In my WordPress series, I have written articles about what it takes to run a WordPress site on shared hosting. Today I present to you an article listing some of the best free WordPress plugins to install and use on your WordPress blog or website.
I personally use most of these plugins. So, yes, my recommendation comes from experience using the plugins on various sites I have had over the years.
If you are looking for the best plugins to use on your self-hosted WordPress site for free, go through this list and tell me what you think.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on something I recommend and purchase it, I will receive a commission for the sale – at no extra cost to you.
- 0.1 Ad Inserter
- 0.2 Akismet Anti-Spam
- 0.3 All in One SEO Pack (now All In One SEO)
- 0.4 All in One Webmaster (now WP Webmaster)
- 0.5 Broken Link Checker
- 0.6 Classic Editor
- 0.7 Contact Form 7
- 0.8 Exclude Pages from Navigation
- 0.9 Fast Secure reCAPTCHA / reCaptcha by BestWebSoft
- 0.10 Flickr – Pick a Picture
- 0.11 Google XML Sitemaps
- 0.12 Inline Related Posts
- 0.13 iThemes Security
- 0.14 Jetpack by WordPress.com
- 0.15 Nobs Share Buttons (formerly Juiz Social Post Sharer)
- 0.16 LiveChat
- 0.17 MailMunch – Grow Your Email List
- 0.18 No Self Pings
- 0.19 Pixabay Images
- 0.20 Pretty Links
- 0.21 Pricing Table
- 1 Q2W3 Fixed Widget for WordPress (formerly known as Q2W3 Fixed Widget)
- 1.1 Really Simple SSL
- 1.2 ReCaptcha v2 for Contact Form 7
- 1.3 SEO Friendly Images
- 1.4 Shortcodes Ultimate
- 1.5 Tag, Category, Term and Taxonomy Management with TaxoPress (formerly: Simple Tags)
- 1.6 SumoMe
- 1.7 Table of Contents Plus
- 1.8 TablePress
- 1.9 Thank Me Later
- 1.10 Tracking Code Manager
- 1.11 Ultimate Category Excluder
- 1.12 UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
- 1.13 User Switching
- 1.14 W3 Total Cache
- 1.15 WhatsApp Share Button
- 1.16 WooCommerce
- 1.17 WordPress Importer
- 1.18 WordPress Popular Posts
- 1.19 WP Clone by WP Academy (now Clone)
- 1.20 WP External Links
- 1.21 WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache
- 1.22 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
- 1.23 Antispam Bee
- 1.24 YITH WooCommerce Wishlist
- 1.25 If I had to install 10 free WordPress plugins only, I’d go with …
I use Ad Inserter to add display ads to my blog. Specifically, I use the plugin to add Google AdSense code to my blog posts. I also use the plugin to add Amazon affiliate ads to my posts.
Another popular alternative, that is really really good, is a plugin called Advanced Ads. It’s free too.
Awhile ago, I would use Akismet to block spam on my blog. Currently I have the plugin installed but deactivated.
1- Themes: GeneratePress (PRO) | Astra (PRO) | Hestia (PRO) | Kadence (PRO) | OceanWP | Neve | Go | Genesis (PRO). Page builders: Elementor (PRO) | Gutenberg Blocks (PRO) | Beaver Builder (PRO). Plugins: Yoast SEO (PRO) | Rank Math (PRO) | All in One SEO (PRO) | WPForms (PRO) | WP Rocket (PRO) | MonsterInsights (PRO) | OptinMonster (PRO) | Bloom | Advanced Ads (PRO). All Plugins You Can Buy | All Themes You Can Buy.
I mainly rely on reCAPTCHA to deal with spam on this site – using one of the plugins listed below.
All in One SEO Pack (now All In One SEO)
I use All in One SEO to add meta tags and description to my WordPress blog posts, pages and product pages.
I also use the plugin to help optimize my site’s on-page SEO.
A popular alternative with WordPress site owners is the Yoast SEO plugin. Both work fine. Choose the one you like.
All in One Webmaster (now WP Webmaster)
I use WP Webmaster to add various verification codes to my site.
For example, Google Analytics code, Google Search Console code, Bing Webmasters code, Pinterest verification code among others.
Note that you can also use All in One SEO / Yoast SEO to add some of the code to your WordPress site.
Broken Link Checker
I use Broken Link Checker to help me find broken links on my site.
It automatically detects internal and external links that are broken.
Then I can fix them or remove them.
Since I sometimes want to do things a little bit faster, I use the WordPress site I have installed on my laptop (I use XAMPP for this) and then later import the content to my live site.
