Last Revised: May 16, 2016
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #1: Yoast SEO
I’ve been using Joost’s (aka Yoast’s) SEO plugin since right around 2008. The team at Yoast has put a ton of care into upgrades throughout the years. They stay very up-to-date with ever-changing SEO needs. It may even be one of the reasons why WordPress as a platform has done so well throughout the years.
The SEO plugin isn’t a “turn it on and it simply works” plugin. Think of it as a guide to writing your own search engine friendly content. In the beginning, writing your post, evaluating it with this plugin and making all the necessary edits will take an extra hour. Once you’re familiar with it, the process takes minutes. It can be a little time-consuming to get your content right, but that extra time is worth the results.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #2: WooCommerce
E-commerce through WordPress used to be difficult and sometimes impossible. WooCommerce has taken on the task of simplifying selling products through any WordPress website for free. They’ve done an excellent job at streamlining a very complicated task into simple steps. A basic installation of WooCommerce into a website can be done in 2–4 hours.
How do they make money? They sell great looking professional themes to build your store with. They also sell tons of premium extensions allowing for more customized processes like bookings, table-rate shipping and dynamic pricing.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #3: Simple Social Share
People sharing your blog posts and articles to social networks is an important part of getting noticed online. To do so you need a way of allowing your readers to easily like or share your content. I tell clients that Simple Social Share is my favorite free WordPress plugin for social sharing. Despite the turnover of social sharing plugins, Simple Social Share has been my free go-to for a couple years. This plugin has really held up in comparison to others. The process is easy to follow, all of the prominent social networks are included as options and it’s been kept up-to-date.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #4: Insert HTML Snippet
This is one of the lesser-known free WordPress plugins featured in this list. I use it on every site I build. It adds a place to easily manage content that is used in multiple places of a website. For example, a phone number with a link to call through mobile phones <a href=”tel:555-555-5555″>555-555-5555</a>. The phone number gets placed in a shortcode that simplifies it to look like this: [phone-number]. In the event the phone number changes, it can be changed in one place, and it changes it everywhere throughout the website. This process works well for ad blocks, taglines and sidebar elements.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #5: Jetpack
Jetpack isn’t just a plugin—it’s a suite of plugins built by WordPress. It has to be featured in any “best free WordPress plugin” article simply because of how immense it is. It’s got about 35 options added into one interface that include:
- mathematical markup
- image carousel
- social commenting
- contact form
- custom CSS
- custom content types
- enhanced distribution
- extra sidebar widgets
- Gravatar hovercards
- infinite scroll
- JSON API
- social likes
- WP manage
- data backups
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #6: Advanced Custom Fields
This plugin is the most complex of the free WordPress plugins listed. It’s more for people building custom WordPress websites. ACF simplifies the process in making advanced fields. ACF lets you integrate custom content throughout your WordPress website. Paired with custom post types, this custom fields plugin can do some amazing things.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #7: Better Font Awesome
Better Font Awesome allows you to easily integrate icons into the verbiage of your website. This is very useful in menus, headers and call-to-actions. Better Font Awesome streamlines the process of adding these icons by integrating a point-and-click drop-down into the text editor of your post. It also has a search bar to simplify the process of looking through hundreds of icons.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #8: Duplicate Posts
Sometimes it’s easier to start a new post by duplicating one you’ve already written. I do this often using pre-drafted templates. I create several post templates that are meant to be starting points for different kinds of articles. When I need one, I clone it and repopulate it with unique content. With the Duplicate Posts plugin, cloning a post into a new draft is point-and-click. Duplicate Posts also comes in handy for filling a website full of placeholder content.
Best Free WordPress Plugins – #9: W3 Total Cache
If you’re on the quest for making your WordPress website run faster, the importance of caching will come up again and again. In general, caching is the process of creating a precompiled version of your website rather than looking at the database to see what content should be populated onto a specific page. Think of it as having the right piece of paper to read in your hand vs. having to going to the filing cabinet, looking through stacks of paper and then reading the content. Having the website ready via caching makes it load faster. W3 Total Cache simplifies this process while allowing tons of additional complexity if needed.
**Tip: Call your hosting provider and ask if they have a pre-made import file with the correct W3 Total Cache settings for their hosting environment. Oftentimes they do.
Hopefully, this article introduced you to a free plugin or two that can be added to your arsenal of WordPress tools.
This article will be updated with changes as new plugins emerge and current plugins become replaced. Make sure to join below for updates! 🙂