Created a new website and now looking at what essential free WordPress plugins you need for the website? This article will give you all the details about free WP plugins that you need and might want to use.
One of the chief reasons that WordPress is such a popular content management system is the wide choice of plugins that come along with it. Besides thousands of third-party plugins, the WordPress plugin directory has more than 50000 plugins that add functions to your WordPress platform. What’s more, you can mix and match them any way you like to add the exact functions you need for your WordPress site. While some plugins are essential for the smooth functioning of your website, adding some other plugins is a matter of choice. In this post, let’s check out the must-have WordPress plugins, as well as other plugins that add important functions to your website.
At the very start, let’s understand what is a plugin. Simply put, a plugin is a piece of software that you add to your WordPress system. Each plugin is designed to add a specific function to your website. Before you consider adding plugins, you need to do a check on what functions are necessary /important/desirable for your website. Then, do a search for plugins that best fulfill those functions. Plugins can be downloaded for free from the WordPress directory or purchased from market places and theme houses.
Another common model for plugin sale is the ‘freemium plugin’, where a lite version with some basic features is available for free. For additional premium features, you’ll be required to pay and purchase the premium plugin. In general, you’ll see those premium plugins are more regularly updated and enjoy better support from plugin authors. At the same time, free plugins receive support via support forums from the plugin author.
How Many Plugins?
Whether free or premium, what you should look for while choosing a plugin is quality. Plugins with poor code quality can harm your website, and therefore you should thoroughly vet the plugin before installing it on your website. Some WordPress users are wary about adding too many plugins as they feel that this can slow down a website. But experts look at it another way. They advise that it’s not the number of plugins on your website that matter, it’s the quality of the plugins that counts. One badly coded plugin can bring down the entire site. That said, you should install a plugin on a need only basis. Not only that, it’s also important to regularly update the plugins.
Three Broad Categories of Plugins
You can broadly slot plugins into three categories. These categories are not watertight compartments, and there’ll likely be overlap between the categories, depending on the level of importance of the function to your website:-
I. Must Have Free WordPress Plugins – In this category, you’ll find plugins that take care of security and backups. No website can afford to ignore these functions or plugins.
II. Plugins Important To Most WordPress Websites – These are the plugins that improve the speed, performance or overall functioning of your website. Your website can work just fine without these plugins. But if they are active on your website, they take care of many functions relevant to most websites. Depending on the relevance of these functions to your website, you can install plugins for these functions.
For instance, if you are dependent on search engines to bring traffic to your website, you’ll surely need to install a plugin for search engine optimization. If you’re an online store or a website for which fast loading time is vital, you may want plugins to speed up your site. The plugins in this category cover functions related to speed, website performance analysis, contact forms, social sharing, maintenance, spam management, mobile-friendly, and more.
III. Plugins That Are Important To Specific Types of websites – This category includes plugins that are essential to specific types of websites. It totally depends on the nature of website you run. For instance, Live Chat Plugins are important for a customer service website.
As you may have guessed, it’s not possible to cover all the functions and plugins in each category. Therefore, we’ll be looking more importantly at categories I and II, as they are more general in nature and more commonly used by most websites.
I. MUST HAVE FREE WORDPRESS PLUGINS
We all know that WordPress is a secure piece of software. However, it’s also true that WordPress is a favorite target with hackers and malicious elements. That’s because WordPress is so popular, with close to 30% of the websites using it. As users, it’s important for us to do everything we can to keep our website safe. In most cases, it simply means keeping track of the frequent major and minor updates, and implementing them regularly. Additionally, you need to ensure that you download only quality themes and plugins from reputed theme houses. Most importantly, you should also keep in mind that security is an ongoing practice, not a one time exercise. WordPress plugins can help you manage the security of your website and keep it safe from hackers.
With over two million downloads, Wordfence Security is the most popular WordPress security plugin. It’s supports multisite, is totally free and open-source, and protects your WordPress website in many ways.
