9 Awesome And Free WordPress Plugins For 2017
Today thanks to platforms like WordPress everyone can create their own website. Knowing how to code is not essential anymore although it definitely helps. In this post, i will mention some of the best free WordPress plugins that i have personally used in my websites. In the list below i don’t mention any SEO plugins. Both All in One SEO and Yoast SEO are great plugins. The discussion for which one is better it never really ends. Honestly, it reminds me the discussion about who is better Iron Maiden or Metallica? It’s a matter of personal taste and it’s just a choice.
But not all plugins are the same. Some plugins can actually be harmful to your website. Before you install any plugins check if they are compatible with the WordPress version you are using, look for reviews, if they have good ratings and check support forums to see how they are working for other people. Also, you have to remember that too many plugins can slow your site down. My advice to you is every time you install and activate a new plugin check your site speed with Google’s Pagespeed Insights. If it is too heavy for your website and affects your site’s speed you should look for another one.
If you decide to create a website using WordPress you have to use plugins. Currently, there are about 50,000 WordPress plugins available and their number is increasing. So, you can be sure that there is a plugin ready to fulfill each and every one of your needs. Not only they can add extra functions on your website and make it stand out from the rest but they are also essential for things like SEO, speed, security, social sharing etc.
Many of them are premium but there also many awesome plugins that are completely free. Usually, the majority of plugins that are free also have a premium version. Those plugins are called freemium.
Choosing the right plugin can be a little tricky. With so many options you might get overwhelmed. Below i don’t just list some free plugins. I share the ones that are very easy to use and customize. So, if you just created your first website with WordPress i believe you will find the following list interesting.
Best Free WordPress Plugins
1) Contact Form 7
This is one of the most popular plugins you can use so your visitors can contact you. When it’s easy for people to contact you and ask questions about your products/services it will be easier for you to build a more trustworthy experience with your audience. Plus it enhances the user’s experience.
It’s easy to install, use and customize. Also, with this plugin, you will be able to add multiple contact forms to your website and it supports CAPTCHA.
2) Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin will generate an XML sitemap for your website. Although you can also do that with your SEO plugin (All In One SEO or Yoast SEO) it’s a nice alternative if you are not satisfied with that. A sitemap helps search engines like Google, Bing etc, to better index your site. It’s easier for the search bots to crawl your site, view its structure and retrieve the results efficiently if you have a sitemap. So, having a sitemap is a must. You can also use the sitemap generated from this plugin in your Google Search Account.
It’s considered to be the best plugin for generating an XML sitemap. All you have to do is pretty much to install it and activate it. Basically, that’s it. Every time you publish something new on your website it will notify the search engines.
3) W3 Total Cache
Site speed is a very important part of user’s experience. If your website is slow people will not visit it again and your Google rankings will drop. Using a caching plugin is a very effective way of improving your website’s total performance. Caching is basically storing the data of your website temporarily in the cache. The purpose of doing that is to decrease the amount of time it will take to load a page of your site when a new visitor will open that page. In order to do that you need a WordPress caching plugin.
Personally, i have tried many caching plugins and the best results i got was with W3 Total Cache. I have tried the 5 best and most popular plugins that are available for free and the results were not as good as with this plugin. Generally speaking, is considered to be the best WordPress caching plugin right now. Some of its features are page cache, browser caching, object caching, database caching and much more. You can minify and compress your CSS and JS files and integrate CDN services.
The only disadvantage i can think of using this plugin is the number of settings that are available. Although the majority of the settings are preset and don’t require you to do anything there are still plenty ways to customize it. That can be overwhelming for new users without any prior experience. But fear not. There are plenty of online guides like this one for example that can show you how to use it.
4) EWWW Image Optimizer
We all know how important visual marketing is. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is something we have all heard before. Images can be a very powerful tool and without them, your website or your blog will look boring. You only have a couple of seconds to get people”s attention when they visit your site and a beautiful image can help you with that. If are struggling to find the images you want you should check my post about 10 of the best free stock photo websites.