I use the Classic Editor plugin to edit and manage the content I add as pages or posts.
The editor is easy to use.
If you don’t want to use the default Gutenberg Editor, install this plugin.
You can also install Classic Widgets plugin, if you don’t want to use the block editor to add or manage widgets on your WordPress blog.
Contact Form 7
I use Contact Form 7 to create and add contact forms to WordPress pages and posts on my blog.
Users of my site can easily send me emails / messages via said forms.
When creating new pages on my blog, I use Exclude Pages to tell WordPress whether a particular page should be automatically added to the main navigation or not.
Fast Secure reCAPTCHA / reCaptcha by BestWebSoft
I use Fast Secure reCAPTCHA to add Google reCAPTCHA checkboxes to my blog – to help reduce spam.
I add the boxes on contact forms and comments section mainly. And also on my login pages. So, whenever I have to log in to my WordPress admin, I enter my username, password and have to pass the Google reCAPTCHA challenge before hitting the Log In button.
Another great alternative, if you can’t find the Fast Secure reCAPTCHA plugin, is reCaptcha by BestWebSoft plugin.
It does the same thing.
Flickr – Pick a Picture
I use Flickr – Pick a Picture to add images to my blog posts from the millions of pictures photographers / freelancers / businesses / individuals post to Flickr.
Some of the images, I use inside the posts I publish.
Others, I also use as ‘featured images’.
Note that you don’t have to install this plugin if you are happy with the quality and number of images provided by Pixabay, which I will mention their plugin in a moment.
Google XML Sitemaps
I use Google XML Sitemaps to create a sitemap for my WordPress site automatically.
It is a very popular plugin – if you want search bots to easily detect and crawl the links in your site’s sitemap.
Note that with the updates done to Yoast SEO, All in One SEO, Rank Math and similar search engine optimization plugins, you may not need to install this plugin. These other SEO plugins now have their own sitemap feature added to them.
Inline Related Posts
I use Inline Related Posts to add two to three links to related posts inside my other blog posts.
This helps with increased pageviews, time on page and helps my readers discover new and related content.
I use iThemes Security to increase my WordPress site’s security.
To secure my login pages.
To prevent hackers from using brute force to gain access to the site – infecting my site and readers’ devices with malware for example.
And to block certain bots / people using their IP addresses.
Jetpack by WordPress.com
I use Jetpack mainly as an alternative to the site stats I gather using Google Analytics.
I also use the plugin to auto-share my newly published articles to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
At various times, I have also used it to show related posts, verify my site with search engines (Google, Bing & Pinterest for example).
I use Nobs Share Buttons plugin to add social sharing buttons to my blog posts, select pages and my product pages.
On my posts I give readers the option to share my articles to their Facebook feeds, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and to their contact lists via email.
You have the option to display the buttons at the top or bottom of posts – or both.
I use LiveChat to chat in real-time with readers / customers who visit my WordPress site.
If you are looking for a WordPress chat plugin to help your business grow its conversions, you might find this plugin useful.
Other great alternatives that have a free plan include Tawk.to and Tidio. Check out Tawk.to. It is a popular one with people using all kinds of content management systems, not just WordPress.
MailMunch – Grow Your Email List
I use MailMunch to grow my email list.
The plugin helps me create different types of opt-in boxes that I use to encourage my readers to download my free ebooks or enroll for my free online courses.
All they have to do is sign up via email.
I have integrated the plugin with MailerLite. You can integrate it with other popular email marketing service providers such as AWeber, Mailchimp, Sendinblue, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, MailPoet among others.
No Self Pings
I use No Self Pings to avoid links to my own posts or pages added to my dashboard / blog posts whenever I interlink my own content.
I use Pixabay Images to quickly find relevant and free images to use on my blog posts and pages.
Pixabay is a site that hosts millions of images you can use for free – with or without author attribution.
I use Pretty Links to shorten links on my site – affiliate links for example.
I also use this plugin to create temporary and permanent redirects.
For example if I move a particular post to another URL, I can use this plugin to create a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one.
I use Pricing Table to create pricing tables for some of the products and services I sell.
I use this for example to give customers an easy way to compare the web hosting plans I sell on one of my sites.
So, if you have various options for a product or service, you can use this plugin to highlight the features and show the different prices for each option.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget for WordPress (formerly known as Q2W3 Fixed Widget)
I use Q2W3 Fixed Widget for WordPress plugin to make some of the widgets I have added to my primary sidebar float / follow a reader when they scroll up and down a page or post on my blog.
Really Simple SSL
I use Really Simple SSL to force all my sites http links to https.
