This is my personal ‘go to’ list of the top 20 best WordPress plugins to use in 2020 and beyond if you’re wanting to get the very most from your WordPress website.
These 20 plugins I’ve repeatedly installed as an integral part of my client website builds over the past 4 years across multiple different niches.
The best part?
They’re all FREE!
Allowing you to immediately install any of them onto your website so it can;
- Perform Better
- Convert Better
- Look Better
- AND Rank Better!
Let’s dive right in!
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Performance & Speed
1. WP Fastest Cache
Caching your WordPress website is easily the most efficient way to improve its overall performance.
Before I continue, it has to be said that having an amazing hosting platform is what’s going to make the most significant difference when it comes to overall website performance.
If switching hosts is simply not an option for you, a cache plugin could be exactly what your website needs to bring it up to speed.
Why is speed important?
Recent research found that the time it takes to fully load the average website is 22 seconds.
Research also indicates 53% of people will leave a web page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load!
That’s 53% of your potential audience never seeing the amazing content you’ve worked so hard to create if your websites not performing as it should!
How does ‘caching’ work?
Essentially, the websites data is temporarily stored in the cache so that it pre loads that version of the website the next time the same user visits the same page.
Resulting in a significant difference in loading speed!
Want to see it work for yourself?
- Check out your current website speed on www.gtmetrix.com
- Once you’ve received your results, go ahead and install the WP Fastest Cache Plugin and activate it
- Ensure to tick the options as seen below and resubmit your website to GTMetrix
Once complete, compare the results and see how much your sites performance has improved!
Make sure to let me know your results in the comments!
2. WP Smush
Using images within your content posts should be standard practise for any website owner wanting to keep their readers interested and engaged upon landing on their blog.
Uploading hoards of unoptimised images can eventually take up a mountain of storage space!
Subsequently slowing down your website and undoing all the hard work you’ve been putting into getting more eyes on your content!
That’s Where Compression Can Help…
Compressing images will save you a literal TONNE of storage space without affecting the overall quality of your images.
WP Smush automatically compresses all your website files currently on site with the click of a button,
As well as allowing the option to compress new files being added as you’re uploading them!
The result will shave even more time off of your sites overall loading speed.
- More eyes on your content
- Increased user experience
- Better on site conversions
- More potential revenue!
Best Free WordPress Plugins For SEO
1. Yoast SEO
It’s really hard as a business owner to know exactly what SEO optimisation methods are best to focus on when wanting your website to show up ahead of your competitors on Google.
The number ONE ranking factor these days?
Is to write KILLER content.
Google isn’t an idiot.
If you put informative, long form, ‘info-taining’ content out there with genuine intentions of simply helping your target audience…
Google will recognise that and rank you.
In saying that…
Getting the basics of SEO optimisation down certainly won’t hurt.
And THAT’S where the YOAST SEO Plugin can come in handy.
This awesome tool has the innate ability to make basic search engine optimisation much more appealing and attainable to the average WordPress user.
It helps you SEO optimise every page, post and project on your website using visual queues in the form of a traffic light system.
- Green for good
- Orange for ‘meh’
- Red for potential issues
Furthermore, it helps you create attention grabbing meta descriptions, headlines and snippets to further increase your contents presence upon showing up in user search results.
But The Best Part Of This Plugin?
Is that it generally helps you write better content.
By making you actively mindful of the length, depth and content of your blog posts, Yoast SEO can turn you from an ‘average blogger’ to someone who consistently writes authoritative, long form and valuable content that your website visitors cannot wait to read and digest!
2. SEO Optimized Images
SEO optimized images is a little known plugin designed to help with the normally tedious and time consuming task of adding ‘title’, and ‘alt tags’ to your blog images.
It works by dynamically replacing the alt tags of your images within each post and page.
It also allows you to specify the exact values you want automatically inputted by the plugin each time you upload new images.
What’s the importance of having ALT TAGS on your blog images?
