10 Best Free WordPress Plugins For Your Blog [Beginners’ Guide]
(Welcome to the twelfth article of the series ‘how to start a blog.’ This article will help you lay the foundations a quality WordPress blog with the help of the best free WordPress plugins for beginners.)
WordPress is the best platform for bloggers, in particular for the new ones. There are many reasons why you should WordPress. One of the most popular reason is the availability of WordPress plugins in WP directory for no cost at all.
This article includes the best plugins for beginners. Each heading explains why that plugin matters to your blog, what it does, and how to use it.
This is unique information. There are too many articles written about best WordPress plugins. But from a total beginners’ point of view, this post is going to be one of the best resources on the internet.
10 Best Free WordPress Plugins
There is every type of plugin in the WordPress directory. Most of these plugins are free. Some have premium versions which you can buy. In the beginning, there’s not much need to buy any plugin.
The best thing about WordPress plugins is that for every premium plugin, there’s a free alternative too, which does the job.
The plugins which I’m going to mention are mostly free. I have hands on experience with these plugins too. Here’s an infographic showing the 20 best free WordPress plugins that I have covered in this article.
Note: – You are free to use this infographic anywhere subject to credits to my blog (www.ilyastarar.com).
It is advisable to keep the number of plugins to the minimum. More plugins mean a slow website. Ten is a good number.
I’ll list down the top 10 WordPress plugins which you every beginner should consider using. I hope you already know how to install and use any plugin from WP directory. Let me repeat for beginners.
Go to Dashboard>Plugins>Add New>Search>Install>Activate>Configure/Settings. Let’s move to plugins then.
“Akismet is probably the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam.” That’s what the official description says, and it is absolutely correct. Before I started using Akismet correctly, I had dozens of spam comments on my posts every week.
Akismet changed that forever. Installing it is not enough, though. After installation, you need to: –
- Click the “Activate” link.
- Sign up for an Akismet plan to get an API key.
- Go to your Akismet configuration page and save your API key.
It’s not that simple either. Since I already configured my plugin, I’d refer you to this Akismet guide by WPBeginner to use Akismet the right way.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a simple contact form. It is easy to use. What does a contact form do, though? I’m sure you’ve visited many blogs and websites. Did you see the Contact, Contact Me, or Contact Us page at the top and bottom? I guess you did.
The form that collects name, email, the subject and the message is called contact form. The contact form on my contact page (built using Contact Form 7 plugin) looks like the image below.
Let me link to the official documentation which will help you getting started with Contact Form 7.
To customize your Contact Form, go to Dashboard>Contact>Contact Forms. Click the contact form you already created. The following panel will appear. Follow the instructions in the image.
Let’s move on to another communication tool; the comments plugin.
Disqus Comment System
Edit: – I discontinued Disqus on my blog in favor of CommentLuv which is quite similar to default WP comment system but for the backlink for all those who comment. Disqus is not bad though. You can use either.
You can sign up for Disqus to get it on your website or follow the tutorial below.
If you’re a fan of written tutorials, here’s one for you by WPBeginner. Follow it step by step to setup Disqus properly.
If you’re not a fan of Disqus, you can switch to this lovely plugin spreading love through comments. CommentLuv is love because when you comment on a CommentLuv enabled blog, you get a backlink. The link may be dofollow or nofollow depending on blog owners’ choice.
PS: My blog is CommentLuv enabled with dofollow links for all those who comment. It’s a little gift.
Jetpack for WordPress.com
Edit: – Though useful in many respects, Jetpack is a heavy plugin. You may want to use individual plugins which are lighter (leading to faster loading of your pages).
Make sure you learn how to get started with Jetpack to maximize its benefits.
When my MailChimp account got restricted, I had to look for alternative service for managing my email lists and sending newsletters. My friend Hassaan Khan, who is a blogger for eight years now, told me about MailPoet. I was relieved.
MailPoet Newsletter enables you to: –
- Add sign up forms (opt-in forms) to your sidebar, content, and other chosen places to get subscribers.
