Plugins are best described as “features” you add to your WordPress site that enhance your functionality, content and lead generation. But new WP.org users can easily become overwhelmed by the abundant shiny plugin choices! And just because you can activate a ton of feature-specific plugins doesn’t mean you need to, or should.
Of course it’s a wonderful thing to improve user experience on your site. But it shouldn’t come at price…which is often a bloated blog with a slow load time. Nobody wants that! So, whether you’re new to WordPress or looking to optimize site performance I’ve narrowed my list of favorite plugins down to the must-haves and organized them into 5 categories. Take a look…
(1) IDX Home Search:
Make it easy for your users to search for and find real estate in your local market. Diverse Solutions and IDXBroker are as good as it gets! Both offer easy home search integration, but Diverse takes it a step further with their IDXPress Plugin which literally puts the MLS on your blog!
(2) Lead Gen Forms:
So whatcha, whatcha, whatcha want, whatcha want!? Whether you’re offering a CMA, other market data, a newsletter or just yourself via contact info…make sure your visitors can get what they want. Use Gravity Forms, Pop Up Domination, or the MailChimp List Subscribe Form to create the perfect lead generation opportunity on your site!
(3) Market Data:
If you’re creating neighborhood pages or want to become a regular source of market trend data consider adding: Altos Research or Simple Real Estate Pack.This type of content is an extremely valuable for helping consumers digest market trends in their local area. It’s also a great way to supplement other written or video content you create.
(4) Site Performance:
What good is a beautiful site with robust content and features if you can’t access it! So be sure you’re backing up your site regularly (should anything every happen) with Backup Buddy and ensure your site has a faster load time with W3 Total Cache.
(5) Social Integration:
Not only do share controls help you promote and track your own content, but you’re also providing that important functionality to your site visitors. Give them the power to tell others about a great resource they know….you! Consider adding share controls with purpose. Send content to the obvious places with Facebook Likes and Twitter Shares. You may also want to try out Google’s new +1 button. And don’t be afraid to go oldschool with a “Print this Post ” type of feature. Some of us still enjoy printing for reference or sharing with a friend. To create your own mashup of share controls, check out the options available from Jetpack.
I should also mention that smart WP developers (aka Chad Johnson & Dave Bonds) can add share controls like the Facebook Share & Like buttons, and even Google’s +1 by coding them directly into the template.
And Dave Bonds (Director of Web Design, Agent Evolution) adds, “We do it that way because you can’t always control where the plugin will put the button, so we make it easy by grouping them all together.”
Clearly you don’t need all of the mentioned plugins. You might find some work better than others depending on your WordPress theme, which is why I ALWAYS recommend the Genesis Framework w/ the AgentPress Theme. So take a look at the current state of your site and pick one category from above that you could improve on! And just do it!