WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the Web. Renowned for its ease of use and wide-ranging variety of themes, plugins and customizations, WordPress powers over 26% of the Web. Each day, over 500 new sites are created on WordPress. Running WordPress on your own web hosting opens the door to the over 44,000 plugins available that help your site do almost anything you want. From enhancing your site’s social media integration, to offering event management capacities to providing a business-worthy contact management database, WordPress plugins can create a substantial site infrastructure with just one click to install.
While a large number of commercial plugins are available for sale and download, some of the best and most useful WordPress plugins are completely free. We’ve laid out some of the most useful here.
Produced by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com hosted sites, JetPack is a must-have, completely free package of the most useful features of WordPress.com for your own self-hosted site. JetPack provides thorough statistics for your WordPress website and the tools for you to gain new readers; it provides users the ability to subscribe to your site and receive new posts via email. While there are a large number of social sharing plugins available for WordPress – many of them high quality – you can launch sharing on your site right away when you install JetPack. One of JetPack’s most useful features is its handling of images. You don’t need to rely on your web hosting’s capacity to serve images when you’ve enabled JetPack; you have access to the WordPress content delivery network to serve your images, speeding up service and reducing costs. JetPack also includes a number of attractive and visually interesting ways of laying out images inside posts, including professional image galleries. The plugin is frequently updated; it’s an essential part of most modern WordPress websites.
2. Wordfence Security
It’s no surprise that with the growing popularity of WordPress comes growing concerns about malware, viruses and hacked websites. There are a large number of malware threats to WordPress sites; with an open-source code base and tens of thousands of plugins interacting with the site, many of which are infrequently updated, it can definitely be possible for hackers and malware developers to find or create holes in the system. The most downloaded WordPress security plugin, Wordfence prevents hacking attempts, monitors traffic on your website, and alerts you immediately in case of any unexpected or unauthorized changes to your site. One of the best things about Wordfence is that it is completely free. While the creators of Wordfence offer a professional version of the plugin, the free version is in no way hampered or undermined. This is a fully functional security system for your WordPress website. Wordfence keeps your site secure by blocking security threats and identifying malicious traffic, checking the strength of your passwords, and providing a free security scan that thoroughly inspects your website’s files. In today’s WordPress world, malware defense is invaluable. Wordfence is the best, easiest, and most popular option to provide the security you need.
There are many great programs and services to contact clients, supporters and customers over email; however, many of these services require you to pay when your number of subscribers exceeds a relatively small number. Newsletter is a one-of-a-kind program that enables you to create a real, functioning, integrated newsletter system that interacts with your website. You can build your list, send and track email delivery and response, all completely free. Newsletter has a drag-and-drop editor that allows you to easily edit the emails you send to subscribers. You’re allowed unlimited subscribers and emails, and have access to full tracking statistics and data. There’s nothing else like this for WordPress today, and if you’re building a significant list with a budget-conscious site, you can’t miss the Newsletter plugin.
4. Yoast SEO
One of the most widely-downloaded plugins for WordPress, Yoast SEO helps to maximize views and drive traffic to your site using the science of search engine optimization. While WordPress is engineered for good search engine results for relevant content, Yoast SEO is one of the longest-running plugins that works to improve your site’s search results in all areas. It allows you to preview how your new WordPress page or post will appear in search results; this way, you can determine whether your title is too long or whether your introductory information or excerpt is appropriate. This plugin creates new XML sitemaps for your site and automatically notifies Google and Bing, helping to ensure that your site is fully indexed at the most popular search engines. This is a key plugin to maximize the visibility of your new WordPress site.
5. W3 Total Cache
In order to enhance the speed and deliverability of your WordPress site, there’s nothing better than an excellent cache plugin, and W3 Total Cache is one of the best and completely free. Many web hosting companies recommend this software; it reduces demand as well as speeding up your user’s experience. You can cut bandwidth usage up to 80% while reaching an increasing number of users with this plugin. One of the most important aspects in keeping new viewers at your site is a speedy, responsive site experience. Your WordPress site can quickly become bulky when you create thousands of pages and use dozens of hard-working plugins. W3 Total Cache makes all of that invisible to the user, who experiences a speedy website that encourages readers to stick around, view more content and trust your site’s reliability.
As a WordPress site owner, there will undoubtedly be countless valuable plugins and exciting themes that make the most of the open-source software platform. These five are some of the best we’ve used; we hope you enjoy your experience with them on your own site and find some more excellent free plugins to add to your own favorites list!