If you have a WordPress website, there’s no better way of extending the functionality and adding new options and features than WordPress plugins. Although the scope of the plugins you need and use is best determined by what kind of website you have, there are some must have free WordPress plugins for everyone. They usually concern speed, SEO, security, and other universal aspects that every website should take a look at.
There are plenty of plugins, and if you look at the official repository for WordPress plugins, you will find well over tens of thousands of them. What this means is that you can basically get a plugin for anything that you may want or need. There are some big names who are ever-present in websites, as well as some lesser known ones that still do an amazing job. What you shouldn’t do is limit yourself to the popular ones, as you might very well be missing out on functionality and amazing options.
The best question you need to ask yourself is not how many times the plugin has been installed, but instead can it help you with your line of business, and can it improve your website? Take a look at some of the coolest WordPress plugins below, and see if they can be of any assistance.
If you want some privacy to test every plugin on the list in your own time, without prying eyes from your users, our friends from HostingWiki wrote a very easy to follow guide on how to make WordPress site private.
As you’ll quickly come to learn, there is a mind-blowing amount of spam on the Internet. Without a decent filter to remove it, those quality comments that might bring a good discussion to the table will be overwhelmed by the spammers overpopulating your site. AntiSpam Bee is a free plugin that tries to prevent this by catching spam comments. Over 200,000 people use it, and it certainly keeps up with paid solutions, even though it’s free.
Jetpack is actually a package of some of the best WordPress plugins for business. The add-ons have various functionality, and even though many people might be inclined to say it feels a little bloated when you consider the useful features present here you’ll see that you can and should overlook that.
Some of the top features include a content delivery network for photos, lightweight mobile theme, real-time analytics for your dashboard etc. All in all, it is a very useful tool.
Has it ever happened to you that you lose an entire website, just because you were too lazy to create a backup? You know you should create one, and when the worst case scenario happens, you regret not doing it earlier.
Duplicator is here to help you, and it not only makes a backup of the site, but you can also move it from one place to another with incredible ease. It’s as simple as running the plugin. It zips up your site, then copies it to the new server you give it, and it runs the installer file. Everything else is automated, and even mentions of the old site address in the database will be replaced with the updated one.
Theme Check is a great tool for keeping up to date. It basically examines your theme and tells you whether it conforms to the latest practices and standards of WordPress. What it actually does is it imitates the process that WordPress has when they want to test a theme for submitting it in the directory. This is why if you want to make sure your theme gets there, you should use the plugin.
Keeping WordPress up to date can be a tedious task, especially if you have more than one site running at once. This plugin gives you more control over the process and can be quite helpful in simplifying the whole thing. You get a very customizable plugin which lets you determine if you want minor core releases or major ones to be updated automatically, and you can even control theme and plugin updates to multiple sites as well.
More experienced WordPress users already know that every image you upload is actually duplicated in multiple different sizes. This makes sure that where you need to display a 50 x 50-pixel thumbnail, you won’t have to input a huge 10mb image.
Even though you can find the sizes under Settings, and then Media, changing the sizes for each image one by one is a time-consuming process, and this plugin can be a lifesaver, especially for images already on the site. It gives you the flexibility to generate new versions of your images, with the updated size, thus saving you a lot of time.
Remember when, if you wanted different sidebar content on different pages, you had to code multiple sidebars, all of which had a lot of conditional statements and you even had to duplicate the same widget multiple times? Well, with the Display Widgets plugin, it’s a matter of seconds. All you need to do to show or hide a certain widget on a certain page is to tick or untick a checkbox. How easier can it get?
Do you hate it when people comment on your site? Well, now you can stop them from it. And, if you want to disable comments-per-post or per-page, the basic WordPress functionality allows you that, but if you want commenting function control site wide, such as disabling for attachment pages, for pages, by post type, Disable Comments is the way to go.
This is one of the first free plugins for WordPress and still, holds the title as one of the best anti-spam plugins. It is one of the default plugins, and you shouldn’t neglect it. Also, make sure you keep it updated.
Do you have a website that requires more flexibility? You can do that with ease using Advanced Custom Fields to add custom fields and get additional site features. Many people consider it a must for their WordPress blog.
This is one of the oldest plugins available, and many would agree when I say that it is one of the best as well. You get optimized title tags, built-in API, canonical URLs, custom meta tags, Google Analytics integration etc.
Since you never know when disaster might strike, keeping your database backed up, as well as it being optimized, with file backups scheduled, databases being repaired and everything is very useful. You can even store the backups on your FTP server, or Microsoft Azure, or even Dropbox.
If you want a site, it having a contact page is a very good idea, and it usually helps with ranking as well. This free plugin makes it incredibly easy to integrate a contact form on your blog.
Nothing can steer away visitors from your website faster than broken links. When people run into them, they usually don’t return to the website. Along with that, broken links can also lead to lower traffic, create a subpar user experience, stop search engine crawlers etc., and all of this can take a fairly big chunk out of your revenue. Use this plugin to stop broken links and fix them before they cause problems.
How easy can users navigate through your site? Not very easy if you’re still using WordPress’ default search bar, since people use it to find content that’s within their field of interest, and if they don’t get anything useful, they’ll leave, disappointed, probably never to return. Relevanssi fixes the problem that is organizing results by date, instead of relevancy, and you can’t index custom post types, all resulting in a sub-par search experience. Get the plugin and solve this.
Choosing too many plugins, or choosing the wrong ones, can have a negative impact on your site instead of a positive one. If you get the right ones, though, you will get a lot of added functionality and options. To make sure everything is great and you don’t make a mistake, make sure you choose the plugins from the list above, as each one is made to give you more options for your website, thus positively impacting your business.