There is a plugin for that!
The best free WordPress plugins are lightweight and add features to help you build, format and optimize your website for SEO.
To date, WordPress has a directory of 43,303 plugins. This can make searching for the perfect plugin difficult and time-consuming.
The following is a list of plugins I have used myself or are recommended by fellow bloggers that I have relationships with and trust.
If possible, test plugins on a test website before uploading them to your intended website. Not all plugins, free or paid, are created equal.
Some may not be compatible with your theme or hosting service, and there are others that can damage your website.
The Top 40 of the Best Free WordPress Plugins
Effectively blocks spam comments without captchas and notifies you via email.
This easy plugin allows you to use shortcode to embed mp3 audio files in your page or post that will work on all devices.
A service that replaces your WordPress comment system, makes comments interactive, and connects websites across a discussion community.
A simple and flexible contact form plugin that will send you email notifications when forms are completed.
A must have plugin for eCommerce websites. Use it to sell physical, digital and affiliate products.
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell anything, beautifully. Built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, WooCommerce is the world’s favorite eCommerce solution that gives both store owners and developers complete control.
With endless flexibility and access to hundreds of free and premium WordPress extensions, WooCommerce now powers 30% of all online stores — more than any other platform.
EU Cookie Compliance
A simple plugin to help you comply with EU regulations for usage of website cookies.
A simple plugin that adds formatting buttons and abilities to the existing content editor without needing to code.
This plugin allows you to add custom code to the head and footer sections of a blog page and before and after post content. For example, it can be used to inject Adsense ads.
“Its main purpose is to add various scripts to track the access to the blog (such as Google Analytics code, the verification code required by Google Webmasters Tools, the Facebook script for the like button or the Twitter one or the Google one for the Google Plus 1 button).” –satollo.net
This powerful plugin allows you to create custom grid sections to your pages. It is widget based for drag and drop formatting and responsive for mobile devices. Use it for your home, about me, contact, and other pages where a linear layout just will not do.
“This plugin adds a simple checkbox in the insert/edit link popup for including nofollow attribute.”
Better than other link shorteners, this plugin allows you to shorten links using your own domain name and tracks clicks.
“Autoptimize speeds up your website and helps you save bandwidth by aggregating and minimizing JS, CSS and HTML.”
This easy to use plugin will backup your entire site and gives you the option to have the files emailed to you.
“The only WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework; designed to improve user experience and page speed.”
This simple plugin prevents WordPress from sending pings unnecessarily to ping to ping services when you edit and saves your website from being labeled a ping spammer.
This plugin adds a simple mobile theme for your website and is recommended by Google.
This simple plugin adds more advanced paging navigation and replaces the ‘Older posts’ and ‘Newer posts’ links with page links.
This simple plugin allows you to add a sitemap using shortcode to your website. Note: This is for navigation help for your readers and is not an XML sitemap used by search engines.
Use this plugin to add a table of contents to help your readers navigate long pages of content.
Capture leads and optins with this plugin that offers popup windows, action bars, messengers, and notifications.
SumoMe is a multi-functional plugin that offers a lightbox pop up, welcome mat, scroll box, smart bar, social share buttons, and more.
A simple plugin that provides a check box to exclude pages from your navigation menus. It has not been updated for a long time, but it has more than 300,000 installs and it works fine.
“Plugin for featured wordpress posts. This is a cool plugin that makes it easier to mark posts as featured posts (not using specific categories) and simple markup to show theme from your theme file.”
This easy plugin allows you to convert page to post, post to page, page to attachment and post to custom.
A simple plugin that allows you to redirect permalinks to another page on your site or elsewhere on the web.
This powerful plugin is the most downloaded plugin for WordPress. It will automatically optimize your site for SEO and is the only free plugin to provide SEO Integration for e-Commerce sites, including WooCommerce.
“The Google Analytics by Yoast plugin for WordPress allows you to track your blog easily and always stays up to date with the newest features in Google Analytics.”
This simple plugin allows you to add Bing Webmaster Tools verification code to your website.
This plugin makes it easy to verify your website with Google.
“This Plugin extends the All in One SEO Pack Plugin (by Michael Torbert) to display the All in One SEO Pack dialog on the Add/Edit Products screen within WooCommerce. Without this Plugin you cannot add/edit/manage All in One SEO Pack meta details which is why I developed this solution.”
Yoast SEO (WordPress SEO)
This powerful plugin is preferred by many website owners because it offers detailed control of website data and provides keyword and SEO optimization analysis for pages and posts to help you write better content.
This simple plugin protects your website against malicious URL requests.
This powerful plugin protects your website from hacks and malware and makes it up to 50 times faster.
“WordPress Protection Plugin provides complete security for your wordpress website, so that the plagiarists could not copy the content and steal data or images from your wordpress site Pages. By using the WordPress Protection Plugin (Lite), you can block the Keyboard Shortcuts (like CTRL+C, CTRL+A, CTRL+X and CTRL+V), disable the text-selection, and block the use of right click on your website.”
This easy plugin adds share bars and buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp, and many more.
This simple plugin adds a floating bar with share buttons that include counters to your website.
This easy plugin makes tables look awesome on mobile devices.
“Theme Test Drive WordPress plugin allows you to safely test drive any theme on your blog as administrator, while visitors still use the default one.”
This simple plugin adds a checkbox to each widget to show or hide it on every page.
“A simple image widget that uses the native WordPress media manager to add image widgets to your site.”
While you can extend the functionality of your WordPress website with the best free WordPress plugins, the number of plugins you install should be limited to what is necessary.
Too many plugins can hinder your website’s performance. Deactivate and delete plugins that you do not need.
There are 3 plugins that should be avoided (and are not on my list) in my experience:
Broken Link Checker because it incorrectly identifies links as broken that are not and causes strikeouts of good links.
Jetpack because every single page load is connecting to WordPress.com which is terribly inefficient and adds a lot of latency to your website.
WP Super Cache because it caused errors and locked me out of my website.
Here is a link to the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Thank you for reading The Top 40 of the Best Free WordPress Plugins. Do you have a plugin to recommend? Leave it in a comment below!