Episode 32

Published on:

30th Aug 2023

The Must-Have Plugins to Grow Your Podcast Website

In this episode of The Circle Sessions, the discussion revolves around the importance of plugins for WordPress websites.

We start by acknowledging the overwhelming nature of the vast number of plugins available for WordPress. However, WordPress is a highly creative platform and we discuss how the right plugins can enhance the user experience of a website.

Yasmine highlights that the choice of plugins ultimately depends on the goals and requirements of the website owner. She mentions that for a simple promotional podcast website, only a few plugins may be necessary. However, for more complex websites with membership features or tiered content, additional plugins may be required.

Yasmine also emphasizes that using too many plugins can slow down a website and potentially compromise its security. She advises users to be selective and only install plugins that are necessary for their specific needs. It is essential to periodically review and delete unused or outdated plugins to optimize website performance.

There are potential security risks associated with outdated or unreliable plugins. We discuss how hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in such plugins, leading to unauthorized access and even defacement of websites. To prevent this, regular updates and thorough research on plugins are vital.

To help listeners navigate the world of plugins, Yasmine shares a list of recommended plugins. They include the Duplicator plugin for automated backups, WP Forms for efficient form creation, and the Broken Link Checker to identify and fix broken links. These plugins are deemed useful for enhancing website functionality, user experience, and search engine optimization.

Ultimately, this episode serves as a reminder for podcasters and website owners to evaluate their plugin choices critically, prioritize security, and use plugins strategically to support their podcast growth and overall business objectives.

Yasmine works alongside clients to design a website that's driven by strategy, looks amazing, and that you can actually use to grow your podcast, and your business.

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Each week, one of The Circle of Experts talks about critical aspects of growing your podcast. We focus on marketing, social media, monetization, website design, and implementation of all of these to help you make the best podcast possible.

Have a question or an idea for one of our episodes? Send us an email at podcasts@circle270media.com.

The Circle of Experts are:

Yasmine Robles from Robles Designs

Tonnisha English-Amamoo of TJE Communications

Don The Idea Guy

Brett Johnson, My Podcast Guy, from Circle270Media Podcast Consultants

Copyright 2024 Brett Johnson, My Podcast Guy


The Circle of Experts helps you grow your podcast and ultimately your business

Brett: Welcome to the Circle Sessions featuring the Circle Of Experts The Circle Of Experts are Yasmine Robles from Robles Designs. Tonnisha English Amamoo of TJE Communications. And Don The Idea Guy Hi. I'm Brett Johnson from Circle 270 Media Podcast Consultants. Each week, one of The Circle of Experts joins me to talk about critical aspects of growing your podcast. We focus on marketing, social media monetization and website design with the concept of the implementing all of these together to help your podcast and ultimately your business grow. This week. Yasmin is here from the circle of experts. She works alongside clients to design a website that's driven by strategy, looks amazing and that you can actually use to grow your podcast and then in turn, your business as well. Yasmin, thanks for joining me today.

Yasmine: Thanks for having me again.

There are so many plugins to do different things for your WordPress website

Brett: We talked in, we always reference previous episodes, but that's part of our job is that, yeah, go listen to an older episode, but lots of different platforms for websites and each one has its use. But we've talked about this, that WordPress is probably the most creative, I guess you could say. But it can be overwhelming as well too, because there are so many what's called plugins to do different things for your WordPress website. And we want to talk about some there are some key plugins that you should have in your WordPress website. Um, whether it's going to help the website be better and better user experience, or just keep it safe. All sorts of different things for, uh, key plugins. But um, a lot of it may depend on the site that you're building, as you mentioned here first.

Yasmine: Yeah, so, uh, just off the bat, I built a lot of WordPress sites and it really comes down to the goals of the owner. So if you are just using it for promotion for your podcast, you're not really using it for a lot more. You might only need about three different plugins. But if you are one of my clients, she is building this membership thing. She has locked content and articles and different tier levels that you can get in that requires a few more plugins. And so I'm just going to go over a list of those. But, um, again, it depends on the size of your site and it depends on your theme. So some themes come with plugins already there for you. So, for example, it'll have a slider, uh, plugin, it'll have a plugin for this and that. You don't have to install all of them unless they're required. So, as an example, we, uh, sometimes use the Avada theme and that one comes with tons of plugins that you can install, such as events and all sorts of things. But you don't need to install all of those. Essentially, you could just install the builder and the core and then you could make do with that. So, uh, when you download a theme or purchase a theme, again, you don't need to download all of the plugins that they're telling you. And the reason for this is because too many plugins will slow down a website, especially if they're all activated, turned on, and you're trying to use them all. It just slows everything down because the site now has to load tons more code. And then periodically go in and check your website and make sure that the plugins that you have uploaded and are active are the ones you still need. So if you haven't used, for example, some kind of social media plugin in a long time, or just keeps breaking, make sure to not only deactivate it, but completely delete it so that you can save that space for something that's of better use to you.

