Regardless of whether you’re an amateur with a new website or a veteran content creator, you would have some idea of what WordPress Plugins are. There are thousands of different plugins that offer an array of services, and it can be difficult to choose one. Here are some essential plugins that we found were super helpful as a beginner. We use all of them on our own blog. So consider this as a fully tested review from years-long users.
What Is A WordPress Plugin?
The plugins are software components that are used to add features and can extend your website. No coding knowledge is required to configure a plugin. Most of the plugins are very simple, user-friendly, and take very little time to set up. With all the plugins available, there are endless possibilities for customization. There are numerous youtube videos available online that help you to personalize based on your needs.
We advise you not to enable auto-updates for plugins. Before you install or update a plugin, check if it supports the WordPress version you currently use. If the update is a major release, make sure to take a backup of your website.
Don’t make the common blogging mistake of installing every plugin as it takes up space and reduces the load speed of your website. So, be a minimalist when it comes to installing plugins.
Must-Have Best WordPress Plugins For FREE
1. Akismet Anti-Spam
Akismet, which stands for Automatic kismet, is a free and default plugin in WordPress. Generally, spams are annoying and time-consuming and it tends to affect the site’s credibility over time. But Akismet can filter out spam from comments and contact forms. It is free for personal sites and blogs and payable for commercial use.
How does it work? Each time someone comments, Akismet checks it against the database. If it is spam, it is deleted. If the spam gets through and the user marks it as spam, it is then added to the database. This makes Akismet increasingly effective.
2. Contact Form 7
This plugin is totally free and can be used to manage multiple contact forms. These forms are customizable and support CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, and so on. It is recommended to have a contact form on every website, so the visitors can reach out to you for any queries or collaborations. We have integrated this into our Contact Us page.
3. MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress
Your readers can easily subscribe to your Newsletters if you have this plugin. You need to create a Mailchimp account. It even allows you to send email campaigns to your subscriber list. These customizable subscription forms are user-friendly and mobile optimized.
It is one of the best plugins for beginners. The free plan allows you to send 2000 subscribers up to 12000 emails per month. With the premium plan, you can have multiple forms, and receive detailed reports, statistics & email notifications.
Elementor is a default plugin and is highly recommended to build any WordPress website. It is a visual editor and no coding knowledge is required. It works on any theme and you can create any page (homepage, blog pages, posts, landing pages, online stores, etc.) with Elementor. You can also build your pages with the default Gutenberg Page Builder.
It has advanced capabilities to design the website like drag and drop live editor, responsive design, 40+ free widgets, and pre-designed templates & blocks, all for FREE. If you wish to propel your website more professionally, then go pro. The Pro version includes advanced features like motion effects, popup builder, theme builder, and translation options of up to 56+ languages, to name a few.
Smush compresses image files thereby improving the website’s performance significantly. Smush strips the bulky unnecessary information from your images and reduces the file size without affecting the appearance.
After using this plugin, the overall media storage was reduced by half. Which in turn remarkably boosted the load time of our website. We use the free version which is quite good. As your website grows, you can upgrade to Smush Pro as it has additional benefits like 2X better compression and WebP conversion.
6. WP Fastest Cache
First, it is important to understand what cache is. When a new user visits the website, a copy of the data is stored in the cache for a while. So, for future requests, the data is rendered from the cache and not the server, thereby optimizing the load time of the website.
Many similar plugins are providing the same solution but it is important to have a plugin for the cache. Be sure to view several YouTube videos to compare the different plugins and understand the different features offered. We settled for WP Fastest Cache as it was recommended in our theme manual, and we are happy with it. This plugin offers a free and premium service and the setup is also easy.
7. All-in-One WP Migration
Backing up your website is very important. All-in-One WP Migration is a free plugin that is used to export, import, or backup website data. This includes backups of the database, media files, plugins, and themes in a single click. It is recommended to take a backup of your website every time before you update your theme or WordPress or some plugins like Elementor.
The free version has an upload file size limit of 512 MB, and a download file size limit of 2 GB, and can be exported to your local system. You can migrate the backup anywhere. The maximum allowed size of the backup file is unlimited in the premium version. It also has additional advantages like restoring from the server, support, and WP CLI commands for backup and restore.
8. Rank Math SEO
Firstly, what is SEO? SEO stands for Search engine Optimisation. It is a process that is used for improving the visibility in the search engines and properly indexing the web pages in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). A few important factors that affect the SEO ranking are title, URL, optimized content, security, domain age & authority, and page speed.
We chose Rank Math SEO because it offers additional features in both free and premium versions compared to other SEO plugins. It provides features like keyword tracking, redirection manager, 404 monitor, meta description settings, SEO analysis tool, image SEO, schema markup, outbound, and internal link suggestions for FREE. The plugin also emails you performance reports that can be used to enhance your website.
You can also choose Yoast SEO or other SEO plugins but having one on your website is a must. It is best practice to use it as a checklist so you don’t miss anything predominant. Initially, you can start with the free version and upgrade when the need arises.
9. Sassy Social Share
This free plugin allows the user to share the content over 100 media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail, Whatsapp, Linked In, Pinterest, etc. There are options to customize the standard and floating layouts. The UI is pretty simple and easy to personalize. It also has a premium option where you can even track the shares of web pages.
10. Theme Recommended Plugins
This applies only when you purchase a premium theme. In the theme document, you will be asked to install a few plugins to support the functionality. But all the plugins recommended are not mandatory if you are not using that specific feature. Read the description of the plugin and only install those that are relevant to you.
We are currently using the free versions and planning to upgrade later on. We would recommend you to initially start with the basic free version and then either upgrade or switch to a similar one whenever required. Ultimately, it comes to what works best for you. Nowadays, it is very easy to shift from one plugin to another as they provide detailed steps on how to migrate.
Finding a sandbox where you can express yourself artistically, and showcase the best of what you have to offer for the benefit of others is a great feeling. Now that you know the WordPress plugins and the purpose of using them on a website, we hope you will have no trouble deciding what you need. So go forth and Create!
Let us know in the comments if you are looking for more tips related to blogging. We are happy to share our knowledge. Also, be sure to share the links to your blogs, we would gladly subscribe to them.