Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best free WordPress plugins for your business website- or at least, some of the best that we’ve found. There are several big name plugins (Yoast comes to mind, as does WP Optimize) that most lists tend to contain, and while we generally agree that those plugins are incredible and worthy of your download, in this article, we are going to explore some of the ones that might not get quite as much attention.
One of the best things about WordPress is the fact that almost anyone can solve their own particular challenges just by knowing what the challenge is. If for instance, you know that you want help putting a piece of code in the header of a particular page without putting it on all of the other pages in your site, you can search for a plugin that will handle that issue. If you want to start recording how many people are visiting individual pages on your site, there is a plugin for that. Plugins are -obviously ridiculously powerful tools- but some are better for certain sites than others. The 5 plugins we will be reviewing today are ones that we usually install on our own client sites, and all are used to make their sites more professional, more secure, and more powerful.
I love HubSpot. They make one heck of a product and they arguably blazed the trail for inbound marketing as an art and a science. Their product continuously adapts to the market and their team is nothing if not ridiculously helpful. The problem is that they are also prohibitively expensive for many business, and they aren’t known for playing in the WordPress sandbox. Until now…
Leadin is a great plugin brought to us (in a round about way) by HubSpot. The Leadin app is a free plugin that integrates seamlessly with your standard WordPress.org site and it gives you some of the most sought after tools in the HubSpot quiver, including a fantastic lead scoring tool!
Lead Scoring allows you to track your visitors as they move around your site. It shows you what content they have viewed, how many (and which pages) they traveled through, and – if they fill in a webform- it will give you some great insights into the lead, such as their name, their company, information about the company, and social profiles for the lead.
This is HUGE. When you are trying to decide if a lead on your site is marketing or sales qualified, this will help you understand the lead’s background and their intent! If your business is in the commercial remodeling industry and you see that a lead on your site has been viewing pages about remodeling break rooms and that they have come to your site 3 days in a row before filling out a form…and that they viewed your pricing page before asking for information, you can make the assumption that they are most likely a true sales-qualified lead!
They plugin also allows you to build some simple but nice contact forms (including pop up forms) and to store/analyze the information about the people visiting your site.
By no means is LeadIn as full featured as HubSpot, but it’s still one of the best free wordpress plugins none the less and it is a great set of training wheels for learning the art of Lead Scoring!
Several months ago I logged onto this site and found that it had been hacked by a group claiming to be Russian backed freedom fighters. Whether or not that’s truly who they were, what I can vouch for is that it was a pain in the backside to get the site back up and running. I’d clean it off with a restore, then clean the infected code, and change all the login information, and 2 days later, the site would get hijacked again. Sure, I could keep cleaning it up, but it was a time consuming and frustrating process that required more time and attention that I really had to give it.
Then I found Sucuri.
There are several versions of Sucuri, but this article is all about the free (or at least the free level of “freemium”) plugins, so we’re just going to start with the basic package, and in this case, the free version blew me away!
It did a great in depth scan of my site, helped me figure out where the hackers were gaining access (it turned out to be through a trapdoor in a plugin that had always been very reliable until that point), it helped me clean the problem off the site, and it put up a “fence” that has successfully helped prevent any further problems.
My personal favorite feature though? It will send you an email anytime that someone attempts to login to the dashboard of your wordpress site, whether they are successful or not! I’ve installed the plugin on client sites several times since then and I have watched in real time as hackers unsuccessfully attempt to figure out passwords over and over before finally giving up. It will even email you when there is a new post on your page so that you can keep track of any time your site is updated- and with what!
Contact forms are where websites can make fortunes…or lose them.
People put a lot of effort into things like slider or animations – features that are eye catching and “cool”, while slapping cookie cutter contact forms onto a contact page and hoping for the best.
Now, the unfortunate fact is that a lot of people don’t realize just how important the contact form is. It’s the moment when people consent to starting a relationship with you. Even worse, most people don’t really know HOW to create a good contact form, so they rely on pre-built pieces that often suffer from very poor functionality, boring aesthetics, and an inability to “speak” with 3rd party apps ,plugins, and softwares.
NinjaForms has been a great solution to the challenge of finding a fully featured and reliable contact form builder!
The plugin (a freemium piece) has tons of functionality at the free level, and within about 20 minutes, you can be pretty handy in the interface. You can build some very nice contact forms with a drag and drop editor, create multiple forms to use on different pages, set triggers on the back end so that people who fill out your forms can be redirected to the Thank You Page of your choice. It will send emails to both your contact and yourself, and even keep track of who has submitted through which form.
For a few dollars extra, you can add even more functionality through the premium options that will interact with a literal phone book of 3rd party softwares.
Best of all? The plugin is well updated, safe, and reliable, which is more than we can say for the vast majority of other contact form plugins!
Out of all of the plugins on this review, this is the one I have been using the longest on my own websites.
When I first started building WordPress sites for small businesses in 2010, I was blown away by all the amazing things that the platform would allow me to do with relatively little effort, but one thing bugged me- the widget area of my site was hard to customize.
Sure, I could find loads of preformatted widgets that would handle specific tasks that their programmer set out, but if I wanted to customize something with HTML, I was out of luck. That’s when I found the TinyMCE Widget plugin and everything changed.
The plugin allows you to drop a blank slate of either text, rich text, or html into your widget bar to customize it as you like. Add photos and links, embedded videos, switch fonts…really, it allows you to create and edit custom widgets to your heart’s content.
There are other plugins that have similar intentions , but this is the (well updated) granddaddy of them all, and for my money, the more reliable and user friendly WYSIWYG widget editor available .
After talking about Sucuri, I don’t want to give the impression that the world of business websites is all about disaster striking, but…well…sometimes it is. I personally have never lost a site, but I know more than one person who has, and having your site disappear into limbo (along with your many MANY hours of hard work) is soul crushing. That’s why it’s so important to have a good back up plugin, and for my money Updraft is the best free wordpres plugin to go with.
There is nothing incredibly sexy about what UpdraftPlus does, but much like the air that we breathe, you’ll certainly notice it if it’s not there when you need it!
The plugin is pretty simple. You still stall it, and here and there (and always before a big change or update your site) you click the button that puts the app to work creating a back up copy of your WordPress page. Personally, I always take it up on it’s option to download a copy of your site, just for the added peace of mind it brings to a paranoid mind like mine…
…of course you’re only paranoid if it turns out you’re wrong, right?