- Create and maintain mailing lists (email list). The subscribers join the mailing list of your choice.
- Send newsletters to your subscribers.
All this happens for free. It happens inside your WordPress dashboard, which is unique. In most cases, email lists are maintained via the websites of email marketing services like MailChimp.
Watch this video to know how to create newsletters using MailPoet (previously known as Wysija).
MailPoet is a great alternative for beginners who are not familiar with MailChimp (it’s not a plugin). I recommend MailChimp and will post a separate tutorial on how to setup MailChimp on your blog.
Pro Tip: – Using MailPoet with SendGrid (free) can significantly enhance its efficiency.
Edit: – Shareaholic has been notorious for being too heavy. There are better alternatives available. Social Warfare is what I use now and it provides an additional feature as well. See the heading below.
Jetpack contains social share buttons too. Even then, I used Shareaholic for social sharing buttons above and below my posts.
After installing it, you can either explore the dashboard, update your preferences, or you can go through this link to know more about Shareaholic.
To change settings of Shareaholic, go to Dashboard>Shareaholic>App Manager.
Social Warfare is an amazing social sharing plugin which not only provides share buttons but also gives flexibility of using them in various settings on our blog and posts.
Social Warfare comes with a Click to Tweet option as well (via an icon in the WP text editor) which creates tweetable text boxes within your posts.\
Just install, setup and enjoy.
Table of Contents Plus
If your articles are detailed or list posts, Table of Contents Plus is the plugin that you need. Here’s what it does.
Learn how to create table of contents in your posts and pages using Table of Contents Plus plugin.
Size matters or not is a popular debate. In blogging, size does matter. We’re talking about the size of the images here. Your blog posts and pages are incomplete without pictures.
However, bigger the size of your uploaded images, slower your site becomes. It affects user experience and ultimately the SEO.
WP Smush reduces the size of your images to make your website faster. Just install, activate the plugin and go to its settings. You can see WP Smush at work below.
WP Super Cache
A cache plugin makes the website faster. WP Super Cache is one of the best solutions to increase website speed, which is one of the most important ranking factors.
Learn how to install and setup WP Super Cache correctly, so that you can make optimum use of it.
Yoast SEO is one of my favorite WordPress plugins. In my opinion, it is the best SEO plugin. Yoast helps you do SEO of your site and web pages.
It includes an interactive interface below WordPress editor to enable proper on page SEO of all your blog posts. Here’s an example.
You can use Yoast SEO to submit your blog to Google for indexing and to optimize blog posts for search engines (the on-page SEO).
There are many other great plugins too which solve particular problems. I have mentioned these ten free WordPress for beginners to start a blog on great foundations. You’re welcome to suggest more plugins in the comments.
Here’s a quick recap of what we covered in this article.
- WordPress comes with loads of free plugins.
- Akismet is the best plugin to fight spam on your blog.
- Contact Form 7 creates contact forms for your About page.
- Disqus Comment System is a great plugin for enabling comments on your blog.
- CommentLuv is a great plugin for enabling comments on your blog which also gives backlinks to commenters.
Jetpack for WordPress.com solves many problems at a time but at some cost.
- MailPoet Newsletters is a WordPress plugin to manage your email lists and newsletters.
Shareaholic maximizes your social shares, increasing your social signal.
- Social Warfare does it way better and enables Click to Tweet as well.
- Table of Content Plus adds a table of contents to your blog posts and pages, making the more easily readable.
- WP Smush optimizes (reduces the size of) images to ensure faster page loading.
- WP Super Cache is a caching plugin for getting better page speed.
- Yoast SEO, my favorite plugin, is an SEO beast that comes for free.
Utilizing these plugins, beginners can set up a great blog from the start. There are many other plugins available too. The plugins mentioned in this article are chosen from beginners’ point of view.
If you have a suggestion, you are most welcome to share it in the comments below. If you have a question or want me to suggest a plugin for a particular problem, do let me know. Don’t forget to share this article.