This is one of the plugins I usually add and activate right after installing WordPress.
It makes sure the free SSL certificate I use works well with all the URLs / links generated when I add new content to my site (pages, posts, tags, uploads to my media library & products).
ReCaptcha v2 for Contact Form 7
I use ReCaptcha v2 for Contact Form 7 to add the Google reCAPTCHA check boxes to contact forms I create using the Contact Form 7 plugin.
Specifically, this plugin makes it easy to copy and paste the reCAPTCHA keys to my WordPress site.
SEO Friendly Images
I use SEO Friendly Images to optimize images I upload to my WordPress site for SEO.
This plugin adds a description section for the images I use – on top of the image title and alternative text fields.
Note: This plugin may not be necessary if you are using premium versions of plugins such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO.
I use Shortcodes Ultimate to add various shortcodes to my content that change the way content is displayed to my readers on the front-end.
I can use this plugin to highlight text (key points in a paragraph for example) using various colors, add textboxes, tables, buttons (to improve CTA) or to add a list of posts (in a specific category) to other posts or pages.
Tag, Category, Term and Taxonomy Management with TaxoPress (formerly: Simple Tags)
I use TaxoPress to add and manage tags to my WordPress blog posts and pages.
Remember that with a fresh WordPress install, tags can only be added to posts. With this plugin, you can add tags to your pages as well.
I use SumoMe to add image sharing (to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) to the images I add to my blog posts.
The plugin can also be used as a lead generation tool (increase email sign ups via pop ups, embeds and other type of email sign up boxes).
It also has nifty social sharing buttons for devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
Table of Contents Plus
I use Table of Contents Plus to automatically create a table of contents for most of my blog posts.
The plugin picks from the subheadings (H2, H3, H4 etc.) to automatically create clickable table of contents similar to the ones you see on Wikipedia.
The table of contents are also used as jump links by search engines such as Google.
I use TablePress to create tables on WordPress.
This plugin is perfect for WordPress sites publishing reviews / comparison style posts – such as niche sites monetizing their content with affiliate marketing.
The plugin is popular among users who rely on Amazon Associates Program for some of their income / revenue / profits.
Thank Me Later
I use Thank Me Later to automatically send a thank you email whenever a person reads a post of mine and leaves a comment.
If I do reply to their comment, they also get notified right away – and given a link they can click to see the reply.
Tracking Code Manager
I use Tracking Code Manager to add Facebook Pixel code to my WordPress site.
As long as you own a Facebook page, and run Facebook ads or not, I recommend you install this plugin and add the pixel code.
You can also add similar code from Twitter, Google Ads among other services.
Ultimate Category Excluder
I use Ultimate Category Excluder to exclude posts in certain categories from being shown on my site’s homepage / main blog page.
This is perfect for multi-niche sites. If you publish content on a variety of topics, you can use this plugin to exclude categories that only have a few posts (1 to 10) from taking space on the main page where your other blog posts are shown.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
I use UpdraftPlus to backup my WordPress install (in its entirety) to my Google Drive account for free.
You can also use this plugin to back up you site to UpdraftPlus, Amazon among other cloud services.
And then if something goes wrong, you can use UpdraftPlus from within your WordPress admin dashboard to restore your site to the latest (working) version.
I use User Switching to switch between users.
This is useful if your site has multiple users with different user role capabilities and you want to see what each user is able to see / access / do.
As an administrator, you can quickly switch to another user (with their role set as Editor, Contributor, Author, Subscriber, Customer, Shop Manager, or another Administrator profile).
This plugin is perfect if you are running a WordPress forum (with bbPress for example), a WordPress social networking site (with BuddyPress for example), a WordPress dating site (using Rencontre), a WordPress business directory (using Geodirectory for example) or a WordPress classifieds site (using AWPCP – Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin).
W3 Total Cache
I use W3 Total Cache to speed up WordPress.
Leveraging the browser caching and minification features that come with the plugin, I can reduce my site’s page load speeds by a lot.
The plugin can also be used to connect, and take advantage of CDN features by popular providers such as Cloudflare (has a free plan), MaxCDN, Amazon AWS among others.
I use WhatsApp Share Button to add share buttons at the top and bottom of my blog posts.
You can decide to simply add the buttons at the top or bottom, on blog posts, pages or both.
If you want to make it easy for your readers to share your content on the messaging app, get this plugin.
Note that Jetpack also has a WhatsApp sharing button.
I use WooCommerce to add an online shop to my WordPress blog.
WooCommerce makes it simple to create product pages, product descriptions and add product images – and to sell online on WordPress (both physical and digital products).
