For financial advisors who manage their own WordPress website, the plugins that are available can significantly improve the look and functionality of your site. But what one’s should you use?
Here’s the top 5 that I’m using right now, having reviewed and used many since launching my site.
Every website with a blog that allows comments, should have a spam comment blocker. Akismet is a popular plugin offered through the WordPress platform that does just this. Anytime it detects that a comment might be spam, it sends it to a spam folder for you to review. Even comments that are legitimate can be reviewed before posting to your site, so you can confirm if it is real. (At the time of print, Akismet was of $5/mo. per business website).
When I wanted to showcase blog posts that have been read most frequently on my site, I wanted it to look fresh. Postskin allows you to design a customized “Popular posts” section for your website (see image). It pulls in the data about how frequently your posts are read and then allows you to show this in different ways. As you can see, I have chosen to give mine some color, but keep the shape uniform. You can adjust the shape, colors, read count, title, etc. in various different ways to suit your needs. You then copy and paste the code into sections of your website. It updates by itself when new articles become popular and it always brightens up the page. (At the time of print, Postskin was a one-time payment of $33).
Soon after launching my website, it got hacked. Someone found a hole in my version of WordPress, planted malware on my homepage and left. Not only did this cause search engines to throw a fit the next time they indexed my site, but browsers even blocked people from visiting the site. Sucuri is a plugin that scours the website multiple times a day looking for malware, fixes it and then sends a status report. It also monitors other hacking activity that can happen on a site, and sends updated reports to search engines if it becomes blacklisted. It also notifies the administrator of any brute-force attempts on your admin page by providing a summary report of multiple failed logins (this prompts me to change my password to my admin page). Sucuri, while being offered through a plugin, does charge an annual subscription per site, but the peace of mind and time saved from fixing this problem is well worth it. (At time of print, Sucuri is $100/yr. per website).
Ever since my computer became corrupted six months into running Finance for Teachers, I’m a freak about having things backed up. All of my files are saved in Dropbox (with an unlimited recovery option – “Packrat” – installed) and then all these files are backed up using Carbonite. But that left the backup of my website to deal with.
While I am using Arkovi and their website archiving program, I want some more backstops. I also wanted a program to back up the tables and integrity of my website rather than screenshots. I installed UpDraftPlus on my website and it performs automatic weekly backups of my site and puts all the pages and tables into a Dropbox folder (remember this then gets backed up in another program). When the next week rolls around, it deletes the last backup and replaces it with the new one. Should my website be compromised, I have all the source files, and related code, to replace the old site. (At the time of print, UpDraftPlus costs $70/yr. for up to 2 sites).
While not technically a plugin, my mindset of running my website changed after using and installing Leadpages. Leadpages is a software platform that allows you to create custom pages for your website using pre-set templates that can highlight different events or products. I use these pages for e-book signups, webinars I want people to sign up for, and also “gateway pages” to get new visitors to opt-in to a particular product. (A gateway page is one that is shown to a new visitor, but when they return, they don’t see the page again and go straight to the homepage). By using Leadpages, you can also use Leadboxes, which allows you to create your own opt-in boxes. These can be shown in sidebars or even as pop-ups. If you’ve ever tried other programs offering this service, or tried coding them yourself, you’ll know how bad they can look. Leadboxes has fresh and clean opt-in templates that you can use with minimal coding. By connecting your website to Leadpages, you can run multiple opt-in boxes to different mailing lists, have multiple landing pages running, and see how well they are performing through the Leadpages analytics. Leadpages made so many things easy in running and promoting my site that I wish I would have known about it from the beginning. (At the time of print, a basic Leadpages package is $37/mo, but there are various pricing options).
Do you have a favorite plug-in not listed here? Tell us about it.