- A firewall stops all malicious entry into your WordPress website. This means that all fake Googlebots, known hackers and botnets are blocked from accessing your site. The screening relies on a Threat defense Feed which constantly and automatically updates the firewall rules.
- It blocks all known attackers and entire malicious networks. Aggressive crawlers and scrapers are also kept out of your site, besides specific IPs and domain WHOIS.
- The plugin improves login security by enforcing strong passwords among users and locks out brute force attacks.
- It regularly scans all your WordPress core files, themes and plugins, and compares it with the WordPress repository version for integrity. It also scans for many backdoor entrants, trojans, suspicious code, malware and phishing URLs, and for the signatures of 44000 known malware variants.
- Wordfence also monitors your site’s traffic, including robots and 404 errors, in real time. It detects unauthorized DNS changes and monitors disk space consumption to detect DDoS attacks.
To receive security alerts, you need to submit your email address in the plugins settings page. The scans do not consume too much bandwidth, as most of the action takes place on your web server.
The Premium upgrade takes security a step further. It offers premium API key access and more security features such as Country Blocking, Scheduled Scans, Password Auditing and real-time updates to the Threat Defense Feed. It also enables two-factor authentication to totally cut out brute force attacks, and checks if spam advertisements are originating from your website IP address.More info / Download
The Sucuri Security plugin identifies features that are most necessary for a website and integrates those features into the plugin, stripping it of all other unnecessary features. It complements your existing security setup, and is not a complete security solution. It helps you see and manage security from the WordPress dashboard. The basic features of this plugin are,
- Security Activity Auditing – Records security events in your WordPress and stores it in the Sucuri cloud. You can access this log later to look for patterns or for forensic reasons.
- File Integrity Monitoring – On installation, the plugin creates a known good version of your site including all core files, themes and plugins. The plugin then detects any change from this version in the current version of your site.
- Remote Malware scanning – The remote scanner visits your site just like any normal user or a search engine bot and checks it thoroughly for malicious code. It’s important to note that the scanner does not perform an application level malware scan. The scanning happens at a remote location and so, if there is any issue within your server that does not display on a browser, the scanner will not pick it up.
- Blacklist Monitoring – Sucuri’s scanner can tell you if your site is appearing on the blacklist of any blacklist engines like Google Safe Browsing and Norton.
Besides, it includes a post-hack security guide and some security hardening measures. The true power of Sucuri protection lies in its premium products, the Website Application Firewall and the Website Security Platform. The Website firewall stops hackers, reduces DDoS and optimizes performance, while the Website Security Platform detects and cleans malware, removes your website from any blacklist.More info / Download
Imagine for a moment what would happen if you cannot access your site for any reason – plugin crash, hacking, malware infestation, ransomware attacks or the like. That’s when you’ll appreciate the existence of a complete and recent backup of your site. Backing up your WordPress website ought to be an important part of your WordPress maintenance routine as well. Many WordPress plugins, once installed can automatically backup your entire site on a regular basis. Some of them can also help to restore your site on the same server or at a completely new location. For this reason, these plugins can do double duty as migration or cloning plugins.
Duplicator is a free and popular plugin that you can use not only for backing up your WordPress website, but also to copy and clone your site. Moreover, this plugin can help with migration to a new location as well.
Duplicator works by creating a zip file that contains all your WordPress files, themes, plugins, content and database. This zip file can then be unpacked at any other location, whether on the same server or different server, and your site can be restored in the new location. Using this feature, you can configure a website any way you want and then recreate it on multiple locations for your use or for your client’s use.
The plugin will allow you to manually back up an entire site or even part of a site. You can pull down a live site to a local host for development purposes and copy a live site to a staging area and vice versa.
