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There are a lot of lists out there about “20 Best Free Plugins!” and “Top Ten Essential WP Plugins!”, but you know what isn’t out there yet? A top list of Deborah’s favourite most handy plugins. Some of them may be found in some of the other lists out there, but some of them are a bit more random. So without further ado: Deborah’s Favourite Most Handy List of Plugins in 2020!

So here we go, in no particular order:

Classic Editor 

Johannes Gutenberg
Classic Editor: the editor that Johannes Gutenberg would have used.

This is probably on a lot of other lists out there. I have to be honest: I hate Gutenberg. In fact, I think the original Gutenberg is rolling in his grave at the thought that his name is being used for such an awful page builder. I’d rather just write everything manually than use Gutenberg, that’s how awkward it is. But thanks to sensible people out there, the Classic Editor plugin exists, to bring back the WYSIWYG editor. My life is made easier.

If you like, you can disable Gutenberg, or leave it enabled so that any other users who DO like Gutenberg (weirdos) can still use it. Conveniently, it opens automatically to the user’s last-used editor, so you don’t have to worry about repeatedly switching back and forth.

Schema & Schema Default Image 

Google structured data rich snippets results
All that fancy stuff like the sidebar there and whatnot? That’s because of structured data.

Schema is very simple and straightforward for getting your structured data markup in the right format, which makes your site look a lot better in Google search results. It’s helpful for your local SEO and great for people who are simply searching for you (or didn’t know they were searching for you).

The Schema Default Image plugin goes hand-in-hand with Schema, adding an option for you to designate a default image if your pages or posts don’t have a featured image, which is a nice little add-on.

Honeypot for Contact Form 7

It works on Winnie, and it’ll work on spammers.

Contact Form 7 is a great contact form plugin, but as with any contact form, you can end up getting a lot of spam. Thanks, but I don’t want to buy viagra from random Russian people, and neither do the clients for whom I build websites. I mean, I assume they don’t.

ReCAPTCHA is helpful in decreasing the spam, but I find when I implement CF7’s quiz feature AND the honeypot, it makes a huge difference! Overkill? Maybe. But nobody likes spam.

Header, Footer and Post Injections 

Get it? Header!

Sometimes you end up having to use a theme that makes it very difficult to plugin bits of code in the header or anywhere else, and you can get this done all in one place without having to use 5 different plugins. It’s also another one of those really straightforward plugins that is simple to use. It even takes into consideration accelerated mobile pages.

Code Snippets 

Code Snippets is a bit like Header, Footer, and Post Injections, but you can insert lines of code one at a time and enable and disable each of them as you please. It adds them to your theme’s functions.php file automatically. The graphical interface is nice, and allows you to add comments and tags for notes for yourself (or other admins). I don’t always need this plugin, but I’m really glad it exists!

Use Any Font 

Seriously, ANY font!

Ever have that one website you have to build where the client’s font ISN’T a Google font? That’s when this comes handy. You can upload one font for free and it converts it into a web font. Mind you, if you need more than one custom font, you’re going to have to pay, but usually I only need one custom font. It plays nicely with various editors and page builders too.

Disable admin notices individually

I can’t be the only one who gets tired the plethora of notifications in WordPress. It’s either “give us a rating!” or “upgrade to premium!” or “really useless information that takes up half the page!” and you have to click the little x to close them out every. single. time.

Notifications blocks
Dude. Nobody even cares.

Well, Disable admin notices individually solves that problem for you. You can dismiss a message permanently. And don’t worry, if you didn’t mean to dismiss one, you can go into the settings and un-dismiss the message. Additionally, different users and the messages they have dismissed are independent of each other — if I dismiss a message, another admin logging in will still see it until they also dismiss it.

WPFront Notification Bar

I’ve seen a lot of pages out there with a COVID-19 notification bar to alert site users to what their business is doing in response to COVID-19. If you want one of those that you can extensively customise, then this is the plugin for you. Of course, it’s not just for COVID alerts, but for any alert your heart desires. You can set cookies so that it doesn’t pop up for the same user for a certain length of time, or you can set it so it pops up every time. You can adjust colour, size, location, scroll, how it closes (or doesn’t close), and just about anything else you’d want to do. It’s an impressive little plugin if a notification bar is something that you need!

Redirection

This is not a political endorsement.

