There are over 50,000 WordPress plugins available for instant download. But unlike most small business owners new to WordPress, you need not spend time testing the numerous options available—to find the few ones with superior benefits.
In this post, you’ll discover the ten best free WordPress plugins you should have on your website. And the list below doesn’t comprise some random free plugins, but hand-picked, tested-and-trusted ones designed to handle specific vital tasks, and ultimately, carve out some free time for you.
1. Yoast SEO
If you are shooting for broader online reach, then you must pay close attention to SEO. Not only because people are performing more searches on Google these days, but because a relevant search influences 39% of purchasers. Or put differently, because potential buyers of your products/services search for suggestions on Google before making a purchase.
Since search visibility is crucial for your business’s growth, how can you optimize your website for greater visibility?
But, most importantly, start with building an SEO foundation for your website with Yoast SEO.
With Yoast SEO, you can do all initial SEO set up for your website with only a few clicks (and in less than a minute). From performing the necessary one-time SEO configuration to creating an XML Sitemap.
Yoast SEO also comes in handy for nailing your on-page SEO. With the plugin, you can smartly structure your blog posts around specific keywords (and even gauge the readability of your pieces).
The plugin also allows you to configure titles and meta descriptions of your posts, and even features an option that lets you precisely see how your web page will display on Google.
At this point, you’ll agree with me that the Yoast SEO plugin is useful for increasing website visibility and is an essential tool that can save you a lot of time every week.
If we put Yoast SEO aside, and try to do things manually, then you might end up needing at least three tools for different vital tasks: One for generating sitemaps and a couple of others for keyword analysis, readability checks, and so on.
2. WP Reset
Things go wrong at times. With numerous DIY website builders and hosts of WordPress themes to test drive, it’s not uncommon for small business owners to end up with a clumsy website at some point, after several attempts to fix things independently.
You know that point when you see no visible changes on your website even after installing several new themes? When you try modifying a couple of other things (like plugins, theme configurations, etc.) on the back end, but the changes never stick? That’s a sign that things have gotten so messy, and it’s probably time for a reset. And it’s at this point that WP Reset takes the stage.
WP Reset is one of the best free WordPress plugins to have in your arsenal. With this free plugin, you can bring back the original feel of your WordPress website in just a click.
WP Reset cleans up databases (which comprise all existing themes, plugins, posts, pages, comments, etc.). This functionality makes the plugin a perfect choice for business owners looking to switch business lines and have their existing website completely redone (and bloggers looking to change niches).
WP Reset also features free inbuilt tools that enable you to perform individual actions like resetting themes, deleting all media files, deleting plugins, and many more.
So how much time does WP Reset save you? Let’s find out.
There is another way to clean up the WordPress database, which, unfortunately, isn’t a “one-click” solution.
For the first stage, you’ll have to access your cPanel, delete your existing database, and then create a new one.
For the second stage, you’ll need to log in to an FTP server and get rid of all old files one by one—the uploads, themes, and plugins folders.
And for the final stage, you’ll need to run the WordPress installation script and then set everything up again—your language, login details, and so on.
If you are pretty new to FTPs and cPanels, you might need to watch a video or two to learn how to do things right.
So the entire manual process should easily sip two hours or more of your time.
And the “one-click” option? Approximately 10 seconds at the most.
3. W3 Total Cache
Back in the days, website speed wasn’t a big deal. You could load a page on your web browser, do your chores, and then return to meet a blank screen (yet to render any web page). There were fewer activities on the web, so we all had patience.
Today, with many activities on the web and stiff competition amongst bloggers (and businesses) to take the spotlight in Google (and other search engines), patience isn’t a thing anymore. And not only readers hate slow-loading websites but Google also.
Here are some of the consequences of having a slow-loading website:
- Your SEO will suffer
- New website visitors won’t return
- Your website traffic will sink
- Potential clients and customers will find alternatives
Your escape tool? W3 Total Cache (W3TC).
