12 great and free WordPress plugins for a perfect website

by Guidebook

WordPress is rightly the most popular Content management system. It offers everyone the possibility, with relatively little effort and a healthy degree of learning by doing to create a beautiful website. Plug-ins play an important role in this, bringing that extra bit of functionality with them. However, it is not so easy to fish out the really important ones from the huge plugin pool. We present 12 useful and free WordPress plugins and explain what is important. 

In theory, a Website page created quickly. In reality, however, it can take a long time to perfect your online presence to the point where you are satisfied with the result - and make search engines and users happy at the same time. Plugins make our lives much easier in this respect. Plugins are nothing more than WordPress extensionsbased on a PHP script. Just think of it as a kind of file package that provides you with a new function - for example, the possibility of creating pretty tables or integrating an online shop. In this way, you have the possibility to optimise your own website without programming knowledge and to adapt it according to your wishes.

There are an incredible number of WordPress plugins, including wonderful free ones. I would like to introduce you to some of these important free extensions today - and no website should be without a few of them. They provide more security and speed, make your work easier and ultimately increase the ranking on Google and Co.

What you should always pay attention to

Of course, there are many other good plugins that are not mentioned in this article. And ultimately, the choice depends very much on what purpose you are pursuing with your website - a blog, for example, has different needs than an online shop! However, there are two principles that you should always follow when choosing a plugin:

 

  • Less (good) is more:  A few relevant plugins can be a real blessing. Too many, however, can have exactly the opposite effect and harm you: they make the website slower and create security gaps. So it doesn't make sense to install as many plugins as possible according to the motto "what you have, you have".
  • Regular updates and good ratings: Good plug-ins are updated at regular intervals. Take this aspect into account when making your choice. A plug-in always states when it was last updated. If the last update was 2 years ago, I would be rather sceptical. And be sure to take a look at the customer reviews!

Good things don't always have to be expensive! These free plugins prove it:

01

Search Engine Optimisation: Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is not for nothing the most popular freely available SEO-tool and I can only really recommend it to everyone. Es helps immensely to optimise pages and contributions for the search engines and thus to improve the ranking.

The free version already gives you all the tools you need to perfect your content in terms of title, url, meta description, etc. The snippet preview allows you to see how a post or page will look in the search results. An integrated XML sitemap function also ensures better indexing. Furthermore, Yoast SEO optimises the code of your website to feed the search engine with better information.

02

For faster loading times: WP Super Cache

With increasing numbers of visitors (which we all strive for, of course), the web space is more heavily loaded - depending on the server performance, this leads to longer loading times. 

And neither website visitors nor search engines like that. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to use a cashing plugin, whereby the best free option is probably WP Super Cash represents. In simple terms, the plugin ensures that the loading time of the page is reduced by generating static HTML pages.

It is important with this plug-in that you check your website carefully after installation, as problems may arise with many dynamic elements. There are also a few things to consider when setting up the backend. In particular, cashing must first be switched on manually after the plugin has been activated. You can find good instructions for the settings in this contribution.

03

For even faster loading times: Autoptimize

Autoptimize helps you to reduce and combine HTML, CSS and JavaScript scripts used by themes and plugins.

This also reduces the loading time and so Autoptimize is a good addition to the Cashing plugin. A helpful tutorial on the plugin can be found at here.

04

WordPress Backup: WP Database Backup, BackWPUp or UpdraftPlus

With all the optimisation, one often forgets an important aspect: safety!

Imagine that due to a stupid error or malware, your site suddenly disappears and all the content is gone or at least untraceable for the time being. I can tell you from my own experience that there are better things!

Due to an error during a plugin installation, I suddenly had the problem that all I could reach via my domain was a blank white page. Backend gone, frontend gone. That makes you sweat a lot, especially if you are like me. no backup - that is, a backup copy of the entire database. Fortunately, the problem was solved and the data were not really gone, but a backup can save you all the heartache in such a situation (which is worth a lot in itself) and, of course, a lot of work in an emergency.

