Free WordPress plugins are abundant online. The best place to grab them is from the WordPress Plugin directory. Here, developers have devoted their time and effort to building plugins that are free for your personal blog. They are generally monetized by publishers creating pro versions of their free plugins for you to purchase.
The problem is choosing from thousands of choices. Especially when you have specific needs. You have to cover things like WordPress security, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Publishing, etc. I’ve been a blogger since 2009 and have a decade’s worth of experience.
I hope the suggestions on this list will help you with your personal and small business journey.
25 Free WordPress Plugins That Will Manage All Areas of Your Blog
The following items are the first ones that I install on every instance of a new WordPress blog.
1. iThemes Security
There are a lot of free WordPress security plugins out there. This is because WordPress has vulnerabilities in it is code. There are ways that these vulnerabilities can be exploited like Cross-Scripting and SQL Injection.
I choose iThemes as my security plugin. It has an easy to use interface and setup is a breeze. I also endorse the pro version. The best part of Pro is that it will automatically update your WordPress Version and Plugins. I see many of my clients neglect updates which is a big mistake. Updates are super important for keeping your blog secure!!
2. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Along with security, you need a way to back up your blog. What you may not know is that you actually need three types of backup. You need to backup all your files from your server, you need to export you blog posts in xml format, and you need to backup your SQL database. It is only with all three that you can reproduce your website if you are hacked.
What I like about Updraft Plus is that it will backup my files and my database. It also allows me to backup to a remote location online like my dropbox. I actually store my backdrops on AWS. With those files safely in the cloud, I can retrieve them without worrying about downloading them to my computer.
3. Block Bad Queries (BBQ)
I think Block Bad Queries is a must-have plugin for security. It prevents your website against malicious URL requests. Fixing another WordPress vulnerability. This plugin requires no configuration. There is also a pro-version that is good for people who don’t have access to their server and cannot setup a firewall. I don’t have to worry about this because I run my blog off a Virtual Private Server (VPS) that I maintain. Which I think is the ultimate way to keep WordPress secure. I’ll talk about that in a later post.
4. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
One type of attack used to hack a WordPress site is repeated login attempts. This means someone attempts many times in a row to gain access to your WordPress by guessing the username and password. Usually through the use of a botnet. This works because many people use common usernames and passwords for their WordPress user accounts. For example, you should never use admin as your user account name.
This plugin will block an ip address if it makes too many login requests.
Anti-Spam blocks spam in comments without the use of a captcha. It is a great tool if you are still using comments on your website. Does what it says on the tin.
6. Anti-Spam Bee
This is another tool to prevent spam comments and trackbacks. Honestly, some of the plugins I use are a bit redundant. They do similar things in different ways. So I feel that I get max protection from using all of them.
7. Better Analytics
Better Analytics is a Google Analytics plugin. It is my favorite of all the plugins that I’ve ever used. What I like most is that I can see pageviews in my admin dashboard when I login. You can execute many things from WordPress that you would noramlly have to login to Google Analytics to do. For example, setting up events or goals.
8. Better Internal Link Search
This is the WordPress plugin that you didn’t know you needed. When adding a link, you get a popup that allows you to link to either a post you’ve written or a website. Better Internal Links finds better matches from your previous WordPress posts. It also allows you to link to posts you have scheduled!! I love this feature so much because I write in advance.
This plugin cleans and optimizes your WordPress database. Plugins you delete, posts you delete, revisions and etc. clog up your database. WP-Sweep gets rid of the data these actions leave behind. Just a note, you should backup your database before you use this plugin. Just as a precaution but I’ve never had any trouble.
This is the last of my must-have plugins. I found this one recently as I was looking for ways to speed up my website and keep Google Search happy. This plugin sets age limits for your cache.
These are the plugins that you might consider installing based on specfic needs
11. EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud
There are a lot of free WordPress plugins out there that will optimize your images. I’ve settled on EWWW Image Optimizer. The free version will do all the same things any image optimizing plugin will do. So you are set there. For $12 a month, you can setup a CDN for your images. Better yet, this CDN also uses adaptive imaging. This means it only sends the smallest file size needed for the device accessing your website. A major speed boost at a reasonable price.
12. Classic Editor
This is for people who don’t like using the block editor in WordPress. This plugin lets you use the classic interface for post/page editing instead of Gutenberg.
13. Contextual Related Posts
This is a plugin that I use to show visitors related posts. Too be honest, it isn’t because it is the best plugin out there. Probably the most useful is YARPP. The thing is, YARPP has killed some of my previous websites with slow down. I use Contextual Related Posts for its efficiency.
