WordPress came to life on May 2003 and few technological inventions in the internet age have become as ubiquitous as WordPress when it comes to website Content Management Systems (CMS).
This is what the WordPress home page looked like back then:
And this is what it looks like now:
The rise of WordPress and WooCommerce as a CMS has mainly been due to 2 main factors: ease of use and scalability.
As a CMS, WordPress is an extremely versatile and easy to use CMS with a learning curve that is much less steep than say Joomla and esp. Magento.
Scalability has been made relatively easy due to the myriad number of plugins that have been built for it by WordPress and third parties around the world.
If you have a WordPress site there’s a good chance you have at least a few plugins installed already. However, the list of available plugins and their potential uses are almost too vast to count thus making WordPress even more functional and scalable.
In this post, Diffusion Digital will talk you through some of our favourite plugins for a shipping and SEO. Bookmark this page as we’ll be updating it with more plugins next month!
WooCommerce plugins for Shipping
Flexible Shipping for WooCommerce
First up, we have the Flexibility Shipping for WooCommerce which claims to be the most advanced shipping plugin for WooCommerce and whilst we’re not sure we believe in that claim, it does offer quite a wide range of features and customization options to choose from.
There isn’t much that the plugin can’t do and is an ideal solution for WooCommerce sites in the medium to high competition sectors where offering a wide range of delivery options is a must.
In addition to allowing the calculation of shipping costs based on cart total, you could also do so based on weight. Plus, it also offers COD (Cash On Delivery) shipping options which is something most other shipping plugins do not.
Additionally, you have options to integrate insurance options which again, could be a way to add a USP to your WooCommerce site.
The plugin comes in 2 flavours: the free version which gives you the tools that should be sufficient for most small retailer and a paid option for more advanced Ecommerce businesses.
For a full list of features and the differences between the free and paid version, check out their official site.
WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker for Shipping
Next up, we have the WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker which is a good option to consider if your WooCommerce store offers shipping based on time slots.
Successful Ecommerce stores know that one of the ways you can increase sales is by reducing the amount of ‘friction’ between the user and the buying process and it is usually a good idea to offer as many shipping options as is possible.
This plugin is more like an ‘add-on’ to your existing setup, adding the functionality of allowing users to select when to receive their purchase, giving control to the user on both, the day as well as the time.
Of course, not all courier companies offer this feature so it’s a good idea to check that yours does.
WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping
No. of downloads: 20,000+
Being able to calculate shipping charges based on weight isn’t exactly a unique feature by any means but the WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping does have a super-useful way of offering this option.
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.
WordPress Plugins for SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to a website what the engine is to your car. Without it, no matter how amazing your product is, no one is going to see it.
The popularity of SEO has meant that this is area of plugin development is one of the most popular for WordPress which means there’s literally thousands of WordPress SEO plugins to choose from.
A thing to bear in mind is that no matter how good the plugin, they only offer you the tools to have the basic on-page SEO in place. If you’re hoping to attract a wide audience for your WordPress website, you will also need to undertake an off-page SEO campaign that encompasses important traffic-driving techniques such as link building and content marketing.
No. of downloads: 5+ million
First up, we have the Yoast SEO plugin which is by far, the most popular SEO
plugin for WordPress around.
Yoast SEO comes in 2 flavours: the free option which offers you the basic functionality around keyword optimisation, page previews and duplicate content checks whilst the premium (paid) option offers you all of that and much more.
Here’s a snapshot of the comparison but for more on this head over to https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/.
At the time of this writing, the paid plugin costs £79 plus VAT.
If you’re asking “is the premium (paid) Yoast plugin worth it?” then our answer is going to be annoying yet inevitable: it depends.
For small WordPress sites in non-competitive sectors and where you don’t need to drive a ton of traffic to the site, the free option might be just fine. Or, if you have a professional SEO company who is looking after your site, both on-page and off-page as well.
However, if you want to do it all yourself and don’t plan on a link building and content generation campaign or traffic isn’t all that important, you may find the paid plugin adds a little bit of value.
All In One SEO Pack
No. of downloads: 3+ million
The All In One SEO Pack is another WordPress plugin for SEO and just about as useful as Yoast.
