Top 15 WordPress Plugins Every WordPress Website Needs [100% Free]

 

Every year thousands of developers create WordPress plugins to help us move our website to the next level.  This is due to the usage of WordPress.

My Must Have WordPress Plugins

Statistics show that you are most likely using WordPress as the content management software for your site.

In fact, most recent stats show that WordPress is the tool behind more than one-quarter of the ten million largest Web sites in the world, and powers more than 59 percent of all Web sites that use a CMS.

This is because WordPress, an open source content publishing system, was made to be highly adaptable, extremely versatile, and so easy-to-use that anyone, from beginners to experienced professionals.

As a result, designers and developers have created a number of different tools that will enhance your WordPress Web site.

This includes thousands of themes, or skeletons for Web sites that allow you customize the layout, to numerous integrations with so many other management systems.

Because of the open source structure of WordPress, developers from around the world can work to add to and improve aspects of WordPress based on perceived need.

As a result, plugins have also been a popular area of growth.

What Are Plugins?

WordPress Plugins are pieces of software that are built to incorporate certain specific functionalities to WordPress Web sites with just a few clicks.

What Are Plugins?

Some might enhance or expand a task or functionality already included in WordPress, while others might bring new features that can provide you with greater insight and your visitors with a better experience.

WordPress was launched in 2003; in 2004, the first version update, Version 1.2, allowed for plugins.

In the last 12 years, developers have continued to work, and now WordPress.org has a database of more than 46,780 plugins, which have seen more than 1.4 billion downloads.

Some are developed by third parties and released for a fee, others are completely free, and still others offer “freemium” benefits: they offer a free version, but give user the option to pay to get better or more in-depth features.

When you’re getting started, though, you don’t want to look through tens of thousands of plugins to find the one that works best for your Web site.

I don’t blame you! That’s why I’ve pulled my 15 favorite WordPress plugins – all free – so that as your site grows, you can prepare your back-end for a busier, more fruitful front-end.


1. Akismet: Keep Your Comments Clean

This WordPress essential is necessary for your blog, especially if you allow comments or have contact forms.

Akismet scans each and every comment and form to see if the comment is harmful or spam.

Akismet: Keep Your Comments Clean

Created by a team of developers that includes WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg, Akismet has been downloaded more than one million times, and is ranked with 4.8 out of stars on WordPress.org.

Akismet keeps a history of activity, and includes a discard feature so that the worst spam and most harmful comments can be deleted immediately, keeping your site running quickly and smoothly.

The free version is very thorough; they offer two monthly plans, as well.


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2. Google Analytics: Track Your Stats

Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that allows you to get future results by tracking past actions of your visitors.

2. Google Analytics: Track Your Stats

From improving engagements and click-throughs to promoting content and SEO optimization, Google Analytics is an integratable solution for finding out your visitors’ tendencies and habits.

You’ll need to make an account, and then there are several different ways to install Google Analytics.

Or, try the MonsterInsights free version. The plugin used to be run by Yoast SEO, and continues to be a popular download, reaching more than 10.7 million downloads.


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3. Google XML Sitemaps: Better Blog Indexing

Make sure your website shows up on popular search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com.

The Google XML Sitemap allows crawlers to clearly see your site’s structure and take the information back to the user

Google XML Sitemaps: Better Blog Indexing

Each time you create a new post or page, the plugin sends an update to the major search engines.

With more than one million active installs and 4.9 of 5 stars, this is a favorite among WordPress developers and designers. The plugin is free for both personal and commercial use.

The developers are responsive, providing frequent updates and communicating often with users to address any situations they are encountering.


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4. Contact Form 7: Clear Communication

A WordPress staple if you want your readers to be able to reach you through a contact form, Contact Form 7 is easy to navigate, very stable, and extremely popular.

Contact Form 7: Clear Communication

There are more than one million active installs, with 4.5 out of 5 stars. Its flexibility lets you manage more than one contact form per site, with fully editable forms and mail contents.

Contact Form 7 supports Ajax-powered submitted forms, Akismet, and CAPTCHA, among other plugins.


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5. Thank Me Later: Mind Your Manners

This unique plugin allows you to thank your commenters for their replies.

Write your message, set the time for the reply to be sent, and the Thank Me Later will e-mail your message to the commenters.

Thank Me Later: Mind Your Manners

These e-mails will help bring readers back to your blog, encourage them to see if anyone has replied to their comments, will include links to your RSS feed, which will increase your readership, and will link to your social media pages, helping to grow your reach.

You can also use the plugin to offer discounts. It changes from text to HTML in the click of a button, allows for the use of shortcodes, and is customizable for different categories or blogs.

It also has multiple translations. It’s not one of the most recognized on WordPress, but has more than 6,000 active installs; reviewers like it, though, giving it 4.6 out of 5 stars.


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6. Print Friendly and PDF Button: Take it With You

If your readers are looking to save time and money — who isn’t?

The Print Friendly & PDF button allows you to give your readers a fast and easy way to create printer-friendly and PDF versions of the pages, without a CSS file that requires coding or programming knowledge

Print Friendly and PDF Button: Take it With You

Your readers won’t have to copy their screens into new documents or try and print or format pages on their own.

