Are you sure that you have installed all the necessary plugins for your blog? If not, keep reading to learn how to greatly improve your site’s functionality with these 7 must-have free WordPress plugins!
What is actually a WordPress plugin?
WordPress plugins are something like sub-programs that add custom functionality. Each one of them adds a code to your site, so you don’t have to add it yourself or go into technical details.
There are literally thousands of plugins available to customize your blog as you please. For example, you can use them to:
- Make your website load faster
- Improve your SEO
- Secure it from threats
- Add contact forms, e-mail capturing forms and many more.
Also, these plugins are very easy to install and use. They work automatically on the background. All you have to do is to set up your preferences!
How do you install a WordPress plugin?
- On your Dashboard, click Plugins, Add new.
- Then, on the upper right corner type the name of the plugin you wish to install.
- Once the plugin appears on the search menu, click Install Now. Wait a few seconds for the installation and then click Activate.
That’s it! Your plugin is ready for use! After you activate a plugin, you can see it on your left sidebar. From there you can adjust your settings.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything or sign up for a program following my links, I will get a small commission. However, I only promote the products that I use for a long time and I’m satisfied with them. If they didn’t bring me actual results, I would not recommend them to you.
The 7 Must-have Free WordPress Plugins
#1. Yoast SEO
This is probably the most popular plugin for WordPress. The reason? It suggests you how to make your site friendlier to search engines, so you can rank up higher in Google.
This powerful tool offers “Focus Keyphrase” and “Readability” analysis under every post. It indicates what you should change to your post in order to improve your SEO.
Note that you don’t have to make all the lights green or follow its instructions blindly. All you need to do is to keep a better than average score.
Further, Yoast SEO helps you to easily change your Meta description (the text that appears on Google under your post’s title). You can choose how your post is going to appear on Social Media as well.
To change the Meta description, click Edit snippet, and enter your text.
Note that if you don’t edit your Meta Description, Google will display the first sentences of your post by default. This often looks unattractive, resulting in lower click-through rates. Obviously, this affects both your Google ranking and the amount of your traffic. So make sure you always have a catchy and promising Meta Description!
Configuring Yoast SEO settings
In order to configure your Yoast SEO settings, click the “SEO” button at your sidebar. Then click Open the configuration wizard.
The process is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is to answer its questions. In the case you’re not sure about a question, just click “Next”.
Finally, go to Features tab (next to Dashboard tab) and make sure that the “XML Sitemaps” option is ON. This will help search engines to better understand your site structure.
If you’d like a complete guide, you can visit the official page of Yoast’s beginner guide: yoast.com/beginners-guide-yoast-seo/
#2. Compress JPEG & PNG images (This is the actual name of the plugin)
This tool automatically reduces the file size for every image you upload to your media library. If your post has smaller files sizes, it will load faster.
So, why is this plugin important? Because your blog’s loading speed affects your search engine ranking. Also, nobody likes to wait a long time for a page to load. Many users abandon a site if it delays loading more than a few seconds.
To adjust the settings, go to Settings, Compress JPEG and PNG images on your dashboard. Personally, I prefer the middle option (compress new images during upload) so I can actually see what is the new size of the image.
Also, you can compress all the images of your site at once! On the left sidebar Click Media, Bulk Optimization and select all the pictures you want to compress.
#3. Sucuri Security
Sucuri plugin is my best recommendation for protecting your site as it does a really good job for a free tool. It protects your blog from malware, it alerts you if someone else has logged in to your blog and much more.
Once you’ve installed it, on your left sidebar click Sucuri Security, Settings and then click “Generate API Key”. Enter your website’s name and your e-mail, tick the boxes and hit “Submit”. Your account should be activated now.
Note that any tool can’t guarantee 100% protection from threats, even if it’s a paid one. For this reason, we’re going to use the following backup plugin as an extra method of protection.
What can you do if something catastrophic (such as a hacker’s attack) happens to your site? Wouldn’t it be too underwhelming to lose all your hard work?
Well, everything would be much easier if you regularly keep backup files of your blog. UpdraftPlus keeps automatically or manually back up files, so you can restore your website in a previous state when everything was fine.
In order to set your automatic backup schedule, click Settings, Updraftplus Backups on the left sidebar. Then select the “Settings” tab and select your preferences. Also, you have to choose where you wish to receive the backup file (like your Google Drive or Email). Finally, click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
For a manual backup select the Backup/Restore tab and hit the “Backup Now” button.
