WordPress has come a long way and so has the plugins directory. Many of the plugins are as old as WordPress itself. The directory is only growing bigger and better.

But as a beginner, it is virtually impossible to go through each and every one of them to find the best available option.

My only goal of writing this post is to help beginners quickly set up a WordPress blog and equip their blog with the very best of the available options.

I remember struggling for days just to find a plugin as there are lots of options. Sometimes, beginners often end up paying for a plugin despite many free and better options available.

I’m going to list out the very best of freely available WP plugins. Because, if you’re just starting off, it’s better to save those extra bucks.

Most of the blogs often list affiliate products at the top of their blogs.

I don’t mean to say that they are not useful. Obviously, these plugins are worth every penny. But if you’re a beginner, I won’t recommend you jump into paid options as you will hardly be able to get the most out of them.

In my 15 years of experience, the plugin repository has only been growing.

However, having many plugins in your WordPress blog is not advisable. You should avoid using plugins for simple features.

A healthy number of plugins for a blog should be around 12 in my opinion. But It depends on how big your site is. 

For instance, I am using Easy Digital Downloads for my WordPress themes store and BBPress for a support forum, which are not required for a regular blog. However, if you want to have premium digital products, you might need to install these as well.

Here are the 12 must have FREE WordPress plugins for your blog

  1. Yoast SEO / All in One SEO Pack
  2. W3 Total Cache
  3. MonsterInsights
  4. UpdraftPlus
  5. iThemes Security
  6. Smush
  7. Super socializer
  8. MailOptin
  9. Pretty Link Lite
  10. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
  11. Broken Link Checker
  12. WPForms

Some more useful and most popular free WordPress plugins for additional features in your blog

  1. WoCommerce
  2. Easy Digital Downloads
  3. LiveChat
  4. Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed
  5. NextGEN Gallery
  6. Print, PDF, Email by PrintFriendly
  7. Hello Bar
  8. Pin It Button for Images

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

This WordPress SEO plugin helps you with your search engine optimization.

It is one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins and one of the must have WP plugins for your blog.

Although, it won’t fix all the SEO issues as there are so many factors that impact your site’s rank in search engines. But it will definitely help you review your content and help you improve your posts.

In addition, it gives you many helpful insights to improve your writing as well.

Some say the idea of focus keywords and keyword density doesn’t work anymore. So, instead of obsessing about the SEO score provided by the plugin, you should rather use the plugin to improve the quality of your blog posts.

You should:

  1. Focus on the volume and quality of the content. 
  2. Include more semantics
  3. Cover detailed topics
  4. Answer the most asked questions
  5. Have interesting and insightful content
  6. Make it easily readable

Some other useful features of the plugin:

  1. Readability score
  2. Lets you set your SEO title and description
  3. Hints to improve your writing
  4. Generate XML sitemaps
  5. Manage search appearance

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache WordPress theme

Your Site’s speed can be a major ranking factor according to experts. And obviously who likes slow websites right?

W3 Total Cache improves the SEO and user experience of your blog by increasing website performance and reducing load times. 

There are many other great options for website cache and minifications if you want to pay for it. 

But if you are looking for something free, W3 Total cache has surprisingly great results. It definitely is one of the best free WordPress plugins for beginners.

I have used a combination of Autoptimize and WP fastest cache in the past for speed optimization purposes. 

In conclusion, W3 Total cache gave us far better results as per my recent experience. So definitely recommend this one.

MonsterInsights

google analytics for wordpress

First off, knowing your audience is a key to your blog’s success. 

When running a blog you would want to know about your traffic stats like your most visited pages, keywords that are driving website traffic, or where your pages rank for different keywords, etc.

In fact, Google Analytics is a tool that helps you keep track of your website audience.

In this case, Monster Insights will help you easily connect your WordPress site with Google Analytics, so you can start making data-driven decisions to grow your business.

