7 free WordPress plugins you should never go without

For speed, security, SEO and more

Running your business is of course priority numero uno as a small business owner. What you don’t need is to spend all day trying to monitor, manage and promote your website. Fortunately, WordPress site owners can tap into the large variety of essential tools that can take care of the heavy lifting — simplifying your life and letting you get back to the important stuff.

Free WordPress plugins can handle some heavy lifting for your website.

 

With the above in mind, in this post we’ll cover seven of the best WordPress plugins that you should never go without. Oh, and they’re free, too!

Stay stress-free with automated backups from UpDraftPlus

Free WordPress Plugins UpdraftPlus

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After death and taxes, the other thing you can count on at least one time in your life as a small business owner is some kind of catastrophic website meltdown.

Regardless of the reason, at some point, you’re going to wish you had a backup on-hand so you can quickly get everything “back up” (pun shamelessly intended) and running. UpDraftPlus can help you set up automatic backups that will run seamlessly in the background forever more. Then the next time something happens, you’ll be prepared.

Speed up your website with W3 Total Cache

Free WordPress Plugins W3 Total Cache

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Everybody wants a fast website. Trouble is, the time it takes for your website to load pages can slow down drastically if your hosting isn’t the best, or if you have a lot of content, images or video.

One way to help prevent slow website load times is to utilize a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache which, sparing you the gory technical details, helps visitors download the various elements of your website faster.

If caching is an alien concept to you, a tutorial like this one from WPBeginner is a great place to know how to get started (with a helpful video walkthrough as well).

Have peace of mind with Wordfence

Free WordPress Plugins Wordfence

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WordPress is by-and-large a secure platform, but a number of factors can (individually or combined) lead to holes in your website’s security. For example, outdated themes and plugins can offer up security weaknesses for exploitation, or it can be as simple as an easy-to-crack password.

Fortunately, Wordfence can help you prevent problems by continuously monitoring for common security issues. There is no practical reason not to install this plugin on your site.

Monitor your site’s performance with Google Analytics by Yoast

Free WordPress Plugins Google Analytics by Yoast

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You have a website for a reason — typically to sell or promote a product or service. In other words, you have a goal or objective.

With that in mind, unless you’re tracking your performance relative to that goal, any action you take in order to boost sales and/or conversions is nothing more than a stab in the dark.

Fortunately, the completely free Google Analytics service empowers you with just about all the data you could ever want, and the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin enables you to connect the platform with WordPress in a gloriously headache-free fashion.

Rank in Google with Yoast SEO

Free WordPress Plugins Yoast SEO

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Every small business owner wants to rank higher in Google, for obvious reasons. And although WordPress is reasonably well set up for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) out of the box, if you’re serious about boosting your rankings, you’ll need to install an SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO is your one-stop shop for on-site SEO tweaks.

 

Enter Yoast SEO — your one-stop shop for “on-site” SEO tweaks. One of the best things about this plugin (especially for SEO neophytes with other things to worry about throughout the day) is the handy little grading system on posts and pages, which will quickly alert you to any optimization-related issues, or (hopefully) let you know that everything’s A-OK.

The team behind the plugin also provide a detailed tutorial to walk you through setting up every aspect of this feature-rich plugin, so you can get the most bang for your buck (just kidding — it’s free!).

Beautify your home page with Metaslider

Free WordPress Plugins Metaslider

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Let’s be honest: static, text heavy home pages can be boring. You’ll need some imagery to liven things up and provide a point of focus for visitors.

That’s where a “slider” plugin like Metaslider comes in. With it you can place prominent imagery front and center on your website. It ain’t gonna make bad images look good, granted, but it’ll bring the most out of what you have available.

Bonus tip: You can also combine Metaslider with the Enhanced Media Library to help you manage your slider images.

Highlight you (or your team) with Fancier Author Box

Free WordPress Plugins Fancier Author Box

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WordPress was originally created for blogs. Although it’s expanded to be able to do much more than that, blogging is still at its core.

With that in mind, Fancier Author Box helps you to highlight the best thing about your company (i.e. you) with a nice image, biography, a collection of your social media profiles, and latest posts. This is perfect if you have multiple people working on content, and gives your brand a more personable feel that helps readers connect with.

Free WordPress plugins alleviate headaches

WordPress has an enormous library of plugins that can help you get more out of your website. Many are free and will alleviate some of the biggest headaches associated with running a site.

If you’re looking for additional plugins that can help provide extra features or functionality, try looking directly in the official database by “most popular” and check out GoDaddy’s Hot 100.

Alternatively, if you have some suggestions of your own, we’d love to hear from you. Share your favorite free WordPress plugins in the comments section below!

Image by: Rina Pitucci (Tilling 67) via Compfight cc

Tom Ewer
Tom Ewer is a freelance writer, online entrepreneur, and the founder of Leaving Work Behind and WordCandy. He has been obsessed with WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not running his businesses, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!