Brett: Can that also be an access point for someone to hack your website to a bad plugin, or one that's not been updated?

Yasmine: Yes. So make sure you check reviews, especially for, well, even for paid plugins, but free plugins, make sure to check how many people are currently, uh, using it and how many stars it has within that WordPress platform. And then make sure that you're keeping it updated, so you can usually see before you download it, when the last update was made, and if you see that the last update was a year ago, I would not download that. Because they have not been keeping up with the latest in tech. There's probably holes in that plugin, and that has happened to some of my clients. And so what we have done is, there was a client who they really love a specific plugin, but we could not move to the next version of PHP, which is what makes up a WordPress site, unless that plugin was updated, but the owner had not updated it. Um, the plugin owner. So what we ended up doing was closing, how can I put this easily, um, closing the holes that that plugin currently had in order to be able to upgrade to the next level of the WordPress platform to provide more security. And now we are monitoring that plugin so that we can ensure that there are no further holes within it. Um, but yeah, I've had some people who haven't been clients, but I've heard about them, that they've gotten hacked. Um, and sometimes it's not even that they're stealing your information, it's that they just have too much time on their hands. For example, I had a person that I knew, uh, her business aimed towards children, and so somebody hacked her site and put very lewd things on her site. And it's just hard to imagine that a parent going in to create an appointment for their child would see that. And we had to go in and fix it and try to take out all of that malicious content. Um, and then we found where the hole came from, and it was a plugin that had a hole in it. That hadn't been updated. So I'm pretty gung ho about keep everything updated if you're not using it deleted completely.

Brett: Yeah, I knew the answer to that because it happened to me, too, so I'd forgotten about that aspect. And when we were talking about going, yeah, this would be a good time for a PSA, just get your plugins up to date, that sort of thing.

There are some plugins that are important to keep live or keep updated

Brett: Um, so let's do go over the plugins. Your list of what are pretty important to consider keeping live or keep updated. It really should be activated, um, and used on your website.

Yasmine: Yeah. And again, these might or might not work for you, and there are other ones that are important for certain types of sites, so just make sure you do your research or shoot me an email and I can definitely let you know which ones might work. But the first one that I like is the Duplicator one. It is one of the most popular WordPress, ah, backup plugins on the market, um, and basically allows you to set up automatic backups and safely store them on a remote location, like Google Drive or something. So I do use this because although my hosting company does have backups, I just like to make sure that it is being backed up that I have another backup, just in case. Um, then there's the forms. For forms, you can use something like WPForms or Avada has its own plugin for forms, I believe Divi, which is another popular theme, also has its own method of using forms, but you want to have a way of getting people's information from your contact page over to your inbox. So Wbforms is a pretty good one for that, and it's also pretty lightweight from what I've seen. Another, uh, one that a lot of sites should have is Broken Link Checker. And this is a free plugin, and it basically goes through your site and makes sure to check for broken internal and external links, and then it guides you on how to fix them and improve your SEO. But it's just really great because then I can say, all right, I deleted this one blog post for some reason, or I changed the URL, and now my other blog post that was linking to it is sending people to a broken link, and now I can take the opportunity to fix that. Um, for SEO.

Brett: I love that one. That's a great idea. I love that one. How many times have we gone through our websites? You change things. Just one character, you updated a blog, let's put it that way. You changed the title of the blog. That changes everything. I love it. Yeah.

Yasmine: And I can't, off the top of my head, remember another one that goes along with this. It's a 301 redirect that you basically need. So if you want to keep that new URL, but want to make sure that anyone linking to the old URL is still going to go to that page or that, uh, post. There's a 301 redirect that you can do. There's a plugin for it. And you basically say, from this is the old link, please send everyone to this new link. And so now Google, as well as other people will know that you're being redirected permanently to this new location.

Brett: Yeah, I was kind of thinking Yoast might do that, but I've seen it pop up on another website that I work on, updating blogs for a client of mine. And it asked that and I couldn't remember it was part of the Yoast or not, but I've seen that and I'd love that. It's like, yeah, redirect it. Thank you, that's great.

