I’m a huge fan of WordPress. WordPress allows the average guy (like you and me) to setup and run a website with advanced features through the use of WordPress plugins.
That is why WordPress today powers around 26% of the web.
There are literally 10s of 1000s of WordPress Plugins. Some are well known and easy to find because people talk about them all the time. They often add highly regarded features and functionality to websites. Two examples of these well-known plugins are the Yoast SEO plugin (for SEO features) and W3 Total Cache (speeding up websites through advanced caching features).
But these are not the type of WordPress plugins this article is about.
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There is another group of WordPress plugins that are not so well-known but provide elegant and simple solutions to problems many marketers, bloggers and site admins in general have.
These plugins are often free and although they might seem simple at first, they have the power to save you huge amounts of time and money – and make your marketing processes more efficient. Often these simple features would have had the power to solve many of your problems a long time ago – if you only knew they existed.
Here are 8 crazy value WordPress plugins you never knew existed:
1. What would Seth Godin do
Seth Godin has been one of the main initiators of modern online marketing.
Among other things he is a huge supporter of providing different experiences to visitors of websites depending on whether the visitor is there the first time or is a returning visitor.
“One opportunity that’s underused is the idea of using cookies to treat returning visitors differently than newbies. It’s more work at first, but it can offer two experiences to two different sorts of people.” (Source: In the Middle, Starting)
The idea is great: Track whether a visitor is returning to your site through a cookie and then provide a different experience. The first time you might offer a freebie in exchange for a subscription. Or simply show a welcome message with a few words about yourself.
As I said in the introduction, I love WordPress because it allows average people to run websites with advanced features. The feature as described above is an advanced feature – and if you are not a developer, you are probably not going to tackle the task of creating a cookie yourself.
That’s what this plugin is for!
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What would Seth Godin Do let’s you define two messages (one for new visitors and one for returning visitors). Both can contain links – and you can define where these messages should be shown (before or after posts). You can also define how often the new message should be displayed to a new visitor.
Then you simply activate the plugin and it does it’s job!
Simple as that.
2. Broken Link Checker
Every blog and every website that is regularly linking to other websites will at some point contain broken links.
It just happens – and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Some content will be removed from the web, and some admins will just move content to different pages without the proper use of redirects.
Broken links are risky for 2 reasons:
- With a lot of broken links on your site, your user experience will suffer greatly. Just imagine you are on a website that links to further information and the link is broken: Will this website have a chance to become your goto resource? Probably not.
- With a lot of broken links on your site, your SEO may actually suffer. I have yet to find reliable data on whether broken links directly influence SEO traffic, but as Google places high value on user experience these days, there is no way denying that anything that negatively influences it will also hurt your SEO in the long run.
The bad thing is that there is almost nothing you can do manually to prevent this from happening to you. You cannot keep track of all the links in your 100s of articles by hand.
That’s where this plugin comes in very handy: Broken Link Checker will automatically keep track of your broken links and alarm you through the dashboard or even email if links on your site break, allowing you to replace or delete them. It will also allow you to show broken links differently in posts, force Google to ignore broken links and so on.
Broken Link Checker is highly configurable, so you can adapt it to exactly what you need. It is one of those WordPress Plugins you never knew you needed – until you installed it!
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3. Content Upgrades (Pro)
A content upgrade is a way to capture email addresses of visitors by adding links in your posts that link to related information that can be downloaded in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
Today this is one of the most effective forms of building an email list. Backlinko has a case study on how they improved their conversions by 785% through the use of Content Upgrades.
The reason content upgrades work so well is that they allow you to show upgrades specifically to the interest of the reader of the post – by providing advanced content around the post he/she is already reading.
However, content upgrades are not as easy to implement effectively as you might believe. We use LeadPages – but even that is not a really simple solution.
A simpler but great solution is the Content Upgrades plugin. It comes in a free version (allowing you only limited content upgrades) and a paid pro version. It integrates with quite a few email marketing services. It let’s you add content upgrades directly within WordPress in a very simple way.
4. Thrive Clever Widgets
Above I told you about content upgrades – and that they work so well because they allow you to provide content around the interests of the reader.
Now, what if you could optimize large parts of your website in this way?
Usually, a website based on WordPress looks like this: You have your main post content, and around your post you have various widget areas (like the sidebar). The widgets you place in these areas are always the same on each page of your website.
What if it didn’t have to be this way? What if you could place content in these widget areas based on the content of the post?
Thrive Clever Widgets allows you to do just that. It lets you choose which widgets get shown on each page of your site and therefore allows you to enter a completely new world of content and conversion optimization.
It is the only plugin in this list that doesn’t have a free version – but I chose to include it anyway because if you need it, there is no alternative.
5. Comment Redirect by Yoast
If you want to increase your conversion rates, you have to segment your visitors and provide experiences to different segments.
We’ve already covered how to provide experiences to new visitors (What would Seth Godin do?) and readers of posts (Content Upgrades and Thrive Clever Widgets), but there is one very important group of website visitors that online marketers often forget to tend to.
That group is visitors who have already interacted with your website in some way.
Think about it: How much more likely is a visitor to convert if he/she has already interacted with your website?
For bloggers, the lowest hanging fruit might often be commenters.
The Comment Redirect plugin by Yoast (providers of the famous SEO plugin) allows you to send everyone to a certain page after writing a comment.
What’s even better: This interaction takes place after the visitor has finished with everything he might have wanted to do on your site. He is finished reading the post, he has even already commented. He won’t be pulled out of his own flow of actions. He doesn’t need to press the back button on a page he didn’t want to visit just to be allowed to continue reading a specific post.
6. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) comes in two flavors, basic and pro. It displays pages, posts and custom post types that are related to the current entry a user is visiting.
What’s better, it does this automagically without the user needing to define what a related post is.
The pro version requires you to signup for their service – it then allows you to make money by showing sponsored content in the related posts area. You can even promote your own content via their network through the pro version.
If you are running a blog you should have a few mandatory WordPress plugins installed – a related posts plugin is one of them, and this one is as good as they get.
7. Pretty Link (Lite or Pro)
Sometimes you need to mask a link – so that the original link is not shown before a visitor clicks on it. It might be because you want to hide a complex affiliate link, or you just want to shorten a link.
Pretty Link lets you do just this. For example, we mask all our affiliate links by displaying them in the form:
blog.thesocialms/recommends/[name of service]
This way they look unified and affiliate marketing links don’t look shady and dangerous anymore (they aren’t dangerous).
Another reason for masking links is if you use a service like Leadpages for landing pages – and you want to hide that the landing page is not on your own site before someone clicks.
Pretty Link allows you to mask links the easy way.
8. Table of Contents Plus
If you write really long posts with loads of sub-headlines, this simple plugin will generate a table of contents at the beginning for you.
This might not sound like something that will give you a lot of value, but it does: Some people often write posts that are up to 10,000 words long, and with posts this long, the user experience is something you should worry about.
Don’t get me wrong – long posts are great: They provide a lot of information, they appeal to a lot of readers and they are great for SEO.
But with all that information in one posts, you have to make sure that the reader actually finds the information he is looking for, and that can sometimes be a problem.
You have to make sure that you structure the information in a way that allows any reader to keep reading and understanding (through the use of subheads) and you should provide shortcut links to different sections of your post.
The table of contents generated by this plugin can be a welcome helper!
There are many very useful WordPress plugins that not many people know about – and this post can’t mention every single one. Some of these plugins provide simple solutions to complex problems, others strive to make your life a little easier, others may have a direct effect on your income.
What WordPress plugins have you found to be helpful? What are your favorites?