Last Updated on January 28, 2021 by Serish | I Hated My Boss
If you’ve just created a new blog and wondering what are the best free WordPress plugins for blogging, then you’ve landed on the right post!
I get it- with over 50,000 WordPress plugins available (yes, you read that correctly), finding the best plugins for your new blog can be such a daunting task.
So, to save you the hassle, I’ve put together this list of 10 best free WordPress plugins for blogging to make your blog more powerful.
Wanna read this post later? PIN it here:
(This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products and services I absolutely love and use. Thanks for your support!)
What the heck are plugins?
Plugins allow you to optimize your website for a better user-experience, without having to write any code, whatsoever.
Think of plugins like apps on your smartphone. We use apps to boost our quality of life. Similarly, plugins are used to extend the functionality of your WordPress website.
How To Install WordPress Plugins
I’ll say this- installing a WordPress plugin is stupid easy! But first, you’ll need a self-hosted WordPress website if you want access to all the plugins.
This is especially important if your utlimate goal is to make money from your blog.
And while the thought of starting a self-hosted WordPress blog may sound intimidating at first, I think you’ll be suprised at how easy it actually is.
Moving along, I wanted to quickly show you how to add plugins to your WordPress website. If you already know how, feel free to skip to the next section.
Let’s get started!
From your WordPress sidebar, hover your mouse over Plugins, then click Add New.
In the search bar, simply enter the plugin you’re looking for.
For the sake of this example, I’m going to use Google Analytics (I’ll talk more about this plugin later).
Click Install Now, then click Activate.
As you can see from the results, there are a bunch of plugins that integrate with Google Analytics.
Which brings me to this…
How do I know which plugin is right for me?
It’s always a good idea to do your homework when choosing a plugin.
Why, you ask? Because selecting a crappy plugin will not only slow down your site, but it could crash your entire blog!
With that in mind, here are some things to consider when deciding which plugin is best from a pool of similar ones.
- Does it solve your issue?
- Reputation (ratings/reviews)
- Free vs Premium plans
- Check changelog
- Is support available?
1. Does the plugin solve my issue?
Firstly, you’ll want to ask yourself if you even need the plugin to begin with. Remember, having a bunch of unncessary plugins will only slow down your site.
So choose wisely and install it only if it solves your problem.
For instance, I use a plugin that allows readers to share my blog posts on various different social media platforms. Do I absolutely need it?
Heck yes! Pinterest drives tons of traffic to my blog every month, and without these social share buttons, my website would probably only bring a third of those visitors.
2. Check ratings and reviews
Secondly, you wanna make sure the plugin works properly. A poorly developed plugin can cause major security threats to your blog.
To check the ratings and reviews of a plugin, navigate to More Details.
Then click the Reviews tab.
Here, you can see the most recent reviews. Also worth mentioning, some reviews can be pretty ridiculous.
A lot of times, newbies will leave negative reviews because they couldn’t figure something out and didn’t care to contact support.
So, just do your part and quickly scan 3-5 well-written reviews (not super short reviews saying “amazing app”).
3. Free vs. Premium plan
Many WordPress plugins offer free and premium plans. The thing is, just because a plugin might be free, doesn’t mean it’ll include everything you need.
And even if you got plenty of dough to splurge on paid plugins, it may not all be worth it.
I remember when I first started blogging, I went plugin crazy. I was downloading a bunch of free plugins and didn’t care to compare each plan.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the free plan didn’t even offer the feature I was interested in (lol, that’s what I get for being a cheapskate).
Having said that, just make sure to compare the different plans and install accordingly.
4. Is the plugin updated?
When choosing between similiar plugins, it’s always a good idea to go with the one that’s updated more frequently.
On the flip side, an outdated or poorly developed plugin goes to show that the developer has lost interest in the plugin. And if any issues arise, you likely won’t get any support either.
To perform a plugin check, click the Changelog tab.
As you can see from image above, the plugin was last updated on April 30th, 2020. This is great!