Yoast SEO is my favorite SEO toolkit for websites

Yasmine: Um, yeah, speaking of Yoast, um, yoast SEO is a really great it's my favorite for SEO purposes, for websites. Uh, it's very user friendly. It helps create what we call a sitemap. And it's just a really great overall, especially for clients who are not used to SEO and kind of need this walkthrough, this easy admin area. There's also all in one SEO toolkit, which is similar to Yoast SEO. Um, some clients like to use that one as well, but my fallback is always Yoast SEO. Um, speaking of broken links and SEO, you can still also always utilize your search console, google search console, and it'll also give you alerts on broken links on, um, certain issues that Yoasta SEO will also alert you to. So it's nice to have that installed as well. Um, the next one is called Pretty Links Pro. And this one, a lot of clients use it because they might have something like affiliate links and it just makes your links shorter. So instead of having a link like robosigns.com checklist, blah blah, blah, blah blah, it'll kind of shrink it down, make it pretty and easier for sharing purposes. So if I did have a crazy link to, for example, an eventbrite or something, uh, an event on my page, I could easily say go to robotscience.com and then something short and sweet so that it would be easy to remember. Uh, the next one is Smash Balloon. This is a social media one and it'll help you kind of wrangle social media. You can also place the social media icons on, let's say, for example, the side of your page, so that people can easily share your podcast, your blog post, all of that stuff. So it's a nice way of getting those shares and follows. Um, the next one is WooCommerce. Now WooCommerce is widely used for ecommerce on to. It's free to install, it's easy to use, and you just connect it to something like Stripe you put in your products. You can do things like categorizing everything you can kind of do with shopify, you can do with WooCommerce. So that is a pretty cool feature. And I believe you can still do digital downloads as well and sell, uh, tickets to events uh, the another one that I always have an issue with pronouncing, so I will do it slowly, is Akismet. And this one is an anti spam plugin. It was made by the WordPress parent company. And basically it helps you with your just getting a little bit of control with spam. WordPress sites are known for getting tons of spam, so you want to make sure that any contact form that you do use has something to block that. Or you can install this one and it'll help as well. Another one that is great overall for everything is Jetpack. And Jetpack usually comes installed when you install WordPress, the main WordPress, onto your hosting company, depending on the hosting company. But usually I've seen it installed especially for clients who are on Bluehost or GoDaddy. It's usually already installed and you can delete it, but it's a nice, easy way to help design your site, uh, track certain things, statistics, and improve your social media sharing and just security purposes. So, it is a nice plugin. I find that it sometimes slows down a site, but by like a smidge, unless you have tons of other plugins available. Um, and I don't usually use it, but I know a lot of clients who love it, so I wanted to include that in here as well, because it's not just for me, the techie person, it's also for the regular folks out there. Uh, the next one is Optimol. That's how I say it. I think that's how you say it, optimol. Uh, it takes every graphic you have on your site and it optimizes it so that it takes up less space. So, in previous episodes, we've talked about the weight of an image and how that can slow down a site. And if you go onto something like Google and input your information, there's a Google tool that will tell you if your site is too slow to load. Usually it's the images. And this will help really auto detect the screen size, resize the images, and improve the loading process for your users. The next one is, um, for security purposes and it's Sikuri. And this one, I believe there's a free version of it, um, but it is one of the most used ones for security, uh, for websites and firewalls. So it's just overall great, you can install it for free. And um, it's just worked out amazingly for some of my clients. And then another one that people always overlook is limit login attacks. A little jargon brute force attacks are basically if you can think of somebody who's really evil and it's just trying to guess your username and password. And sometimes there's like automate, they can do this automated, but, um, they're just trying to guess your username and password and they'll just keep at it until they find the right one. And so this one will limit their attempts to kind of like the bank accounts and things like that. When you're logging in, it'll limit it to a certain number of attempts. And then it'll either block them, it'll, uh, tell them to wait a few minutes or something else. And it'll alert you as well that there was somebody trying to log in a bunch of times. So often overlooked, but still really important for security purposes. And finally, I was going to say.

Brett: You shouldn't be too worried about that affecting you. We all forget our username password. Yes. Unless you have a secure place you put it and such. And you uh, really shouldn't worry if you've hit that limit on your login attempt. It's probably going to give you just going to have to take a time out, walk away and come back a little bit later. Um, it's not going to lock you out of your website to log in.

Yasmine: No, it's not going to lock you out. Um, and there's a couple of ways of logging depending on, um, um, your hosting company. So sometimes I log in through for example, I log into my hosting company and then I log into the site that back end way. And it kind of overrides the whole password thing. So that's one way to do it if you forgot your password. Um, now this is for people who are trying to log in through the actual website's login page and into the admin. And it won't lock you out. It usually just tells you, hey, you got to wait 15 minutes to try again. But this is for those who are just kind of especially if you're like me, you might just do the lost password way instead of getting locked out. But this is for the people who are going to do it like 200 times and they're just going to keep trying that password combination until they find one. Or they're trying to do it with some kind of, um, AI or something. Not AI, but some kind of um.

Brett: Malicious software to get in there.