At the time, I had intuitively opted for the plugin WP Database Backup and I am satisfied with it so far. In the meantime, however, the net is mainly BackWPUp and UpdraftPlus recommended. All three allow you to automatically create backups and store them in various clouds or send them via email. What more could you want?

For information: many good providers automatically create backups for your site. In this case, you do not necessarily need such a plugin.

05

The Avira for your website: Wordfence

Surely you use a virus scanner for your PC?

You should do the same for your website. As the name already suggests, builds Wordfence a protective wall around your site, protecting it from hacker attacks and malware. The plug-in provides a virus scanner and firewall in one and thus reliably identifies viruses or blocks intruders. You will be notified by email if there are any irregularities.

06

Against spam: Antispam Bee

If you want to give users the opportunity to comment on posts (which is highly recommended), you need a spam filter.

Most of you will certainly know Askimet, which is already pre-installed with WordPress. However, a better free alternative is Antispam Beeamong other things because this plugin complies with German data protection law.

07

Sharing made easy: Shareaholic

So-called social share buttons are used to enable the sharing of a post on social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Co. 

particularly easy. Offering your users this option is incredibly important for achieving greater reach. Shareaholic takes care of this and automatically adds the buttons to your blog.

08

Perfect contact form: Contact Form 7

I don't see any reason why you should choose a different contact form.

Contact Form 7 is simple, flexible and reliable. You determine yourself which fields a user has to fill in and can easily link the form to your email inbox.

09

Detects broken links: Broken Link Checker

Faulty links sneak onto a page faster than you would like.

This is not only about external links that refer to other pages, but also about internal links. Perhaps you change your urls in the course of an SEO optimisation and it is easy to overlook one or the other outdated link in the text.

Google does not like such link graveyards at all and so they directly harm the ranking. But it is also annoying for your users if a promised redirect does not work. Broken Link Checker detects broken links and is particularly recommended if you publish many articles on your site.

10

Automatic image compression: Imsanity or Smush

Images belong on every website. But if they are too big, the speed of your website suffers massively.

For most blogs and business sites, high resolution images are also completely unnecessary (unless of course you are in the photography business). You should therefore make sure to only upload images under 100 Kb. Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done - especially if you are working on a website with several people or if guest authors post their contributions themselves. It can quickly happen that an image is accidentally uploaded in 10 Mb instead of 10 Kb.

The two plugins Imsanity us Smush automatically reduce images to a sufficient size - both when uploading a new image and for existing ones. In this way, you can quickly iron out errors from the past and thus improve the loading time in no time at all.

11

For the first newsletter: Newsletter

Many website operators will sooner or later reach the point where they want to establish their email marketing in the form of a newsletter.

If you have a very high number of subscribers, this certainly requires a professional email marketing tool such as Cleverreachnecessary. To begin with, the free WordPress plugin "Newsletter"However, in my opinion, it is perfectly adequate.

With little effort you can create email lists here and design pretty newsletters by drag & drop. In contrast to the professional tools, the email addresses are only stored internally and not externally on some server. This is a big plus for data protection reasons. With an increasing number of subscribers, however, it becomes difficult at some point, as sending takes a long time and the possibilities for monitoring (e.g. opening and click rate) are comparatively limited. But then you can always change!

12

For multilingual websites: Polylang

If you operate a multilingual website, you need an appropriate plugin. 

Polylang is, in my opinion, the best free solution. With it, you can easily build bilingual or multilingual websites. You simply set your desired languages and then set the respective language for each page and each post. Translated pages can be easily linked to each other so that the user can easily switch between languages via a language button.

You should definitely install this plugin at the beginning before you start adding content. And if at some point you no longer want to go two-track, don't worry: deactivating the plug-in is completely hassle-free and without error messages. In this case, you simply have to set the language you want to continue using as "default".

Is anything else missing?

With this plug-in list you are already very well equipped. Of course, you have to decide for yourself which extensions are really useful for your purposes and which you can do without. And maybe there is another terrific plugin that you think should not be missing? Then we would be happy to hear from you!

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