The 5 best free WordPress plugins we use on every website

5 best wordpress plugins
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In this post, we will be running through the five WordPress plugins that we use on every single site we build. The WordPress ecosystem has such a huge variety of options when it comes to third-party plugins, it can be very bewildering when Setting up your first website. Certain plugins will be required to add additional features that you can address on a case by case basis…
Want a fancy contact form with conditional logic?
There’s a plugin for that.
Want to set up a shop selling physical products?
There’s a plugin for that.
Want to provide lead magnets and encourage people to sign up to your email marketing list?
There’s a plugin for that too.

WordPress is such an extendable platform that you can probably find a plugin for just about any use case scenario but what about the daily grind? What about the five best WordPress plugins that we would recommend you install on every website? Here’s a quick list of our top five WordPress plugins and a word or two about what they bring to the table.

All In One WP Migration – Best WordPress Plugin for easy backups

All In One WP Migration WordPress Plugin
All in One WP Migration – WordPress Backup Plugin

I can’t recommend this WordPress plugin highly enough and actually, it gets installed on all of our sites during the development process. Never an afterthought, but part of our original build process, all in one WP migration allows you to back up your website to a single file and seamlessly move it between hosting environments.

Ease of use is the number one factor that I considered when choosing this WordPress Plugin over its competitors. Having used numerous migration and backup plugins in the past, all in one WP migration has been a breath of fresh air ever since we found it and is now my back up plugin of choice. The free version will allow you to take a manual backup of your website up to 500 MB and include the option to exclude theme files, plugin files, and media files. When coupled with FTP access, the net result is a virtually unlimited backup size.

The premium version removes the size restrictions from the backups and allows you to integrate directly with your favourite cloud storage provider including Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, OneDrive, and many others.

We use this plugin to take regular backups from our local development environment during every WordPress build and store them in Google Drive and Dropbox for backup integrity. Once a build has been completed, we use the same plugin to migrate up to our live hosting environment and it will work on Linux Windows and macOS based hosting. Once our websites are live, it fits in perfectly with our regular backup routine along with a number of other automated backup solutions.

If you don’t currently have a backup solution in place for your WordPress website, this is definitely one of the plugins available and it’s well worth considering for your site.

Favicon – Best WordPress Plugin for Favicon Management

Real Favicon Generator WordPress Plugin
Real Favicon Generator – WordPress Plugin

Real favicon generator is an absolute must-have and is probably the most comprehensive favicon generator in the WordPress Plugin marketplace. Another free plugin, it links to realfavicongenerator.net in order to walk you through an easy to follow wizard which generates custom favicons for a variety of platforms.

Gone are the days when a favicon simply needed to display in the title bar of your web browser…
This plugin will generate separate icons for your desktop browser, Google’s results pages, iOS web clips, android chrome, android home screen shortcuts, windows Metro, macOS Safari, and the MacBook Touch Bar. All this without the requirement for a single line of code or the need to understand any of the different image sizes and formats required. Simply follow the steps in the wizard and fill in the options provided for each of the platforms to generate a full suite of branding and make sure that your website gets the visibility it deserves across all devices.

Rank Math – Best WordPress Plugin for SEO

Rank Math WordPress Plugin
Rank Math – WordPress SEO Plugin

Rank Math is a new arrival in our suite of favourite plugins. Yoast SEO is currently the most popular SEO plug-in on the WordPress marketplace and until recently it was out platform of choice for WordPress SEO. Yoasts popularity is arguably due to its current market share and not necessarily a reflection of its value relative to its features. Many professional SEO practitioners use alternative platforms such as All in 1 SEO Pack and the SEO Framework.

When moving away from Yoast, we chose Rank Math primarily because of its huge suite of features.
The free version takes you through a very comprehensive set up wizard which should be achievable and understandable for even the most inexperienced website owners. The settings page is very user-friendly and the documentation online is fantastic. I also found that the engagement in the Rank Math Facebook group is second to none with someone always on hand to help with support queries and make suggestions to help with your on-site SEO.

Once you have completed the initial set up, you will find that the plugin monitors your 404 errors and logs them so you can keep track of these URLs and redirect them using the built-in 301 and 302 redirection feature. It supports structured data, integration with Google search console, it generates a site map and integrates with WooCommerce straight out of the box. Rank Math also includes a link counter, local SEO and Knowledge Graph, Automated Image SEO features, and integration with Google’s instant indexing service, BuddyPress, BB press, Advanced Custom Fields, and AMP.