Yasmine: Yeah. And so this will help block it and it'll just alert you. So if you know that you weren't trying to get online at, ah, two in the morning, then you know that you might have to go in and change your password or do something to become more secure.

Brett: Yeah. Uh, I think it's always interesting when I have the time, like we all can find time to do this, but just to see where these spam, what countries are coming from, are the login attempts. And you kind of go, somebody from New Zealand was really trying to log it's not typically New Zealand, but it's the typical countries that you think of. But it's just so weird. It's like, wait a minute, leave my website. You know what makes me so special?

Yasmine: Yeah, exactly. This is exactly you're a small business in Columbus, Ohio or wherever, and they're just trying to attack you. It's like, why? There is no they also, they utilize other people's computers. So if they hacked into, for example, a computer of someone in New Zealand, wherever they are, they can be in China, Russia, or even in the US. And then they use really cool tech, but really unfortunate, um, to make it look like they're coming in from all of these other computers.

Check your analytics on Google Analytics to see who's attacking your site

Yasmine: Um, and it's just really frustrating sometimes. So with that, you want to also check your analytics on Google Analytics and see what countries, where it's coming from, who's linking to your site. Because I've also seen some sites where they're getting tons of traffic, but it's like bot traffic, bot traffic from China or something. And it's like, why are they on this random list that's sending traffic that's basically, ah, just attacking them and slowing down their website?

Brett: Yeah, that's sad. Uh, if you could just put all that evil energy to good, we could solve so many world problems. But no, we got to have evil minds out there. Of course.

You also want to have your privacy policy on your site

Brett: But you have one more to talk about here. Yeah.

Yasmine: So if you are selling in the EU or you're worried about the EU's GDPR, if you've heard that term, I forget what it stands for, but it's basically compliance of saying, hey, we need to alert people or users that we might be collecting their information. And not necessarily information as in their name and number, but information as in we're tracking their IP and kind of looking to see what they're doing on the site. Um, California also has something similar, but you need to provide a notice and obtain some form of consent. So this is all of the little pop ups that you sometimes see on a site, usually towards the bottom of the web page. And it just says it talks about cookies. And the plugin that is most often used in WordPress is Cookie Notice. And all platforms have some way of notifying people, and people just have to hit accept, and that they accept that they are being tracked. Um, so this is a good plugin for that. And you just want to make sure that you're doing this, especially if you are looking to international users. Um, if you are collecting people's emails as well, you want to make sure you're letting them know that what you will be doing with their information. As, uh, a side note, you also want to have your privacy policy on your site. I just reviewed someone's site who does not have their legal stuff on there. You want a privacy policy at least? Possibly, uh, a terms and Conditions, maybe an accessibility policy, but depends on what your lawyer says. But I would say almost every site needs a privacy policy, and this Cookie Notice can help link to that if they have any more questions.

Brett: Got you. Yeah, I was just going to say if they have any more. We covered a lot of ground, which is I kind of geek out with you occasionally with this, I was like, oh, that's cool, that's neat, sort of thing. And then I kind of get back to the real world going, no, don't let this be a rabbit hole. But I think you bring up some really good high level things that, yes, these are really important plugins because there are, um, a boatload of plugins for WordPress that can be a lot of fun. But as you mentioned, be careful because it weighs down your website and lots of things. It's trying to grab all this stuff that if you really don't use it's almost like cleaning up your smartphone every once in a while, kind of going, I don't use that app anymore. Get rid of that. Not that it slows the phone down, but it's a nice spring cleaning. Get rid of all the plugins you don't need sort of thing or haven't used in a while that you've evolved from using it, which I think is great. But, um, how can the listener get a hold of you to maybe brainstorm about where they are with their website, how they should approach what we just talked about in this episode?

Yasmine: Yeah, they can feel free to fill out the contact form on my site, Roblessesigns.com. They can find me on Instagram and message me their questions there at, uh, Robleless Design Studio. Or they can download the freebie at roblesdesigns.com /checklist and get a really nice PDF to go through their website about just overall website maintenance, uh, and what they should have on there.

Brett: Cool. And you can get a hold of me at www.mypodcastguy.com. Thanks for following and subscribing the Circle sessions with The Circle of experts, uh, from Circle 270 Media Podcast Consultants.

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About the Podcast

The Circle Sessions
Weekly strategies to grow your podcast
Each week, one of The Circle of Experts talks about critical aspects of growing your podcast. We focus on marketing, social media, monetization, and website design, and the implementation of all of these.
The Circle of Experts includes
*Yasmine Robles from Robles Designs;
*Tonnisha English-Amamoo of TJE Communications;
*Don The Idea Guy; and
*Brett Johnson, My Podcast Guy from Circle270Media Podcast Consultants.