The WordPress blogging platform has become so popular that it now powers billions of blogs worldwide. It’s clearly a very powerful content management system, or CMS that is constantly being improved upon. The open source nature of WordPress allows for a fantastic community of developers and coders who also develop plugins for WordPress. Today I have compiled a list of the top five most important plugins to have installed on your WordPress site. These five plugins are also some of the best free WordPress plugins you can use. They are in no particular order.
Yoast SEO is important to have on your site, as it makes short work of optimizing your site’s meta tags and generating site maps. It also has a host of other features such as RSS feed optimization that helps prevent scraper blogs from outranking your content in search engines, breadcrumbs, social integration, import/export features, and more.
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) provides more than 30 ways secure and defend your WordPress site against malicious attackers. In a typical day, about 30,000 new websites are hacked due to weak security. It’s an alarming statistic in the blogosphere, and the fact is that WordPress sites can be an easy target for attacks because of plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords and obsolete software. If you’re not already running iThemes Security, get this plugin now.
WP Super Cache will speed up your blog by creating cached html pages of your content, then serving those to your blog’s visitors instead of using cpu power to process the php scripts. This plugin can actually prevent your site from crashing if it gets a huge surge of traffic. If one of your blog posts starts trending on Reddit or Digg, you better have a caching in place to prevent your server from becoming overloaded. This plugin is crucial to have installed, and I recommend pairing it up with a content delivery service. A good free CDN service that I like to use is CloudFlare. If you use CloudFlare, be sure to also get their WordPress plugin for even more optimization.
Not all blog owners want to display ads on their site, but for those who do, Quick Adsense is a popular plugin that lets you display ads in various locations on your blog. Do you want to display an ad right in the middle of a blog post? It’s no problem with this plugin. You can install Adsense ads or other code
When creating a blog post using the visual editor, WordPress does not natively include options for different fonts and font sizes. Once this plugin is installed, you will see a button in the visual editor for font styles, and another button for font size. Unlike many other font plugins, this one just works right out of the box. There is no need to get an API key or create an account somewhere to use this plugin. This plugin lets you get creative with your posts, so you can be sure to create content that is visually appealing, not tedious for the reader.
Pretty Link Lite is a fantastic free plugin that lets you cloak affiliate links, or any other links, with one that appears to be a url on your own domain. It even keeps track of hits to your pretty links and gives you a detailed report of where your traffic is coming from. This free plugin is a must have.
I hope you have enjoyed this list list of the top 5 free WordPress plugins to have on your site. There are many other great free plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, but I find these five to be especially useful. I run all of these plugins on all of my WordPress sites. If you have some favorite free plugins that are crucial for your site to run, please leave some comments below.