While the free plugin enables you to backup, clone, duplicate and restore your site, the Premium plugin makes it a far smoother experience with scheduled backups and cloud storage to DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon and S 3. Working with multisites is also easy, as it can migrate an entire multisite in one go or split up a multisite’s subsite into a standalone site. You also receive email notifications and professional support.More info / Download
Backup Buddy is a solid option for always having a current, upto date backup version of your website. The backups are managed with a few clicks from your WordPress dashboard. In the first step, BackupBuddy not only backs up the WordPress database, it backs up your entire WordPress installation, including the files in your media library. The backed up files can be downloaded as a zip file. Further, you can schedule backups and set it to run automatically. You can choose to backup the entire website or just parts of it, or even create custom backup profiles. You can store the backup versions of your site in a secure offsite location such as Dropbox.
All actions are notified by email. To restore the website from a backup version, simply upload the Backup Import Buddy and the Backup zip file. The plugin will then guide you through the restoration process. It can help while migrating a site from one host to another. You can use it during site development to move files between staging area and a live domain. It automatically replaces all the URLs when you migrate to a new domain.
BackupBuddy is a premium plugin, and includes a number of security features such as malware scans. You can specify some files for exclusion while backing up. Using the WordPress server tools you can check your server capabilities and hosting issues. The plugin can scan and repair most common issues in your database. Besides, it updates URLs and strings of text throughout your database.More info / Purchase
Other plugins that you can look into to backup your site include Updraft Plus Backup, and BackWPup. Subscription based protection options like VaultPress and BlogVault are sound options, if you do not want to handle the bother of backups on your own.
II. PLUGINS IMPORTANT TO MOST WORDPRESS WEBSITES
3.Speed and Performance Optimization
Slow websites are a big turn-off to internet users. If your website does not load in seconds, they’ll simply move away to a competitor’s site. Most of are aware that speed is also one of the most important factors on which Google rates your website in a search. Improving website speed and optimizing your website for peak performance can be achieved by carrying out many small and big measures. These include caching, image optimization, database optimization, using content delivery networks and more. You can turn to the plugins below for help.
If you take site speed seriously, W3 Total Cache is one plugin that you must consider installing in your WordPress. It can handle heavy traffic to your blog without crashing and is popular with WordPress users. It improves the performance of your website and, by integrating with Content Delivery networks improves site loading times. Moreover, it includes features which go much beyond ordinary caching. When fully configured, it can give a huge boost to site speed.
Using this plugin, you can save up to 80% bandwidth as it includes features for minifying, HTML compression and more. Besides, minifying files also helps to improve the performance of the other plugins. It can cache pages, browser, database and objects. You can set the plugin to skip caching some pages such as homepage. The plugin helps to modify URL buttons to update the URLs of your pages and posts. The media library tool that comes with the plugin helps to organize your media library. It aggregates all the media files attached to posts and pages or drawn from external sources, copies them to the media library, updates links, and updates the .htaccess file with permanent redirects. This makes it easier for the search engines to find the files.
What gives W3 Total Cache the edge is that it improves performance on many fronts, not merely by HTML compression or by saving bandwidth. It does not modify your theme or the rewrite rules for your .htaccess files, and works in all hosting environments, big or small. The plugin adds many security features as well and generates statistics for performance insights.More info / Download
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is another equally popular plugin for caching your website. This plugin comes from Automattic, the team behind WordPress and so, it’s totally compatible with WordPress. It generates static HTML files from your website and stores it for serving up whenever requested by a browser. This is quicker than processing the normal WordPress PHP scripts. The HTML files are served up to almost 99% of the users, such as users who are not logged in or users who do not leave a comment. This reduces the number of queries to the server, thereby improving performance.
The plugin caches files in three modes, but if you do not wish to edit PHP files, it’s best to stay with the simple mode. It’s also advisable to preload as many posts as you can and enable the ‘Preload mode’. The default setting in the plugin is to cache all the pages. But you can retain certain parts of your website as dynamic by making adjustments under Advanced Settings.