All in all, Rank Maths is a hugely comprehensive plugin that allows for multiple keywords in each post and ranks them individually. Many of the features are only available in the premium versions provided by the competition and I cannot recommend this plugin highly enough.

Wordfence – Best WordPress Security Plugin

Wordfence WordPress Plugin
Wordfence – WordPress Security Plugin

Security should be the number one consideration when you first publish your website. WordPress websites are constantly under attack from hackers and automated attacks are now so frequent that Wordfence blocked 3,721,644,547 attacks against WordPress websites in the 30 days prior to writing this article.

Word France is the best threat intelligence in the industry and constantly update its threat defence feed which supplies or WordPress websites that run the software with a database of firewall rules, malware signatures and known malicious IP addresses. The intelligent firewall monitors traffic and interactions with your website in order to keep automated attackers at bay and the comprehensive set of options allows for site administrators to choose the level of security that is right for you on a site by site basis.

Built in brute force protection will automatically lock out any IP address that attempts to access the website using unknown credentials or a list of blacklisted usernames such as “admin”, “administrator” etc. You can also set rules for the number of failed login attempts a user can enter before they are blocked from accessing the website and set separate controls for username errors and password arrows to allow your users at least a fighting chance of making it passed security should date to get their original login details.

Installing Wordfence on your website will also give you the opportunity to sign up to their mailing list in order to be alerted as they uncover potential security issues in known WordPress plug-ins. The team at Wordfence is actively involved in supporting the community of developers who build plug-ins for the WordPress ecosystem. They continually review the security of the code known WordPress plug-ins and work together with the developers if they find vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. They also regular email updates should they find a security vulnerability and haste live webinars on WordPress security, hacking, and preventative measures to protect the community from, attacks.

Site Kit by Google – Best WordPress Plugin for Google Analytics Integration

Google Site Kit WordPress Plugin
Site Kit – Google’s own WordPress Plugin

Site Kit by Google is a WordPress plugin that integrates with Google’s main marketing platforms. Site kit is very easy to set up using the familiar “Login with Google” interface to authorise your Search Console, Google Analytics, Google AdSense and Google Page Speed accounts. Information is pulled in from all of your accounts and displayed on the dashboard layout in the admin area of your website.

The Google analytics tab gives you information about the number of visitors that you receive the way they interact with your website and how that equates to return on investment. You will be able to view the number of visitors that you have had, the number of unique sessions, the bounce rate from your site and the average session duration. The dashboard shows the most viewed content for the last 28 days along with visitor acquisition sources for the same period.

Search console gives information about the keywords your visitors have used in their search terms in order to find your site, along with a number of impressions and clicks those keywords generated, the average click-through rate, and the average position on the search engine results pages. This information can be really useful when you are planning your keyword strategy and thinking about which keywords to target as you can quickly get an idea about which keywords bring in the most visitors and from those visitors, which groups are most likely to convert.

AdSense functionality simply helps to set up your website to receive adverts that can be placed by Google’s advertising platform in order to monetise your page views if you’re happy serving adverts to your audience. Finally Page speed insights measures the performance of your site including load times and how responsive it is to different screen sizes. The information is displayed in a user-friendly dashboard that offers suggestions to help you improve your loading times which should aid in customer retention and help to boost your ranking on Google’s search results pages.

Site Kit also provides the option to set up Google Optimise and Google tag manager…
Google Optimise allows you to A/B test your content by serving variations of your pages randomly to different visitors and keeping track of which version converts and how much revenue is generated by each version in order for you to refine your sales process. Google tag manager allows you to interact with your tag manager account to set up multiple tags from third-party providers without having to add additional code to your website.

Once tag manager has been integrated into your site, you can log into your tank manager account and choose from over 50 tags provided by a number of third-parties including Hot Jar, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bing, and numerous others. You can use the tags and triggers provided to measure your user’s interaction with your website and generate clear insights into the return on investment that you generate through advertising spend on other platforms.

Google’s Site Kit plugin is provided for free in the WordPress plugin repository and compliments all of their other free services. The software provides a complete suite of marketing analysis tools while helping to improve your ranking on Google’s own search engine results pages.

Conclusion

Although we rely on a whole suite of WordPress plugins, these are currently our favourites. I chose these WordPress plugins primarily due to the rich list of functions on offer for free to all website owners. They provide peace of mind through an easy backup system and intelligent security software, branding and visibility, SEO, and analytics without the need to write a single line of code. All of these plug-ins are easy to set up, install, and use regularly whether you are an experienced web developer or a business owner with no previous experience of running a website.

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