But uploading images straight to your website without optimizing them first can really slow down your site. This is something you should never do. You must always compress your images first. Ewww Image Optimizer is perfect for that. This is truly a “set it and forget it” type of plugin. All you have to do is activate it. Once you do that it will automatically optimize every image you upload on your website. If you already have images and photos in your website that are not optimized all you need to do is click the “Bulk Optimize” tool. It will compress all of them at once. That might take some time depending on the number of images you already have. But that’s it. That’s how easy it is.
I have personally used that plugin and i can tell you it works perfectly every time. And i can also tell you that it will make a difference in your site’s speed.
5) Broken Link Checker
If your visitors click on your links and they found out they don’t work they will simply leave. Not only but they will probably never come back again. So, a broken link is not only bad from the user’s experience perspective but it can also cost you money. They can also prevent search engines from crawling your website effectively.
One of the best ways to deal with that is to use the Broken Link Checker plugin. It’s probably the best and one of the most popular plugins in that category. It can detect links that don’t work, images that are missing and it will notify you either via email or in your WordPress dashboard. Also, it can prevent search engines from following the broken links on your site.
It’s very easy to use and no matter how many links you have on your website it will always do its job. All you have to do is to install it and it will take care of everything on its own.
6) WP Product Review Lite
Have you ever Googled for a product review and saw these rating stars in the SERPs? Do you also write reviews on your website and you want them to appear like that in the search engines? Well, you can do that with this plugin.
After you install and activate it your reviews will display rating stars in Google’s search results. It’s very easy to customize it. You can choose where you want to display your review box inside your post. I recommend placing it at the end of your posts. You can also list the pros and cons inside the review box and interact with your readers in a more efficient way.
7) MashShare Social Media Share Buttons
Social media is on the best ways to promote your website for free. The number of people that are using them is constantly increasing. Social media marketing can help you increase your traffic and your popularity within your target audience. There is no better way to do that than a social media plugin like MashShare.
It’s very easy to customize. There are basically six main areas like Networks, Visual, Position etc, where you can make all the changes you want. And in case you had a bad experience with other social media buttons slowing down your website you don’t have to worry about that anymore. MashShare doesn’t use any external scripts so your site’s speed will not be affected it.
Alternative: If for whatever reason MashShare doesn’t work for you try Easy Social Sharing. It’s also free and one of the best social media sharing plugins for WordPress.
Making your website as secure as possible should always be in your mind. There are of course many security plugins available but Wordfence is one of the best. Some of the things it offers are live traffic monitoring, firewall protection, blocking, security scanning, log in security etc. It can also block IP addresses from bots trying to access your site.
It has a premium version too.
This is the perfect plugin to manage 301 redirects and your 404 errors. There is probably nothing more annoying for your visitors than clicking a link and ending up on a non-existent page. With this plugin not only you will know when a visitor lands on a page that doesn’t exist anymore but you will also be able to redirect them to the right page. It will automatically add a 301 redirect when a post URL changes.
It’s particularly useful if you want to migrate pages from an old website to a new one or if you want to change the permalink of some of your posts/pages and you don’t want your readers to land on a page that says 404 error. It’s an incredibly reliable plugin and it is widely recommended.
There are many great free plugins that are missing from this list. But even if i create a list of the 100 best free plugins it still won’t be good enough. What i tried to do with this post is offer some free WordPress plugins that can be used no matter what your website is about. Also, the plugins mentioned here are easy to use and customize. That means that if just created your website or blog in WordPress you probably don’t have much experience on how to use more complex plugins.
That’s why i believe this list can help you and perhaps answer some of your questions.
Finally, don’t forget to update your plugins regularly and delete the ones you no longer use or need.
Leave me a comment below and tell me what are your favorite plugins. Which one do you consider to be the best WordPress plugin?
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