We all know how popular WordPress is, heck I even forgot the last time I used any other CMS other than it to manage a blog.
It’s easy to use, powerful, and most importantly FREE. You don’t pay to use WordPress but to host your files on a cloud server. But do you know why WordPress is so powerful? The secret ingredients which make it suitable for any and all types of online website?
You guessed it – WordPress plugins.
Without the support of plugins, WordPress would have been just an underlying Content Management System used by bloggers to share their personal life.
But with the support of plugins, WordPress becomes a powerhouse which can do almost everything from running an online store to music streaming website, everything’s possible. At present, there are 44,662 plugins available in the WordPress directory alone. And there are hundreds of other sites which sell premium WordPress plugins for extensive features.
But why am I telling you all these?
To make you understand how you can make your WordPress website powerful, secure, fast, and beautiful with the help of plugins. When you install WordPress, your website looks ugly with insufficient features.
You’ve to install plugins and transform your ugly website to something more pleasing, a blog which attracts attention and ranks well on SERPs. In this article, I’m sharing 15 free and best WordPress plugins for blogs you need to install.
All set? Let’s get started.
15 Free and Best WordPress Plugins for Blogs
As discussed, I’m sharing the plugins for different functions – SEO, design, speed, security, etc. Keeping in mind that installing too many plugins will slow down your website and improve chances of getting hacked, I would recommend you to install only the ones you find helpful based on the type of website you’re running.
1. Yoast SEO
If you’ve started a blog, you probably know the importance of Search Engine Optimization and why you need to optimize your pages for it. SEO is tricky and it’s common for beginners to get confused and make silly mistakes.
With Yoast SEO by your site, you can optimize the blog with best SEO practices and take care of on-page SEO yourself. It’s easily the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress with 5+ million active installs and 4.9 stars rating based on 21k+ reviews.
Yoast SEO plugin features include:
- Keyword optimization for articles
- Readability optimization and content analysis
- SEO title and Meta description
- XML sitemap generator
- Noindex individual pages or archives
- Breadcrumb support for easy navigation
- Integration with Google Search Console
There’s a premium version available with more advanced features, but I personally don’t feel you need it in the beginning.
2. W3Total Cache
Struggling with a slow website which takes more than 3 seconds to load? It might be the reason people leave your site even before reading the first paragraph.
One of the easiest ways to decrease the load time is to use a cache plugin. Basically, the plugin will generate and store a static version of pages on your server. So, the next time a user access your site, this static and lighter HTML page is delivered instead of the original massive pages.
As a result, your pages load faster and provide a great user experience by limiting the loading of PHP scripts again and again.
W3Total plugin is one of the most complete and popular cache solutions for WordPress blogs. At the time of writing this article, there are 1+ million active installs with 4.3 stars rating.
The plugin is optimized to work with shared and low-budget web hostings (the common choice among new bloggers) so you won’t face any server or compatibility issues. It also supports:
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
3. Contact Form7
As a blogger, you want the readers to reach out to you, discuss their queries, offer advertising or collaboration opportunities, or just general networking. By adding a simple contact form on your WordPress blog, you increase your website’s trust score.
Contact Form 7 is my all time favorite plugin to add contact forms which I have been using for years. The plugin itself is straightforward to use. You can create multiple contact forms with different information and quickly insert it on your pages with a shortcode.
You’ll be notified via email if someone contacts using the contact form. To keep spammers away from contacting you, activate Google reCAPTCHA feature.
Other than this, there are few add-ons available which add features like saving the messages via contact forms on a database.
Even after blogging for more than 3 years, I still get excited when I receive an email with the subject “Please Moderate a comment on XYZ post”
By looking at the subject, a million thoughts cross my mind. What kind of comment is it? Did they criticize my work? Do they have an important question for me? Did they love my content and left a positive comment?…
Most of the time the comment fall under the above categories, but sometimes it turns out to be a spam. The comment is totally inappropriate, linking to a gambling/sexual site, with strange username and email.
All the excitements jump off the cliff, and I just click on “trash.”
Comments play an essential role for bloggers, and it’s the easiest way for readers to show if they found the article helpful or not. Commenting is also the recommended method to network with other bloggers and improve your connections.
But you don’t want the comments to be spam or sent using bots. And honestly, handling these spammy comments is a time-consuming task. To help you and keep the spammers off your site, install Akismet.