I use WordPress Importer to import XML files of WordPress posts or pages from the site I have installed on my laptop (you can use XAMPP or LAMP for this) to the production site (Niabusiness.com).
This means I can work offline (write posts, add them to the text Editor, edit them and schedule them) and simply import the XML file from the WP installation on my laptop to Niabusiness.com.
WordPress Popular Posts
I use WordPress Popular Posts to display a list of my most popular posts as a widget on Niabusiness‘ sidebar area.
I can display posts that are trending now or posts that have been popular in the last 24 hours / 7 days / 30 days.
Or use it to display my all-time popular posts.
WP Clone by WP Academy (now Clone)
I use Clone WordPress plugin to clone a WordPress installation in another location to my new site.
I usually use this plugin when setting up a new WordPress blog or website.
Instead of installing everything from scratch (WP core, plugins & themes) I simple have a ZIP file saved somewhere (usually on another site’s Media Library) then all I have to do is point this plugin to the location / URL of that file.
All it does is copy that file exactly as it is, customizations and all.
Saves me a lot of time always. I can have a site up and running (fully set up) in mere minutes.
If you want a link to the package I use (ZIP file), let me know.
WP External Links
I use WP External Links to add nofollow tags to outgoing links.
I can also use the plugin to exclude certain domains / URLs from having the nofollow tag automatically added to them.
If you use affiliate links in your blog posts, this is probably one of those plugins you should install.
WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache
I use WP-Optimize to optimize my WordPress databases – makes things run a little more efficiently.
I also use the plugin to do a little cleaning up once in awhile (removing comments marked as spam / trash and for deleting duplicate posts and pages for example).
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
I use Yet Another Related Posts Plugin to display a list of related articles at the end of my blog posts.
I use the bottom section of my posts to automatically recommend similar posts to my readers using YARPP.
You can have a list of posts without images or you can make YARPP display the posts’ featured images along with the titles.
This is a very important plugin to have on your blog. If you are going to allow comments on your blog but are not ready to pay the monthly / annual plans by Akismet / Automattic, get Antispam Bee.
I use Antispam Bee to stop comment spam and trackback spam on my blog.
Without it, I usually see two or more spam comments pop up on my WordPress dashboard daily. With Antispam Bee, all I have to do is activate the plugin – and immediately I stop seeing / receiving the spam.
I highly recommend you install this plugin.
YITH WooCommerce Wishlist
Since I have a WooCommerce store on my site, I use YITH WooCommerce Wishlist to add the wishlist feature to my shop.
Customers can easily add specific products / services to their wish list.
If you run an ecommerce store on WordPress using the WooCommerce plugin and are interested in more awesome WooCommerce extensions, check this list of over 50 plugin extensions and themes over at
YITH – there are free and pro versions for each of the plugins.
If I had to install 10 free WordPress plugins only, I’d go with …
- All in One SEO Pack / Yoast SEO. Why? I can use this to optimize my content for SEO. I can also use the plugin to add verification code for Google Search Console, Bing Webmasters, Google Analytics and Pinterest. I can also use it to automatically create XML sitemaps bots can easily discover and crawl. Basically to help search engines discover new links on my site and index (and rank) them.
- iThemes Security. Why? To improve my site’s security. Prevent people having access via brute force. Prevent hackers from easily spamming or gaining entry to the site to cause harm – to me and readers (infecting them with malware for example).
- Table of Contents Plus. Why? To automatically create table of contents for my WordPress pages and blog posts. These are similar to the ones you see on Wikipedia and can help readers jump to the sections that are most relevant to them especially if you publish really long pages and blog posts.
- Ad Inserter / Advanced Ads. Why? To quickly add banner ads to my post content promoting in-house offers (my products & services) or to add advertising by ad networks like Google AdSense / or affiliate banners by online shops like Amazon.com.
- MailMunch. Why? To grow my email list – create popovers, sidebar signup forms, email sign up form embeds in posts and click-triggered sign up forms.
- WordPress Importer. Why? To quickly get the posts and pages I export from the WordPress installation on my laptop to my main site – Niabusiness.com.
- W3 Total Cache. Why? For its minification and caching features – so I can reduce my page load speeds even further.
- Really Simple SSL. Why? To enforce https and make sure everything works okay with the SSL certificate I use (make sure there is a secure connection between the user and my site at all times).
- Pixabay Images. Why? To quickly access millions / thousands of free images I can use on the various articles I publish.
- Jetpack. Why? For the auto-posting feature I talked about above, to add social sharing buttons and related posts.
That’s it. My list of the best free WordPress plugins to install and enjoy in 2022, 2023 and beyond.
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