12 Useful Free WordPress Plugins for Beginners
New to creating your own website?
Chances are someone recommended you try out WordPress.
Free to use and open source, WordPress is known for its user-friendliness and versatility. But it’s the WordPress plugins that really make the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) so powerful.
With the use of these add-ons, or plugins, as they’re called, you can add any kind of functionality to your site you wish. Every kind of plugin exists: from tools for SEO to paid advertising to email marketing. Luckily, tons of these don’t cost a thing, which makes getting started with WordPress plugins pretty simple.
But sometimes the sheer amount of plugins available can be overwhelming. Especially for beginners. What’s more, you don’t want to install plugins willy-nilly, as too many plugins could slow your loading speed. When you’re starting out, you also might not want to invest a lot of money into WordPress plugins.
In this post, we introduce you to 12 of our favorite free WordPress plugins for beginners. With these tools, WordPress newbies will be on their way to marketing success.
- 32% of websites currently run in WordPress, including Newsletter2Go’s.
- The CMS that started out as a blogging platform now represents the most popular CMS.
- In 2018, WordPress was the fastest-growing CMS, which means that more new websites launch in WordPress than in any other CMS.
- For the seventh year running, it has held the largest market share of the CMS market globally.
With stats like these, the WordPress community must be doing something right.
Table of Contents
Search engine optimization (SEO) remains one of the biggest challenges and mysteries for new website owners. You’ve done the hard part, put your website or online shop together, but how do you make sure anybody finds it?
It won’t just magically appear on the first page of Google and other search engines unless you optimize it. Using keywords properly, monitoring technical aspects like page loading speed and including key backend elements all contribute to your ranking factors. Good thing there are plugins to help you out.
➡ Optimizing Your Website’s Performance in Search Engines
Of the many SEO plugins available, two stand out in particular:
These two popular plugins give you lots of options for optimizing every page. If you want people to find you via Google, make sure you install at least one of these.
They automatically handle a lot of the backend setup necessary for SEO that can be confusing to beginners. With them you won’t have to worry about canonical tags, robots.txt files and XML sitemaps.
These two plugins offer quite similar functionality. And either one will help you start out on the right foot.
The advantage of Yoast is its content analysis. It determines how well you’ve optimized your page for specific keywords and offers tips for improvement. For beginners learning how to do SEO writing, this functionality is a godsend!
The advantage of All in One is that you can bulk-edit metatags, which can be an incredible time saver. If you’re curious, check out this detailed comparison of them.
➡ Handling Images
Image optimization is a key subcategory of SEO that deserves its own mention. When starting your own website, you might not realize how important image compression can be to SEO. But ignore it at your own peril!
Optimized images can make your posts more relevant. They reduce bounce rates, shorten loading times and, when done right, tap into another key search channel and target group. In turn, nonoptimized images are dead weight for your site.
One of the best plugins for image optimization is …
It’s won many awards for a reason! It automatically compresses any .jpg, .gif or .png files you upload to the WordPress media library. It can also compress graphics files you’ve already saved. The free version of the tool can process up to 50 images at once.
Metatag management is another key element to SEO. Check out this plugin:
It automates alt tags and title tags according to a specific pattern. For search engines it’s always better to fill in the attributes individually, but automatic tags are better than no tags. And when you’re uploading a ton of images, adding tags manually is sometimes just not possible.
One of the biggest rules of the digital world is to always back up your data. And that goes for websites, too.
For this, try out …
You put so much time and energy into creating your site. You don’t want to lose all that due to a hack, a server crash or a hosting company shutting down. Updraft’s a freemium tool that’s one of the most popular for the peace of mind you need when it comes to surviving technical failures.
We hope that never happens to you, but if it does, you need to be prepared!
Keeping up with social media isn’t always easy. But when you get it right, social media offer a wealth of opportunities for community building and audience growth.
Likes and shares have a snowball effect: The higher the numbers, the stronger the signal to other users that content is worth a closer look.
First of all, you want to give your readers a chance to share your posts on social media. For this, try the plugin …
It adds social media share buttons at the bottom of your posts, so readers don’t have to copy and paste any links. One click and they’re on Facebook or Twitter sharing your post.
When you’re ready to get even more advanced, download this plugin:
It makes it as easy as possible for readers to share your content on Twitter. With BCTT, you can make quotable tweet suggestions. This breaks up your text visually, which is key for writing scannable copy. It also saves your readers the time it would take them to think up an introduction to your article, should they be tempted to share it.
With just one click, readers can then post a link to that article on Twitter, using the highlighted text as tweet text.
Buffer is a well-known tool for managing social media–scheduling, analyzing and reposting your posts. Of course there’s a plugin for it, too:
The plugin sends updates to your Buffer account when you publish content. One of the biggest problems for marketers working across multiple channels is how much time social media demands. This makes sharing your content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that much easier.
When you do online advertising, such as search engine advertising, you want to make sure you’re sending your new leads to the right place.
You have to make sure that landing page your leads visit matches the promises you made in the ad. You want to deliver on the promise of that ad with strong copy and a beautiful layout. Also, for best results, you want to run A/B tests to see which type of landing page performs best with your audience.
There are many excellent paid options out there for building landing pages. Finding a good freemium one is a bit trickier. But you’re in luck. Check out this plugin:
It offers a visual editor, A/B testing and conversion tracking tools. The only drawback is it comes with a limited number of templates. But additional ones are available for purchase. Still, it’s a cost-effective way to get started building landing pages.
➡ Earning Extra Dough With On-page Advertising
You’re looking to draw advertisers to your page instead of advertising your own page? Then this plugin is for you:
It helps you create, manage and place ads. The free version shows you ad impressions, and the pro version lets you do a whole lot more.
➡ Managing Affiliate Links With a Plugin
Partner programs, also called affiliate programs, play an important role in the internet marketplace. When entrepreneurs or small companies participate in an affiliate program, they receive a small profit or credit when they sell a larger company’s product. It’s an excellent way for large companies to expand their reach and smaller companies and individuals to turn a profit.
But it means managing a lot of messy links. You can use this plugin for managing affiliate links:
It replaces long ugly affiliate links with simple URLs connected to your own website. In addition, it simplifies the process of inserting affiliate links into your posts.
What’s more, if a link target changes, you don’t have to replace it on every page. Simply replace it once in the backend of Thirsty Affiliate’s link management.
It’s no coincidence that every website you visit these days asks you to sign up for their email list. Email marketing is an effective channel for boosting your revenue.
But to do email marketing right, you can’t send emails out from your own inbox. You need to use an email service provider to ensure delivery of your messages. You also want the sign-up and unsubscribe process to run smoothly. Pop-ups on your website and embedded forms give you the chance to draw in new contacts.
Ideally, you should be able to add information from your website to your email campaigns without any fuss. Our solution for you:
Plus, our 1-click content transfer will reduce the cutting and pasting for your email newsletters. Transfer the images, titles and description from your WordPress blog into your email campaigns with a single click.
In Sum …
Email marketing, SEO, social media networking, advertising, backing up your data – plugins bring you all these things. And if you’re new to WordPress marketing, you should take advantage of this.
This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plugins. Take a look around the official WordPress plugin catalogue yourself. It’s the best way to stay up-to-date. The WordPress community is an active one and once you get involved, you might become addicted!