have this great looking website but now you need people to see it! A sitemap helps search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. to better see the structure of your site (especially new websites or new pages). This plugin automatically creates an XML sitemap for your WordPress site making it easy to index and will notify all the major search engines every time you publish something on your site. This is particularly important for websites that are constantly adding new pages and blogs to ensure the best possible chance of search engines crawling and showing these new sections of the website.
Google XML Sitemaps are great for websites not using SEO Yoast, as Yoast has its own sitemap functionality. You can still use it on SEO Yoast sites, just make sure that you have disabled the sitemap feature on SEO Yoast before running simultaneously, otherwise you could come across some conflicts between these two plugins.
- MailChimp Forms by MailMunch
Not surprisingly, us marketers love to market to people! We crave a huge database full of quality people that we can keep in contact regularly to ensure they are aware of any marketing promotions or campaign. To build this database, why not tap into the resource that is your daily website visitors?
If you use MailChimp, one of the most popular email automation services, then the MailChimp Forms by MailMunch plugin is a must have. You can add forms to posts, pages, sidebars or any other section of your website, and the form captures the lead and sends it to your specific MailChimp lists automatically. Free versions of MailChimp and the lead generation technology by MailMunch are available depending on subscriber size and number of websites.
- Akismet Anti-Spam
If you have a blog component to your website (and yes, us digital marketers recommend you do to help with your SEO) then you need to ensure that any comments automatically published aren’t “spammy” or malicious.
The Akismet Anti-Spam plugin checks all comments and contact form submissions and filters out the ones that look like spam. It also provides history so you can see which ones were marked as spam – great to protect your security.
- Contact Form 7
If you have a website for your business then of course you want an indication of how many people are using your website to submit a lead. So, a contact form is required to help with that wonderful user experience we spoke about earlier!
The Contact Form 7 plugin can manage multiple contact forms, plus is fully customizable. Just keep in mind that if you also want to save submitted messages via the contact forms, you will need to also download Flamingo, here.
When it comes to WordPress plugins, you are bound to find one for all of your website needs, such as for analytics, social media, blogs, site security (like protecting against cryptocurrency malware), and so much more.
However, it’s important to remember that while these plugins are often very easy to install and use, they can end up slowing your site down, and in some cases break your site due to conflicts – so we don’t recommend installing an abundance of unnecessary ones when some small coding can do the trick without any adverse site speed effects.
So there you have it! Our current top 5 free WordPress plugins that should be the first to go onto your new website, however if you would rather leave this back-end stuff to the web development professionals, then you can contact us.
The Living Online digital marketing team are experts in delivering responsive eCommerce and business websites. We want to work with you to create a high converting website to reflect your brand and help you meet your goals. Find out more about our website design services and speak to us about your project today.