With over 40,000 free plugins available in the WordPress repository, there is no shortage to the amount on functionality you can add to your website by installing one of them.
However, it can also be difficult to sort out the great ones from the bad ones, so we are giving you a list of the best plugins that you must have in the most essential categories. We also list an alternative for many of the categories.
All the plugins considered here are free and can be installed on your website within a few moments.
Best SEO Plugin
WordPress SEO by Yoast is the most revered SEO plugin for WordPress. Takes care of Title tags, XML sitemaps, meta descriptions, focus keyword and much more.
Alternative: All in One SEO Pack is another highly recommended plugin with over 1 million active installs. Provides advanced SEO for WP e-commerce websites, Google Analytics support, title optimization and much more.
Best Social Sharing Plugin
There are plenty of social sharing plugins, but if you are looking for one that just works and supports a big array of social networks, then the Floating Social Bar is what you need. It adds the essential sharing options to your WordPress website without slowing it down.
- Shareaholic – Highly customisable and supports Share and Follow buttons for several social media platforms. Also adds a “Related Posts” feature if you need it.
- Sharify – Adds beautiful and responsive sharing buttons to your website. Also comes with built-in caching support to reduce server load.
Best Contact Form Plugin
Contact Form 7 has to be the best in this category. It is easy to install, setup and use. It also allows you to add multiple forms to your website with AJAX and CAPTCHA support.
- Ninja Forms – Neat form plugin with a drag and drop interface for easy creation of forms. Functionality can be extended using premium plugins.
- Pirate Forms – Comes with built-in widget and shortcode support.
Best Backup Plugin
Updraft Plus is highly recommended to back up your site. You can back up to multiple locations, split backups or schedule automatic backups. Many more features are included as well.
- BackWPUp – Comes with multi-site support and allows you to make your backups in several formats (such as zip, tar.gz, etc.).
- BackUpWordPress – Highly rated on the WordPress repository.
Best Security Plugin
Sucuri Security offers a wealth of security options such as Security Activity Monitoring, Malware Scanning, Blacklist Monitoring, and Security Hardening. It is probably the best plugin for monitoring your site without slowing it down.
- WordFence Security – Offers two-factor authentication, integrity checking and real-time blocking of known attackers among other useful features.
- All in One WP Security and Firewall – Gives your site a “Security score” based on the options you have activated on your website and helps you improve on that score.
Best Page Builder Plugin
The page builder plugin is useful if you are not technical and need to create custom layout for particular pages. Page Builder by SiteOrigin is the most advanced free page builder plugin for WordPress. Period.
Best Image Optimization Plugins
There are a few plugins in this category.
WP Smush helps you to reduce your image size (by stripping unnecessary information from your images without quality loss) and make sure your site loads faster. Alternative to this include EWWW Image Optimizer and Kraken Image Optimizer
Regenerate Thumbnails is another image optimization plugin that helps you regenerate thumbnail sizes for image attachments after you altered thumbnail dimensions.
BJ Lazy Load does not optimize your images. In fact, it hides all your images and only loads them as the user scrolls through the page. This plugin can help you save bandwidth and make sure your website loads fast. BJ Lazy Load supports responsive images as well as iframe (such as Youtube embed, etc.).
Best Related Posts Plugin
Yuzo – Related Posts is highly recommended as it can display related posts to your stories with different features of text and image size. Best of all, it doesn’t slow down the site.
- Inline related Posts – Displays related articles inline with your content instead of below the articles.
- Manual Related Posts – This plugin allows you to manually add related posts to a post.
Notable mention: Many consider Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) to be the best post related plugin with one of the most complete algorithms to find related posts. The con is that it can be very resource-intensive for a heavy site, and that’s why we don’t rever to it as the best here.
Best Caching Plugin
Caching your site is the best way to make sure your site loads fast and the server does not go down when there is a sudden spike in traffic. W3 Total Cache is probably the most advanced (and free) caching plugin available for WordPress.
- WP Super Cache is the next most well-known caching plugin after W3 Total Cache. If you just need a simple caching mechanism, then WP Super Cache is strongly recommended over W3 total cache
Other Useful Plugins
- Broken Link Checker – Monitors the links in your posts and notifies you if there are any broken links.
- Edit Flow – Improves organization of your website’s contributors and offers a calender to view scheduled content.
- WP Mail SMTP – Reconfigures the native WordPress mail function to use SMTP and make sure all your outgoing emails reaches their destination.
- JetPack – Brings the best parts of WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress. Highly recommended, though it can be overly bloated.
- Askimet – Prevents comment spam on your website.
Have you got other favourite WordPress plugins that you just cannot do without? Let us know in the comments section below.