This plugin is great for handling 301 redirects. Some of our clients have ecommerce stores and rather than un-publishing a product, they’ll delete it for whatever reason. Of course, when they do that, I get the wonderful notification from Google Search Console telling me that we’ve got a 404, oh no! Redirection is great at handling and sorting out that problem so that users aren’t sent to an “oops! 404 page not found!” page. It can handle conditional redirects it even tracks errors.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

This plugin isn’t for every website, but if you write a lot of articles, recipes, or sell products through an ecommerce store, this plugin can make a huge difference. It puts all of your posts into an AMP format, a stripped down version of your post that is mobile-friendly and gives you a chance to show up in the Google News carousel. Since implementing AMP for a few of our clients, we’ve seen a huge upturn in traffic to those pages.

There are lots of upgrades you can purchase for this plugin, but the free version is more than enough to work for most of our clients. It’s worth mentioning here that there is a free plugin, AMP Contact FORM 7 – AMPCF7 to make Contact Form 7 work with AMP. It hasn’t been updated in two years, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

And have I mentioned yet that having your own ecommerce store can be far more beneficial than selling on third-party platforms? Indeed, you can boost your own store‘s SEO with this.

Contact Form 7 Database Addon – CFDB7

If you’re worried about missing contact emails or accidentally losing the data that people have submitted, this plugin is handy. It stores each contact form’s information in a database on your site. You can export it as a CSV file, delete individual entries (or all) if there are duplicates, and it requires no configuration at all.

Special Mentions

I think that a lot of lists cover these plugins, but it’s worth mentioning anyway without needing to go into detail.

Augoptimize – our favourite plugin for optimising image sizes, scripts, and generally speeding up a page. We use it in conjunction with a subscription to ShortPixel.

Wordfence – Excellent for website security. You’d be amazed at how often people try hacking pretty much ANY website.

Yoast SEO – The best tool for SEO!

What are your favourite handy WordPress plugins? Let me know in the comments!

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online review

Managing Online Reviews

You open your email and find a note saying “____ left a 1 star review”. What do you do?

It’s commonly a joke in the online world that you’ve “made it” once you have “haters”. Meaning that as soon as you are big or important enough to have people that will take time out of their day to say something negative, you know you are on the right track. Well, to an extent. If everyone and their dog is writing a bad review, or has something awful to say about your business, then I would take a look at some things. BUT, today we are talking about how to manage those online reviews that aren’t a perfect score.

What went wrong?

First things first, look into the persons concern. Was it poor service that needs to be addressed with an employee? Did they not receive the product they asked for and it needs to be fixed? Is it an ex employee that feels they weren’t treated fairly? Once a negative review comes in, it may be an opportunity to A) help change their minds or B) improve processes/products. Figure out what went wrong and address the concern offline to the best of your abilities.

Respond

Respond to the reviewers request in a timely manner. This doesn’t have to be done within hours of the review, especially if something is being sorted out. If it is being sorted out offline, still respond to the review afterwards explaining the resolution. This will help show people reading the review that you care and can come to a solution. Be professional at all costs. Getting into a keyboard war with someone online, will not help anyone. Check out this below response that probably could have gone another way……

 

managing online review

SOME negative reviews is a good thing

Now hold on a minute, I know this one seems a little counter productive, but there is a bright side to a negative review. Like said above, it shows other people that are reading the reviews you care and are willing to make it right for the customer/employee. This shows that regardless of your company size you take the time to look at what’s not working and what you can do to fix it.

Additionally the odd negative review makes you actually look more credible in the eyes of those looking at reviews. It’s nice and all when you come across a company online with a wonderful rating review, but something seems off when you have a lot of full 5 star reviews. Imagine you were looking for a hotel online. You come across a couple options that fit well and are the same price. You take to the reviews to make your final decision. Hotel “A” has 50 reviews total with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. They have had a couple unhappy people, but otherwise people are generally happy with their stay. You come across Hotel “B” and it has 50 reviews total and every single one of them is a 5 star review. Would you suspect that “something’s up” maybe? How could a whole hotel get it right EVERY SINGLE TIME? I know I certainly would be questioning. In 2014 it was estimated that 10-15% of reviews are purchased! Which is HUGE no no when it comes to your SEO. If you get caught, google will remove ALL reviews and penalize your site showing up in searches!

So do not panic when you come across a negative review online for your business. Managing a bad review can sometimes even be a blessing! Or fun like this hilarious rebuttal below.

yelpreview