Optimisation Plugins in WordPress
Once domain, hosting and SSL is set up for your wordpress, the next step is building the site.
We have talked about the best free multi-purpose wordpress themes here, ones that will set you off nicely at little to no cost.
We have also talked about the best page builders for wordpress, that would make your site sleeker than ever.
For an optimal wordpress site, you need to install plugins.
Built in PHP, these preset templates help your website perform actions above and beyond standard wordpress. While most of these plugins are utility plugins, you need to have a balance mix of utility, analytics and marketing installed for optimal results.
While plugins are good, more plugins slow down the site considerably. So :
– the maximum number of installed plugins should not exceed 10, as a rule of thumb
– there needs to be a mix of use/requirement in the plugins
– conflicting plugins for the same use must not be installed, it can hamper proper functioning (e.g. – you should have one lazy loading/minifying plugin, but preferably not separately)
So, as we said, we have divided the best free plugins into three sections :
- Utility plugins
- Analytics plugins (one is not a plugin, rather a process)
- Social plugins
What is to be remembered is that they are not major templates like BuddyPress, and hence they can be used for multiple small segregated purposes.
Best Utility Plugins
Keeping SEO optimisation and site speed in mind, we have put forward a list of 3 plugins – that perform very important functions, and are sort of a must for any good website.
- WP Forms – for creating easily enterable forms anywhere on the site
- Mailchimp – for e-mail collection and of course e-mail marketing
- Litespeed Cache – for reducing HTTP requests on the site and speeding up page loading
WP Forms is the best form builder for wordpress, and it has been around for many years now.
– Separate settings panel available in WP Admin
– Easy to install and create a new form
– Free version has enough features to build a fully functioning form – contact, sales lead, project brief, etc.
– Premium version is slightly pricey but it has features that can really elevate your data capturing UX
Overall, WP Forms is our pick for data cultivation on our sites – its great to start off Free, the Pro version has awesome features too if upgrade if you need it.
Mailchimp is the first brand that comes to our mind when it comes to e-mail marketing and CRM, and for good reason. It has a plugin for wordpress and is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to customer relationship management
– Easy to set up and customise your way into the plugin
– Newsletter widget insertion is easy, with message customisation available
– Comes with separate settings in your WP dashboard
– Upgrade is cost effective, starting at only 9.99$ monthly, comes with great features like A/B testing and custom branding
– Support ecosystem is well known for positive reasons
Mailchimp’s free version is enough to get your e-mail marketing needs satiated, but for something as important as CRM, it might be a good choice to go for the PRO version as well.
LITESPEED (LS) CACHE
There are many lazyloading and caching plugin options out there, but our pick is this comparatively lesser known plugin called Litespeed Cache.
– Easy to install and separate settings console available
– Free version is good and has enough features
– Minification of CSS, JS, HTML available
– Faster than other NGINX and Apache based popular caching plugins like W3 Total Cache
– Premium tuning for better Pagespeed Score Rankings available from 39$
Best Analytics Plugins
For a functioning site, you need to leverage the most precious item that the digital world has of today – DATA.
That is where Data Analytics comes in. It will give you :
- a much better understanding of your traffic flow
- give you inputs on how to reach more of your target audience
- create and deliver better ads
- overall, make your site way more business efficient
The main priorities we are looking at are :
- Setting up Google Analytics to understand traffic flow and demography-timing details
- Setting up Facebook Pixel to gauge social presence and to run better ads
- Setting up SEO in-site, so that we can optimise our posts and pages on the go
Google Analytics using Monsterinsights
Google Analytics is the one stop solution for all your traffic needs – it gives you detailed break-up of every bit of data that you might require to optimise your site.
The steps to set up are also very simple
– Go to Google Analytics and sign up for a new account, or log in
– Go to ‘Admin’ at the bottom left and create a new ‘Property’
– Link your website and get the analytics.js tracking code under ‘Tracking’
– Go back to your WordPress admin panel
– Go to ‘Theme Editor’ under Appearances, and paste the code above the </head> tag in your Header template
Alternately, you can simply add the Monsterinsights plugin to your WordPress site, and then undergo the setup process, where you authorise Monsterinsights to your Analytics dashboard.
