Plugins are backbone of any WordPress site. Though using too many plugins will impact the performance of your site, it is not possible to find the good plugins without trying them. If you are a beginner, here is a list of top 10 plugins you may need for your site. Remember, each website has different purpose and common list of plugins will not help in some special cases. We have covered the plugins considering overall generic usage and you may not need all of them in a single website.
Free WordPress Plugins Repository
WordPress.org site has a dedicated plugin repository for offering free products to enhance your website. At the time when we write this article, there are more than 59K plugins available in WordPress.org. Finding good free plugins from these huge number is a daunting task for any new WordPress beginner. Here are some of the basic rules for you to choose a good plugin:
- Install only needed for your site and do not wander around the repository searching and installing unnecessary items.
- Check the user reviews for the latest version to understand the support and features.
- Check the last updated date to get an overall idea of the plugin’s development status. You can also check the change log to find the complete details.
- Look at the number of downloads per day to understand the popularity. You can also get an idea from the number of active installations.
In addition, we strongly recommend testing the plugin in your development site or staging site instead of trying directly in live site.
1. Yoast SEO
WordPress by default offers limited SEO capabilities to optimized your site. Hence, you need to have a SEO plugin to add meta description, open graph meta tags and optimize many other stuffs. Yoast SEO is one of the most popular and old SEO plugins available free for all users. You can verify site with Search Console, setup global settings and use the mets box in post editor to add post specific content using Yoast SEO plugin.
2. Akismet Spam Protection
If you have enabled commenting in your WordPress site, then handling spam is the biggest problems you will face. Akismet will save you lot of time by automatically filter spam comments and move under “Spam” in your “Comments” section. You need to get a free API key and activate to use this service. If you do not have a blog or disabled comments in your blog, then this plugin is not necessary.
3. Jetpack – WP Security, Backup, Speed and Growth
Many argue Jetpack will reduce the speed of your site. However, for beginner level user, Jetpack is the most useful plugin for site monitoring with Google Analytics and use custom widgets in sidebar/footer. You can use social sharing, related posts, popular posts and many other features with Jetpack for free.
4. All In One WP Security & Firewall
AIOWPS is one of the popular and free security plugins for your site. Many users overlook the security issues in WordPress and end up someone hacking their site. This plugin offers different sections for enabling custom login page, user lockout, comment spam protection, brute force prevention and many other features.
5. W3 Total Cache
This is one of the comprehensive caching plugin for WordPress with most of the features available for free. You can enable page caching, browser caching, object caching and database caching with few clicks. It is also possible to enable minify and combine features for CSS and JS to fix render blocking issues in Google PageSpeed Insights tool. However, make sure to test your site throughly after setup to confirm the plugin works properly on your site.
6. Contact Form 7
You need a contact form in your site for the visitors and customers to get in touch with you. For example, advertisers interested in selling ads can contact you through the form. There are many free and paid contact form plugins available for WordPress. However, Contact Form 7 is the most popular and super simple to use plugin. There are also many commercial themes offer custom contact page with Contact Form 7 plugin.
7. Site Kit by Google – Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed
Gone are the days you need different plugins to setup Search Console, AdSense monitoring and Analytics integration. Google Site Kit is an all-in-one plugin that you can use for all these purposes. In addition, you can check PageSpeed Insights score right from your WordPress admin dashboard and optimize your site.
8. Elementor Website Builder
With Gutenberg block editor, we do not recommend using any page builder plugins. However, if you want to quickly create pages from templates then Elementor is one of the best options for you. You have different elements to build a template from scratch or import from one of the pre-defined templates. If required, you can upgrade to the premium version to get additional features.
Want to sell physical products through your WordPress site? WooCommerce plugin is the best choice for you as it works seamlessly with WordPress. You can create products, add payment methods, sell to customers and generate invoice everything using this single plugin. Though you can sell digital goods through WooCommerce, if you only want to sell digital goods, then go for simple plugins like Easy Digital Downloads instead of WooCommerce.
10. Starter Templates – Elementor, Gutenberg & Beaver Builder Templates
The lat free plugin in our list is Starter Templates by Brainstorm Force which is the company behind the most popular Astra theme. The best part of this plugin is that it works on any theme and you can deactivate after importing the required templates. In this way, you can use the template without the plugin installed on your site. It helps to save lot of time by using one of the pre-defined templates and avoid using page builder.
Note: Some hosting companies offer plugin that only works in their hosting environment. For example, SiteGround Optimizer plugin has more than 1 million active installations but will not work on any other hosting except SiteGround. It comes by default with all SiteGround WordPress installations and hence having large active installation number. Make sure to check the plugin details before trying to install on your site. Similarly, there are some add-on plugins for theme and premium plugins which you should avoid.