Search engines cannot interpret images.
But they CAN interpret the text descriptions ( ALT TAGS ) attached to images.
And I don’t know about you…
But a lot of the blogs and websites I end up visiting are because of different images I’ve clicked on that were applicable to my search term.
And if I’m finding new websites that way, it’s a safe bet there’s others doing it that way too!
These are the TINY details your competitors are most likely disregarding, so utilising this plugin and adding optimised alt tags onto your sites images now will eventually allow you to DOMINATE your competitors in Google search over time by ensuring you have the basic fundamentals of on site SEO in place.
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Social Sharing
1. Social Warfare
Social Warfare is easily the best plugin to use if you’re wanting to quickly implement social sharing abilities to your WordPress website.
Why Should You Add Social Sharing Abilities To Your Website?
- To build search relevance, rank better and increase overall visibility.
Let me explain…
If your writing genuinely awesome content, you should be encouraging your readers to actively share that content and making it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Social Warfare will not only makes that process as easy as the click of a button, but the resulting shares will inadvertently increase exposure, encourage a good user experience, develop natural links to your site and of course…
Get you more traffic.
2. Swifty Bar
‘Swifty Bar’ is an absolute GEM of a plugin I stumbled across when doing my research into the multiple free social sharing plugins currently available for WordPress.
It sticks to the bottom of the page as your website visitor scrolls through your content, keeping in full view;
- Category of that particular post
- Title and author
- Read progress bar
- Social sharing links
- ‘Previous’ and ‘next’ blog post links
What’s even better,
Is that it takes zero code or styling.
The ‘out of the box’ plugin looks fantastic as is.
Now, that being said,
If you DO want to customise it, it of course has a full array of options available too.
Another easy, always in view social share prompt for your blog to increase its social sharing capabilities.
Best Free WordPress Plugins For List Building
Acquiring email subscribers from your business website should be one of your top priorities.
I mean, look at any business killing it right now,
What do they ALL look for when you sign up?
That’s right.. an email address.
Recent research conducted by Radicati found out that there’re 3.8 billion active email accounts.
That’s half the population of Earth.
And precisely why every smartly run business in the world has, and are continually building their email lists.
As should YOU.
- Email consistently outperforms most social media marketing platforms
- It’s personal
- It’s targeted
- It’s FREE
Let’s Start Helping You Acquire More Leads…
1. Optin Forms By Fancy Themes
In terms of free email capture plugins for WordPress ‘Optin Forms’ by Fancy Themes is one of the best.
As standard it integrates with the most popular email marketing softwares.
Also allowing you the ability to setup custom redirects when your prospects enter their details so you can get ‘ninja’ with your email capture funnels by implementing custom thank you pages for successful subscribers.
As if you don’t already know…
Thank you pages can be the PERFECT opportunity to quickly establish a relationship with your new leads.
Offering them a chance to;
- Join your Facebook group
- Like your Facebook page
- Connect with you on social media
I could go on…
And on top of all that,
It has six pre templated forms ready to integrate straight into your content upon activating the plugin!
But what about making custom forms?
As the free version of this plugin also has tonnes of customisation options.
Allowing you to style your forms exactly how you want them to look, with no coding or front end editing necessary.
Let’s talk about ‘exit intent’ popups.
WPBeginner recently implemented an exit intent popup on their website and their email subscribers jumped from 70-80 per day to 445-470 a day!
That’s an increase of 600%.
How it works is simple…
The software determines when a user is about to leave a site, which then triggers a popup that will momentarily stop the user from exiting.
With obviously positive results!
Which One Should YOU Use?
In my opinion?
It has to be ‘Poptin’.
- It’s free
- Easy to use
- Looks fantastic
- Integrates with most major email softwares
How does it work?
All styling, integrations and customisations are done outside of WordPress, with just the addition of some code to the <head> of your website to immediately implement your ‘exit intent’ popup strategy to your website.