UpdraftPlus

Updraftplus WordPress plugin

It’s always a good idea to keep a backup of your website on a regular basis.

In case you accidentally mess it up or your site’s get hacked you can easily revert it to the last saved version of your website.

UpdraftPlus simplifies backups and restoration. It is the world’s highest-ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin, with over two million currently-active installs.

Backup your files and database backups into the cloud and restore with a single click!

iThemes Security

better wp security

Running a WordPress needs constant security from malware attacks and hackers. You wouldn’t want your site hacked or get infected after you are successfully running your blogging business. It will very badly impact your site’s performance and search engine rankings as well.

IThemes Security helps you protect your website from hackers. It blocks the users from your site if they have too many failed login attempts. So, it definitely is a must have WordPress plugin for bloggers.

  1. prevents wordpress hacks and wordpress malware & many more
  2. wordpress brute force protection
  3. file change detection
  4. Keep bad users away 

Smush

wp smushit WP plugin

Optimizes your images to speed up your website. You can turn on lazy load, resize, compress images.

It makes the image resizing and compressing part of the content creation a whole lot easier.

It can resize large images on the fly without you having to worry about the disk space.

I used to upload very big sized images directly from my cameras which sometimes took upto 5MB or more. But with this plugin i don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Pro version even generates Next-Gen image formats like WebP.

Some of my favorite features of the plugin are:

  • Bulk Smush
  • Image Resizing
  • Lossless Compression
  • Lazy Load

Super socializer

super socializer

Social shares are also one ranking signal search engines use to rank the websites.

Keep your blog post easily shareable in popular social networks.

You can even encourage them to share it by creating interesting content.

You can highlight important quotes, have interesting infographics and provide images that can be easily pinned and look great on your visitor’s pinboard.

Super Socializer with some great features is certainly one of the best social share plugins for your WordPress blog.

It lets you integrate Social Login, Social Share and Social Comments on your blog in the easiest possible way.

MailOptin

mailoptin

According to Backlinko 89% of marketers claim email is their principal lead generation channel.

So it isn’t a bad idea to have a plugin to collect your visitor’s email address.

Give your visitors some reward for signing up for your newsletter. Some free designs, free e-book, or a special offer will do.

An Email popup at the time of the exit also does the trick.

MailOptin is a form, lead generation, autoresponder and email newsletter plugin that will grow and engage your email list.

Please make sure you check out other available options as well, because the plugins directory is constantly updated with new and awesome plugins. But until now MailOptin is the best free option for growing your email list.

Pretty Link

pretty link

Pretty Links helps you shrink, beautify, track, manage, and share any URL on or off of your WordPress website. Create links that look how you want using your own domain name!

Pretty Links enables you to shorten links using your own domain name (as opposed to using tinyurl.com, bit.ly, or any other link shrinking service)! In addition to creating clean links, Pretty Links tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

Having inbound links helps you generate more traffic, increase pageviews and improve search engine rankings of your blog posts.

Serving related posts is a great way of having internal links in your website. They are the most clickable inbound links and help you improve the quality of your blog.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin adds posts related to the current post, introducing your readers to other relevant blog posts.

Broken Link Checker

Broken link checker WP plugin

Broken links are bad for your site’s user experience as well as SEO. It’s always a good idea to keep your blog posts updated and remove broken links.

If you’re just a beginner there won’t be many tasks in hand. But eventually, you will have more content and it will be virtually impossible to manually discover all the broken links in your site

This is where the Broken Link Checker plugin comes in and help you get the job done.

WPForms

wpforms lite WordPress plugin

Instead of giving out your email address to the public, it’s better to have a contact form. 

It will save you from spammers and email attacks.

There are many WordPress Plugins to create forms. But with drag and drop form builder Contact Form by WPForms is the best option.

WooCommerce

woocommerce

If you ever want to sell your own product to your visitors, WooCommerce is the best option available.

