5 Must Have WordPress Free Plugins

WordPress is such a great content management system with thanks to the thousands of themes and plugins that make it so customisable. A huge community of developers thrive on using their skills to further increase the features and functionalities at users disposal. The sheer volume of plugins available to new users of WordPress can actually be a little bewildering until you have performed some trial and error on what you feel will be most effective for your purposes. There are however a few plugins that I consistently find myself installing on any new installation. Here are my five favourite must have WordPress free plugins:
 

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

 
Yoast is one of my favourite WordPress free pluginsThere’s no point having a website if nobody ever looks at it! By default WordPress blogs don’t have particularly good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Thankfully – WordPress SEO by Yoast can take care of everything for you. 

WordPress SEO by Yoast settings

The WordPress SEO by Yoast settings pages can seem a bit intermitting for beginners but there is superb free guide on the plugins website that will teach you everything you need to know. 

SEO options on a WordPress post.The most important part of WordPress SEO by Yoast are the input options you’ll find at the bottom of each post you write where entering a focus keyword and meta description will help target your listing in the search engines. WordPress SEO by Yoast will also check all of your posts and tell you when it thinks you can further optimise your work.
 

2. Better WP Security

 
Another WordPress Free Plugin you should take a look at - Better WP SecurityWordPress on a whole is a pretty robust and secure content management system. Developers are ironing out bugs and updating the software continually. That said, I’ve had my websites hacked on a few occasions. Normally hacks come from script kiddies who have learnt about a specific vulnerability to old WordPress installations. Whenever my site has been taken down I’ve managed to get it back up and running pretty quickly but it’s always been an annoyance.  To help try and ensure you don’t ever fall victim to such attacks I recommend installing Better WP Security. Touch wood, since I’ve been using this I’ve had no problems.

You can also backup your database with Better WP Security

Alongside the huge number of security measures you can enforce using Better WP Security, the plugin also gives facility to perform WordPress database backups at regular intervals. It’s worth downloading for this capability alone.
 

3. Akismet
 

Stop spam with WordPress free plugin Akismet

WordPress is quite susceptible to comment spamming from black hat internet marketers who want to get backlinks to their own sites. Akismet comes installed as default on WordPress installations but many people fail to acknowledge its usefulness and never activate it. Once set up, Akismet will distinguish between real comments and spam to help keep your blog tidy. I find it does a brilliant job.

Signup to Akismet for free!

A lot of people are perhaps confused with Akismet and think that they need pay for the spam filteration. As long as you select ‘Personal blog access’ and pull down the ‘What is Akismet Worth to You?’ slider to $0 then you will be granted a free access code. Of course – if you come to find the plugin is doing a fine job for you then I’m sure they would welcome your donations. :)
 

4. TinyMCE Advanced
 

Improve your WordPress editor with TinyMCE Advanced - a WordPress free plugin.

By default the WordPress text editor is a little bit primitive and short of options. If you’re serious about blogging then you’re probably going to want more features -such as the ability to easily jump between different paragraph and heading styles. TinyMCE Advanced will take care of this.

A really useful addition to the Text Editor - TinyMCE

If you’re an even bigger power user then you can level up and download the also free Ultimate TinyMCE. For my purposes though I’m generally pleased with the options TinyMCE Advanced gives me.
 

5. Ozh’ Drop Down Admin Menu

 
Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu makes life easy!When you’re busy customising your blog it can become a bit of a drag to keep on having to go back to the Dashboard then navigate through multiple click through menus to find what you want. Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu can help dramatically speed up your workflow.

WordPress Free Plugin - Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu makes life easy!Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu is such a simple solution in helping you place more nicely with your administration panel. For me, a WordPress installation doesn’t look right without it now.
 

So there we have it – my five must have WordPress free plugins. Why only five you ask? Well it’s very easy to clutter up your dashboard and bog your site down with unnecessary plugins. Install them as you need to but don’t overdo it. I wouldn’t hesitate to install these five plugins on any WordPress installation. They are my go-to must have choices which form a solid foundation for my work. Anything else I decide to download usually is very much dependant on the type of site I’m building.

Do you agree with my choices? What plugins do you turn to first when building a WordPress site?

Comments

  1. says

    Great this list there Chris. I have just hosted on our websites on WordPress because people said that it was such a great content management and user friendly system but as far as implementing plugins was confused, I was damn confused on which ones to choose.

    At least you have given me a start :)

    Thanks a lot,
    Cady

    • Chris Pollard says

      I definitely agree with the social sharing stuff. With all the options in that field it perhaps deserved a full post! Compfight sounds interesting although I’ve never used it myself. I personally however have never found anything as effective as doing my own Creative Commons Searches.

  2. says

    Nice list,

    I hadn’t heard of TinyMCE Advanced before, I will be trying that out.

    I would have to agree with Michael’s comment about also including Google analyticator and XML-sitemap generator, these are essential.

    • Chris Pollard says

      Pleased that I introduced you to a new plugin Andy.

      Does XML-Sitemap Generator offer something WordPress SEO by Yoast doesn’t? I’m not sure it does.

  3. says

    Great post especially since I found some settings that I had wrong in the Yoast plugin. You just save me having to do a job Chris so thanks for that.
    I do however disagree with you on Akismet because it is not free. In fact it is quite expensive once you go beyond a purely personal blog. I have ads on my sites which mean that I need to pay Automattic if I want to use Akismet. That starts at $5 a month but would easily be $50 and increasing. with my traffic.
    Instead I use one called Antispam Bee which is free and it does a very good job of blocking spam

    • Chris Pollard says

      Aha! Glad it helped you Ian. What did you have wrong?

      I’ve never had to investigate an alternative to Akismet and I’m sure it’s suitable for most standard blogs but I’ll look out for Antispam Bee if I ever need to look beyond it. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Mike Harris says

    In total agreement with this list. On what others have said I personally don’t need Google Analytics code support as it is a default feature of my theme!

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