The plugin provides basic CDN support by rewriting the URLs of the content in your wp-content and wp-includes folder to point to a different hostname. Feature for feature, it does not match the W3 Total Cache plugin, and is a little harder to configure. But once you get the settings right, the plugin does its job of visibly speeding up your website efficiently.More info / Download
Other Speed and Performance-enhancing Plugins
Caching is not the only way by which you can improve site speed. There are many more speed-enhancing measures that you can undertake to reduce loading time in a big way, as well as to improve the performance of your site. The plugins that can help with each of these measures are listed below. While you may not need all of them, you can select the specific functions and corresponding plugins that suit your site best. For instance, image optimizations and media library management plugins help to optimize the images and manage them within the media library for faster loading. But you may not need them, if your website is light on media content.
Some plugins to improve site speed and performance,
- Image Optimization – EWWW Image Optimizer, Smush Image Compression and Optimization.
- Database Optimization – WP Optimize, WP-Sweep
4.Search Engine Optimization
While creating content, it’s not enough to take care of your audience alone. You’ve got to take care of search engines as well. All of the content on your website should be optimized for search engines, so you can move up in search engine rankings. A number of SEO plugins for WordPress can help you in this task. A higher ranking can drive more traffic to your website and grow your audience.
WordPress is search engine friendly right out of the box, but there are still many small improvements you can make to improve search engine visibility. The main focus of Yoast SEO is to help you write better content. It persuades you to pick a focus keyword for your post and use it multiple times, without resorting to keyword stuffing.
The page analysis function of the plugin carries out many checks on different aspects of your content. It checks the length of the post, whether it includes images and if you’ve added ALT tags containing the focus keywords for the images. It also checks the sufficiency of keyword usage, if a meta description containing keywords is available and subheadings and taxonomies. Further, it reminds you to use pretty permalinks, and automatically adds meta tags and link elements. Not only does it guides search engines to index all your pages, it also prioritizes which pages are to rank in a search result. It automatically adds the “Next” and “Prev” link elements in the head section of your paginated archives.
Moreover, once you enable the XML sitemap feature, it automatically creates the XML sitemaps, including the images, and submits them to the search engines. It adds a link to your RSS feed pointing back to the original post. And if your theme is compatible, you can even add breadcrumbs for better navigation by search engines. The built-in file editor will allow you to edit the .htaccess and robots.txt files. The plugin fully supports multisites and social media integration.
The premium version of the plugin includes an option to have multiple keywords, a redirect manager and one on one email support. Some premium extensions are also available.More info / Download
Google XML Sitemaps
The Google XML Sitemaps plugin improves SEO by creating XML sitemaps that can help search engines like Google, Bing and Ask.com to better index your site. It supports all pages created using WordPress including custom URLs, and notifies the search engines each time you create a new post.
The XML sitemaps help search engine crawlers to better view the entire structure of your site and retrieve the content more efficiently. While the plugin does offer a host of configuration options, it’s comforting to know that the default settings will work just fine for most websites.More info / Download
Another quality plugin for search engine optimization is the All-in-One SEO Pack, which is available both as a free and premium plugin.
Your website may have live chat or phone options for customers to reach out to you. Nevertheless, contact forms remain one of the most convenient ways for users to get in touch with you. Many users prefer to use a contact form at their convenience, instead of typing into a chat box or punching numbers on a phone. Contact forms also have the advantage of allowing users to communicate directly with the relevant department and can act as a lead collection tool.
Gravity Forms provides all the fields and features necessary for creating any form that you need. Not just contact form, you can build any form for your website using this plugin. It remains one of the top choices for a contact form and includes a multi-page feature. Combined with the advanced fields, this plugin allows you to collect extensive details about your users. You can select fields using the form editor to tailor forms the way you need, and use conditional logic to show / hide fields, sections, pages or submit buttons.
Users will find it convenient as they can save a partially filled form and revert to it later to complete it. And at every stage, they’ll be aware of the extent of form remaining to be filled. Standard fields such as dropdown boxes, radio buttons are also included, and you can embed the form anywhere on your website.
