You don’t have to be a coding expert or a design whiz to create an awesome WordPress blog or website.

In fact, my two most read guides (how to start a blog & how to make a website from scratch) are aimed towards beginners who have no coding experience whatsoever.

But to really make your WordPress website stand out – you’ll need to use WordPress plugins.

What are WordPress plugins? Why do you need them?

Thanks to the help of plugins, you can make your website slick, secure, and lightning fast in a fraction of the time.

The cool part? Some of the best plugins are free.

But you need to know which plugins to choose, and which to avoid. Otherwise, you’ll do your website more harm than good.

Here’s the problem…

With over 40,000 plugins to choose from, you may have a bit of analysis paralysis.

Some plugins are harmful to your site, and an overall abundance of plugins may slow your site down.

How? Well, plugins require your site to make additional HTTP requests and/or additional database queries. Both of these things slow your site down.

So, you need to choose your plugins carefully, and also keep your plugins up to date.

How do you do that?

Well you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I lay out the best free plugins for your WordPress blog. So, get ready to bookmark this post and come back to it whenever you’re in need of a new plugin!

But before we get started, here a few plugin tips for 1) getting the most out of your plugins and 2) making sure they don’t bog down your site

  1. Delete any plugins you no longer use or need. These may be unnecessarily slowing down your load speed.
  2. Find high quality plugins. It’s usually not too many plugins that cause problems on your site, but poorly coded ones. So, look for plugins with great reviews and lots of installations, as well as the plugins we’re going to list here.
  3. Update your plugins regularly. Don’t allow your plugins to get out of date. Older versions of plugins can also slow your site down.
  4. Do your research. Don’t always rely on good ratings and installations. Check support forums and reviews to see how the plugin is working for other people.

Okay, now let’s dive into some of the best free plugins…

Here are the Best (FREE) Plugins for WordPress Blogs and Websites

Content & Sharing


1. Floating Social Bar

Social bar for WprdPressHow often does your content get shared on social media?

Ideally, the more, the better. If you can increase those social shares, you can get more traffic, exposure, and revenue.

And one of the best ways to increase traffic and social shares is with the Floating Social Bar plugin.

You see, many social share plugins are heavy and can slow down your site. But Floating Social Bar stays slim because it only supports major social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

What’s more, the plugin only loads scripts when necessary – it shows a replica image with all the share counts until a user scrolls over the social share buttons – so your site can stay as fast as it normally is.

Download it here: Floating Social Bar

2. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link checkerYour visitor excitedly loads up your webpage, only to be dismayed when it doesn’t work. So, they click off your site, possibly never to return again.

Broken links on your website can have a big-time negative impact. They can stop search engine crawlers, lead to lower website traffic, and create a subpar user experience. All of these things can take a chunk out of your revenue stream.

The solution? Stop broken links dead in their tracks, and correct them before it’s too late.

You can do this easily with the Broken Link Checker plugin.

It quickly finds all broken links on your website, and allows you to fix them immediately.

Download it here: Broken Link Checker

3. Relevanssi

How easy is it for visitors to navigate your site? Well, if you’re still using the default WordPress search bar, it may actually be quite difficult.

Visitors use your search bar to quickly find content they’re interested in. If the search query doesn’t return anything useful, they’ll be left disappointed, and may click off your site.

That’s the problem with the default WordPress search bar…

It organizes search results by date instead of relevancy, and also doesn’t allow you to index custom post types for searching. And so, the search results are quite subpar.

The solution? The Relevanssi plugin.

Relvannsi delivers search results in order of relevancy, plus has some other cool features, like:

  • Fuzzy matching. This allows you to match partial words, in case complete words don’t match
  • Option to disable search. If you don’t want the search bar to appear on a certain post type, you can easily disable it.
  • Highlight search terms. When users click through the results, it will highlight the search terms within those results for easy navigation.

Download it here: Relevanssi

4. Contact Form 7

Contact formThe easier it is to contact you, the more visitors will do so. And as a result, you can develop a better relationship with more visitors, address more objections people have to buying your product or service, and create a better user experience.

And the easiest way for visitors to contact you is through the Contact Form 7 Plugin.

It’s simple, easy to install, and easy to customize.

Download it here: Contact Form 7 or read my full tutorial here.

5. Page Builder by Site Origin

Not a design, coding, or html expert? We feel your pain…

But with the right plugin, you don’t have to be. You can build your page exactly the way you want it without messing with any code.

And best of all, with the Page Builder plugin by Site Origin, it’s completely free.

What’s more, it works with any WordPress theme. So, you can create sales pages, squeeze pages, and more, all in an efficient (and free) way.

Download it here: Page Builder by Site Origin

6. WP Review

Do you review products/services on your website? If so, WP Review is a must-have plugin.