It is developed by the parent company of WordPress, Automattic. The plugin is installed by default with a new WordPress installation, and you just have to activate and set it up.
For more than once, you’ll have to add some codes in your website header or footer area. For instance, when verifying your WordPress blog on Google Analytics, you’re required to add a code in the header.
And the similar process is used by almost every service or social media channel which requires website verification.
Some of the themes come with an inbuilt feature to add the codes in header and footer, but most doesn’t. If you aren’t a tech-savvy person, adding codes without a plugin can be a daunting task.
Insert Headers and Footers is a great plugin which makes this task simple. It provides a super easy to use interface to insert codes in your header or footer area.
Even if your theme comes with an inbuilt feature, I still recommend to use this plugin as in case if you change your theme, you’ll have to add the codes again (which many of us forget.)
The plugin is developed by Syed Balkhi and WPBeginner team and has a 500,000+ active installs with a solid 4.3 stars rating.
6. Ad Inserter
In the back of our mind, we know that we’re into blogging to make some money for our efforts. While inserting ad banners isn’t the best way to earn a good amount, it’s still the #1 option for beginners.
Your first achievement with blogging will most likely be “Google AdSense approval” for which you’ve worked hard. But now what? How do you insert ads at perfect positions to get clicks and impression?
Adding the ads to the sidebar isn’t a problem as you can just insert the code in “Custom HTML” widget. Sadly, that’s not the place that gets maximum clicks or impression – article body is.
Ad Inserter is the perfect plugin which allows you to insert ads anywhere on your WordPress website. You can add it before content, after 3 paragraphs, at 90% of the page, or any combination you want.
With 100,000+ active installs and an impressive 5 out of 5 stars rating, the plugin quality speaks for itself.
7. WooCommerce (Only for E-Commerce Sites)
I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned that you can use WordPress to create any type of website, including an e-commerce store.
WooCommerce is the ultimate plugin which will turn your simple blog into a full-fledged e-commerce store with the cart, payment methods, product catalog, delivery receipts, and almost every feature you can imagine.
You can automatically assign shipping fee, add coupons to your site, add currency converter, size charts, and other essential functionalities used to run an e-commerce store.
It has 4+ millions of active installs with 4.6 stars ratings. While the plugin and many of the features are free, the developers also sell premium plugins and add-ons for added features.
8. WP SmushIt
Do you know the two culprits responsible for your slow website? They are:
Check your website speed, and you’ll find that a good percentage of loading time is because of the images and scripts available on the page. While you can eliminate the scripts by either completely removing them or loading asynchronously, pictures are a pain to optimize.
Image compression is a popular technique used to reduce the size of the image, but it can affect its quality. WP Smush is a plugin which compresses the image without compromising with the quality.
With their bulk compressor, you can automatically compress all the existing images on your WordPress blog. Also, all the future images uploaded will automatically be optimized (or smushed!)
The plugin boasts a 1+ million active installs and 4.8 stars rating. There’s also a premium version available with advanced features and higher speed.
9. Social Warfare
Hands down the best social media sharing plugin available for WordPress. Social Warfare is my recommended choice for anyone looking to add neat-looking social media sharing buttons on their WordPress blog.
It is one of the lightest social media sharing plugins which uses decidedly fewer scripts to not affect the loading time. Also, the design of the buttons is minimal and beautiful-looking which encourages users to click and share.
You can choose multiple positions for your buttons – above or below content, floating to the left or right, both above and below, and manual placement. The free version supports following social media channels:
However, the Twitter sharing count isn’t shown and is only available on the pro version that costs $29/year/site. The free version has 60,000+ active installs and 3.9 out of 5 stars rating on the WordPress plugin directory.
Agree or not, adding tables to your content can instantly make it more readable and authoritative. Tables can help you summarize and represent important information in a beautiful and easy-to-digest way.
By default, WordPress doesn’t support creating and adding tables (which is a feature to be combined with Gutenberg Editor), and we need to use a third-party plugin.
TablePress is one of the most popular and powerful plugin used and recommended by popular bloggers. It allows you to create tables visually and easily embed them in your articles.
You can also import spreadsheets or export the tables from your website. Adding images or link in columns is also supported. As of today, the plugin has 700,000+ active installs and an outstanding 5 out of 5 stars rating.