The plugin lets readers remove images or text that they don’t want, as well as changing the margins or alignment.

The lightbox stays on the page, keeping your readers on your Web site, and your address prints on the page so that users can easily find your site again.


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7. Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator: Your Favorite Favicon

Favicons are the small icons that appear next to your Web site name on the tab of your desktop or mobile Internet browsers.

Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator: Your Favorite Favicon

You could spend time in a graphics editing site, playing with pixels, or you could add the Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator plugin.

Within seconds, you’ll get program that can adapt your icon to meet the needs of a variety of different resolution needs.

 

Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator

 

The plugin is available in a variety of different languages, and has been very popular, with more than 100,000 active installs, receiving 5 out of 5 stars.

Developers respond quickly to the needs of users.


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8. JetPack: Reach the Top

A highly popular plugin, JetPack has more than one million active downloads, with 4 our 5 stars in hundreds of ratings.

JetPack: Reach the Top

An official plugin, Jetpack is kind of a one-stop shop for a variety of different needs, from tracking visitor stats to sharing on social media and checking spelling and grammar on your pages.

You can use Jetpack of customize carousels, galleries, contact forms and widgets, operating everything from an easy-to-use central dashboard.

 

JetPack: Reach the Top

It has enhanced security from brute force attacks or logins that haven’t been authorized.

More than 87 different developers worked on the project, and their engineers are dedicated to prompt customer service.


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9. Theme Check: Stay Up-to-Date

Your theme is the blueprint for your site.

Talented developers from around the world have taken the time to create beautiful, functional sites that fit every need, from sites that are singularly-focused to multi-faceted drag-and drop themes.

Theme Check: Stay Up-to-Date

However, many times developers make updates or changes to their theme, and users are left with other plugins and forms that have been rendered useless through the theme upgrades.

Theme Check, which has 4.9 of 5 stars from more than 100,000 active installs, puts the same theme checker that WordPress uses to verify standards and practices right in your hands.

You get clear results that have flagged areas that might not be compliance with WordPress guidelines.


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10. W3 Total Cache: Speed up your Site

Some studies show that within the “blink of an eye” — literally — users will leave your Web site if it hasn’t yet loaded.

Some users will last between 250 and 400 milliseconds before leaving a Web site.

W3 Total Cache: Speed up your Site

Make sure speed isn’t an excuse to leave yours with W3 Total Cache.

This free plugin works with your server to increase its performance, reducing the times it takes for your site to download, and enhancing the integration between content delivery network integrations.

Some plugin users have found a tenfold improvement in their Web site’s overall performance, which may explain why it’s running in more than one million active installs, and has earned 4.3 of 5 stars.


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11. WordPress Editorial Calendar: Stay Organized

For a content management software program, WordPress makes organizing and scheduling your content release fairly complicated.

That’s where WordPress Editorial Calendar comes in.

WordPress Editorial Calendar

You can enter the blogs you are planning to post, and the time they will release.

Editorial Calendar also allows you to schedule podcasts, too.

The calendar format makes it easy for authors and editors to see who is posting, and what they’ll be posting.

Drag-and-drop functionality makes re-scheduling a breeze, as you can seamlessly re-arrange the posting days. It has more than 50,000 active installs, and has received 4.8 of 5 stars.


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12. iThemes Security: Stay Safe

Another popular WordPress plugin, iThemes Security (which used to be WP Security) has more than 800,000 active installs, 4.7 out of 5 stars, and many recommendations.

iThemes Security: Stay Safe

The free version includes 404 detection, has an away mode, blocks banned IP addresses, provides protection from local and brute force attacks, and allows you to create and schedule database backups.


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13. WooCommerce: Strut – and Sell – Your Stuff

This free eCommerce plugin is also one of the most popular on WordPress. It’s recently been in the news because it was purchased by Automattic, the company led by WordPress leader Matt Mullenweg.

WooCommerce: Strut - and Sell - Your Stuff

It’s become so popular, in fact, that WooCommerce notes that it now powers 30 percent of all online stores; it has more than one million active installs, and 4.6 out of 5 stars.

WooCommerce has a seamless WordPress integration, and is easy for both store owners and developers to use.


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14. Yoast SEO: Get Found

Yoast SEO notes that WordPress does a good job for SEO, but developer Joost de Valk wanted to create something that would be even more comprehensive.

Yoast SEO: Get Found

The plugin helps you to create better content by focusing on a specific keyword — and using it throughout your piece.

You’ll get higher rankings, higher click-throughs on organic search results, and higher conversions.

It works well with other plug-ins, includes RSS Optimization, XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs, and social network integration. No wonder it has more than one million active installs and four out of five stars.


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15. BuddyPress: Make New Friends

If you want to create a community on your WordPress site, look no further than BuddyPress.

BuddyPress: Make New Friends

This site let you create your own social network through its thorough WordPress integration, add-ons that play nice with other plugins, and a wide variety of extensions.

It has more than 200,000 active installs, with a 4.3 out of 5 star rating.


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I hope you find this list helpful.

Either way, if you have a question or a plugin you think is a must have, post it in the comment box below.

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O'Neil Wilson

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