It displays your ratings for your posts in Google’s search results. You can customize it so that the review shows up as stars, points, or percentage ratings as well.

What’s more, this plugin used to premium, so you know it is high quality.

Download it here: WP Review

 

Analytics


1. Jetpack

Do you have trouble managing your WordPress site? The fact is, there’s a lot that goes into site management, and it can be overwhelming at times.

But, it doesn’t have to be.

With Jetpack, you can easily manage your WordPress site from one centralized location.

Here are some of the features included in Jetpack:

  • Traffic growth and insights. You can turn on the “related posts” feature, which makes related posts appear underneath your blog posts to increase the time visitors stay on your website.
  • Security. Jetpack protects your site against spam logins and comments, and also monitors your site for downtime.
  • Image performance. It automatically optimizes images and reduces bandwidth.
  • Centralized management. Easily manage plugin menus, publish posts, and view enhanced site stats.

Download it here: Jetpack

2. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin for WordPressSEO should be a priority of every website. The better your SEO, the higher you’ll appear in the search engines, and the more traffic you can get.

That means more chances for conversions and revenue.

There are thousands of SEO strategies out there that are beyond the scope of this post.

But a simple way to start improving your SEO right now is to download the Yoast SEO plugin.

Here are some of the features you get with Yoast SEO:

  • Page analysis. Before you publish a post, it checks images to make sure they have alt tags that contain a focus keyword. It also checks whether the post is long enough, and whether you’ve written a meta description with a focus keyword.
  • Meta and link elements. This allows you to control the pages that show up in the Google search results.
  • XML sitemaps. The plugin automatically creates sitemaps and notifies Google and Bing of their existence.
  • RSS optimization. This increases your chances of working with chosen keywords.

Download it here: Yoast SEO

3. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

As you probably know, it’s important to keep a close eye on your analytics, so that you understand your visitors’ behaviour.

As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. And Google Analytics allows you to measure visitor stats better than anything else.

Here are some of the features of this plugin:

  • The Google Analytics tracking code. This is the fasted and most reliable tracking code that Google has to offer.
  • Visitor metric dashboards in WordPress install. You can easily see all the metrics in one place.
  • Simple installation. It integrates with Google Analytics API, so you just need to select the site you want to track and authenticate it, then you’re good to go.

Download it here: Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

 

Security & Speed


1. Sucuri

Sucuri plugin for safetyYour website security should be at the top of your list of priorities. All it takes is one attack to throw your website into turmoil.

And so, you need to be prepared with the property security defences.

One of the best forms of security is the Sucuri plugin.

Here are some of the ways it protects your site:

  • Security activity audit logging. This monitors all security-related events within your WordPress site.
  • Post-Hack security options. This helps you to take the right actions if your site does get compromised.
  • Security notifications. Get notified whenever there is a security-related event on your site, so you’re always in the loop.
  • Remote malware scanning. Scan your site for malware, and get alerted if any anomalies appear in your code.

In short, if you want your site to be secure, this is the plugin to use.

Download it here: Sucuri

2. Duplicator

Have you ever lost a site because you didn’t have it backed up? If so, you know how frustrating it can be.

And if not, we promise you it’s something you definitely don’t want to deal with.

Backing up your site regularly is like insurance. It prepares you for the worst-case scenarios, which sometimes happen.

And you can back up your site easily with the Duplicator plugin.

All you have to do is run the plugin, have it zip up your site, copy it to the new server, and run the installer file.

Download it here: Duplicator

3. W3 Total Cache

Site speed is one of the most important aspects of your website. When visitors have to wait more than 2 seconds for a page to load, they’ll start clicking off your site.

There are several ways to speed up your site – from using a faster host, to optimizing images, etc.

But one of the easiest ways to keep your site running quickly is with the W3 Total Cache plugin.

It saves a static HTML version of your site, so it doesn’t need to generate new pages all the time.

This reduces the amount of requests made to the server and database, and helps pages to load more quickly. This leads to happier visitors and better search rankings. So, it’s really a no brainer!

Download it here: W3 Total Cache

Conclusion

WordPress plugins can have a powerful effect on your website or blog. But a common mistake is when you choose too many of them, as well as when you choose the wrong ones. This mistake can harm your website and slow it down.

To avoid this mistake, choose your plugins from this list. Each of these plugins will positively impact your website in one way or another, and help you improve your visitor experience.

What are your favourite plugins? Leave a comment 🙂

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27 comments

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  1. Thanks for this, Robert.

    One thing: I’ve downloaded the Sucuri plugin but its warning and subsequent instructions are beyond me. Can you help?

    • Is there a “best” plug in for site visitors to access your site as either a guest or allow them to create a login, or is that a WordPress Standard feature?

      Also, can word press handle heavy traffic, or is that when you would want to have someone create a website from scratch for you?

