I love WordPress. It has been my CMS of choice for years. However, at its core, the WordPress framework is very minimalistic.
My WordPress sites would be useless without the right plugins. I have found a number of really cool plugins that provide the functionality my blogs need. Here are the ones that I recommend for 2017.
Bloggers depend on forms to receive feedback from their followers. There are a number of form plugins, but most are too basic.
WPForms is one of the best I’ve come across. This plugin lets you create contact, email opt-ins, e-commerce order and other forms your site may need.
There are plenty of reasons WordPress is an awesome CMS. Security is not on the list. Nearly three-quarters of WordPress sites are vulnerable to hackers. Over 16,000 WordPress sites were hacked between January and September of last year.
If you don’t have a decent web security plugin installed, you need to get one immediately. Sucuri is one of the best.
There are many reasons cautious bloggers are using Sucuri to keep their sites secure:
- Sucuri is one of the best defenses against DDoS attacks.
- Sucuri cleans up hacked up websites. If your site has been blacklisted by Google or flagged for malware, these problems can be reversed after you install Sucuri and get the problems resolved.
- Sucuri identifies and disables brute force hacking attempts.
This is a premium app, so you will need to pay based on the level of protection you want. The cheapest plan costs $16.66 a month. This pales in comparison to the cost of having your website hacked, which most free plugins aren’t as equipped to protect against.
The default WordPress installation allows visitors to leave comments on your posts. However, it isn’t the most engaging setup. The commenters can provide comments to you, but can’t really interact with other commenters.
Disqus is a more seamless and sophisticated commenting platform. It allows child comments, so users can create discussions with each other, instead of just commenting on your post. Your users can even be emailed when someone replies to their comments.
It turns your blog into a mini-social network. Many people will likely return to your blog just to engage with other users on Disqus. It’s also important to note that blog commenting was one of the most used methods for growing engagement and backlinks to websites and blogs in an ethical matter. This is according to more than 60 experts who were asked about their preferred methods of content creation and link building.
If you’re running a blog in a very visual niche, you’ll need a plug-in that lets you showcase lots of images at a time. NextGEN Gallery does the job very well.
It has been downloaded over 16 million times in the past 10 years, because it’s the best gallery management plugin available.
This plug-in makes it easy to upload multiple images at a time, sort and rearrange images, create thumbnails and import meta-data.
If you want to make any modifications to your theme, then you will need to do so through the CSS templates. Unfortunately, CSS is pretty complex and many bloggers aren’t willing to take the time to learn it.
CSS Hero is a great plugin that handles your CSS coding for you.
The Ever Growing World of WordPress Plugins
While I’ve listed some of my favorite WordPress plugins for you to consider, it would be a huge mistake to simply stop here. Be sure to check out the ever-growing list of plugins available through WordPress’ directory. No matter what you would like to accomplish with your site, there is a good chance there will be a plugin out there for you.
7 Must-Use WordPress Plugins to Engage with Your Audience
WordPress is a great platform where you can run your blog. However, a success of a blog is not determined by the tools you use. Ultimately, it’s not important if you’re using the best WordPress plugins or the most responsive themes if you can’t engage people with your content, and the best tip for engaging and updating your audience with your blog is WordPress RSS feed plugins because that’s the most popular mechanism used by people to stay updated with their favorite sites.
Also, writing an informative and useful post is one thing. But to get people excited with your posts and encourage them to participate and discuss your content with others is another thing.
Eventually, you need to get people on board with what you write if you want to consider your blog as a success. By building a sustainable readership over time, you can increase your influence over them and get them to commit to your calls to action – whether it’s to subscribe to your mailing list or buy something from you!
To boost your engagement with your audience, below are the right plugins that you need to use and leverage.
Email marketing has been an effective way of engaging with your audience. But if you are handed a better alternative, it’s always a smart thing to try and check it out too.
PushEngage is a simple plugin that allows websites to send web push notifications to reach and engage with its visitors on desktop or mobile. It’s where you can easily create customized updates or offers to get them to convert into paying customers or high-value followers.
In 3 easy steps, you can already integrate and start using it on your site. Fortunately, for new site owners with less than 2500 subscribers, PushEngage will always be free.
Feedify is intended to win you more fans and customers by communicating with them through the use of surveys, feedback forms, personalized messages, and intelligent notifications.
By getting your customers feedbacks, think of how much improvements you can make on your site. This may be the key to increase your website’s traffic leading to the boost in your sales and customer base.
