One of the first things you will do after you install WordPress is to install a few plugins to expand the functionality of your site. I’m listing my best free WordPress plugins that I have found over the years and I hope you will check them out. So let’s get started! First of all……
What is a WP plugin?
A WordPress plugin is a little piece of software that you download through WordPress. Plugins can provide a lot of functionality and add new features to your WordPress site. WordPress is written in PHP code and the plugins are also written in that same code. I don’t want to get too technical here because it’s really not necessary. One of the best things about WordPress is how easy it is to set up and use so you don’t need to know how to code anything.
For instance, if you wanted to have a contact form on your website, you might download the Contact Form 7 plugin. Maybe you want to add social media buttons to your website. If so, you might take a look at the Sociable plugin.
Plugins can be purchased as well as downloaded for free. Depending on what you need your website to do, you probably won’t need to purchase any plugins. At least, not for a while. With all the great free WordPress plugins you will be spoiled for choice for quite a while.
Best FREE WordPress Plugins
Listed below is a list of all my favorite WordPress plugins along with a description. I’ll also include instructions on how to install a plugin in a subsequent post. Some plugins need no further action from you once you install them. Others need a little more configuration.
10 Must Have WordPress Plugins
Akismet: When you first install WordPress, Akismet is installed along with it. This plugin is an anti-spam plugin that pre-screens all the comments left on your site. If Akismet determines that a comment looks like SPAM, it will automatically move the comment to the SPAM folder listed in the Comments section of your WordPress dashboard.
In order to use the Akismet plugin, you have to register for an Akismet API key. Sign up for an Akismet API key by filling out a short form with your name, email address and username. The key is then sent to you. There is a section where you can make a donation to the developers of the plugin. This is a discretionary request and is not mandatory. Once you receive the key, go to the dashboard of your WordPress site. Hover over Plugins then click on Installed Plugins. On the Akismet plugin, click on Settings. Copy/paste the API key into the API Key box. Save your changes and you are all set.
Contact Form 7: Having a contact form on your website is a must. Afterall, how can people contact you without a contact form? Contact Form 7 is very easy to install and customize. You can manage multiple contact forms as well as incorporate Akismet and CAPTCHA into your form to avoid spam.
Google XML Sitemaps: Another must-have plugin. Google XML Sitemaps automatically creates a sitemap for your WordPress website that can be linked in your Google Webmaster Tools. When Google crawls websites, the first thing the bots do is to look for a sitemap.
All-in-1 SEO OR Yoast: Both of these plugins basically serve the same purpose. However, you do not need both. Only install and use one or the other. Both plugins help to make it easier for search engines such as Google to find your content. I’ve been using Yoast for a few years now and I have come to prefer it, but they are both great plugins.
WPBackup: After downloading and configuring this plugin, it will back up all the data on your website to a specified location. You can configure it to backup to your Dropbox account or other location.
Sociable: Websites are all about sharing so having sociable icons on your website allow people to share your content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites.
Pinterest: This plugin a social plugin like the Sociable one above except that it is a separate plugin. Depending on the nature of your website, sharing your content on Pinterest can help generate traffic
to your website.
WPTouch Mobile: If your website isn’t mobile ready, this plugin will provide that functionality. Google has now recommended that all websites must be mobile ready–meaning that your website must be easily readable from a handset such as a smartphone, tablet or other handheld device.
Wordfence: The Wordfence plugin provides your website with protection from hackers and
malware. Wordfence scans your site at regular intervals and can block potential hacks depending on how you configure it. It audits passwords so if someone is trying to hack your site, you can configure it to kick them off for a set period of time. I always set this to the maximum setting! 😉
So there you have it! My best free WordPress plugins! Phew! All the plugins listed above, I currently use and recommend. For more information on any of these plugins, simply go to WordPress.org and enter the name of the plugin in the search bar.
You can also check out my instructional video on how to install WordPress plugins.