Ecommerce is complicated. It doesn’t just need a good salesman and a good product, it needs somebody with a high degree of technical competency—you need your storefront to be an enjoyable and bug-free experience that hooks your customers and keeps them coming back for more. If you’re not interested in coding, one of the best things you can do is invest in WooCommerce and WordPress plugins. Below, we’ve collected some of the best free WordPress plugins for small businesses.
Akismet is the #1 anti-spam plugin for WordPress. It is incredibly effective: it has blocked over 200 comments on my personal blog in the last two months, all of them correctly identified as spam. There’s a free version for smaller sites, and commercial licenses available after you expand. It places these comments in a spam directory you can check to make sure it’s not grabbing any legitimate comments, and allow/disallow if you feel it has snagged something in error.
You absolutely need to stop spam comments coming in. They’re not just annoying and ugly: left unchecked, they can crash your site authority into the ground and make it almost impossible to rank on search engines. In blocking spam, Akismet will also save you disk space, and reduce site slowdown. This should be your first-pick plugin almost every time.
The easier you are to reach, the more likely you are to turn visitors into conversions. Contact form 7 is a simple, powerful contact form that comes with built-in Akismet integration to keep out spammers.
There’s nothing that will make your site stand out more than attractive, well-presented images. NextGEN Gallery hugely simplified the process of upload and display.
It offers diverse and powerful functionality for getting images singly or in batch from your desktop to your website.
NextGEN has the following features:
- All galleries visible and accessible in one place.
- Fully editable galleries—add, remove and reorder images, customize your gallery title and item descriptions, change image order, and much more.
- Manage and edit thumbnails: turn cropping on and off, customize individual thumbnail cropping, and bulk resize thumbnails across multiple galleries.
- Robust image editing tools, including metadata options and watermarking.
- Create albums: groups of galleries that come together to form a cohesive whole.
- Slideshow display and thumbnail display, which users can toggle between to suit their needs.
- Build slideshow galleries, with a wide variety of options for both slides and slideshows.
- Thumbnail gallery customization: lightboxes, cropping and editing, styles, captions and more.
This is a powerful WordPress plugin that is more popular among the new and less-experienced SEO professionals. It optimizes the blog or website automatically. It has the following features:
- Full XML Sitemap support for major search engines
- Google Analytics support
- SEO support for custom post types
- Advanced Canonical URLs
- Editable Page Navigational Links
- Builtin API that allows other plugins/themes to extend functionality
- Cryptographic nonces provide a huge boost to security
- SEO title optimizer
- Automatic metatag functionality
- Full metatag/metadescription override options
The other big SEO plugin, and one of the most popular plugins on all of WordPress. Yoast does a lot, and whether that means it’s full-featured or hopelessly bloated it going to depend on you. It provides a huge amount of power and flexibility, but can be a bit overwhelming-it’ll add a lot of new data to your WP admin panel
Jetpack is a versatile plugin created by WordPress themselves. It’s a little bit of everything: SEO, security, spelling and grammar checks, performance upgrades and free themes. There are multiple purchase tiers, including a free tier if you want to try it out and see if it’s a good fit for you. It has excellent support, and integrates well with other plugins.
The speed of page rendering is very important-Google’s data suggests that 70% of users leave a site that hasn’t loaded in 3 seconds or less. W3 Total Cache is a plugin that enhances the page loading speed of your site. It uses different caching engines including APC, Memcached, and even file-based caching system which is also effective in SSD based hostings. It includes proper headers to facilitate browser caching. By combining client side and server side caching and a proper expiration of the cache, this plugin surely helps you to supercharge your site speed.
The MonsterInsights plugin integrates GAnalytics into your WordPress admin panel, allowing you easy access to powerful data streams and tools.
WordPress is infamous in certain circles for its security issues. While they’ve put a lot of work into keeping up-to-date, it’s a good idea to add a reputable third-party security suite. iThemes (previously Better WP Security) helps to optimize permissions, maintains an IP blacklist, and performs a multitude of smaller tweaks to help keep your site safe.
If you want to know more things you can get out of WordPress, check out our blog on WordPress shortcuts for beginners. If you want to really take your site to the next level, consider talking to our expert WordPress developers to find out what we can do for you.