Plugins. Where would we be without them?!
Plugins have done for WordPress what apps did for the iPhone: propelled it to the top of the CMS food chain by offering functionalities and features no other content management system offers.
There’s approx. 45k plugins available for WordPress but of course not all are suitable for everyone. You also have to be careful when selecting plugins as plugins which have weak security can make your site vulnerable to hacking. Where possible, try to select from some of the more popular plugins as there’s a greater chance that it will be updated with features and security patches with each core version realise of WordPress.
This is part 1 of a 2 series article where we’ll be discussing some of the popular plugins for key business functions to help make your website deliver better results.
WooCommerce plugins for shipping and delivery
No. of downloads: 3+ million
Speak to any WordPress developer and one of things they are likely to complain about is the hassle that can ensue when integrating and customising plugins for delivery rate calculation.
Different businesses charge for shipping in different ways and not all shipping plugins available are as versatile as they should perhaps be.
Here, we start by looking at some of the common shipping plugins that are worth your consideration:
WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping Pro
No. of downloads: 3,000+
The WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping Pro is one of the most versatile shipping plugins and with the myriad of customisation options and available functionalities, there isn’t much it can’t do.
You can configure your shipping rates based on weight, price and even distance should connect it with a logistics API.
What’s more, it is one of the few plugins around that allows you to customise based on staggered weights, for example, £5 until 1.5 kg, £2 for every 500 grams after that and so on.
For businesses delivering internationally as well, the plugin will allow you to enable a set rate per international delivery or you can select based on zones and/or individual countries.
WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin
No. of downloads: 6,000+
As the name suggests, the WooCommerce UPS Shipping Plugin is for use with UPS only and by connecting to their API, it allows you to get latest shipping rates based on product weight, location/post code, speed of delivery and so on.
You also have the option to print shipping labels with the postage and the plugin has native shipment tracking capabilities which becomes available immediately after the label is generated.
WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker for Shipping
Depending on which delivery company you use, you may have the option to allow users to select a time for delivery. If so, the WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker for Shipping plugin is what you will need as not all shipping plugins or WooCommerce’s default shipping options offer a time picker.
The plugin also allows you to restrict certain dates and/or date ranges and you can also view the selection a user made on individual order details.
WooCommerce Shipment Tracking Pro
No. of downloads: 2,000+
Need a WooCommerce shipping plugin that won’t make you want to pull your hair out during integration? Then, look no further than WooCommerce Shipment Tracking Pro.
The plugin integrates with WooCommerce almost seamlessly and without much fuss without compromising on product quality or functionality.
You can add, modify and send tracking info to your customers which is a huge bonus as we all love to know when our parcel will arrive!
Another very useful feature is that you can add your own custom tracking message. If you have a huge set of tracking info that needs to be attached to their respective orders, then you can create a CSV file and do that in just a few clicks.
WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping
No. of downloads: 20,000+
Offering the ability to calculate delivery charges based on order weight isn’t exactly a unique feature of WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping although, the way it goes about doing so is pretty cool.
There’s a section for adding multiple shipping rules and you can set further conditions based on when certain rules should or shouldn’t apply.
You can also configure your shipping rates based on total order weight, price or a combination of the 2 and although most companies will probably end up using either one it’s a good feature to have.
Plugins for SEO
What good is a website if no one is looking at it? Not much, which is why you need good SEO and just like any other sound strategy, an effective SEO campaign starts with a website that is user friendly and SEO plugins for WordPress can help you get there.
No. of downloads: 5+ million
It’s only fitting we begin this list with the Yoast SEO plugin as it is by far, the most popular SEO plugin around.
Although the plugin has quite a few features and it’s worth visiting the official plugin page to get an idea, but some of it’s best features are the ability to generate an XML sitemap from the plugin (rather than having to create one manually using a site like https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/) and a dynamic character count when editing meta titles and descriptions in case they are too short or long.
Yoast SEO also has a keyword optimisation checker that will tell you if you’ve used too many or too few target keywords within your content but I suggest you don’t read too much into that. there’s a fine line between good SEO and over-optimisation (yes, there is such a thing) and sometimes you can end up with the latter if you follow every piece of suggestion that Yoast throws at you.
All In One SEO Pack
No. of downloads: 3+ million
The All In One SEO Pack isn’t all that different to Yoast but I have found it to generally work more seamlessly with WooCommerce than Yoast does. Moreover, depending on your WordPress version and build, you may sometimes find one integrates better with your site than another so it’s a good idea to try both.
Some of the useful features of the All In One SEO Pack plugin is the ability to generate meta data automatically (although, you want to double check that the grammar is spot-on), integration with Google Analytics and notifying you of duplicate content.
All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
No. of downloads: 70,000+
If you’re not familiar with rich snippets, think of them as “microdata”, pieces of information such as reviews, star ratings, images, video thumbnails and so on and all of these can be added to your site via the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin if this is relevant for your site.
For example, food websites that offer recipes are able to take a lot more advantage of rich snippets to mark-up number of ingredients in a recipe, cooking time, ratings, video thumbnails and serve quantity whereas an accounting website may not have much use for rich snippets.
Rich snippets have the potential to increase clickthrough rates within the search results as results with mark-ups do tend to stand out more so give this a try if you haven’t yet already.
No. of downloads: 100,000+
One of the things that impacts your SEO rankings is your site speed which in turn is impacted by the amount of size of your website content. Images can weigh a site down, esp. high res versions and this is where the Imagify plugin comes handy.
It allows you to optimise your images making them as light as possible without negative affecting the quality and as a plugin, is quite easy to use, allowing you to optimise all images on your site in just a few clicks.
Generally speaking, you won’t not to have the need for a plugin like Imagify as you should be selecting images that are suitable for websites in the first place but should you find your website is lagging in terms of site speed then optimising your images may be one of the easiest fixes.
Plugins for marketing
Once you’ve taken care of your website’s SEO, its time to turn your attention to the marketing side of things and yes, what better way to get started than having the right plugins in place on your website.
No. of downloads: 4+ million
From analytics to content tools, mobile themes to SEO, think of Jetpack as an all-in-one plugin for your marketing needs.
One of its best features is the ability to create blog posts for all your WordPress sites from one place. This can be an extremely time saving option if you manage multiple sites either of your own or for clients.
You can also monitor your website and have the plugin notify you should it go down for any reason. The plugin tests the site every 5 minutes which is great as you know your site won’t be down for very long.
Google XML sitemaps
No. of downloads: 2+ million
Submitting a sitemap is an easy way to inform Google and other search engines about your website’s content and to do that, you need to submit a XML sitemap.
We talked about this earlier in this article as some SEO plugins do offer this functionality however, for those who aren’t using a plugin but want to regular notify the search engines about their new content, having the Google XML sitemaps plugin can make this possible.
If you do decide to install this, make sure you don’t manually submit a plugin via Google Search Console to avoid any conflicts in the sitemap versions.
No. of downloads: 30,000+
Most websites don’t do a great job of converting visitors into leads and the Leadin plugin is one plugin that can help you improve your visitor-to-lead conversion rates.
One of the useful features of Leadin is the ability to track form submission to greater depth than the some of the common form plugins such as Contact Form 7. You can sort submission based on different parameters and also note when a lead conversion took place.
Leadin also allows you to sort out conversions based on the channel such as how many came leads were generated through email marketing, how many through SEO and so on. of course, you can find this information on Google Analytics also, but it is sometimes useful to know this right from the WordPress dashboard itself.