With just a few simple clicks, the code will be installed on your website. In the free version, you will be able to see the site summary in the wordpress admin panel itself, but for detailed insights, you would have to use the Google Analytics dashboard.
The paid version of Monsterinsights, would give you access to many data pointers and lots more in wordpress itself.
Either way, you would be set up with Analytics for Google in no time, and would be equipped to leverage the power of the search engine.
SEO Optimisation using Rankmath
Rankmath is one of the fastest growing names in the world of SEO for WordPress.
– It is completely free to set up
– Comes with separate settings in your WP dashboard
– It gives you post-wise feature-wise scores on the go, so that you can optimise your posts
– It integrates with Elementor – the best page builder out there
– You can set up and connect your Rankmath account to get even more features
We love Rankmath even more than established names like Yoast SEO, mainly because it does for free what Yoast needs premium extensions for.
Facebook Analytics using Pixel
Setting up a FB pixel and related analytics is a must to retarget, build a custom audience, or a lookalike audience on Facebook, Instagram or the Audience Network. The setup is simple :
– Go to ‘Events Manager’ from your FB Business account or Ad account (set one up if you don’t have already)
– Set up a new ‘Data Source’ by adding your website name
– Copy the code and go back to your wordpress admin panel like for Google Analytics
– Paste it before the </head> tag in the Header template inside ‘Theme Editor’
– Go back to Facebook and test the code by directing a test traffic to your site
– You can also set up individual ‘Events’ for your site in Events Manager to further segregate actions on your website, for better custom audience creation
Alternatively, there is a plugin developed by Facebook, for wordpress, that integrates everything.
However, it is rated very poorly by users and was found to slow down the website by large amounts of time, and makes it buggy. So, our suggestion would be to avoid it and install the code manually.
Best Social Plugins
No site is ever complete without content. And mere content is not enough, it needs to be optimised and shared across each individual social medium to get maximum organic traffic.
Hence, social sharing and posting becomes one of the things of paramount importance, paid ads can only do so much.
So, the main priorities we are looking at in our social plugins are :
- ease of sharing
- ease of posting to multiple sites at once
- ease of setting up backend APIs
- ease of customisation of UI (buttons, interfaces, etc.)
Sassy Social Share
Sassy Social Share is a plugin that adds a social share-ability to all your posts, as well as pages, if you want to.
The main features of the plugin are as follows
– Extremely easy to set up
– Separate settings panel available in the Dashboard
– Short-code friendly
– Standard and floating interfaces available
– Responsive structure, adapts itself to mobile very nicely
– Sizing, design and overall all customisation options are there
-Over 40 social networks to choose from
– The free version is more than capable of solving your basic social sharing needs
After using many other plugins, Sassy Social Share is the best plugin we have found, that resolves our needs, and that too, for free.
Blog2Social is another plugin that wowed us on use. Like Sassy Social Share, it has a free version with premium versions available with added features, but in general, the free one is good enough for basic needs of pushing your content to all your social handles with single clicks.
– Easy to set up and separate settings panel available in Dashboard
– Auto-posting is available in the premium version – perfect for aggregator and auto-blogging sites
– Multiple handles can be linked (there is a limit per social network in the free version)
– Collections can be made with different social networks and content can be pushed in single clicks
– All major social networks covered, set up is also comparatively easy with login credentials
– The free version is quite good and reliable, 30-day trial of premium also available
– Upgrade to premium starts at only 7$ monthly
In our opinion, if you are looking for a cheap, reliable plugin to be able to push your content across pages and handles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and others, this plugin is your best bet.
We tried a lot of others, and none of them performed as well as Blog2Social. (free ones)
Also, the premium version has a lot of added features, like, A LOT!
We hope this list of free plugins helps you out a lot! It sure did work for us.
Do let us know if we can help, or if you have any questions. We are happy to help!
If you are looking for custom services, do check out our Services tab for solutions. We have tailor made long-term offerings for start-ups, personal projects, SMEs and brands; as well as standalone deployments.