W3TC enhances user experience and improves SEO by suppressing the load time of websites and turbo-charging the overall website speed.
One of the reasons I particularly love the plugin is because it only requires one initial setup. Once that is done, everything else works pretty much passively—without any input from your end.
For the best performance, you’d have to spare 10 to 15 minutes to correctly set things up. And this duration is by far a positive investment compared to tons of hours you might waste chasing lost clients/customers or trying to discover a manual alternative to the W3 Total Cache plugin.
To weigh the plugin’s effectiveness, you can do before- and after-installation website speed tests on GTmetrix.
Unpleasant events cross our paths now and then. And as a business owner with a WordPress website, you might face one of the following issues:
- Hackers gaining access to your website
- An unsuccessful theme or plugin update
- Sudden technical issues from your web hosting provider
Since adverse events like the ones above are almost inevitable, then it’s always wise to have a tool like UpdraftPlus in your plugins arsenal.
UpdraftPlus is one of the best free WordPress plugins that comes with lots of benefits.
One of the essential features of the plugin is its integration with a bunch of cloud servers:
And to eliminate the time usually spent doing manual backups, UpdraftPlus features a backup scheduling functionality that allows website owners to set up routine backups on autopilot.
Another awesome news is that UpdraftPlus users can easily retrieve backups from the cloud or directly from their computer.
So how much time does this plugin save you?
…several minutes of wondering, after an unpleasant event hits, whether you’ll ever recover your 50+ articles that have long generated leads (and revenue) for your business
…a couple of hours of juggling YouTube videos on how to access your files after a malware attack, unsuccessful theme/plugin updates, a successful brute-force attack by hackers, etc.
…some days of back-and-forth email conversations or phone calls with your hosting provider to brainstorm a useful course of action (both from your end and theirs)
UpdraftPlus has cash benefits too. Without it, you might end up spending as much as $200 to have someone help fix an avoidable minor issue.
If you love Yoast SEO, then you will love JetPack too. JetPack, like Yoast, eliminates the need for extra tools and plugins by offering multiple solutions via a single dashboard.
As a security plugin, JetPack protects your site from brute-force attacks by blocking malicious login attempts.
As a site health monitoring plugin, JetPack sends automatic email notifications whenever a website goes down (which helps you tackle technical issues fast).
As an image optimization plugin, JetPack helps compress and optimize WordPress image files—increasing the speed of websites and suppressing bounce rates in the process.
Jetpack also has an option that allows you to configure your plugins to auto-update (whenever a new version is released).
All the features highlighted above qualifies JetPack as one of the best free WordPress plugins every small business owner should have.
And the best part is that you can set up the JetPack plugin in less than ten minutes.
But if you choose to run without JetPack, then you’ll need:
- An image optimization tool, like TinyPNG, to compress images before manually uploading them to your website
- A premium tool, like Pingdom, to monitor downtimes
- A premium security plugin to keep your website’s backdoor safe
So you can see that JetPack saves you both time and money.
6. MonsterInsights Lite
Are you are interested in tracking the activities on your website, but would love to skip interpreting multiple charts and graphs? Then you certainly need an alternative to the Google Analytics dashboard. Preferably a tool that keeps all the relevant stats within WordPress.
It’s at this point that the MonsterInsight Lite plugin hops in and saves the day.
MonsterInsights Lite displays key metrics such as web sessions/pageviews, traffic sources, popular pages/posts directly on your WordPress dashboard.
And the initial configuration of the plugin only takes a few minutes.
Instead of adding the Google Analytics code snippet in multiple places on your website, MonsterInsight helps to handle the difficult task. This means that after the plugin performs a one-time integration with your Google Analytics account, the stats will display in a short time without you adding any code manually.
7. Contact Form 7
There are several contact form plugins on the WordPress plugin directory alone. And I’ve personally tried all the popular ones out there. So I can assure you that, amongst the excellent options available, Contact Form 7 is chief.