#5. Pretty Links
This is a valuable tool if you’re using affiliate links or too many external links in general. Its best features are:
- It tracks how many clicks your affiliate links are receiving
- You can organize and manage all your external links in one place
- It disguises ugly looking links to more attracting ones (e.g. www.GoldenBloggerz.com/affiliate=id/referal58587gfdhd98 can be changed to www.GoldenBloggerz/GetDiscount
- If you’ve placed a link into multiple pages and you need to fix it, all you have to do is to edit once (instead of editing in every page separately).
How to add a new link
After you’ve installed the plugin, click Pretty Links, Add New Link on your sidebar.
#1.Redirection type: Usually we use “307” and “302” (temporary) types if our link may change in the future. The “301” (permanent) type means that we are sure that our link isn’t going to change. In the case you’re not sure what type to choose, leave it as it is (307/default type).
#2.Target URL: Insert here the original URL destination you wish to link to.
#3.Pretty Link: Type here the link you desire to appear on users’ browsers.
#4.Title: Give a name to your link so you can easily recognize it and insert it faster into your posts. Only you can see this title (not your readers).
#5.Notes: You can keep any notes you want about each link. These notes aren’t visible to your readers as well.
Then, at the bottom of the page click “Create“.
How to insert a link into your posts
- Highlight the piece of text you want to place your Pretty Link.
- Click “Insert Pretty Link” on your toolbar.
- Select “Use Existing Pretty Link“ and type the title you gave on your link before. Otherwise, you can select “Insert New Pretty Link” and follow the same instructions as above.
Do you feel insecure about your grammar and vocabulary while you’re writing online? Then, you’ll find this tool extremely valuable. Especially if you’re not a native English Speaker, it’s normal not to feel 100% confident about your writing.
And that’s exactly the reason you need a grammar checking tool. At the moment, Grammarly is by far the best one. It’s going to assist you with the most common mistakes such as:
- Propositions (in, on, at, into)
- Wrong use of words’ meaning
- Spelling mistakes
Personally, I use Grammarly since my first day as a freelance writer. It’s probably the most helpful tool I’ve used as my clients rarely complain about any grammar mistakes.
This is actually not a WordPress plugin, but a plugin that you can implement in:
- All popular Internet Browsers (Social Media, WordPress and everything you write online)
- Writing Software (Microsoft Word/Office, Google Sheets etc)
- Windows or Mac
This plugin has both a free and a premium version. The last one can catch more mistakes and offers more advanced solutions, but the free version still works fine.
Why you should consider buying the premium version? Because except it’s more advanced features, it offers a Plagiarism Detector tool as well (the best one along with Copyscape). If you have already worked online before, you’ll know that these tools are not free. So, you will pay for one sooner or later anyway. With Grammarly, you can have both an amazing grammar checker and a plagiarism detection tool under one program.
I don’t copy others’ work online, why should I use a plagiarism detection tool?
Maybe you don’t copy anyone’s work on purpose, but you can do it by mistake. There are countless posts on the web, so it’s not uncommon that you use the same words as someone else while writing a sentence. Google may detect this as a copied work, resulting in lowering your ranking in search engines.
Note that any tool can’t replace the human eye 100%, so you should always do the final proofreading before publishing your posts. No matter how good this tool is, don’t forget that it’s just a program. However, if your budget it’s not tight, this is the only tool in this list I recommend you to buy the premium version.
Check the video below to better understand how it works:
#7. Cookie Notice (by dFactory)
Well, because it’s mandatory. Especially for sites that target US and EU citizens. In order to avoid troubles with the law, make sure you use this simple plugin.
When a user visits your website for the first time, he will get a message by Cookie Notice. Of course, you can change the text that you wish to appear.
Also, you can add more possible options to the user, other than “OK”. For example, you may add “No”, “I understand” or “Dismiss” buttons. If you don’t want to go into technical details, don’t worry. You are covered with the default text and the default “OK” button.
These are all the plugins you need to start a successful blog! They are easy to install and use, so don’t lose time!
About Elementor, it is a live drag and drop page builder plugin that help you to create the custom website without any coding skills. You can customize each part of the website with help of Elementor. You can grab the deal by using Elementor Pro coupons.
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