( If you’re not familiar with code, don’t worry! We’ll be looking at the ‘Tracking Code Manager’ plugin below, which makes adding code to your website super easy – even if you’ve never done it before! )
It has tonnes of basic email capture templates to choose from and customise, all within a fool proof interface designed to make the setup and installation of your campaigns as easy as, well literally…
And it should go without saying…
Font style, copy, colour and general design are easily edited as you’re creating your form to make sure it looks exactly as you want to.
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Site Security
1. iThemes Security ( formally ‘Better WP Security’ )
I always thought Wordfence was the ‘go to’ security plugin when I first started developing WordPress websites…
After spending time deep diving into the intricacies of speed optimisation and it’s overall affect on potential website conversions,
It was clear that Wordfence had one SERIOUS FLAW…
It slowed my websites down… MASSIVELY.
By 2 SECONDS in some instances!
Even worse? The user interface was overwhelming and complicated.
Two non negotiable’s for me when creating high converting websites!
It had to go!
In its place?
Not only did it NOT overly affect the performance of my website, it’s interface was much easier to understand and navigate as an admin.
Now, I hear you asking…
Why Install A Security Plugin?
Despite their best efforts to keep their sites safe, most Wordpress users are not security experts.
They may not be aware of security best practices, and unintentionally introduce vulnerabilities whilst working on their websites.
( Or NOT working on them in most cases! )
Whilst ‘Joe Blogs’ with 20 avid readers may not think he’s worth a hackers time,
It’s still massively important ( regardless of where you are with your current business ) to put the necessary security measures in place now to remove the possibility of there ever being an attack on you and your website visitors in future.
As from having experience with clients in the past being hacked, I can safely say, It’s a LOT easier to PREVENT potential hacking opportunities, than it is to reclaim your website and re-establish trust with its users in the aftermath of one!
Loginizer acts as ‘Brute Force’ attack prevention on the front end of your WordPress website.
It works by allowing a set amount of failed login attempts before the user attempting to access the website is blocked from the website for a prescribed amount of time.
It even gives you the option of black and whitelisting IPs. Alongside detailed reports of failed login attempts shown in a live feed within the plugin dashboard.
What Is A ‘Brute Force Attack’, And Why Is It’s Prevention Important For Your Website?
Brute-force attacking is the method of guessing a password by trying multiple combinations of letters, numbers and symbols.
Some attacks utilise dictionaries of commonly used passwords & words in order to speed up the process of guessing passwords.
This is the EASIEST way for hackers to access your website.
The easiest and simplest way to prevent this? Is to have a strong password in place,
Having the Loginizer plugin in place on top of that will ensure that your site remains secure from unsolicited users attempting to access your site.
Meaning you and your users can sleep easy.
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Ecommerce
If you’re currently selling, or thinking about selling anything on your website,
You’ve probably heard of WooCommerce…
It now powers a massive 30% of all online stores..
And for good reason.
It’s bloody awesome.
It gives its users –
- Unlimited ability to sell both physical and digital goods in any configuration
- Premium extensions for memberships and subscription based products.
- Highly configurable shipping options
- Extensive payment integrations and options
- Complete control over their store
It Works Much Like Page Posts, Allowing You To Immediately Familiarise With The Setup Process
Meaning you can have a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing online store setup and taking payments asap with minimal fuss.
Easily the best ecommerce plugin available to WordPress users right now.
2. Easy Digital Downloads
Whilst WooCommerce was originally created solely for physical products and later adapted to sell digital downloads,
Easy Digital Downloads ( EDD’s ) was created specifically for online stores selling digital downloads.
And because of that?
It’s faster, and much easier to use than its popular counterpart.
Some features include;
- Ability for customers to purchase single or multiple products simultaneously
- Creation of discount and promotional codes
- Auto expiration and maximum use limits
- Multiple extensions to integrate with third party softwares
But one of the best features of EDD?
Is its built-in customer access area.
Customers can immediately access the files they paid for once purchased.