This plugin also provides profound insights that allow you to target based on your visitor’s location, time zone, the device used, and a lot more.
3. Engage Form
Engage Form stays true to its name. This plugin is a drag and drop form builder that is easy to use even with no coding experience required. With the Engage Form plugin, you simply copy and paste the shortcode into any page of your site, and it will be displayed accordingly. This plugin is also integrated with Askimet, so you don’t need to worry about spam.
Many people seem to forget the importance of having a good user experience for their visitors. A web form’s role is to be the medium where your audience reaches out to you to ask for more information about what’s on your site. This way, you add more opportunities for them to engage with you without hassle.
4. WP Quiz
The WP Quiz plugin helps you build a responsive, dynamic, and highly interactive quizzes that you can ask your visitors. Apparently, people like to know more about themselves so testing them with a particular topic they are interested in is going to inspire and challenge them at the same time.
With this, You don’t only interact with your audience; you also encourage them to share their results on social media. This is another advantage of integrating quizzes on your site because according to Huffington Post, it’s one of the most shared pieces of content online.
To get you started, you can start with a trivia type quiz to spark your readers’ interest. Finally, WP Quiz doesn’t cost you a penny because it’s being offered for free to everyone.
Building a base of a loyal audience is tough for all website owners. You want them to interact with your content and vice versa regularly; you also want to keep in touch with them. Installing the plugin called Disqus is a quick upgrade to the default WordPress commenting system.
Disqus has made itself a name in the industry as being one of the top commenting systems that most websites in different formats used for the longest time. Moreover, it’s not a secret that there are a lot of spams and trolls that are lurking on the web. With this plugin, you can easily monitor and ban users according to their reputation to avoid any headaches they may cause.
Related Posts for WordPress plugins helps readers navigate within your website by showing them content that’s related and recommended by you. If it’s a struggle to keep them after reading one article you created, perhaps you’re missing an opportunity to get them to stay.
Additionally, this plugin helps increase your blog’s internal traffic without having to sacrifice its speed. Related Posts for WordPress also focuses on performance; it has its cache to avoid stressing your server.
Adding Call to Action (CTA) buttons on your website is a no-brainer. It’s always been an effective strategy to convert your casual visitors into full-on subscribers. Fortunately, installing the WordPress Calls to Action Plugin helps site owner create their Call to Action buttons while monitoring and tracking its effectiveness. Using this plugin, you can also A/B test which of your CTAs are working well or failing miserably.
The WordPress Calls to Action Plugin by Inbound Now is fully extendable and customizable, meaning, you can also create your custom designs and pop-ups to improve your conversion rates.
There are many ways to improve engagement with your audience to give you leverage and helps you better understand your website traffic. It’s always important to keep track of all the behavioral patterns of your visitors, and it’s not that hard to do so.
You must not forget the importance of your visitors’ experience within your site especially now that websites are no longer limited to only providing informational content, but also being a medium of communication for sharing info with other end users.
By just adding the relevant plugins as mentioned you’re a step closer to utilizing and harnessing your site’s capabilities further.
Best Plugin to Add Schema Microdata To WordPress Pages
You must often be reading about how small blogs are scoring on search engines. Yes, it is true and how do they do this I am going to tell through this post on the best plugin to add schema microdata to WP pages. Before going deep into the best plugin to do so, et’s explore a little about schema microdata.
What is schema?
Schema is basically an organized microdata which you exhibit on your webpages with HTML code to communicate the search engines about added statistics in your post.
The plugins help you in adding productive info and can also mechanically take in http://schema.org/Blog and http://schema.org/BlogPosting graphics to your pages and posts.
To set up plugins may sound little technical to you with no experience of trying anything like that. But don’t worry it does not require any expertise and you can easily establish these plugins in your webpages.
Google extends a Rich Snippet Testing Tool to analyse and verify the added microdata in your pages and content.
What is Microdata?
Microdata is a description for machine decipherable data to be entrenched within the current content of HTML records. To execute schema using microdata, basically you will be
To implement schema using microdata, mainly you will choose your present HTML and affix numerous aspects and perhaps components. You will have to correct your theme for the following standards. If you are using a theme made by someone else, then be sure you generate a child theme; otherwise your alterations could be overwritten if the author revises their theme.
Type of schemas microdata for your webpages can be –organisation pages, movie analysis, personal and products details, book info, and reviews.
