WordPress plugins add functionality to your affordable website (e.g., a contact form). There are some premium plugins with advanced features. If you choose to use these, you must pay for them. But there are over 59,000 free WordPress plugins available. In this article, I outline 9 of the best of these free plugins.
Why Use WordPress Plugins?
Plugins allow your site to be able to do things. Put another way, they add functionality to your website. Some plugins allow your customers to do things, such as buy things or contact you. But most, do things for you – the website owner. These include:
- Optimising your website for Google
- Backing up your website
- Securing your website from hackers
- Speeding up your website
But Be Careful as Some WordPress Plugins Can Harm Your Website
Plugins are essentially pre-packaged bundles of computer code. They are part of what makes WordPress such a flexible and affordable option for websites.
Yet, they can also harm your website and business.
- Outdated plugin code is one of the most common ways hackers get into WordPress websites
- Some plugins slow down your website, which can lead to lower Google rankings
- Too many unnecessary plugins can also slow down your website, which …
At WEBsmall, we only use trustworthy WordPress plugins that will help, rather than hinder your business.
Below you will find some of the top, free plugins I personally recommend.
Best Free WordPress Plugins
Why do I recommend these WordPress plugins? What makes them the best?
In order of priority, these plugins:
Achieve the desired result
Have their code updated regularly
Don’t slow down your website
My Favourite Contact Form Plugin
HappyForms is the easiest way for you to manage conversations with your website visitors. After listening to feedback from nearly 1 million businesses gathered over 10 years, the Happyforms plugin includes:
- An easy form builder interface
- Short/long answer, multiple-choice and email form fields
- Preview function
- Honeypot antispam
- Shortcode form placement anywhere on your website
And the plugin uses clean, lightweight code that doesn’t slow down your website (unlike Contact Form 7)
Best WordPress SEO Plugins
2. The SEO Framework (free plan)
An SEO plugin helps you to set up your website and webpages in a way that Google understands(and likes).
By default, I use the SEO Framework. It is not as beginner-friendly as other SEO plugins like Yoast. But it is faster and better. And, as we are happy to set it up for you – you don’t need to worry about how easy it is to use.
Top Caching Plugins
Caching plugins help to speed up your website. If your website is slow, it will annoy both your visitors and Google. But which caching plugin should you use?
There are two different caching plugins I recommend depending upon the type of hosting server.
3. LiteSpeed Cache
If your host uses a LiteSpeed server, use the official (and free) LiteSpeed Cache plugin. Our recommended hosting company, VentraIP, uses LiteSpeed servers.
4. Swift Performance Lite
If your hosting company uses NGINX or Apache servers, use the free Swift Performance (Lite) caching plugin.
Image Optimisation Plugins
Unoptimised images are another common source of slow-loading websites. Image optimisation plugins help to solve this issue. There are two, free image optimisations I use (and recommend). Which one depends upon the type of server your hosting company uses.
3. LiteSpeed Cache
No, the number 3 isn’t a mistake. If your host uses a LiteSpeed server, you can use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin for image optimisation as well as caching.
5. ShortPixel (Free Plan)
If your hosting company doesn’t use a LiteSpeed server, the best image optimisation plugin is ShortPixel. Go with the free plan.
Best WordPress Plugin for Website Security
Securing your website from hackers and their bots should be a priority for all WordPress website owners. While there are paid services/plugins that are better, here is the best free security plugin.
The free Wordfence plugin offers brute-force protection, a firewall and malware scanning. These are the 3 essential of website security.
Plus it also offers some nice little extras.
Gutenberg Block Library Plugin
Gutenberg is the WordPress way of allowing you to lay out your page content using a grid system. This system is made up of a series of blocks.
Block library plugins make this even easier. However, many of them are poorly coded, leading them to slow your website down.
The GenrateBlocks plugin offers a library of 4 simple, yet potent and very flexible Gutenberg blocks to help you build a great webpage. And, it is the fastest block library plugin I have tested.
Google Analytics Plugin
Google Analytics is a free tool to help website owners like you to track how:
- Many people visit their website
- Those people interact with your website
However, you need to connect Google’s free tool to your website – and this is where a plugin comes in handy.
The most lightweight, yet potent WordPress plugin that does this is called CAOS. And, it is free.
CAOS stands for Complete Analytics Optimisation Suite. You can then access information about your website from within:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
Most website hosting companies will make backups of your website quite regularly. But I recommend making your own backups to a cloud service of your own (e.g., your Google Drive).
The best free plugin to help you do this is UpdraftPlus.
SHOPPING CART PLUGINS
While their specific niche plugins for selling digital downloads and online courses, WooCommerce is a versatile, free and easy-to-use plugin that suits most online stores.