You can limit the number of forms being submitted, and schedule forms to control when and how to collect information. The plugin is responsive, includes anti spam measures and supports frontend submissions. It integrates with several popular web applications and online services. A number of add-ons are available for surveys, quizzes, polls and videos. Admins can receive email notifications to know whenever a user submits a form. The price for the form varies from $59 for one site to $259 for unlimited sites.More info / Purchase
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is the most popular form plugin in the WordPress repository. It allows you to create as many forms as you want, customize them and place them wherever you want on your website using shortcodes. You can also place the form in a text widget. Submission of the forms is powered by Ajax, and spam is filtered out using CAPTCHAs and Akismet.
You can include additional fields in the form to collect any details that you want. The plugin allows you to add an autoresponder, and modify emails. If you’re creating multiple forms, you can use different emails for delivery. It’s compatible with most other WordPress plugins and is quite a favorite with WordPress users.More info / Download
Having a contact form on your website is definitely a must. And to create one, you do not really need to find help from a coder. Instead, you can do it all by yourself. Thanks to the magnificent WPForms plugin, you can hammer out forms of all types like a champ. Even if you have zero experience, the drag and drop form builder allows you to create, design and develop forms visually. No coding indeed.
WPForms has a lot of options and functions in store for you to put into play. It features spam protection, form confirmation, predefined templates and easily integrates other plugins. You can also build surveys and polls in a snap. What’s more, all your form creations will be responsive and mobile-ready, as well as cross-browser compatible. Instead of using a dull form, spice things up with WPForms and create a fully customized alternative.More info / Download
Another fantastic way to create custom forms is the remarkable free WordPress plugin, Ninja Forms. In just minutes time, you can have a 100% functional and active form on your website or blog. With the drag and drop technology, you can effortlessly put together the exact form that you would like to rock. This also tells you that you will never need to deal with any coding and advanced tasks. In other words, Ninja Forms is beginner-friendly, yet powerful enough to suit expert users as well.
Ninja Forms has no boundaries and no limitations when it comes to forging forms. You can choose from default fields, but you can also create your own field and even save it for future use. Other treats of Ninja Forms plugin are date picker, redirections after they successfully complete the form, anti-spam functions and required fields to name a few.More info / Download
Creating good content is important for any website. But it’s simply not enough to create good content alone, you need to get it before your audience. That’s where social media can give you a hand. After search engines, it’s social media that can help to bring traffic to your website. The WordPress social media plugins add a button to any screen on your website. Users need to simply tap this button to instantly share content over social media.
Shareaholic adds attractive social buttons to your website to increase the possibility of readers sharing your content. The share buttons are of two types – the default floating share buttons and the inline share buttons. From one easy to use dashboard, you can manage many tasks such as marketing your content and social analytics.
According to the developers, it is an all-in-one content amplification and monetization platform that includes social sharing. The plugin is free for download, but you’ll need to register to be able to use it on your site. An on-site wizard helps with installation of the plugin. It increases readers’ engagement with your website by displaying related content, and increases revenues via promoted ads, and affiliate links.More info / Download
Simple Share Buttons Adder
Simple Share Buttons Adder is a neat plugin that adds simple social share buttons to all your posts and pages without any fuss. You can also hide the buttons on any specific page or post. You can have custom colored share buttons with this plugin, and upload and use your own custom images.
A pro version that shortens URLs and allows click tracking is also available under various plans.More info / Download
As your blog grows, it not only attracts a wider audience, it also begins to attract spammy comments and spam bots. They fill your site with unwanted content that can be bad for your site’s SEO. Comment moderation and efforts to reduce spam can eat into your productive work. Many WordPress Anti Spam plugins are available to help you cut down on spam and get ahead with your work.
Akismet is a cloud based spam control tool that comes from Automattic. You can download the plugin for free, but to actually use the plugin, you need to register and obtain an API key. The plugin scans all comments coming into your website and screens it for spam content. The scanning is done on the servers of Akismet, so there’s no strain on your server resources. It splits incoming comments into three streams – the spam free comments pass through directly and those that fail the spam test are blocked. When in doubt, Akismet sends the comments to the moderation queue. By sifting through the comments in this manner, it saves you a great deal of time.
