If you’re building a new website in WordPress, sooner or later you’ll need to decide which plugins to use. There are plenty of plugins out there, and most are terrible. Thankfully, there are also plenty that stand above the rest.

Here is my selection of essential WordPress plugins, specifically chosen with the needs of radio stations in mind.

This article is a part of my series on Building a Radio Station Website. Please check out the other articles for more information on creating a website for your radio station.

Gravity Forms

If you need to create forms on your website, then Gravity Forms is where it’s at. Not only can you create custom forms, but you can also easily extend the forms using the internal API. This means you can use the forms for donations, eCommerce, and so much more.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress is alright for SEO, but Yoast’s SEO plugin takes this much further. This plugin helps you optimise your posts and pages for SEO, giving you full control over titles, descriptions, canonicalisation, indexing, sitemaps and so much more. Organic SEO can be a huge growth area for your radio website, if you are producing original content.

Disqus

While the build-in comments functionality is adequate, you should consider using Disqus. It provides social commenting functionality, such as Facebook and Twitter integration as well as powerful moderation tools. I highly recommend it. Don’t even consider Facebook’s comments plugin. Disqus gives you much better social commenting functionality.

Swiftype Search

Everyone knows the built-in WordPress search leaves a lot to be desired. Swiftype is your answer. It has powerful functionality, including auto-suggest, best-bets and analytics. The actual search results are pretty good, too. I would go so far to say that it’s a better solution than Google Site Search.

Quick Cache

WordPress tends to query the database a lot when generating pages, and if you have a decent level of traffic then I would suggest you need to lower the database load. Thankfully, there are plenty of plugins which make it easy to cache your site to disk to lessen the load on the database. I personally prefer Quick Cache. It makes setup and configuration very simple, and dramatically increases page load times. If you don’t believe me, set it up and run a page speed test.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Related Posts are a great way to lower your bounce rate and get visitors to experience more of your content. YARPP is a WordPress Plugin that indexes your website and determines the best “related posts” for each page.

Redirection

If you’re migrating your website from one URL structure to another, you need to setup appropriate HTTP redirects from the old to new pages. This will ensure your content is still findable, and you don’t loose out in the Google rankings. Redirection is a great little plugin which helps with this. It will not only allow you to do manual redirects, but also setup automatic redirects if you modify page slugs.

DreamObjects Backups

DreamObjects is a S3-like object storage services. The DreamObjects Backups plugin will regularly backup your site’s database and files to their S3-like service, so you know it is safe and you can restore previous versions if needed. If you don’t want to use DreamObjects, consider WP Easy Backup for a nice easy way to backup your site and download it as a ZIP archive.

Radio-specific Plugins

For streaming and on-demand audio playback I use MediaElement.JS. WordPress has this library built-in, so you can go ahead and use it in your template.

For on-air guides and song data, I generally develop my own solutions on a case-by-case basis. Consider hiring me if you would like some custom work done for your radio station’s website.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a IT Professional, Broadcast Technician, Software Developer, and Solutions Engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008, and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I provide freelance services through Media Realm - in particular, to the media and not-for-profit industries.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden