The 18 Best Free WordPress Plugins Available in November 2014
by Tom Ewer on
Navigating the world of WordPress plugins can be overwhelming, which is exactly why I have produced this list.
Below you will find my personal picks of the best free WordPress plugins available for beginner bloggers. They’re all well supported and regularly updated, and at one point or another I have used all of them.
If you find a plugin you’d like to use but you don’t know what to do next, we’ve got you covered with our in-depth tutorial on installing WordPress plugins.
If you’re looking for a particular type of functionality that you can’t find below, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll try to help you out. Finally, you can expect this list to be added to on an ongoing basis, so don’t forget to check back in regularly!
The 18 Best WordPress Plugins Available in October 2014
This list of the best free WordPress plugins is sorted by alphabetical order rather than any kind of ranking order. To put it another way, they’re all as awesome as each other!
This is the daddy of comments spam-prevention plugins. All you need is a free WordPress.com account, and Akismet will ensure that the vast majority of spam comments never reach your blog.
If you want to further encourage visitors to share your content, Digg Digg is arguably the best option out there. It enables you to add a myriad of sharing buttons in many different ways across your site. My favorite is the ‘floating bar’ option.
If you want to sell digital downloads (like e-books, PDFs, audio files, etc.) on your site, you should take a look at Easy Digital Downloads. It enables you to turn your WordPress website into a digital downloads store far easier than you might imagine. The core plugin is free, with function-specific extensions costing more.
If you’re writing, scheduling and publishing a lot of content on your blog, Editorial Calendar makes it far easier to keep track of everything. I use it here on Beginner Blogging and it makes my life a lot easier!
You’ll soon learn that Joost de Valk (otherwise known as Yoast) has created some of the very best free WordPress plugins out there, and Google Analytics by Yoast is no exception. If you want to track visitors to your site and discover their behaviour, Google Analytics is the best tool to enable you to do so, and Google Analytics by Yoast is the best plugin to integrate the necessary analytics code into your WordPress blog (not to mention the additional features).
Akismet doesn’t always work for everyone, in which case, you should add this plugin into the mix. The combined efforts of the two plugins should do the trick.
This is arguably the best free WordPress plugin available. Its feature set is unparalleled — with Jetpack you can create contact forms and social media sharing buttons, automatically publish new posts to your social media accounts, monitor your blog’s uptime, create a mobile theme for your site with one click, and much more. I see it as a must-have for just about any blogger.
If you’re keen to bolster your site’s security, Login Lockdown is an effective (yet simple) solution. In a nutshell, it will block multiple login attempts from the same machine – a common strategy used by ‘bots’ to gain brute force access to websites.
If you get into affiliate marketing, you’ll want this plugin – it enables you to ‘mask’ links to other sites with a URL pointing to your own site. For example, you could mask a link to ‘http://www.productsite.com/affiliate-product/’ to look like ‘http://www.yoursite.com/likes/affiliate-product/’ to the user. There is a premium version of this plugin available, but you should be okay with the free version.
WordPress search isn’t as good as it could be, and Relevanssi is the best search plugin for WordPress, period. There’s a premium version, but unless you have relatively advanced needs, the free version will probably do everything that you need.
If you need to put a table on your site (like a ranking list or a spreadsheet), TablePress is the premier option. It’s quite incredible that this plugin is free, so if you find it useful, be sure to make a donation to the developer!
There are a wealth of free backup plugins available for WordPress, but BackWPup is considered by most who matter to be the best. It enables you to schedule automatic backups of your blog via FTP or to cloud services like Dropbox, all with a minimum of fuss. There is also a premium version available if you are interested in more advanced features.
WooCommerce is the WordPress industry standard when it comes to e-commerce. If you’re looking to sell physical goods on your website, WooCommerce comes recommended by an enormous number of WordPress users. Like Easy Digital Downloads, the core plugin is free, with function-specific extensions costing more.
This is the daddy of WordPress SEO plugins. It’s probably far more powerful than you’ll ever need it to be, so be careful to not get too wrapped up in its myriad of features and functions!
If you’re just starting out with your blog, you may not want to reveal your site and its contents for all to see. In that case, your best bet is to install a ‘maintenance mode’ plugin, which will hide your site behind an ‘under construction’ or ‘coming soon’ page. WP Maintenance Mode is the best plugin of its type, enabling you to create a customizable page that people will see when they hit your site, while you continue to work on your blog behind the scenes.
This is the only plugin you need when it comes to importing, merging and displaying RSS and Atom feeds on your WordPress blog. The free version is relatively limited, but premium add-ons with specific features are available at a reasonable price. This means that you don’t end up paying dollars for features you don’t want!
If you’d like to give your site a little speed boost (never a bad thing), WP Smush.it is a great option. It will compress all of the images on your site without any loss in quality. You’ve got nothing to lose by using it!
Including related posts at the bottom of your blog posts is a great way of keeping people engaged with your content, and when it comes to making it happen, YARPP is your best choice. Don’t let the name put you off – YARPP is a seriously powerful tool. In fact, as far as I am concerned, it is the best free related posts plugin available for WordPress.
If you feel that a worthy candidate is missing from our best free WordPress plugins list, please do not hesitate to share your suggestion in the comments section below. We’ll carefully consider your suggestion and let you know what we think!
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a specific type of functionality for your WordPress blog and you can’t find a solution within the free plugins above, let us know in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to help you out.
Photo Credit: Bill Selak