Searching for plugins can be an overwhelming task. There are literally thousands of plugins to choose from. Before you go off and spend money on a plugin, check to see if there is a free one that will have the features that you need.
I put together this list of FREE plugins that can have a huge impact on your site.
Before you go shopping for free plugins, just remember that having too many of them will affect your load time. If your website is too slow you will lose visitors and ultimately sales. Check out these plugins and decide which ones will add value to your site. Most of them have a free and premium version but the features I listed reflect the free version.
The plugins that I share can be broken into the following categories:
- Search Engine Optimization
- List Building
- Page Editor
- Affiliate Link Organizer
- Other Cool Plugins
A slow load time is the perfect way to make your visitors hit the back button and visit a different website. Google also factors load times into their algorithm. Enough can’t be said about how load times are essential for acquiring and keeping website visitors.
W3 Total Cache
- Browser, object, and database caching
- Advanced settings
- CDN support
WP Super Cache
- Less features than W3 Total Cache but simpler to use
- Advanced settings
- CDN Support
- Caching types: mod_rewrite, PHP, and Legacy
A backup plugin is something you hope you will never need but you will be grateful that when crash-maggedon happens. A lot of web hosts do keep backups but this is something that you need to take ownership of, not rely on someone else’s system.
- Easy to use
- Allows you to schedule backups
- Allows you to save your blog to an external service like Dropbox, S3, FTP, and many others
To learn how to backup your website without a plugin check out the video: Backing Up Your Website.
There are so many little things that you need to do to keep your pages SEO friendly. Here are two plugins that do a lot of the work for you.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
- Page analysis function
- Basic on page SEO score
- XML sitemap generator
- Facebook OpenGraph support
- Snippet preview
- RSS Optimization
All in One SEO
- XML sitemap generator
- Google analytics support
- For beginners, works out of the box.
- Integration with WP eCommerce sites
- Snippet preview
For most sites, the difference between having a blog as a hobby or making serious money is in the quality of your list. You will need an autoresponder like Aweber or GetResponse, however there are some free plugins that can help get more emails for your list.
- List builder function allows easy integration with most auto responder services
- Control the design of the popup optin
- Popup timing
- Scroll box popups
- Smart bar feature offers a non-intrusive way to get subscribers
- Advanced customized popup optins
- Exit intent popups
- Time-delayed popups
- Embedded sign up forms
- Unobtrusive popups
There are so many plugins that enable social bookmarking that I can’t possibly list even a fraction of them. Here are some that I have used but if you have any that you think are better, list them below in the comments section. The plugin that I am using for this site is SumoMe (I know I already listed it but it has both list building and social functions).
- Supports over 16 social networks
- Offers many placement options
- Floating icons
- Option to exclude certain URLs
- Mobile responsive
- Tracks total shares
- Optimizes based on the networks that refer the most traffic.
- Supports over 20 social media networks
- Four icon size options
- Six icon style options
- Skyscraper option for sidebar widget
- Customized features for text, color and length
JQuery Pin It Button For Images
- Adds Pinterest Pin It buttons for images
- Allows user to choose where the description should be taken from
- Allows you to choose which images don’t show the Pin It button.
- Use your own button design
Having an editor plugin is a must have to customize your blog posts. The options that you get with most WP themes just aren’t enough to make quality posts.
- You don’t need to know HTML or CSS
- Easy access to shortcodes
- Customize editor buttons
- Drag and drop panel to add buttons to post editor
- Allows you to add tables and other media
Affiliate Link Organizer
If you have affiliate links throughout your website you will want a way to organize them. Pretty Link allows you to store and organize your links in one location so if you need to make a change, you only have to do it once instead of finding every link in every post. If you’re unsure why you will want this or are unsure how to set it up, watch: Understanding and Leveraging Affiliate Links.
Pretty Link Lite
- Shorten links using your own domain name
- Tracks hits and provides a user report
- Using this can improve your SEO
- Set up redirects
These spam-bots keep getting smarter and smarter and you will need anti-spam plugins to help manage this.
To use this plugin you need to get and API key. They ask for donations to get a key but you can put the donation amount to $0 and still get the key.
- Checks and filters comments that look like spam
- Tracks comment history
- Reveals hidden or misleading links
- Tracks approved comments for each user
SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam
- Requires users to type in code in order to post comment (see my comments section below for an example)
Other Cool Plugins
I don’t have categories for these plugins so I’m putting them in the Other Cool Plugins category.
Jetpack by WordPress.com
- Customization of CSS, carousels, contact forms, sidebar widgets, and more
- Responsive mobile theme
- Content tools to create and publish richer content
- Increase image delivery
- Email subscriptions for blog post comments
- Notifications for site activity
- Many more features to list here
Revive Old Post
This plugin allows you to set up a schedule to automatically reshare old posts to keep the traffic coming in while saving you time.
- Automatically shares old posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Automatically shows featured image in share
- Allows you to select minimum and maximum age of post to share it
- Exclude posts and categories from being automatically shared
- Set minimum interval between shares
If you do not like how WP is filtering your content or post, Raw HTML will allow you to disable these features on a per-post basis.
- Wrap HTML code in [raw]…[/raw]to override WP filters
WassUp Real Time Analytics
This allows you to analyze your visitors in real-time.
- Gives insight into almost everything your users are doing on your site
- Monitor and geolocate your visitors
- Chart hits over a certain time period
- Show recent searched terms, external referrers, and top OSes
- Customizable settings
- Anti-spam settings to omit spammers from statistics
Conclusion: Free WordPress Plugins
There is no way to make a comprehensive list of all the free WP plugins simply because there are so many of them. My goal in writing this post was not to list every free plugin out there, but to show the top quality plugins that will have a huge impact on your site.
Keep in mind that what works for one website may not be the best for another so do you homework before deciding on which plugin that you want to use.
If you have any of your own free plugins, feel free to mention them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and be sure to give this post some social media love!