Best Plugins to add Schema Microdata to WP pages
With Recipe Schema, you can insert thumbnails to the Google results for your Recipes. The plugin adds schema microdata to your WP blog and flashes your page correctly on search engines. Through Recipe Schema you can add recipes from various sources like you can import from an existing post or the web, and also add a recipe into a post.
- Take recipes from current posts by Selecting and Tagging recipe segments
- Recipes are spontaneously arranged and can be modified using CSS
- Write new recipes with the help of free-form text entry, as an alternative to irritating fields for each line
- Distinct configuring and a print button makes it easy for guests to print recipes
- Allow users to quickly save recipes to their Facebook Timeline
Yes SchemaNinja is my baby product and I made it with love to help bloggers out who are looking schema rating plus recommendations.
It is a Rich Snippet and Recommendation Plugin to add Schema Microdata to your WordPress pages. This plugin trails all the Google Standards and operates according to that. It helps in adding the following types of Schemas like- review, software, product application, video, and articles. So far this plugin has 70 plus installs and no one has complained any breaks. It is one of the most advanced Schema Rating WordPress Plugin.
The plugin is suitable for all type of content and is beneficial for generating Schema Ratings to your website or blog. The plugin is best for bloggers, CPA and affiliate marketers, product sellers, and freelancers.
- Star Ranking
- Schema Amalgamation
- Affiliate Link Combination
- Personal Licence
- Cal-to-action controls
The plugin enables the writer to insert Schema.org markup preferences for merchandise reviews. You can easily add a reviewed product to any blog/website, and this plugin will show stars below the post. You can even conceal the ratings from readers. Attaching this schema.org markup will display your rating, writer’s name and price in the search engines results and also enhance your overall ranking.
- It is an all-inclusive plugin for blogs
- It is simple to install and easy-to-use
- You can get Maximum 5 ratings
- Fully adjustable plugin as you can change the presentation as per your need
- Boosts CTR and overall ranking of the page
Append schema.org itemprop cipher to the (custom) post substance for search engines and boost your SERP outcomes. Itemprop plugin is very uncomplicated. It operates using WordPress basic utility to sieve constituent attributes and affixing < meta > tags with schema.org item properties.
This plugin will not fix poorly encoded WordPress sites. This plugin will generate minor codes within your full content, with new microdata from schema.org. The plugin presumes that your content page is not incorporated wholly with HTML5’s data properties for microdata
- Works on single pages
- Easy to implement on webpages
- Best option for properly coded website
5) All-in-one Scema.org Rich Snippet
The plugin is the best solution to add schema microdata to WP pages and also help in increasing your website’s Click Through Rates and enhance SEO and Rankings. You can install this plugin directly through your dashboard. At present, it supports all types of content that are published by schema.org at one location.
- Enjoy bug-free blogging with All-in-one schema.org rich snippet
- Provides search engines with relevant info to be displayed
- Assist your blog in ranking high among other competitors
- Interactive approach vis reviews, star ratings, price, author, apps
- The updated version will cover up-breadcrumbs, local business, and books.
it is a lightweight plugin that inserts Facebook OpenGraph and Schema.Org corresponding microdata to headings to help out search engines to display rich snippet and mark your blog far better. This plugin also allows Facebook, Google+ and Twitter handlers to share your blog with correct title, explanation, URL and picture.
- Customised citation of the Facebook Share/Like explanation. Takes the first 250 typescripts of the blog post if no custom citation is found.
- The post refers to Facebook Share/Like and Microdata title.
- Capacity to outline default thumbnail if no picture is found from the post
- Appends more rich snippets to make the webpages stand out
So, adding Schema to your WP pages will help the search engines and other apps to understand the content of a web page and then display it in a particular manner. Now it is up to you to decide which plugin you are going to choose from the above-mentioned best plugins to add schema microdata to WordPress pages. What are you favorite plugins to add Schema microdata to your WordPress pages.
Best Image Optimization Plugins for WordPress 2016
When it comes to website speed, Image optimization has never been so important as it is now. That is because images continue to be the largest resource in a web page (over 60% in 2015) but also because an ever larger number of people use mobile devices. And as we all now, mobile devices are usually not as fast or well connected as the laptop on your desk.
If you also consider that 1 in 4 websites worldwide use WordPress (yes, that is 25%+ market share) you’ll realize why the WP image optimization plugins are so important: they can be used to optimize 25% of the web. Quite a task!
