I have compiled a list of the top 10 free WordPress plugins. Plugins allow you to modify a WordPress website in a variety of ways.
That’s one of the great things about WordPress, utilizing plugins you can create just about any kind of website you want. Their are lots of great plugins to choose from.
These are the WordPress plugins that I personally find the most useful. I install most of them on every website that I develop. All of them work with the current version (3.5.1) and receive regular updates.
Obviously you might disagree with some of my choices, and if you do please post a comment. Let everyone know which plugin you think should have made the list and why.
1. WordPress SEO
This is one of my favorite WordPress plugins. It not only allows you to fully optimize your website for search, it helps make you a better writer.
When you write an article, you choose a focus keyword. The WordPress SEO plugin then analyzes the content you create to make sure it is optimized. There is a snippet preview that shows you what your post or page will look like in the SERPs and where changes need to be made.
2. NextGEN Gallery
NextGen Gallery is the most popular WordPress gallery plugin with over 6.5 million downloads. It has lots of features and a very user friendly interface.
It allows you to do batch uploads of photos and import meta data. You can add, delete, rearrange, sort photos, group galleries into albums, and more.
On the front end your galleries can be displayed as thumbnails or slideshows. There are lots of options for the way either of these views look.
There are also lots of supporting developers for this plugin. As a result, several extension plugins are available which can add even more features.
A very unique social sharing and bookmarking tool. This plugin has several features that can be enabled including sexy bookmarks (see bottom of this page), classic bookmarks, like buttons, share counters, and much more.
Another really cool feature is the social analytics reports. This allows you to see popular pages on your website, referral channels, and who is making those referrals. There is also support for Google Analytics.
This plugin uses W3C compliant code and loads really fast due to being hosted on Amazon’s CDN.
4. The Events Calendar
Create events pages on your website and show them off in either a calendar or events list. Promote your events with the upcoming events widget. Use the Google Maps integration to make it easy for people to get directions.
YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) is another one of my favorite WordPress plugins. It uses a unique algorithm to create a list of posts, pages, and custom post types that are related to the current entry. This allows readers and search engines to find other relevant content on your website.
6. Contact Form 7
Every website needs a contact form. This provides an easy way for readers to send you a message through your website. Out of all the WordPress plugins for doing this, Contact Form 7 is one of the most popular. It has over 9.5 million downloads.
Being simple but flexible, it is very easy to install and setup. There are also several plugin extensions that are recommended for use with it.
Good WordPress plugins that allow your readers to receive email notifications of your blog posts are hard to find. Subscribe2 is the one I like to use.
It allows readers to subscribe by providing just an email, or as part of the registration process for your blog. Once subscribed they can manage subscription options from their profiles. Admins can bulk manage subscribers from inside the admin panel.
There are four different formats that emails can be sent in:
- Plain text excerpt
- Plain text full post
- HTML excerpt
- HTML full post
8. Spam Free WordPress
By Todd Lahman, LLC.
** Update – This plugin no longer works the way it did. You have to “upgrade” to a newer “paid” plugin to get the same functionality. Very disappointed in this bait & switch tactic!! As a result I can no longer recommend the plugin!!
I hate comment spam. Out of all the anti spam WordPress plugins that I have tried this is the best. It is very easy to setup and puts a stop to spammers fast!
Here are some of it’s key features:
- Option to strip HTML from comments (no links = no reason to spam 🙂 )
- Automatically blocks 100% of automated comment spam
- No CAPTCHA
- Saves time by automatically emptying the comment spam folder
- Doesn’t overload the database during heavy spam attacks
9. Very Simple Sitemap
The name says it all. To set this plugin up all you have to do is install and activate it. Then you just create a blank “Sitemap” page and post a short code to it. Both XML and HTML sitemaps update automatically.
I think all websites should have both a XML sitemap for search engines to use, and a HTML sitemap for people. The XML sitemap can be submitted to search engines to help them crawl all of your content. The html sitemap creates a page that people can use to see all of your websites content.
10. Revision Control
By default WordPress saves a copy every time a revision is made to a post or page. This will make your database much larger than it needs to be. The Revision Control plugin gives you the ability to modify this behavior.
It allows the user to set a site wide setting for how many revisions to save. This setting can be changed on a per-post/page basis from the Revisions Meta box.
* Out of all the WordPress plugins I have recommended, this is the only one that doesn’t seem to be updated frequently. It does however work with the current version of WordPress (3.5.1).
What are your favorite WordPress plugins?
If you know of a plugin that is not on this list but should be, please post in the comments below. I am always on the lookout for new and useful WordPress plugins!