16 of the Best Free WordPress Plugins You Must Use in 2016

36 Best Free WordPress Plugins You Must Use in 2016

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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-yoast

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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-floating-social-bar

Alternatives

  • 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.

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.

wordpress_plugins_gravity-forms-alternatives-contact-form-7

Alternatives

  • 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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-updraft-plus

Alternatives

  • 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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-sucuri-security

Alternatives

  • 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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-pagebuilder

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

wordpress-plugins-wp-smush

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.).

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.

wordpress-plugins-yarpp

Alternatives

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.

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.

wordpress-plugins-w3-cache

Alternative

  • 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
  • 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.

18 comments

  1. Thank you for this article. I did not know there were WP security plug ins, thank you, thank you, Thank YOU! but hindsight is 20/20. I will be implementing some of these and testing other out to see what fits best for me. Quick question: (i posted on here with no response yet https://www.maketecheasier.com/clean-up-wordpress-database/)

    If my site was compromised with a 3rd party plugin , how do i clean it up post attack? specifically the database? Now that the plugins have been updated or disabled what is the best way to clean up the WP database? I have no SQL knowledge and not sure where to begin, any help would be appreciated

    • @Rafi, it really depends on what kind of compromise and how it has affected your database. Without the detail, it is very difficult to point you to the correct solution.

      • ok Damien here goes, I will try to be detailed and still concise. When my wifes site was compromised she could not login to wp-admin. As it was due to plugins not being updated I had to start the troubleshooting there get everything disabled and updated. Got her back up and running after all holes patched, except the damage was done on the back end.
        When i logged in via FTP to the host server I saw TONS of superfluous text files and folders all over the place that were not part of WordPress or her content. randomly checking some of the files I could tell they were serial number/keys related info for numerous software applications, it look like the hackers used her site as a repository for hosting WAREZ crap. I started nuking entire directories I knew were junk. its approx 95% cleaned up from the junk files and folders I am pretty sure. But when I look at the some of the remaining .php pages or legit files using a text editor (notepadd++) I can see bunch of random characters instead of clear .php code. – an indication it was hacked. The same garbled characters are in the SQL database of course. None of this is currently affecting her visitors but I have read that some of the .js files themselves can create false positives, however in our case its much more pervasive albeit innocuous. If it helps her site is http://homesteadschooled.com/ thanks in advance.

        Will simply one of these clean up everything and fix my problems?
        https://www.maketecheasier.com/clean-up-wordpress-database/

        Lastly I know this is somewhat off topic so I wont mind if you delete it (hopefully after some guidance or advice is given) I have already posted on the wordpress.org /.com support forums but they are obviously flooded and I have had no response to my posts there. I understand I am a small fish in a very big pond and I dont expect any replys from the wordpress support forums at this point. Happy New Year and keep up the great work on MTE!!!

        Regards,
        Raphael

  2. For SMTP mail plugin, I would suggest you take a look at “Postman SMTP Mailer/Email Log”. This is awesome and works flawlessly on my site at https://dailybeautytalk.com. See its rating, 4.9/5.0 of more than 200 ratings. I think it is the best of its kind. Please check it out.

  3. Hello guys,

    First of all this isn’t spamming or robot writing. I just think this would fit well with the topic
    Well we just released our plugin called Adminyo – Intelligent WP Admin
    and it features quite a lot of bold and unique tools to speed and ease time while working inside the Admin Area.

    His main powers are:
    Quick Search – It will display a organized list of your results while your are typing. You also get 3 buttons near every result so you can edit,view or create a shortcut on your dashboard of the desired result.
    Pin to Dashboard – Create shortcuts of your most viewed or edited posts so you can instantly start working after you login. It supports all Custom Post Types.
    Floating Action Button – It will add a nice fixed action button on the edit pages so you can update,view,pin or scroll on top right at your finger tip.
    Misc. Tools – Adds small functions such as CTRL+S to save your progress in any of the post types, CTRL+D that will get you to the dashboard from anywhere or just customize your Admin menu with a auto-collapse function or completly hiding it.

    For more informations , demo or simply check some GIF’s please visit us at http://www.bit.do/adminyo

    We are really looking forward on developing this plugin and make it based on the community’s wishes and frustrations so any helpfull advice or idea may come to life.

    Thanks for your time and have a great day reader!

  4. I also recommend everyone to try SEO smart link plugin. Its a very powerful tool to help you manage your non-existing pages. Remove all the hassle for you automatically… (And minimize emails from people about your site having 404 errors) lol…

  5. My list of must have worpdress plugin includes;
    Backup&restore Amazon s3-https://wordpress.org/plugins/backup-amazon-s3/
    Landing pages-https://wordpress.org/plugins/landing-pages-leads-analytics-seo-content/
    Related content-https://wordpress.org/plugins/related-content/
    custom login form-https://wordpress.org/plugins/login-form/
    Seo posts content -https://wordpress.org/plugins/content-links/

  6. Great article with full of vast information and resources! Many of the plugins in this post are quite familiar to me, just as many were new to me. Yoast SEO and WP Smush is the best plugin that I have good experience with and use on many clients’ sites. Thanks to added this post into your blog!

  7. SEO Post conetnt Links by WPAdm.This the best tool which works in a suitable way. Alot useful.

  8. I think you have shared some popular wordpress plugin and they are really awesome. I have also done some valuable plugin for you. Here is my favorite plugin list>>>>>>>

    Contact Form 7

    W3 Total Cache

    Jetpack by WordPress.com

    Yoast SEO

    WP Super Cache

    All in One SEO Pack

    Akismet

    Google XML Sitemaps

    No Follow All External Links

    Noindex duplicate page types

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