Are you trying to build an interactive and informational website on a platform that is easy to update and feature rich? We are huge fans of WordPress and highly recommend you consider building your church or organization’s website on the WordPress platform. If you don’t know what WordPress is or how it works, here’s a great intro video that will give you the 4-1-1 in less than two minutes:

Now, let’s dive into our suggestions for top ten plugins for your website. These suggestions aren’t the only plugins you should use, nor do we suggest you need all of them for your website. But we highly encourage you to take a look at them and see how they would help you connect with your visitors and expand your message.

Top 10 Plugins for your WordPress website:

1) WordPress SEO by Yoast

This free plugin gives you complete control over the SEO properties for your website. It covers the main site descriptions as well as giving you SEO controls for each page and post you create. This plugin is crucial for helping Google index your website and crawl through your content so as to boost your ranking in Google searches.

2) Google XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps are highly favored by search engines like Google and Bing as they give a central location for search bots to know how much content your website has and where it is all located. This plugin automatically collects all that data and provides the information to those search engines.

 3) Contactme.com Contact Form

There are a lot of WordPress plugins for Contact forms, but one of our favorites is the Contactme.com contact form. This versatile form allows you to not only have a contact page with a robust contact form for collecting information with plenty of options like uploading your own logo, adding social profiles, creating new tabs so people have options in what kind of information they are requesting, but they also give you the ability to add a contact button to the left or right side of your website. This button is a non-obtrusive way to give people a way to contact you at any time they are on your website. And the best part of it all, Contactme.com will email you as soon as someone submits a question; plus they have a Contact Management System (CMS) that captures all of the emails and keeps them in a beautiful database for you. This plugin is free once you sign up and they do have premium options if you want to remove their branding or add some advanced capabilities.

4) Google Analytics Dashboard

What good is a website if you don’t know who is coming to it and how they are interacting with your page? If you don’t already, you should be using Google Analytics to know how many visitors your website is getting each month and learn what pages get the most traffic as well as what pages cause them to leave your website the most. This free plugin tells you all of that and more. The best part is it brings you all that information to your WordPress Dashboard so you don’t have to go to Google Analytics and get the most important information. It also integrates with all your pages and posts to tell you how many views they get and how many times people exit your website from those specific pages.

5) Blackbird Pie

Do you want to show tweets in a sharp way? This free plugin showcases individual tweets with the user’s profile and presents them in a professional way. It’s a much better option if you want to embed tweets into your posts instead of just copying and pasting the tweets or using screenshots.

6) Broken Link Checker

If you have a lot of links on your website, this free plugin will be a great resource to help you know if those links ever stop working. It constantly keeps track of all hyperlinks you’ve posted and will notify you immediately if they ever break down. It then gives you the option to remove the link, turn it into plain text, or update the link if you need a new URL address.

7) Slick Social Share Buttons

Giving readers the ability to share your content on social networks is one of the most important features your website should have. If you want to significantly increase your web traffic and make your content viral, then use this free plugin. It creates a column of social sharing buttons on the left hand side or bottom of the posts. We encourage you to only use this plugin for your posts and it may be a bit overkill if you use it on your pages as well.

8) Shareaholic Bookmarks

Want more options on what social networks viewers can share your content on? This free plugin allows you to choose from a massive variety of channels as well as giving you the ability to add counters and track how many times your content has been shared. Easy to set up. Easy to use. We definitely recommend this plugin!

9) Full Throttle Calendar

If your theme does not have a calendar option, this is a great, free plugin that allows you to add a calendar to your website. It easily gives you the ability to turn any page or post into a calendar item, create categories for your calendar that are color coded, as well as robust features like making calendar entries repeat. All it takes to set up is inserting a shortcode to the page you want the calendar to show and then the plugin does the rest of the work.

10) Backup Buddy

What could be worse than spending all the time creating your website and having it crash for unknown reasons? While WordPress is a beautiful platform, it does have a host of hackers who want to hijack your site, embed viruses and take over the control of your site. This is rare, but it is important to be protected. Furthermore, if you are the type to play around with your theme, editing the PHP files, adding custom CSS, and trying to customize your site, you can screw it up mistakenly. Having fresh backups is important before you make any of these changes. Forgive us from deviating from free plugins, but when it comes to backups, you really get what you pay for. While not free, Backup Buddy is the best at creating complete backups of your site. Most free backups only save your content (ie posts and pages); this plugin saves your database, your theme, your plugins, your customizations, and all of your content. It is definitely worth the price of investment.

What plugins do you currently use? Have you found one you could not live without?

Kyle Willis is the Social Media & Marketing Director for ROAR. He thanks Mark Zuckerberg for giving him a way to pay his mortgage. If he is not in front of a computer, he’s probably losing in some sport or driving faster than his mom would want him to.