If you’re installing the plugin on a non commercial website, Akismet is free. For commercial websites, you’ll have to go with their paid plans which start at $ 5 per month.More info / Download
Anti Spam by Clean Talk
Anti Spam by Clean Talk works much the same way as Akismet to cut down spam on your website. It stops not only spam comments but also spam registrations, orders, bookings, emails, subscriptions and surveys. It does all this without relying on CAPTCHAs, or any other effort on the user’s part. The plugin cleans your website of existing spam comments and spam users and is compatible with mobile devices.
You can download the plugin for free and enjoy a free trial period. Beyond that, you’ll have to sign up for their premium cloud based service, starting as low as $8 for one year’s protection for one site. This plugin can arrange it so that you never see the spam – it moves spam to the spam folder and you can enable an auto delete from this folder. You can block users based on location or comments by stop words. Multiple spam tests are used to minimize false positives. It blocks all requests from bad IP addresses and protects from brute force attacks. You’ll have access to past records for up to 45 days. You can also enable a spam firewall that cuts out much of the spam even before it hits your website.More info / Download
People all over the world do not speak the same language. And so, if your website or blog has readers across the world, you may find it necessary to speak to your target audience in their own language. When you add a multilingual plugin to your site, the task of translating your website becomes much easier. These plugins work in two different ways. In the first method, the plugins access some online tool or service that automatically translates content. However, the quality of translation may not be up to the level you desire. In the second method, you’ll need to write every bit of content on your website in the languages you want, and the plugins will help users switch between different language versions. Of course, the quality of translation will be much better in this method.
When it comes to translation, WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML) is by far the most popular plugin. It helps translate content into 40+ languages. It’s a great option for multisites as it allows you to place each language version on the same domain or sub-domain. You can also locate the versions on a totally different domain. To use the plugin, you’ll need to purchase a license which starts at $29, though it’s the pricier options that provide the full range of features such as multilingual eCommerce support and translation widgets. They also help with translating the WordPress backend and creating Translator roles. So if your team comprises of individuals speaking different languages, this can prove to be a helpful feature.
WPML works equally well with both translation methods. It syncs with cloud services for auto translation. At the same time, it supports manual translations via the WordPress text editor. Where WPML scores over other multilingual plugins is in syncing menu translations, translating pages created with page builders, SEO features, integration with translation services, flexible language URLs and RTL editing.More info / Purchase
Polylang is an easy to use plugin. This plugin needs you to translate content by yourself without hooking up to any translation service. Therefore, it’s a good fit if you want to totally manage language skills on your own or by hiring help.
You can choose from close to a hundred languages on the settings screen as well as the appearance of the name of the language on your screen. Add the appropriate country flag, if you wish. Now you can go on to provide translation for any post or page you want. You can translate all or only some of the pages and posts. Each language is identified with a two letter code, and this code forms part of the unique URL of each translated version. Using a widget, users can switch from one language to another.More info / Download
WPtouch is the plugin to use if you do not want to see a drop in search engine rankings when your website loads on mobiles. While this plugin instantly enables a friendly version of your site to mobile users, your regular theme can continue to show for desktop users. This plugin is recommended by Google and helps your website pass the Google mobile friendly test.
Without having to work with code, you can customize the appearance for mobiles. A link in the footer enables a user to switch between the desktop and mobile versions. If you are using a caching plugin, you’ll need to do some configuring to get it to work smoothly with this plugin. WPtouch is a lightweight, fast loading and feature rich plugin. When you choose the pro version, it includes a few additional themes for blogs, businesses and WooCommerce retailers.More info / Download
Needless to say, in this day and age, our websites need to perform at the highest degree. Especially when it comes to mobile use, the page needs to load fast and display all its content beautifully. To be sure that your website has the capability of delivering an unforgettable experience, you need to get your hands on AMP free WordPress plugin. AMP is short for The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project by the one and only, Google. And you can now take the official plugin to your benefit and keep your professionalism intact across all platforms.