Now, I spent a day testing all the WP image optimization plugins I could find and compiled a list with them so it would help you save a day and make a decision faster. Please note that I included in this list only the plugins that are able to do “cloud” optimization. There are also plugins that can perform the optimization on the server where the WP site is hosted but I don’t like them as you (usually) need to install additional software and they can significantly load your system. That’s especially bad for shared hosting.
Here’s a short, alphabetically sorted, list with all of them so you see them all at a glance:
Now let’s take them one by one and see what’s up with them:
I couldn’t test it, it has no free plan though it is listed on WP repository. Strange.
A simple to use plugin with a clean interface and useful features. You need to subscribe to ShortPixel to get the API Key and get the plugin going. Upon subscription you receive 100 free credits/month. While it isn’t as many as those offered by TinyPNG they should be enough for the average WP blogger. Also, this plugin only counts the images they succeeded optimizing by at least 5%. Otherwise no credits are charged. Interesting deal.
It is the only plugin I tested that offers a backup and restore solution for the optimized images so it should be safe give it a try.
What I felt was missing was more free credits 🙂
Plans start at 4.99$/month and one-time packages are also available. You can optimize 10,000 images with $9.99 which is a good bargain especially if you have large images.
It is a simple to use plugin with just a few options and a clean interface. Compared with other plugins its optimization capabilities are in the low end. It can automatically optimize images but there is no backup.
In case an image isn’t properly optimized there isn’t an easy way to restore it. If you upload many images at once and have Automatically optimize uploads: setting checked it would take considerably much more time to finish uploading the files.
What I believe it lacks the most is the ability to bulk process all the images by clicking a single button.
Oh, and they haven’t updated their plugin since 9 months. It makes me wonder…
Its free plan includes 50MB/month and their paid plans start at $9/month. There is no option for one-time payments.
What I like about TinyPNG is that they have the option to optimize only certain image sizes, they offer the option to resize the original image (it can lead to great savings) and they have a generous free monthly plan (500 images/month for free).
What I didn’t like is that they offer no backup option, the optimization results are in KB/MB (it is rather confusing for me) and there is only the option to optimize the images as lossy.
While testing their plugin I could notice blurry sections on some pictures. While they didn’t look very bad it wasn’t nice for the trained eye either.
TinyPNG have a generous monthly plan of 500 images and also the option to pay exactly what you need. So if you need to optimize only 3500 images then you only pay for that.
The cost for optimizing 10,000 images is $85 which is rather high.
It was easy to test this plugin as it doesn’t require an API Key to work. But in its free version it is quite limited: you can only optimize images up to 100KB and advanced features aren’t available.
Even if you paid for it you could only optimize images up to 5MB, they cannot be rescaled and there is only the option to optimize them as lossless.
What I liked at this service the most is the pricing: they offer a $19/year unlimited plan. While certainly not the best or versatile plugin the pricing could be a good deal for someone that can live with average optimization and limited features.
This plugin is sort of the grandfather of the WP optimization plugins. It used to work on Yahoo’s API but they turned it off at one moment and the plugin was sold to WPMU DEV. While being the optimization plugin with most downloads and users it is rather a demo version of what the PRO plugin could do if you spend $19/month.
There is no need for an API Key to run (or just test) this plugin which is great but it only optimizes files under 1MB and many if not all the features aren’t available unless you pay for them. The PRO version seems to be feature-ladden which is good but I haven’t got yet the opportunity to fully test it. I may update this article once I got the chance to do it.
Now here are 2 tables to help you put in perspective how different plugins perform.
A simple optimization test on 4 types of files (an archive with the files is available here link to be added)
- TinyPNG plugin has the best optimization for PNG and JPEG but ShortPixel comes very close
- ShortPixel has the ability to optimize most of the file types while coming close to TinyPNG in terms of optimization power
- Kraken performed average on JPG but did best on GIF optimization
- WP Smush to my surprise did worst on all the file types with the mention that it didn’t even try to optimize the PNG file, it considered it “Already optimized”. Really?
The features/options I considered most important in a simple to compare table
|Service||API Key||Backup||Bulk||Lossy||Free/m||Max size||Resize|
- For WP Smush and Optimus only the free/demo versions were tested. I expect them to do better for the paid version
- I couldn’t figure out what’s the maximum files size limit for TinyPNG but while testing I haven’t reached it 🙂
- Kraken is the only plugin without an option for bulk optimization
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