If they ever accidentally lose/delete their downloaded files, they can simply log back into their account and re-download it.
The plugin also offers you comprehensive tracking of sales / refunds etc, alongside projected earnings based on past sales performance.
So if Woocommerce isn’t for you, or you’re solely selling digital products..
Adding EDD into your arsenal of plugins is an absolute no brainer!
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Analytics
1. Google Analytics By Monster Insights
Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool utilised by online businesses to better understand their website visitors.
It works by providing detailed information about the behaviour of your website traffic whilst on site, alongside displaying exactly how they got there in the first place.
In my experience..
Newbies landing inside Google Analytics dashboard and working out how to configure it can be a daunting experience.
As to set up Google Analytics properly and see all of the available insights, most website owners would have to hire a developer to implement the code correctly!
And if you’re anything like me,
Reducing costs and streamlining your business systems is a top priority.
Not overcomplicating it!
And THAT’S why Monster Insights Google Analytics plugin is so awesome.
- Quick and easy setup
- Real-time stats in your WordPress admin dashboard
- View popular posts, pages, and referral sources
All displayed within an extremely easy to navigate and understand user dashboard.
The PRO version of this plugin allows you to track file downloads, purchases and more!
But for most business owners,
The free version of this plugin provides more than enough data to make this an extremely worthwhile plugin to install as part of your online businesses arsenal of tools.
Allowing you to focus 100% of your efforts on creating awesome content for your ever growing audience.
2. Tracking Code Manager
Tracking Code Manager gives you the ability to easily manage ALL of your website tracking codes and scripts on ONE page.
Allowing you the option to add multiple codes to the <head> or <body> of all your pages and posts,
OR any singular pages and posts on your website.
Now, before we move on…
If you’re a business owner and currently NOT using any pixels to track your website audience, please do yourself ( and your business ) a huge one, and get them on your site NOW!
I mean, do you know as a business owner;
If people taking the actions you want them to take when you send them to your site?
Pixels allow you to monitor all of that, so you can see whether your ads are performing well or not. Allowing you to gauge your cost per acquisition, alongside the overall ROI of your marketing campaigns so you can refine them to get the maximum return on investment for your business.
Whether you’re using;
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Pixel
- Facebook Event Pixels
- Chat Tools
- Affiliate Tracking Pixels and so on…
It’s paramount that you’re utilising the incredible tracking softwares available to your business and not only getting the most from your current campaigns, but also your future marketing efforts!
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Blogs
1. Comment Redirect
Connecting with your audience is one of, if not THE most important thing you can do as a business.
Not only will it mean creating a loyal following, but it will keep your readers coming back time and time again.
And adding that ‘personal touch’ goes a long way towards ensuring you quickly build rapport with your audience.
Comment Redirect is an awesome plugin that allows you to setup a custom ‘Thank You’ page for first time commenters on your blog.
So you can do things such as;
- Personally thank them for engaging with your content
- Guide them towards your mailing list
- Ask them to ‘like’ your Facebook page
- Get them to join your Facebook group
- Leave a review
The possibilities are endless!
Why not see it in action for yourself?
Comment below this post and let me know if you’ve learned anything new from this post.
See a perfect example of how best to utilise this plugin and gain immediate rapport with your audience!
2. Click To Tweet By CoSchedule
With the ability to seamlessly integrate Click To Tweet into your existing blog content , it’s a subtle, powerful ( and FREE! ) software to implement as an integral part of your blog marketing strategy.
By far the best way to get more shares for your content!
What Are The Benefits Of Having ‘Instant Share’ Links Within Your Content?
Recent statistics show there’re more than 300 million active Twitter users..
Which of course,
Makes Twitter an extremely powerful platform for you to push content and gain new followers from.
Peoples attention span is diminishing daily, so offering them a pre written Tweet that’s immediately shareable on the click of a button allows you to not only determine exactly what you want them to tweet,
But make it extremely convenient for them to tweet it too!