I love Contact Form 7 because of its simplicity. Unlike a couple of alternatives I’ve tried over time, Contact Form 7 gives room for only necessary customizations, which helps you spend less time setting up the form and more time doing other things that directly affect your business’ growth.
Since the plugin automatically generates shortcodes after you create a form, it eliminates the need to get familiar with HTML codes and how to add them to different parts of your website.
With the shortcode feature, you can easily embed your contact form, in seconds, anywhere on your website—on your sidebar, within your posts/pages, etc.
Most importantly, when someone leaves a message, it goes directly to your inbox (and not the spam folder).
Contact Form 7 made this list because it saves everyone’s time—yours and your clients’.
With the plugin, potential customers can send in their requests/inquiries without leaving your website. Also, since the plugin comes with fewer customization options and pushes all messages to your inbox, you will end up with some spare hours at the end of the day.
From code snippets for tracking website visitors’ activities to those for verification purposes, there will always be the need to modify a source code on your website, now and then. Unfortunately, if you take a wrong action while adding a line of code or two, you might smudge your website’s looks.
But the good news is that there is a way to avoid messing things up.
Insert Headers and Footers is a free WordPress plugin that helps add code snippets to any region of your website (head, body, or foot) without altering any existing line of code on the back end.
Since all you need do is copy and paste the auto-generated code snippet in the appropriate text box, you won’t have to spend hours learning how to use the WordPress theme editor the proper way.
9. Broken Link Checker
Broken links (also called dead links) can ruin your website’s SEO and hurt your organic reach.
As much as you need to watch for broken links pointing to your website URL, you also need to ensure there aren’t dead links sprinkled around your site—in posts, pages, or even comments.
With the Broken Links Checker plugin for WordPress, you’ll be able to run frequent checks on your websites to see if some links point to pages/posts/images that have been moved or deleted.[dashboard screenshot]
The Broken Links Checker plugin’s analysis isn’t limited to links over anchor texts. With the plugin, you can also scan embedded videos on your website to find ones that aren’t on the web anymore.
Additionally, you can quickly fix broken links, if found, within the plugin’s dashboard—without having to dig up the affected posts or pages manually.
This feature makes replacing broken links a breeze, especially when you have dozens of these links on your website, and have no time to do the fixes individually.
While creating this website, there were occasions when I needed to make some adjustments, but didn’t want visitors to see the alterations—while I worked behind the scenes.
On one of those days, I knew I had to put the website on “maintenance mode” until I rounded up with all the modifications. Fortunately, after hours of testing several available options, I dug up one that met my needs well. I found the Maintenance plugin.
While trying out various “coming soon” plugins, I observed that many of these plugins required heavy customizations to get a decent, maintenance mode page.
I also found that even though most plugins were tagged “free,” the bulk of them still prompted me to purchase a premium license, before I could do some essential modifications.
But the Maintenance plugin stands out in the pack. And if you love minimalism (as I do), you won’t help but notice (and appreciate) the plugin’s simplicity.
Although the Maintenance plugin allows users to customize the background—and a few other parts—of the static homepage, I figured that I could skip all basic customizations and still have a good-looking “coming soon” page.
The Maintenance plugin also has an option that allows you to disable SEO indexing while making changes to your website. This action prevents Google (and other search engines) from crawling any dummy page/post you might create for testing purposes.
Instead of customizing a static “coming soon” page from scratch, Maintenance makes the process easy—leaving you with sufficient time to channel towards other relevant tasks.
Over to You
There are 50,000+ plugins on the WordPress directory. But only a handful will give you the quick, excellent results you seek.
Highlighted above are ten of the best free WordPress plugins you should install on your website. And these aren’t just random plugins, but hand-picked ones that will save you time (and even money).
You have no excuses now for not growing your business. I’ve bought you some extra time. Invest it where the money is!