Here are my recommendations for the free basic plugins every WordPress website should have:
1. Yoast SEO (free version) – for SEO tips, especially on blog posts
For SEO, Yoast is one of the best resources out there. They have courses and a huge blog’s worth of seemingly endless knowledge on search engine optimization. I’ve taken the courses myself and found them hugely helpful for building both my own and my clients’ online businesses.
So of course, it’s no surprise that SEO super power Yoast has a plugin for WordPress websites. What is kind of surprising to me is just how robust the free version of their plugin is. I’ve used it on many websites now to grow their rankings and traffic, and it works great, even in different markets. The only real drawback is that everyone else is also using Yoast, so you’ll have to put in the time and the work to make your site stand out. Read more in this article about the Yoast free plugin.
2. Updraft Plus – for backups
This one is not as sexy as an SEO plugin, but maybe even more important! A good backup plugin is important for the foundation of your website. A lot of hosting companies do offer backups, but I also like to have my own. I don’t really trust most hosting companies because they can change their rules without much warning. It’s best to have your own backup. I run the backups about once a week, and definitely before I make any updates or do any work on a website.
3. Redirection – to redirect old pages to new ones
Sometimes, in building our websites, we create pages that we need for a bit and then have to delete. It’s important to keep your pages and posts cleaned out and streamlined. It makes your site more secure and run better, and it’s better for seo.
So what happens if you delete a page that has a link out there somewhere? Your visitor will get a 404 error, and that’s not great. Use a redirection plugin and you can automatically redirect them to a new page instead. The visitor finds what they are looking for and your website has better UX and seo.
4. WP Statistics – to keep track of your site visits
There are sooooo many traffic tracker plugins out there. A lot of people stick to the Google Analytics ones, and that’s a great option. I prefer the WP Statistics, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s free and it tracks all the basic info and displays it in simple ways. I think it’s good to have a traffic statistics plugin that’s just helpful and not overwhelming. Definitely install this one right away so you can start tracking your traffic immediately!
5. WooCommerce – if your website is a store.
This one is a no-brainer. If you’re building a store, any kind of store, I highly recommend using the WooCommerce plugin. If you’re just starting and you’re not sure if your site is a store yet or not, then you can always add this in later, so no need to stress about it!
6. (optional) Smash Balloon Instagram feed
Having an Instagram/ Twitter/ etc. feed is just a nice touch and helps you connect with your audience more. This free plugin lets you pull those feeds directly onto your website and just makes everything a little nicer & easier.
7. (optional) Popups for Divi – makes popup windows
Special mention for this plugin, because it’s my favorite free plugin. If you’re using the Divi theme, this one lets you make all sorts of popup windows. They’re super easy to design and use, and I use them on almost all of the websites I build now.