14. Download Monitor
This is another plugin that does what its title says. Yep, this plugin monitors how many times a file has been downloaded from your website. You can use many different types of files with it including PDF. I use it for Beauty of Mathmatics tracking downloads of some cross-stich patterns.
15. Easy Content Templates
As a blogger, you don’t have a lot of time to write. You are probably balancing not just your writing but also research, marketing, sales, and your home life. This plugin creates writing templates you can load when starting a new post.
I started my career as a content marketer back in 2009. Working for freelance clients, I needed a quick way to get on track with writing. To do this, I created some templates using best-practices to quick start content creation. I plan on sharing these with you in future posts.
This free WordPress plugin adds Google Translate as an option to a menu. I use this on my math blog because I believe that mathematics is a universal language. I want that content to be available to anyone who stumbles on a page. If your business ships internationally or you have an international audience then you might be interested in this plugin.
17. Head & Footer Code
This is for the more code savvy people out there. Sometimes to use some service on your website it will ask you to add a script to the header or footer of your website. That is what this plugin does for you. I’m using it on this website to display Font Awesome Icons in my menu. I just grabbed the Font Awesome CDN and added it to my header.
18. Image Credit Shortcode
Oh hey, here is something that I coded myself! I know a lot of bloggers like to use creative common images. Did you know there is a specific way you are meant to give credit?
I created this shortcode so that I would always be able to give proper attribution to creative common images.Image Credit Short Code (14 downloads)
You can read the instructions for this plugin on GitHub and it is also in the zip folder as a readme file. The readme file contains resources on how to properly use images on the internet and also where to find free images to use.
19. Revision Control
This is a simple plugin with one purpose. It controls how many revisions are stored for any WordPress page or post you are working on. You really want to use a plugin like this to keep your website fast. There is no need to save more than two or three revisions unless you make lots of edits.
20. Social Warfare
I’m currently using Social Warfare as a way of social media sharing. There are so many options for this but here is the reason why I chose this plugin. It allows me to control what images get shared on social media and this includes Pinterest. I love getting Pinterest traffic and having a good image is the biggest part of that battle. There is an option to hide the Pinterest image so that it doesn’t have to appear in your post but it will still be the first image used when pinning. Yay!
I am using this one on Beauty of Mathematics to add my author bio to the top of blog posts. It just had the features that I wanted. Mostly, I like how the avatar shows up and that it includes my social media.
Well, despite how much people hate them, popups convert. I don’t like most of the ones that cover the content or take up the full screen. So I have this one setup to popup in the corner after people have already scrolled. It gets people’s attention without being completely in the way. Easy to dismiss but there if you want it.
I also chose this plugin because it works with MailerLite which is a newsletter service that I’m using. They put a high point on following GDPR and other legal stuff associated with email marketing. Also, free up to 1,000 subscribers.
23. W3 Total Cache
You need a cache plugin. It doesn’t have to be W3 Total Cache. This the one that works best with the way that I have my WordPress blog setup on the backend. That is why I didn’t include it in my top ten. You are going to have to play and tweak with them until you get something that works. There is no way around it.
24. WP Offload SES Lite
This plugin has a very specific purpose and will matter most to people who have a VPS. When I setup my server, it included everything except a way to send email. This means I couldn’t email out things like password resets from my WordPress site. That was not a good thing because I could get locked out of my site and would have to go through the database to change my password. Not good. This plugin solves that issue and I can mail out notifications from WordPress using an email I have setup on AWS.
25. Yoast SEO
Perhaps one of the well-known plugins for Search Engine Optimization. I think it is the easiest to use and setup. The Yoast crew understands how to explain things simply. I love the blog and think it is great for people starting off learning SEO.
Free WordPress Plugins are Abundant but be Cautious
There are far too many free WordPress plugins that I could ever cover here. It isn’t just those in the WordPress directory. There are also plugins like SumoMe, an app that is connected to a website. Or plugins like my image credit shortcode hosted on GitHub. You should always be cautious and use the plugin that most suits your needs with the highest reputation and support.
Remember to backup that database before you activate any new plugins!
Or Hire Me
For $10 a month I will manage your WordPress blog.
- Backing up Database and Files
- Installing Security Plugins
- Keeping WordPress and Plugins updated
- Recovery from Hacking
- Migration to a VPS
Email if you are interested firstname.lastname@example.org
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