AMP includes a compatibility tool which guides you at creating and fine-tuning your mobile-ready layouts. It provides additional information, errors and other whatnot that will help you finish the project flawlessly. Also, AMP is compatible with Gutenberg block builder and comes with many fantastic optimization functions.More info / Download
WordPress Mobile Pack
WordPress Mobile Pack converts the content on your website into a progressive mobile web application using HTML5. A responsive theme merely adjusts display to smaller screen size, a web app goes many steps further to combine web features with the functionality of touch enabled device functions, and supports many native app like features. These apps are not all about appearance, they take advantage of mobile functionality as well. They load instantly and install banners or icons on the mobile home screen. Readers can add the icon to their home screen and opt to run it in full screen mode.
Many app themes are available, with the pro version offering many more. You can customize the theme by changing colors, and adding logo and graphic elements. The pro pack also includes many social media features. The plugin integrates with Google Analytics and allows you to selectively sync post, pages and comments.More info / Download
If you want to actively promote your website, you need to know more about your audience. Learning about your users is critical to the success of your online business. Analytics helps you collect information about user activity on your site. It tells you where the clicks are coming from, and where visitors go to from your website. Analyzing traffic to your website can help you find out which pages of your website are getting more attention. You’ll get to know how long they stay on your site and which links they click. Using this information, you can create content that’s relevant to your visitors.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics for WordPress is an extremely popular plugin that allows you to connect your WordPress website to Google Analytics. You can find out how visitors find your website and how they interact with it. You can view the Google Analytics reports on your WordPress dashboard and track data in real time. Tracking is possible across all devices and is in-depth, so you can know how each page performs.
With the plugin installed, you can track links, authors, referrals and popular posts. Besides, it helps you stay up to date with the latest changes in Google Analytics. The Pro plugin includes features for tracking ads, eCommerce, popular posts, events as well as customized tracking.More info / Download
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP automatically embeds a tracking code on your WordPress pages to track visitors effectively, and maintains logs of data gathered. The Google Analytics tracking reports can display on your WordPress dashboard. In-depth reports and performance details for individual posts and pages can be obtained, and you can see if your hard work is yielding the results you want. It gives you comprehensive reports on your website’s audience and performance. Besides, you can design custom reports to capture and track any metric that’s vital for you.
The plugin allows you to see stats in real time for visitors and visitor locations. You can keep track of visitor activity on your site, see where they come from and where they go, the links they click and the number of times they return to a page. You can create specific reports to gather data about logged in users, post types and categories, as well as filter out all the unnecessary data based on roles, users, IP addresses, regions and countries. The plugin is a good option to compare data for specific metrics and specific periods, and to export reports in CSV and PDF formats. It includes features for Accelerated Mobile Pages and supports multisites.More info / Download
11.Maintenance and Miscellaneous
Maintaining WordPress is bit of a chore, but it’s extremely important for a stable and efficient website. Regular maintenance checks coupled with periodic spring cleaning can have your website purring like a smooth engine. Neglect these chores, and your website is likely to slow down, become unreliable and more vulnerable to security risks. Files and content that you no longer need can pile up, taking up valuable resources and hurting your search engine rankings. The following are some plugins that can help maintain your WordPress website in peak condition. It’s not necessary to keep them all active on your website always. After each use, you can deactivate or even uninstall some of them.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker monitors the links in your posts, pages, comments and custom fields and lets you know if any of them are broken. It spots missing images and redirects as well. You’ll receive a notification via email or see it on your dashboard.
Links that lead nowhere can have a negative impact on search engine rankings, and this plugin prevents search engines from following them. You can edit the links from the plugin page, and search and filter them by URL or anchor text. The plugin is rather heavy on your resources, but this depends on the number of links and the size of your website. You can keep track of the progress and make changes to configurations in the settings page. How you deal with the broken links is entirely up to you. You can hide or dismiss the links, edit URLs or un-link the text.More info / Download
Redirection is a plugin that monitors 404 errors and maps them to 301 redirects. 301 redirects refers to the permanent redirection to the new URL. You’ll find this to be particularly helpful if you’re shifting the location of your website or changing the directory of your WordPress installation.
