Our Chosen 7 Free and Essentials WordPress Plugins
There are many plugins available in WordPress. As an open source CMS, WordPress developers all around the world are contributing to make WordPress a better platform. If you have experience in WordPress you will know, out-of-the-box WordPress is like a blank canvas. There are some further “tuning-up” required to transform the website into a functional one.
What makes WordPress powerful is the Plugins. It empowers them. In this article, we will look further on our hand-picked essentials plugins. Additionally, we will also share our thoughts and experience why we think it is beneficial for your website.
Our target audience for this article is for an average non-website savvy user, therefore the focus is on the plugins that require minimal coding.
GA Google Analytics
Your website traffic is one metric that determine the effectiveness of your website. The one and only analytical tool you should have in your website is Google Analytics. However, many users are turned off by the implementation of it. According to the instruction the user need to inject code to every of their page (confuse already?), which is true but us the developers we know our way around it. The official Google Analytics tracking code would look something like this:
With this plugin, you will be able to bypass the code injecting process. The plugin will be able to do the hard-lifting part, all you need to do is provide them the “GA Tracking ID” and that’s it. Easy as A-B-C. No FTP file update nor updating your header/footer.php file. It saves time.
Backup Plugins: UpdraftPlus & WPDuplicator
Website backup function is like insurance for your website. In other words, if your website is infected by malware or any kind, you will always have the healthy version of the website to restore to. In order to do so, we use the combinations of 2 recommended plugins.
Learn more the 6 reasons why you need to backup your website according to Edward Aryana Design
Using UpdraftPlus it allows automation in your backup process. You can set your backup frequency according to your preferences (every week, every 2 weeks, every month and so on). UpdraftPlus will backup your Database, Template, and Plugins in a separate zip file (this particularly useful when we are troubleshooting a website). Additionally, this plugin can automatically save your backup files to a remote server (cloud server) of your choice; such as Dropbox, Google Drive, AWS, Remote FTP and many more.
However, the free version only allows you to restore the website to the same domain, you will need the pro version for restoring to a different domain. This is where we use Duplicator to compensate on this limitation.
Essentially, Duplicator is a cloning tool for your website. For instance, you wanted to develop a feature to your website, but you want to do internal testing before the feature is live, then, Duplicator will come in handy. It allows your website to be duplicated to a different domain or to your localhost machine (Yes you can duplicate a website a runs it in your PC or Laptop).
Unlike Updraftplus WPDuplicator will put all of the files related to your website in one bulked ZIP file, so there is less file management required.
Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator
We have been using this feature far long before we decide to standardized WordPress as our CMS. RealFaviconGenerator is a website where you can automatically generate favicons into a string of code to be injected to your website. Injected to your website you say? This is mostly a challenge for non-techies users, if you encounter this problem then RealFaviconGenerator is the solution for you.
This plugin bypasses the code-injection process for favicon implementation, it simplifies the process. The plugin will do the coding process within a press of a button, all we need to do is just providing the right file format for your favicon.
We have saved a couple of our clients’ website using this plugin. WordFence nullifies any malicious hacking attempt (or also known as brute-force-attack) to your website. It is also logged any malware attempt. This tool provides us developers to evaluate where any potential threats to our clients’ website.
This plugin will also provide a firewall feature to your website, this means the website is significantly harder to hack. Moreover, WordFence has been acknowledged by the WordPress community as THE security plugin for WordPress. Users can also opt out to a premium feature that gives them access to priority customer service.
Contact Form 7 (and the extensions)
Arguably the most used and popular plugins in WordPress today. Contact Form 7 (or CF7 for short) is a powerful additional plugin in your website. The conventional way of building HTML form is far more complex than you think. CF7 made the form building is easy even for someone without a coding background. Some of the major highlights of CF7 are the following:
- Custom Field for your from
- You can specify a particular form to receive a piece of particular information. For instance, if you set a field as an “email field” in CF7 the form won’t submit unless the user inputs his/her email address. The plugin will know if it is in the wrong format.
- You can set the form to send an email. For example, you want your assistant to be notified whenever there’s an incoming inquiry from your website. No need additional coding for CF7, by default it has email sending capabilities
- Due to the popularity of it, CF7 has many extensions to browse. Think of it a plugin for a plugin. One of our favorite extension of CF7 is Contact Form 7 Database Addon – CFDB7. This extension will have an internal logging system to whoever used your form. This means if some technical difficulties occurred in your website somehow they are not sending emails, the query would not be lost but instead recorded inside the website.
- It is 100% free
We only recently implement JetPack to be a compulsory plugin to all of the websites we managed. One of the selling-point of using JetPack it was developed by Automaticc, the developer who actually build WordPress. So you can consider this as “Official Plugin” for WordPress. Though JetPack offers many features in its self, there are several features that we love the most.
One Click Login
With JetPack your website is connected to WordPress.com server, this means you can implement one-click login to your website without having to memorize every single admin username and password of all the WordPress websites you managed. As a prerequisite of this feature, you may be required to register in WordPress.com. This proved to be extremely time savings and convenience for a website consultant like us.
Auto Plugins Update and Plugins Management
When you have run WordPress long enough, you will know how important is to keep your WordPress updated for a security reason. Many vulnerabilities mostly come from outdated Plugins or outdated WordPress version. Managing multiple WordPress websites can be a laborious work, one website can range between 5 – 15 plugins, updating every single one can take hours. Additionally, you will never know when the update is available. Some developers can push 2 different updates in a day.
Through JetPack you will be able to manage every single plugin in YOUR EVERY SINGLE WEBSITE you managed. Yes, you heard that right, everything is under one service. Essentially, JetPack sends commands to your connected website to do the update, this feature has helped us tremendously to cut time and effort for managing our client’s websites.
**Note: We do not recommend to enable the auto-update feature, as updating plugins has proven to break websites from time to time. Therefore, never do a major update before backing up your website. That’s why we love the next feature of JetPack.
You’ll be Notified When Your Website is Not Loading
A down website may be costly for a business that heavily relying on their website. Having this notification will minimalize the downtime for the website, then the webmaster would be able to diagnose and implement solutions to your website. Think of it like you have assigned someone to look after your store, whatever happens to it you will always be notified.
Really Simple SSL
It is exactly like it sounds, it is really simple. You may need some technical understanding to implement SSL to your cPanel. In addition to that, you will need some major understanding of what to tinker for implementing SSL to your website. But not in WordPress, using this plugin it bypasses all of the .htaccess file editing and coding related changes you have to make to activate SSL.
As mentioned in Neil Patel’s article, we understand the role of SSL in SEO. Using this plugin will definitely save time and makes it easier to be activated on your website.
We save the best one for last. If (God knows what) for some reason you want to minimalize your plugins usage, the one you shouldn’t rule out is SEO Yoast. This game changer plugin will provide all the tools you need for your internal Search Optimization work. Some of the major highlights of this plugin are as follow:
- Custom Meta Description of each page
- Keywords Targeting
- Readability Analysis – Help the flow of your content
- In-page checker to evaluate whether the page you published is search-friendly compliant
- Detect any SEO related problems on your website
Basically, if you want to be on top of your game in your website SEO, Yoast is a must have plugin.
We have shared our most used and recommended WordPress plugins. The great thing about WordPress it is community driven, therefore do let us know what plugins you’ll find useful and compulsory for your website in the comment below. We love to hear from our readers.