The current default WordPress editor is very simplistic and doesn’t have many features required to create beautiful landing pages. Designing pages are also not everyone’s cup of tea and need both time and investment.
Thanks to Elementor, you can easily create landing pages with drag and drop builder. You can create different sections, add icons, add columns, change the color of the specific element, and do other crazy things for free.
It’s also one of the fastest page builder available for WordPress which won’t slow down your website. There are also some pre-made templates available to use which you can edit with few clicks and call your own.
It also supports animations, Google Maps, SoundCloud, and other amazing features to make your website power-packed.
With Elementor Pro, you get additional features like global widget, WooCommerce support, custom fonts, and more. With continuous feature updates and excellent community support, you’ll feel like a website developer in no time.
At present, the plugin has 1+ million active installs and a solid 4.8 out of 5 stars Rating.
12. WordFence Security
Did you know, in 2012 more than 117,000 WordPress installations were hacked and WordPress is still the #1 target for hackers. And let me remind you, it’s not because WordPress is vulnerable but how website owners secure things.
Even after the release of 4.9.8, 13,034 websites (30.95%) are still running a vulnerable version of WordPress 3.6 (source)
By not updating your WordPress or plugins, leaving deactivated plugin, or using weak passwords, you invite hackers to steal your data. While you can manage these yourself, keeping malicious codes off your site requires a more advanced tool.
WordFence Security is a plugin I recommend for complete security needs. It has a firewall to keep the malicious traffic away and protection from brute force attacks. Security scanner will scan and alert for malicious codes in plugins, themes, or other files.
And the security tools provided monitors your live traffic for hacking attempts and block the IP address. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything other than installing and activating the plugin. Everything else is handled automatically by the plugin itself.
As of today, WordFence security plugin has 2+ million active installs and 4.8 stars rating.
13. Affiliate Links Lite
I have already explained the importance of masking affiliate links in this article. The few advantages are:
1. You can keep track of clicks
2. Your affiliate links much cleaner and professional
3. It increases the Click Through Rate (CTR)
Affiliate Links Lite is the plugin I recommend to every affiliate marketer who wants to shorten their affiliate links and make it more professional. The key features of this plugin are:
- Clicks count
- 301 (permanent), 302 (temporary), and 307 (temporary) redirect support
- Mark your affiliate links as nofollow and noidex
- Custom slug creator
The plugin is lesser-known with only 4,000 active installs but a 5 out of 5 stars rating.
Read more about 302 vs. 307 redirects.
14. Ultimate NoFollow
I’m still surprised as to why WordPress hasn’t added this feature when other CMS like Google blogger has it. When linking to other websites, you don’t want all the links to be DoFollow (especially if you’re linking to a new website.)
Ultimate NoFollow is a simple plugin which adds an option to mark links as nofollow, i.e., add a “rel=nofollow” attribute which signals Google bots do not follow the link.
When you activate the plugin, there’ll be an additional checkbox below the “open link in new tab” which you have to tick. The plugin has 50,000+ active installs and 3.9 out of 5 stars rating.
Once your site gets hack, deleted, or data is comprised, there’s only one way to recover it – restore from clean backup. But as it happens, we often avoid taking the backup of our site and regret it afterward.
Some of you might be jumping with happiness as your web hosting provider do this task for you and takes daily backup. But leaving your essential data with someone else isn’t a smart move.
Having a copy of data on your hard drive or remote storage gives you a better assurance, and in case your hosts mess up, you’ll still have a backup. UpDraftPlus is a great plugin to handle these things for you.
It allows you to backup all WordPress data to local storage or remote servers (Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.) and a one-click restore feature. If you’re on a shared host, backup process may affect the server. Hence it is recommended to take the backup at night-time of your target audience timezone.
At present, the plugin has 1+ million active installs and 4.8 stars rating.
This is it! My hand-picked list of best WordPress plugins for blogs. Based on your needs and type of website you’re creating, you may have to install other different plugins. However, for a WordPress beginner who wants to run a personal blog, the above plugins are more than enough!
Do you think I missed a plugin which is important for a beginner blog and should’ve been in the list? Let me know in the comments. Also, what’s your favorite plugin that you can’t live without?
If you loved this article, do share it with your friends and followers. Happy blogging!