If your start your online business nowadays, this article will help you in finding the essential tools for your WordPress website. It changes from time to time which plugins I prefer, but these 15+ are the best free WordPress plugins I know at present.
Many things can be done with free plugins, but the big competition in the market of your services or products often requires the use of commercial plugins. If you look for top web design companies in Seattle to design your website, you will get commercial plugins as a bonus. We can also provide you with several commercial plugin licenses, contact us for the details. But in this article let us see, which are the best free WordPress plugins in 2022.
The best free WordPress plugins for security
There is no 100% safety, we need to use at least a few tools to try to maximize the security of our websites. This includes a firewall, malware scanner, backup, and antispam plugins.
1. Firewall and malware scanner
Wordfence is an essential firewall, malware scanner, login security, and monitoring tool. Its free version has a one-month delay of updates of firewall rules, so it is better to update WordPress, the WordPress themes, and the plugins regularly. The plugin has a rating of 4.7 out of 5. The pro version is not cheap, at $99 + VAT per year for one site. Without such a firewall, hackers can replace your website with something else, or they just insert hidden links in it, redirect it somewhere else, etc.
It’s an important security measure that we should back up the site regularly, just think of a crashed or hacked site. The free UpdraftPlus plugin can back up WordPress files and the database, and you can restore it later when in trouble. In addition to manual backups, scheduled backups are also possible. It can save your files to Dropbox, Google Drive, UpdraftVault, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, Openstack Swift, DreamObjects, and email. It has got 4.8 stars out of 5.
Your website contains several forms that can be spammed: comment forms, contact forms, newsletter sign-up forms, registration, etc. Most antispam plugins can prevent spamming of only certain forms, so you need to choose carefully when trying to protect all of your forms. There are a few options without a captcha, of which I suggest trying the following ones:
Antispam Bee can block only trackbacks and spam comments. But if you need google Recaptcha for all of your forms, try the free Advanced google Recaptcha plugin.
The best free WordPress plugins for improving site performance
Speeding up your site can help you to keep your visitors, improves the user experience, and is also an important part of technical SEO. Caching and image optimization are the main tools we can use for this purpose.
4. Caching to speed up your site
Fastest Cache: I have tried a few caching tools, and none of them worked perfectly, some of them even broke my site, so at last I chose Fastest Cache. Its free version can already make your site fast, but I also bought the pro version. (I had used Swift Performance Lite for a while, by which you can reach very high page speed scores, but unfortunately, the plugin was not stable.)
5. Image optimization
For jpg and png optimization, there is an online tool at tinyjpg.com, where optimizing 20 images per day is free. But you can also use a free plugin for this purpose: Smush, which can optimize, resize, and lazy load your images. Furthermore, if you rather want to convert your images to webP format for free, there is a good plugin: WebP Converter for Media.
The best free WordPress plugins for marketing and eCommerce
As this guide is for beginner online entrepreneurs, marketing and eCommerce have important roles on your website. You can build sales funnels with these tools. You lead people to your website through paid advertising, or organic search results from Google, social media, or through backlinks, etc. Then you can e.g. offer some free lead magnets for their email address, and start to build relationships with the potential customers or clients. And/or you can sell your products or services in one or more steps.
6. Contact form
The WPForms plugin is a responsive drag-and-drop form builder with two spam protection options. It has got 4.9 stars out of 5. WordPress block plugins and page builders also have form blocks for this purpose.
7. Social sharing
Sassy Social Share enables your website users to share content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Whatsapp, Tumblr, Reddit, and over 100 more social sharing and bookmarking services. The Hustle plugin also has social sharing icons, and it is also suggested in other categories.
8. Email newsletter
I suggest using an email marketing service, like Mailchimp or MailerLite, which has free packages. There is a free plugin for creating Mailchimp sign-up forms: Mailchimp for WordPress, but if you want more possibilities or a popup form, see my popup tool suggestion below. Furthermore, WordPress block plugins and page builders also have form blocks.
9. Inserting google and Facebook tracking codes
If your theme has no such option, the Head, Footer and Post Injections plugin can add necessary google analytics, Facebook pixel, etc. codes into the right places: head, footer, and other places of the page. But there is a plugin that is more popular among digital marketers: GTM4WP, because it works without coding.
10. Exit intent popup
I could find a good free exit intent popup plugin: Hustle. It can do a lot of things, its sign-up forms can work together with several newsletter tools or email marketing services, like Mailchimp. Furthermore, the sign-up forms can also be inserted into the pages, so it’s not only a popup tool. It also contains many popup templates that you can modify, or you can design your own popup.
Woocommerce is a full eCommerce solution that I use for selling digital products. Its official extensions are expensive, but the free version can be enough for many tasks.
12. Affiliate links
I use Thirsty Affiliates for the management of my affiliate links. You can create nice short links with your own website URL, and the plugin redirects them to the ugly affiliate URLs. For example, this is an affiliate link (the only one in this article): Buy the Divi theme. The plugin can also display the number of clicks on affiliate links over a given period on a graph.
The best free WordPress plugins for content creation and optimization
There are great tools for creating, styling, controlling, and optimizing your content. The following plugins are just the essential ones.
13. Content SEO
The Yoast SEO plugin includes several tools that help to reach a better position in the google search results with your content. It evaluates your content from many aspects of SEO and readability, so you will know what to modify or improve. It also helps in sharing on Facebook and Twitter, further options are available in the pro version.
14. WordPress blocks
Since the WordPress block editor was released, several Gutenberg block plugins appeared with cool, customizable blocks. The best ones are the Kadence blocks and the Spectra. One day maybe they will be more popular than the old page builders.
15. Page builder
If for some reason you are not satisfied with the block plugins, you can try a page builder plugin, like Elementor. The free version has 30 widgets including testimonials, counter, accordion, toggle, star rating, etc.
Well, I hope you found some useful tools in this article, that can help to build your online business in these hard times.