On this page are some of the best WordPress resources for small business websites—plugins, services, books, and more—designed to help you maintain your WordPress website.
Affiliate Partner Notice: I only recommend resources based on my own experience and/or the experience of other trusted WordPress developers. Some of the resources on this page contain affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link and then decide to purchase the resource, I get a small referral commission. You will not pay more by clicking these links; the partner company pays the commission for recommending them to you.
Resources for keeping your WordPress website secure.
WordPress Plugins for Security
Extensive tools to quickly secure your WordPress website. This plugin performs very technical functions behind the scenes but you don’t have to be a programmer to set it up. In fact, the default settings will secure your website right away.
iThemes offers a great collection of tutorials and their support is fantastic.
Easy to install and easy to setup automated backups with the backup wizard. Create scheduled backups of complete website or database only and send them to your DropBox, Amazon S3, FTP, email, etc. Easy to use and very reliable for backup, restoring (in case of lost or corrupted files), and moving your website to another hosting server.
This plugin has also been around for a while and is very reliable. There is a free and a premium (paid) version available, but the free version offers great security features. Although it feels a bit more technical, it’s easy to install and setup. But it should be technical, right? It’s a web security plugin!
Another premium backup plugin for WordPress that many website owners swear by. It is a bit more pricey, but really, what’s $5/month to ensure you have daily backups? If you have a very busy blog, you might want to consider the $15/month option that performs real-time backups. Yup, you make a change or publish a new blog post and it gets backed up right away. You can also choose a bundle and get premium comment spam protection.
I added this one because many WordPress users love it. I actually only use it on GoDaddy websites since BackupBuddy does not work well with WordPress sites installed on GoDaddy. Of course, I don’t really recommend GoDaddy for hosting, but if you’re already there you can make it work.
An excellent plugin that blocks spam comments from showing up in your blog posts. You really want this, even if you only publish a few blog posts now and then. There are pricing plans available, but if you have a small site, you can name your price.
WordPress Services for Security
Sucuri is anti-virus software for your website. They offer excellent security scanning and malware protection for WordPress websites, and a solid firewall to prevent hackers from slowing down your website. If your website does get infected, you are notified immediately by email. You submit a job ticket and within a few hours (or less), Sucuri’s team will clean up any infected files and report back to you.
One of the largest web hosting providers, HostGator offers a wide variety of hosting services. Their support is fast, friendly, and usually resolves any problems or questions on the first call. The cheaper plans are suitable for very small sites, but you can easily increase services as your online business grows.
Why “Gator”? Although the company is now based in Texas, it was started in Florida.
You could host your WordPress website with any host that meets WordPress’ server requirements, but Siteground specializes in WordPress hosting and support. I recommend SiteGround because they focus on the three areas of WordPress maintenance I am dedicated to at Steady Sites: Security, Performance, and Education. SiteGround provides additional security measures and performance enhancements you won’t find with other hosts. And for education, they provide great WordPress tutorials on their website.
If you’re looking for really dedicated WordPress website hosting, I suggest WP Engine. Security and performance are top priorities for WP Engine. All sites get built-in security, backups, performance boosts, and scalability (services increase as your website traffic increases). You pay a bit more for WP Engine, but you’ll also reduce the amount of time you spend on routine maintenance tasks. And time is money (so they say).
Resources to help optimize the performance of your WordPress website.
WordPress Plugins to Improve Website Performance
This is likely the most popular WordPress plugin for optimizing your WordPress website for increased search engines results. The default settings give you an instant boost, but the real area that this plugin shines is the content analysis feature available to every page and post you create. As you learn to follow Yoast’s suggestions to improve SEO, you will learn to write better content that your readers and search engines will follow.
All-in-One SEO Pack
Another long-time favourite of many WordPress users, All-in-One SEO also provides many standard features “out of the box.” If Yoast SEO conflicts with other necessary plugins on your site, you might try All-in-One SEO.
W3 Total Cache
The primary function of caching plugins is to store (cache) your web pages and posts as static pages and serve these to visitors, thus reducing the demands on your server. W3 Total Cache is very powerful, but can be complicated to set up. But it’s worth the effort: you can get up to 10x speed improvements. That means visitors will see your content faster and be more inclined to stay. SEO experts say visitors expect a page to load in two seconds or less; otherwise, they will move on.
WP Super Cache
This is another excellent caching plugin that tends to be easier to set up. Some might argue that easier setup means poorer performance results. But most users indicate that WP Super Cache provides great results. Again, if you have trouble setting up W3 Total Cache, or if it conflicts with other plugins on your site, WP Super Cache is an excellent alternative.