WooCommerce lets you easily set up a store for your website where you can sell your products and turn your blog into a full fledged business.

WooCommerce is flexible, open-source and has a very active team behind it. It has evolved into a very powerful store plugin.

Because of its popularity, almost every available WordPress theme supports its use and you can even find premium themes specially designed for WooCommerce.

Easy Digital Downloads

easy digital downloads

Simple Ecommerce for Selling Digital Files

It’s the one i’m using in Pogo Themes as well to sell my WordPress themes.

Easy Digital Downloads is a complete eCommerce solution for selling digital products on WordPress. 

Whether it is software, documents, photos, ebooks, songs, graphics, videos, or any other type of media file, Easy Digital Downloads provides a complete system for effortlessly selling your digital products.

LiveChat

WP live chat software

If you’re running a store on your website then a good support system will definitely help you grow your sales.

To have something your customer can use to quickly contact you will help you know your customers better and eventually improve your products and services.

LiveChat is a great option for that. You might have seen popups with a welcome message in most of the websites. LiveChat WordPress plugin will add the same in your website within a few minutes.

All you have to do is to create a LiveChat account to integrate it with your website.

LiveChat integrates seamlessly with a range of popular third-party apps and services like Zendesk, HubSpot CRM, Mailchimp, and social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed

Almost all personal and entertainment blogs have now moved into social media now. 

So, it is super necessary to have your social media accounts integrated into your blog in 2020, especially when you’re a travel or food blogger. 

And anyway it’s good to keep in touch with your audience through social media. You cannot write blog posts every day but you can post pictures.

This plugin displays your recent Instagram posts from your Instagram account.

NextGEN Gallery

nextgen gallery

NextGEN Gallery has been the industry’s standard WordPress gallery plugin since 2007 and continues to receive over 1.5 million new downloads per year.

It’s easy for simple photo galleries, but powerful enough for the most demanding photographers, visual artists, and imaging professionals.

On the back end, NextGEN offers a complete WordPress gallery management system with the ability to batch upload photos, import metadata, add/delete/rearrange/sort photos, edit thumbnails, group galleries into albums, and more.

Print, PDF, Email by PrintFriendly 

PrintFriendly is used by millions of people everyday to help them save paper and ink when they print and generate PDFs (Good for the environment and peoples wallet!).

You can have custom CSS for your printable PDF. Customize your print template according to your creative need.

Hello Bar

98% of visitors leave your site without taking action. Don’t let your time, money, and traffic-driving efforts go to waste.

Use Hello Bar’s lead generation tools (see: pop-ups) to generate leads, grow your email list, build your social media following, and reduce cart abandonment to enhance your revenue.

With over 500,000 digital marketers, entrepreneurs, and bloggers using Hello Bar, and Forbes Top Ten Digital Marketer Neil Patel behind Hello Bar, Hello Bar is the tool to be trusted. And shockingly easy to use.

Pin It Button for Images

pinterest pin it button on image hover and post

Pin it button on image hover plugin provides facility to pins your blog posts, pages, and images into your Pinterest account boards.

Simply install then activate the plugin and start pinning. You can show or hide pin it button in the post/page.

You can enable or disable pin it button on image hover through the plugin settings tab.

Conclusion

Obviously, these are not the only plugins you should try.

The WordPress plugin directory is always updating and you should definitely try new ones as well. If you’re just a beginner then make sure you go through all the settings and explore these plugins as they have many more options besides their primary features.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t include the popular plugins like TinyMCE Advanced and Classic Editor on my list. 

It is because of the recent Gutenberg updates. They have included Classic editor as one of the design blocks within Gutenberg. WOW! 

And it seems like they have fixed so many past issues and it’s almost perfect now that I will definitely not switch to the classic editor again. And TinyMCE Advanced has little to no use if you’re not using Classic editor.

Let me know what you think and suggest your favorite WordPress plugin. I hope to keep it updated with the newfound best plugins.

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