All In One has a useful XML sitemap submission feature for those who don’t know how to work with Google Search Console or Bing (or simply aren’t inclined to).
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is becoming increasingly common-place on the mobile web and All In One has integration and monitoring capabilities for those 2.
Which is better, Yoast SEO or All In One?
The differences between the 2 are subtle and in many cases, comes down to your personal preference.
For example, whereas the various functions of Yoast are laid out on different tabs, All In One has then all listed on a single page (think of a multi-step checkout process compared to one where you enter all your info on the same page).
Another example is Social Media – Yoast does tend to offer a few more options for Social Media monitoring and integration than All In One.
WordPress Plugins for Marketing
Welcome back to part 2 of our list of essential plugins for your WordPress or WooCommerce website.
This month, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best plugins around to help you super-charge your marketing efforts.
The popularity of WordPress has meant that there are thousands of developers around the world building plugins for it for pretty much anything you can think of.
From a marketing perspective, WordPress is designed for small to medium sized growing businesses which means no matter what your skill set when it comes to marketing, there’s sure to be a plugin that is right for you.
No. of downloads: 10,000+
First up on our list is the CAOS plugin built to make the task of Google Analytics integration easier.
If you’ve got a website, you’ve most likely have an analytics programme installed too which gives you data about how many people visit your website, where they come from, actions they take and so on.
Google Analytics (GA) is one such platform and perhaps the most popular one for most small to medium sized websites.
If you’re considering adding GA to your site, you should know that GA only works once you’ve added the GA code to all pages of the site and often you will need to get your web developer to do it.
This is where CAOS comes in. it is a plugin for Google Analytics which allows to you connect to it without the need for any outside help.
The plugin is natively compatible with WordPress which means that installing it on your site is going to be seamless and hassle-free.
What’s more, once you have this in place, it can also show you the basic info from GA right into your WordPress dashboard saving you a lot of time and clicks having to bounce around from once platform to another.
MailChimp for WordPress
No. of downloads: 100,000+
Mailchimp is for email newsletters what Google Analytics is for website analytics so it’s no wonder that we have a bespoke plugin for MailChimp available.
MailChimp is one of the most popular newsletter software around and until the arrival of this plugin, it wouldn’t be too uncommon to find your email subscriber data separate from the signups from your website which means each time you had someone signing up to your newsletter via your website, you will have to manually add them to your MailChimp database.
With the MailChimp for WordPress plugin however, all of that is history.
Once installed and connected, not only can you automatically sync your newsletter and website subscribers but you can also carry out some advanced functions such as offering the ability of people who make an enquiry via your site to sign up to your newsletter directly via opt-in checkboxes.
This is not only a great time saver but will also go a long way in enhancing the size and quality of your subscriber list.
No. of downloads: 800,000+
Speaking of increasing your email subscriber list, another tool that is designed precisely for that is the OptinMonster plugin for WordPress.
Your website’s conversion rate is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and offering multiple ways for a conversion (aka call-to-action) to occur is a must.
For example, even though your most important call-to-action is going to a sale if you’re selling something or an enquiry if you’re a service business, secondary call-to-action such as a newsletter signup or to download a white-paper or brochure can also be very valuable in the long run.
OptinMonster offers the ability to create several different types of forms such as popups and light boxes and even ‘exit-intent’ light boxes which can help you increase the number of page/views, increase conversions and ultimately make your website work better.
Drip Marketing Automation plugin for WordPress
No. of downloads: 9,000+
If your website’s subscriber count is in the triple digits, you need to have a marketing automation CRM in place if you don’t have one already and Drip is one such option.
In addition to collating all your signups and subscriber info from a variety of signup sources, a software like Drip can also automate certain marketing tasks that you carry out on a routine basis.
For example, Drip will allow you to send out an automated email notification to a a visitor who signs up via your blog each time you publish a new blog post which is not only a great time saver but also helps you improve your return visit levels.
Or, you can create lead nurturing emails which are designed to gradually move your user from the ‘cold’ to ‘hot’ stage of the buying funnel. In the long run, this can mean more sales for relatively less effort.