14 Free WordPress Plugins to Boost Your Blog
Your new WordPress website can start off a couple steps ahead by having plugins installed that will improve the functionality of your site. I don’t recommend installing a ton of plugins, but by carefully choosing ones that will serve your site you can boost the credibility, appearance, and performance from the beginning. Let’s discuss the best WordPress plugins that you can download for free…
What are Plugins?
Plugins are software extensions that can be used on WordPress websites. These extensions enhance the functionality of native WordPress features. Many bloggers prefer to use plugins to change the needed functions instead of coding them into the backend of their site.
I like to use plugins instead of coding to avoid the risk of breaking my site and to make updates easier for me. It is important not to use too many plugins because they can start to weigh the site down and make it load more slowly.
If you have a quality web host and use the Kadence theme, then that will eliminate the need for many plugins that are usually recommended. This includes backup plugins, SSL plugins, some caching plugins, and additional block plugins for the editor.
14 of the Best Free WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
First, use a good theme that is known to work well with plugins. Kadence is by far the most customizable and user-friendly theme I have used- and it is free. Download it (and its block plugins) here.
**These plugins work with WordPress websites.
Free Security Plugins for WordPress
A good host will help to secure your site, but it is still important to pay attention to spam comments and potential hacker attacks. These free WordPress plugins will help mitigate issues and keep your website on the up and up.
1. AntiSpam Bee
If you have been blogging long, then you are aware of the spam that can flood your blog post comment sections. AntiSpam Bee works to keep spam comments off of your site by analyzing:
- the comment content
- the IP address that the comment was sent from
- and the URL linked to the comment
This plugin also allows you to choose to moderate comments before they show up. Keeping spam out of your comment section helps to improve your website’s quality and credibility.
2. WPS Hide Login
Anyone can attempt to log in to your website admin dashboard if they type your website and add /wp-admin or /wp-login.php. This means that hackers and bots can potentially get into your site if they figure out your username and password combo.
WPS Hide Login allows you to change the /wp-admin portion of your login URL to any custom URL slug that you want. This will make your site more secure by sending a 404 error message to hackers that are attempting to access your website’s login page.
Free Marketing & Promotion Plugins for WordPress
You may have incredible content on your website, but how do you get it in front of an audience? These free WordPress plugins will help you put your content in front of more eyes via in-content ads, social media, post grids, and more.
AdRotate allows you to insert images, videos, or text on specific pages and posts on your website. You can set up your product and freebies advertisements and sign-up forms to show in particular post categories.
For example, on my homesteading website, I have a Livestock Management Binder for sale. An ad for this shows within any of the posts under the Livestock category.
You don’t have to stick with one ad per category, however. AdRotate will do just what its name says- rotate the ads for you. So if you have 3 ads for the same category, a reader may see a new one each time.
This helps to boost sales and sign-ups by putting resources in front of readers who are already interested in whatever topic your product or freebie is based on.
I have used this plugin for years and I am highly satisfied. There are free and Pro versions of AdRotate. You can compare them for yourself here.
4. Content Views
The Content Views plugin is a great way to showcase related posts on your blog posts and pages in a visually appealing way without coding.
**Here is an example from my homesteading website.
This free plugin allows you to configure settings for each view such as:
- Where you want the view to appear- a post or a page
- How the content is selected (category, tags, author, etc.)
- The number of posts to display in the view
- Pagination for grids
- Layout styles
- And more customization options are available depending on what you need.
When you want to showcase a particular view in a post or a page, simply copy and paste the generated shortcode.
Content Views can also be used to show all of your blog posts in a grid format for readers to browse through.
5. Simple Social Icons
Simple Social Icons is a WordPress Plugin that makes adding social media icons to your website easy peasy! Links to your social profiles can be added to the header, footer, sidebar, or any area that supports widgets.
This plugin allows you to customize the appearance of your social media icons by changing the color, size, and shape to match your website’s branding. You can even make the icon change colors when a reader hovers their cursor over it.
6. Grow by MediaVine
Once you get into the Mediavine ad program, then you will be able to use the Grow Social plugin. Grow will allow you to add more customization and functionality to the social sharing options on your blog posts.
It will add a share button directly into your blog posts so readers can share with their friends and family and you can customize the exact images and text that will be shown when people share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Free SEO WordPress Plugins
Search engine optimization is essential for running a profitable blog. These free WordPress SEO plugins can help you rank more quickly and keep your site’s credibility high.
7. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a great plugin to help you optimize your website’s search engine optimization. This plugin provides you with on-page SEO optimization, keyword analysis, suggestions for improvement, internal linking suggestions, URL redirection, and much more. Some advanced features are only available in the premium version, but the free version still packs a punch.
8. Broken Link Checker
Sometimes affiliate links, outbound links, and even internal links within your posts and pages will be changed. If you don’t update the changed links, then they will show up as broken and that could cause search engines to ding your site. The free Broken Link Checker Plugin will crawl your site and let you know which links are broken so you can fix them easily.
When you change the URL slug of a blog post or page, you will need to redirect the old URL to the new one. The free Redirection plugin makes this task easy. Just enter the old URL and the new URL. The plugin does the rest. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, then you won’t need this plugin because Yoast contains a redirect manager.
Free Customization and User Experience Plugins
You don’t want your site to be a cookie-cutter of a standard template that everyone else uses, right? These plugins, in addition to the customizable Kadence theme templates, will allow you to add little details to your website and enhance the user experience.
10. Ivory Search
Ivory Search is a free plugin that allows you to customize the search functionality on your website. This is the best plugin that I have found to place a search bar in the menu of your site. Search bars and icons can also be placed anywhere else on the site using a widget or a shortcode.
11. Password Protect WordPress Lite
This free plugin allows you to set a password for any blog post or page. You can do this without a plugin, however, you would have to stick with the generic password page.
It is a good idea to create a custom message on a password or login page so people who are not familiar with your site know how they can gain access.
Password Protect WordPress Lite will let you completely customize the password or login page so you can give your readers the information that they need.
12. Hide Page & Post Title
Sometimes you may need to hide the title on a post or a page. I haven’t found a good way to do this without a plugin. The Hide Page & Post Title plugin allows you to hide the title on any blog post or page with one click. This is especially helpful on landing pages and special content.
Free Performance and E-commerce Plugins
13. WP Rocket
This is a good free WordPress plugin to improve the performance and speed of websites. I recommend contacting your web host (especially if you use SiteGround or BigScoots) to have them configure the best settings specific to your website.
If you have an online store, WooCommerce is the best free e-commerce option available. With the WooCommerce plugin, you can manage product listings, inventory, payment gateways, etc. There are many additional plugins that you can use to extend the functionality of your online shop.
While WooCommerce is excellent for most shops, you may want to consider upgrading to ThriveCart if you are ready to boost revenue with sales funnels.