If you’re deleting a post or changing the URL for whatever reason, you need to ensure that the user is redirected correctly. Otherwise, you stand to lose traffic to 404 errors. This plugin generally tidies up all the loose ends on your website. It automatically adds a 301 redirection when the post’s URL changes. Besides, you can manually add 301, 302 and 307 redirects for any WordPress post or file.More info / Download
Maintenance helps you put up a notice on your website that it’s temporarily down, allowing your to carry out maintenance tasks away from visitors’ view. The notice can be customized in the settings page by selecting background color, image, text and logo. The pro extension offers additional customization options, and includes features for countdown and user permissions. You can have images from gallery, or videos from gallery, YouTube or Vimeo for background.
Using the 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable makes the site invisible to search engines. It includes User login with validation and enables you to hide or reveal the Admin bar. The plugin also allows you to exclude some pages from maintenance mode.More info / Download
If you would like to boost the features and performance of your WordPress text and block editors, realize it with TinyMCE Advanced. This powerful and practical free WordPress plugin adds a whole new specter of functions to both editors for you to take to your full advantage. Instead of using the default settings, the time has now come to elevate the experience of creating new compelling content for your website or blog. Not only do these extra features give you more options when creating content, but they also save you time and energy.
To get familiar with just some of the goodies that TinyMCE Advanced unlocks, continue reading. First, it enables a functional hybrid mode that lets you utilize both editors hassle-free. Second, TinyMCE Advanced easily converts default blocks to classic paragraphs and vice versa. Third, retrieves many more options and functions when adding lists. No doubt, there are loads more goodies that await every TinyMCE Advanced user. And if you would like to take editing to the next level, you can always go pro.More info / Download
Hence the name, you can create all types of popups you want with the easy to use Popup Builder. This free WordPress plugin is perfect for contact forms, newsletter subscriptions, special deals, coupons and all the rest that comes to mind. Besides, Popup Builder is also compatible with many different plugins which unlock even more solutions. If you would like to capture their attention and increase your potential, implement a popup and see the magic happen.
Along with building custom popups, you can also set all sorts of different rules. For instance, you can show the popup right away, on exit, when they start to scroll or after a specific timeframe. Popup Builder is also in tune with the popular page builders, WPML plugin, supports sound effects and has the ability to only appear for particular user roles. If you would like to boost your conversion rates, the chances are high that a well-thought-out popup will do the trick.More info / Download
Jetpack is not really a single plugin. It’s a plugin that handles multiple functions perfectly from a central dashboard. It contains many modules, each module dealing with a specific functions. You can enable just the modules you need on your website. The modules cover functions like security monitoring, speed, image optimization, login protection, contact form and more. Paid plans with additional features are also available.
This plugin comes from Automattic and you’ll need a registration on WordPress.com to be able to use it. It makes a whole lot of features offered by WordPress.com available to self hosted WordPress websites. It helps you to share on social media, improve the appearance of your site, collects and presents a ton of stats. From the dashboard you can manage all the plugins, pages and posts of your website. Some users feel that Jetpack is bulky and slows down the website. But considering that it handles a number of functions, it can eliminate the need to install many other plugins.More info / Download
The power of WordPress lies in its plugins. New WordPress users may be somewhat overwhelmed by the profuse number of plugins out there. This post will serve as a quick guide to let you find out which plugins are important for your website. These plugins fulfill the basic needs of any WordPress website, and make it easy to manage your website.
As mentioned at the start, you can go on to add any other plugin that you have a specific need for such as call-to-action plugins, calendar plugins, Notification Bar plugins,Voting plugins and more. There’s really no end. However, take care not to go overboard with them.
Do you think any other free plugin is a must-have WordPress plugin? Do let us know in the Comments section.