      And lastly: how does ad. integration work with wordpress?

  2. What plug-ins do you recommend for a sales/catalog page and for a subscription based side to your website. Like a membership only side of the website that would have member only information? Thank you

  3. Thank you so much, I am just getting started, I hope you do not mind, I went into my web admin to download your recommended plugins?

    I am unsure how to handle product if I downloaded in your page, how to get it across to my page . I am lost mostly, I work as an affiliate, reason I do not have my own products.

  4. Thanks for the list of proven FREE plugins.

    I’m new to WordPress and have gotten the “white screen of death” a few times because a plugin has “broken” the theme.

    I need a recommendation for a proven SPEECH to TEXT plugin to install on my WordPress site. I need it to write content for Pages and Posts. The plugins that appear in the plugin search say “this plugin has not been tested or is not compatible with your theme.” They also have not been downloaded and used by many people. If the plugin is reliable, compatible, tested not to break, and updated by the developers, I’m willing to pay.

    Is it true that creating content in programs like Microsoft Word and copy and pasting them in the Pages or Post editor of WordPress is a bad idea because of the extra fonts and styling Microsoft Word adds to documents?

    • Hey Barry,

      Creating content in programs like MS Word can add some additional lines in your WordPress Editor back-end, but it shouldn’t reflect the outlook.

  5. Very interesting read. I’m new at this and being a senior and retired I’m trying to set up a web site from scratch for the first time primarily for affiliate marketing. I have been watching tutorials on YouTube for help in the development of a site for the purpose of supplementing my retirement. I’m glad I came upon your site, it has very good information. In my google search for tutorials on utube I find they are hard to follow, Why, because the wordpress tutorial’s I’m interested in are based on is 3.7 or maybe earlier. If you have any ideas to help me, like a tutorial either as a video or even a PDF document I would be very appreciative. Thank you.

    PS; I purchased Genesis Executive-Pro and Genesis 2.4.2 theme package…Framework.

  6. Thank you, Robert. I’m about launching a website and have found the articles here useful so far. Will be coming back for more guidance along the way.

  7. Before I start with my website I would like to confirm that WordPress can do what I need. Maybe you can help.

    I want to have my golf buddies sign up for our group games a few times each week. I need to have a table with a row for each day and a column for each golfer.

    I need to require that the golfers sign in somehow and can only update their column.

    I need to count the number of golfers signed up for each day, then stop signups when the maximum is attained.

    So it’s essentially a very simple spreadsheet with security.

    Can WordPress do this?

    Thanks for your help.

  8. Hi Robert
    Thank you for this website. The information for a website builder newbie like me is fantastic.
    I have a question about WordPress membership site plugins.
    The following have been recommended to me which you don’t mention in your article:
    Ultimate member
    Wishlist member
    Woo Commerce
    Mail Chimp Integration
    Facebook feed plugin
    Are these okay or are there some issues with using them?
    Thanks I appreciate any feedback

  9. Thank you for sharing this essential list. The most important reason why those plugins are so important is easiness of use and so many guides for users to use plugins properly. I just can’t imagine running a website 10 years ago without them.

  10. What plugin should i use if i want to connect some hall owners together and rent their halls to the public using my website? Halls will be rented for a few slots a day.

  11. Hello Good Day,

    How can i get a plugin for matching two people together or two to one matrix on a website i want to design and how can i go about it, i seriously need your help about this, like a the one used on MMM website for matching participants, peer to peer payment.

    Thanks.

  12. HI Robert,
    Like David Hanna I am also retiring (for the second time though) and have decided to go into business myself .
    Thanks for the interesting, clear and complete education in building a web-site I will be leaving my position at the beginning of May and will then get myself involved in developing a new business together with a new computer , e-mail etcetera and then start building a website.
    I will let you know how I get on and in the meantime thanks again and all the best to your other customers.
    Cheers
    John

  13. I am looking for a website, or plug in where someone can click on an image (say a pair of shoes, or chair) and it takes them to a page that gives all the specs, info, and maybe a price. But also, I’d like to leave the price off when its appropriate. Does WordPress have that ability? Or can you recommend a platform or builder that does?

  14. Thanks for the list, Robert, there are some quite good plugins to use. I downloaded Floating Social Bar and really like the way it works for me, so thanks 🙂 Regarding that, I wanted to mention a plugin that I’ve started using, that makes my content and sharing even better – and it’s a comment plugin, I think even better than Disqus and the rest. It’s called graph comment and it is about making comments stand out and stay on your website, not taking away all that engagement juice off to Social Media, like the rest do. The good part is that it’s free, you should check it out and tell me what you think.

  15. What is your opinion / experience with Wordfence?
    Would you recommend it over Sucuri that you listed? It seems like Wordfence has a similar set of scanning capabilities but it offers also many more options to lock down a site and increase protection level.