Essential Free WordPress Plugins Every Site Owner Should Have

Let’s get started with some of the most widely used and essential plugins that every site owner should have, including SEO, speed enhancement, analytics, search, security and anti-spamming plugins.

1. Yoast SEO

Managing SEO for every single page is not an easy thing to do and it takes a lot of effort and time to do it manually. Yoast SEO makes the task easier and provides users with the tools they need to ensure better and more search engine optimized content. The plugin guides users through the process and aims for sustainable SEO.  That’s why it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular SEO plugins that help get more visitors from Google and Bing. It’s available as both free and paid version, which costs $89 per site and is worth every penny. The premium version supports up to five keywords per page (free plugin only optimizes one keyword/page), while it also supports Google, Twitter and Facebook page previews (free only supports Google preview). There are also no ads in the premium version, which obviously results in a better user experience. NOTE:  It’s highly recommended to block search engines from indexing categories, tags and date archives. This helps avoid post duplication and ensures that search engines only index quality pages. You can do so while setting up Yoast SEO (or later through settings) by checking the ‘no index’, ‘hide’ and ‘follow’ checkboxes. View Details

2.  Jetpack

Jetpack combines some great features and is backed by the same people behind WordPress. It brings a lot to the table, including security and performance enhancement features, image optimization, traffic growth, look and feel and more. The enhanced distribution tools share published content automatically to 3rd party services, including search engines, while the built-in site-map creation tool also comes handy. It enhances security and helps prevent brute force attacks and also monitors and instantly notifies about issues related to downtime. Although the free version offers a lot of features, users who need search engine optimization tools, advertising program, spam filtering, malware and threat scanning, site backup and restore, high-speed HD video hosting and an ad-free experience can opt for the paid version that costs $3.5/month (or $39/year). The paid version also includes priority support and more than 100 starter themes. View Details

3.  Akismet

Akismet is one of the default WordPress plugins and serves as an anti-spam filter that analyzes comments and filter out spam. It notifies users when a spam-like comment is detected and provides a status history. Monthly plans are available for commercial sites and include advanced features and more robust security options. Pricing for the paid plugin starts from $5/month/site, while the enterprise plugin costs $50/month for unlimited sites. The plugin uses advanced learning technologies to help users fight spam and constantly evolves to offer better anti-spamming capabilities. View Details

4.  Relevanssi Search

If you want more features and customization options than the default WP search, Relevanssi is a great option. Not only if offers better search results, it also presents them in a better way and enhances user experience. The free version works extremely well but there is also a premium version which includes a lot more features such as multisite support and costs $49.95 for personal sites and $79.95 for commercial sites. Both plans support unlimited sites and include one year free upgrades and support. The lifetime license is also available for $219.95 and includes lifetime upgrades and support for unlimited sites. View Details

5.  Search Meter

Search Meter is a plugin primarily meant for those who already have a search box on their blog. The plugin keeps a record of what people have been searching and the phrases or keywords that returned no results. This can prove to be very helpful in identifying potential keywords, while search statistics help manage information more efficiently. This allows site owners to give searchers what they are looking for by writing posts based on the keywords they have been searching. The plugin also provides the option to show visitors the most common or recent searches using a configurable widget. View Details

6.  WP Super Cache

This plugin is meant to increase performance by generating static HTML files from relatively heavier dynamic files. The plugin displays the static HTML file instead of PHP scripts and will drastically speed up your website and will especially help websites which are on shared web hosting, if you are using a Managed WordPress hosting provider such as WPEngine, these hosts will often provide their own caching plugin or solution so you should check with them before using it as it may interfere with their system. Every single WordPress website should use a caching plugin, there are premium plugins available but for free this one does an extremely capable job and you will notice the benefits immediately. View Details

7.  Really Simple CAPTCHA

As the name implies, if you are looking for a basic and easy-to-use CAPTCHA plugin, then this plugin would get the job done. However, it does not offer a lot of functionality and security features, and you have to look elsewhere if that’s your priority. The plugin focuses on users who just want a hassle-free CAPTCHA plugin without worrying about potential conflicts and incompatibilities. The CAPTCHA’s are also fairly simple and do not require any brain power from visitors. View Details

8.  Redirection

Redirection not only helps manage 301 redirections and 404 errors in a better way, but it’s also very effective while migrating from an old site or changing the WP installation directory. It also acts as an effective affiliate link cloaking and management system. The plugin is available for free and features 404 error monitoring, custom pass-through, WP CLI support, login-status/referrer/user-agent based redirects and universal redirects (also redirects pages that exist). Redirection stats show redirection count, time and other important information, while the plugin is also available in different languages and is fully localized. View Details

9.  All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets plugins provide search engines with concrete and precise information to display in result snippets and help sites stand out from the crowd. The snippets include photos, rating, author, price and other important information and are very effective in grabbing reader’s attention. Rich snippets help readers decide whether the information inside is helpful without actually opening the page. The plugin supports a variety of Schema types, including review, people, event, recipe, product, app, articles and video, while books, local business and breadcrumbs are expected in the future releases. View Details

10.  Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Images are a great asset of any blog and essential for an engaging visual experience. But they can take quite some space in the long run and you may eventually run out of server storage space (especially if you are on a budget plan). WP Smush helps deal with the issue by compressing images without reducing quality. It supports JPEG, PNG and GIF formats and optimizes them using advanced compression tech. The plugin can be used to auto-compress all the uploaded images, while users can also Smush images manually.

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