I have been following this premium ($$) plugin for a while and have written about positive reviews WP Rocket has received. Since it is a premium plugin, it’s a better option if your site is making money for you. One advantage to WP Rocket is that it plays nicely with eCommerce plugins. If you use something like WooCommerce to sell goods, you should look into WP Rocket.
A small plugin that removes excess data from your images and optimizes them for better website performance – without compromising image quality. If you’re not sure how to optimize your images before you upload them, look into WP Smush.
The more you blog or post news updates on your WordPress website, the larger your database becomes. This is generally not a problem, but over time, the database can becomes bloated and can slow down your website. There are simple ways of optimizing your database if you are technically inclined, but the WP Optimize plugin will look after this for you.
WordPress Services to Improve Performance
Good web hosting will help keep your WordPress website running at peak performance.
Hostgator – see above for description.
Siteground – see above for description.
WP Engine – see above for description.
If you have many images or downloadable objects on your website, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help speed up the time those objects are delivered to your website visitors. For example, if your primary host server is located in the USA and someone visits your website from Australia, a CDN will deliver your content to that visitor from a server in Australia.
CloudFlare is another popular CDN service, but one of it’s advantages is that is provides increased security feature to prevent direct attacks on your website. It can be a bit tricky to set up, since you have to change your domain name servers to point to their servers. But if you have a website targeting a global market, it can be worth the effort.
Resources to help you learn to use your WordPress website more effectively.
WordPress Plugins for Continued Education
This is a neat little tool that allows you to get quick tips while you are in your WordPress Dashboard.
Integrated Video Tutorials
This plugin from WPMU provides up-to-date videos that you can watch from within your WordPress Dashboard. The videos are hosted on servers set up by WPMU so you do not need to download anything else.
This plugin is intended for developers to offer clients, but if you have more than one site, you could install them for your own use. Or you could use it as a tool for training new employees to learn WordPress. Pricing depends on the number of websites you install it on. The videos are available to view in your WordPress Dashboard and feature getting started videos plus some great tutorials on using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Video User Manuals
Like WP101, this plugin is designed for WordPress developers who need a video teaching tool to offer clients. The cost might be prohibitive for small businesses with one or a few websites, but the quality of the videos is exceptional. In addition to basic WordPress videos, you are get tutorials on the Yoast SEO plugin, WooCommerce (eCommerce plugin), Gravity Forms, and Google Analytics. I use Video User Manuals for most client sites that subscribe to a monthly maintenance plan.
WordPress Services for Ongoing Education
These online video courses are made for WordPress beginners who need to learn quickly and easily. This is arguably the best online resource for non-techie business website owners to learn to use WordPress. For a monthly or annual fee, you have access to online videos that cover the basics (WP101) and more (WP201).
You can test the service before you enrol by watching some of their free videos.
This is a rich online resource for small businesses to learn subjects like design, web development, and online marketing. Of course, there is an extensive selection of WordPress courses. Courses are taught by video but there are detailed transcripts and text resources as well. A monthly subscription gives you access to all courses.
If you prefer to pay per course rather than commit to a monthy or annual subscription, Udemy has many WordPress courses available. You only pay for the courses you choose.
Udemy WordPress courses cover topics from basic to more advanced, to design, marketing, better blogging, eCommerce, and much more. Some Udemy courses are more professional than others, so be sure to read details and reviews before signing up for specific courses.
This website is full of detailed tutorials on a wide variety of WordPress topics. You can start with the Beginner’s Guide and advance to more detailed tutorials as needed.
One of the best resources you will find for improving your blogging skills, Copyblogger has 15+ years of copywriting and blogging experience. For the cost of your email address, you can get access to high quality tutorials. These PDF ebooks will provide more than enough high quality blogging and content marketing advice to start you on a solid path to creating quality content.
When you are ready to dig deeper (most likely after your website starts making some money), you can subscribe to Copyblogger’s Authority program (for a reasonable annual fee) which gives you access to forums, webinars, and high quality training.
Easy WP Guide
This is a fantastic ebook that you can download for free. Created by WordPress developer Anthony Hortin, it provides an easy-to-read guide to learning the basics of WordPress. And since he wrote it for his own clients’ benefit, it is accessible for anyone getting started. The downloadable PDF is designed specifically to help new WordPress website owners edit and manage their website content.
More to come….