Spending most of the last 10 years developing and managing many different websites I now have a nice array of go-to plugins to handle some of the basics on each and every WordPress website I work with. I’m sharing a few of my favourites in this post today.
So, if you are looking to protect your site and free up some all important time in your business life, I highly recommend you check out the following 10 Free WordPress Plugins that I recommend using for any business website, blog or online store using WordPress as their CMS.
These recommended plugins are free to download and use from the WordPress Plugin Directory, they are hassle-free, pretty easy to use, have been on the market and updated regularly for a long time, and most importantly they are reliable and rarely have conflicts with theme files or other plugins.
WordFence is somewhat of a behemoth of a plugin in terms of effects on resource usage but it does a range of really neat things – at the free level – that help protect your site from annoying generic and malicious hack attempts, spam bots, unwanted admin logins, and malicious code in your theme and plugin files…. among other things.
There are a range of other security and firewall plugins available to you, but in my experience with building and working on many many WordPress websites, WordFence has been the best so far, was easy to setup, the security and notifications are prompt and effective, the plugin is maintained and updated constantly, and so far has caused the least amount of headaches and wasted time!
So if you don’t have ANY security in place on your website, and especially if you have created your business website using the one-click default install that many hosting companies offer (btw I never recommend doing this – ever!), I would highly suggest installing the free WordFence plugin. If you need assistance with this process, get in touch.
If you are hosting your WordPress website through WPEngine, they handle all of this security stuff server side so WordFence is not permitted in your install.
Revision Control is a lightweight free plugin that controls the database bloat and overload caused by the automatic saving of every page and post revision you make. This can cause you issues with your hosting provider as your database becomes overloaded.
There are a number of free WordPress plugins available that can control the number of stored post revisions and database optimisation, but I am recommending this one as it is simple and straight-forward to use.
3. Yoast SEO
I could rave on about Yoast SEO plugin all day, but basically it’s awesome for beginners through to experienced SEO agents. Give it a go. And there is a wealth of help and wisdom available to you on their blog if you want to dig a little deeper into SEO.
As you may know I’m a huge fan of using your Google Analytics data for optimising and improving your online business, BUT, I also know there are a lot of business owners who have Google Analytics installed on their site but they rarely ever look at the results…. that’s where this little plugin comes in.
I find this plugin is a huge success for clients as it automagically installs your Google Analytics tracking code on your site (win right there if you aren’t into playing around with code), and the visitor overview reports sit in a nice little box on your WordPress dashboard. Available front-of-mind for you to see every time you login to your site.
In the dashboard overview you can see your basic stat like visitor numbers, page views, referrals etc and you can change the time period to see a broader range of results. If you see anything in the overview that you want to explore you can then head over to Google Analytics and investigate further.
If you don’t log in to your site very often then I would recommend you have Google Analytics reports auto-emailed to you. This process is setup through Google Analytics Reports not in WordPress.
Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator is a cool little free WordPress plugin that allows you to painlessly create and setup branded website favicons not only for your website but also for desktop and mobile browsers – without coding or a developer!
PixelYourSite is another free plugin that is brilliant for adding the Facebook Pixel (used for remarketing) if you aren’t keen on playing around with code or if you don’t know how to use or aren’t using Google Tag Manager. If you are using Google Tag Manager for other things, I highly recommend using that instead.
PixelYourSite also integrates with WooCommerce for tracking people through your sales process and allowing you to then re-target them with advertising on Facebook.
The Revive Old Post plugin is a great little free tool for any blog (if your blog is updated somewhat regularly). This plugin allows you to free up some time and brain-space by putting some of your social sharing on auto-pilot. I find it works best sharing to Twitter.
The customisations available at the free level are more than enough to help you spread your messages regularly, and better still the sharing continues until you stop it. So you don’t even need to remember to schedule more posts, this plugin is doing it all for you! Gotta love that.
8. Simple CSS
Unless you have created a child theme, or even if you want to test some CSS (layout and styling code) without changing your child theme, the Simple CSS plugin is very effective.
This plugin allows you to input any website theme or plugin CSS changes directly in the back-end of WordPress and it automatically overrides your existing settings for instant changes without causing havoc in your original theme files. Now you can update your theme and plugin files without worrying about losing your style changes.
Shortcodes Ultimate is an awesome plugin that works alongside ANY theme to easily input things like buttons, tabs, tables, galleries, sliders etc into your pages, posts and widgets without overloading your site with many many plugins to do the same thing.
Sometimes your website theme can come with some fancy shortcodes or additions like buttons, but when you switch themes or if a plugin is no longer supported by a developer and you need to change it, suddenly all of those links and developments you have scattered throughout your site no longer work. Not ideal to say the least!
Check out some of the options available in this free WordPress plugin… they are all mobile-responsive too!
Both of these plugins, WordPress Related Posts and Yuzo Related Posts, do pretty much the same thing so it comes down to personal choice on layout options of each, or compatibility with your website theme.
Related Posts are great for helping to keep website visitors on your site (reducing your bounce rate), they increase your number of cross-links within the site (great for SEO), and they highlight to visitors other topics or offerings that might strike their interest further.
You can see an example of related posts in action at the bottom of this article.
If you are already running JetPack on your site, there is the option to have related posts turned-on through that plugin however the customisation of the look of the related posts is minimal.
What are your go-to WordPress plugins for managing the day-to-day of your website?
Let me know in the comments.
Like I mentioned earlier, if you want to get some of these plugins happening on your site, most are fairly straight-forward to get going others might require a little time to setup, but if you do need any assistance get in touch with me and I can help you out.