This strong prompt to share will inevitably mean more people sharing and pushing your blog posts.
More eyes on your content!
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Productivity
Having a bulletproof content marketing strategy is paramount if you’re wanting to consistently publish invaluable content for your website visitors.
And one of the easiest ways to do this?
Is using PublishPress.
It allows you to see all your planned content and when you’ve scheduled that content to go live. With quick links to redirect you to those exact posts accessible within the calendar, alongside setting post type and title for easy identification and organisation.
Especially good if you have a team of writers creating content for your website!
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Content Strategy?
Any solid marketing plan involves strategy, and any strategy inevitably involves content.
Having and utilising a content calendar will not only keep you and your team in line with your overall strategy, but it will keep you laser focused on the individual content within,
Meaning deadlines are consistently hit and readers are kept coming back for more!
And let’s be honest…
As a business owner we’re always busy…
So much so that it’s easy to let stuff like content and blog posts ‘slip through the net’…
Especially when other major tasks are impending.
A content calendar establishes expectation and can help keep you and your team focused, productive and publishing content consistently.
2. Revive Old Posts
I’m not usually one to recommend automating your social media content…
In certain circumstances, it certainly helps to have tools in place that can help you keep to a consistent content marketing strategy.
As they say..
“Somethings better than nothing right?!” Well…
In most cases I would disagree…
But the fact that this plugin simply repurposes content you’ve previously written and invested your time into…
What Does Revive Old Post Do?
This awesome plugin assists in keeping your old posts alive by automatically sharing them to your social media channels in set intervals determined by you.
Which in turn makes your business look more ‘active’ online, and inevitably drives more traffic to your website.
Removing some of the work involved in maintaining your content marketing strategy – but NOT to be relied upon as a sole source of content upload.
Having a ‘personal touch’ and personally uploading relevant, informative content will ALWAYS win over pre scheduled blog post uploads in the long term.
But still an awesome plugin to utilise.
Best Free WordPress Plugins For Web Push Notifications
What are web push notifications?
Web Push Notifications are clickable browser based messages that can be sent from a website to its subscribers on both desktop or mobile devices.
The best part?
Users get notifications in realtime, even if the website isn’t open on the user’s browser when they are sent.
It acts as an extremely effective way to re-engage with your site visitors without having to ask for their email or any other details.
How does it work?
When a user lands on your website a small notification box will appear in the top right hand corner of their screen asking for their permission to receive notifications from your site. If they click ‘allow’, your site will start sending notifications of new content being published on your site.
Studies prove that Browser Push Notifications produce better results in terms of opt-in and click-through compared to other marketing mediums.
Since browser push notifications only require the user to allow permission with just one click and users can unsubscribe at any time instantly, the opt-ins for these are higher than Email and SMS.
So, let’s see which ones are best!
OneSignals is another awesome push notification plugin designed to drive more traffic to your blog.
It allows your readers a new way to actively subscribe to your blog, as well as actively alerting them each time you publish a new post.
Any of your site visitors will receive these notifications even after they’ve left your website, thus driving more traffic back to your site and increasing re-engagement.
You can also send manual push notifications to drive traffic to specific blog posts, landing pages and / or advertiser sites.
But the best part?
OneSignal is free for up to 30,000 subscribers and there are no limits on the number of push notifications you can send!
Much the same as OneSignals,
Subscribers.com is another free web push notification tool to utilise as part of your online marketing strategy.
And whilst it’s not as popular as the former, it is still my personal favourite due to it’s incredibly easy to use interface and integration process.
It gives detailed stats and feedback on each notification allowing you to see how many visitors your updates are driving to your website.
And there you have it!
20 of the best free plugins available to you right now to help you maximise the effectiveness of your website!
Anything I Missed?
If you think I did, I’d LOVE to hear from you!
Is there any other awesome plugins you know about that I might not?
Maybe you have some questions regarding the above list.
Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.