It shows the most recent update and what changes were made to the plugin.
5. Is support available?
Another important point to keep in mind when choosing a plugin is if support is available.
You see, if a plugin happens to malfunction, and there is no one to help you- this can be distrastrous for your blog.
I don’t mean to scare you, I just want you to take extra precaution when it comes to installing plugins, especially free ones.
Therefore, it’s always a good rule of thumb to choose a plugin that has support available.
To check the support of a plugin, click the hyperlink next to Author.
You’ll then be redirected to the developer’s website.
Scroll down and you’ll find information about support (every website will be different but usually, support info is towards the bottom of a webpage).
Best Free WordPress Plugins for Epic Blogging
Alrighty! Now that we got all the basics out the way, I wanted to share some powerful plugins that are essential for your WordPress blog.
You see, I’ve tried nearly a hundred plugins, but some are just essential for your blogging success.
Below is a list of 10 best free plugins for blogging that I’ve handpicked, tried and tested (and I still use em’ all!).
1. Yoast SEO
If you didn’t already know, SEO is a BIG deal.
As a blogger, you’d be doing yourself injustice by not installing this plugin.
It’s by far one of the best free WordPress plugins for blogging. I mean it doesn’t have over 5 million installations for no reason!
Basically, this plugin optimizes your blog posts and pages for search engines so you can rank high in search results (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo).
Have I lost you?
If you’re new to SEO or have absolutely no clue what it even is, then I highly suggest you take the time to read my free SEO for beginner’s guide (or at least bookmark it for now).
I detail everything you need to know about SEO (in simple words) and how crucial it is to the long-term success of your blog.
To locate the plugin, simply enter Yoast in the search field.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you can access it at the bottom of each blog post.
As you can see from the image below, the plugin guides you every step of the way to optimize your content correctly for SEO.
When your SEO and Readability are lit up green, that means your posts are ready to be published!
2. Akismet Anti-Spam
Did you know hackers can actually create new accounts to leave comments under your blog posts with spammy URLs? No one enjoys receiving those annoying spam comments or emails.
And if your website isn’t protected against spam, Google can actually penalize your website by removing your links from its search results page!
The likely solution?
It filters spam from websites, especially from comments sections and email messages.
Cool fact, the face behind the company who created Akismet is one of WordPress’ co-founders, so you know this plugin is legit.
After you’ve activated the plugin, you’ll be asked to create an account.
Click Set up your Akismet account.
You’ll be directed to the Akismet website and should see Set Up Your Akismet Account.
Click the big green button.
Then, you’ll have the option to select a plan. For new bloggers, the free plan does its job.
However, if you have an online business or blog that brings thousands of monthly visitors, you may want to consider a paid plan.
So this next step is a bit different. You’ll select the Name Your Price plan (don’t worry, it’ll be free) and click Get Personal.
From here, you’ll see a $36/year sliding bar.
Now move that bar all the way to the left until it’s at $0. Here’s what it should look like:
Enter all required information and check all three options if you have a personal blogging website.
Then click Continue With Personal Subscription.
Now, check your email for the confirmation code and paste it in the box.
Then click Continue.
You’ll receive another email with your API key. Simply copy the 12-digit key and head back to your WordPress dashboard.
Here, you’ll click Manually enter an API key.
Paste in your API key and then click Connect with API key.
Finally, select the strictness level for filtering your comments. You can leave it on its default settings, or allow Akismet to discard the worst comments.
You can also choose to display a privacy notice. To complete the setup, click Save Changes.
Whoop-dee-doo, you’re all set! Now just sit back and relax, the plugin will continue to work automatically in the backend.
3. GDPR Cookie Consent
Easy way put, GDPR protects your website visitor’s personal information and tells them how their data is collected.
If you don’t comply, you can be fined up in the millions (yes, it’s that serious).
To learn more about GDPR– in simple English, this GDPR for Dummies post does an excellent job at explaining.
(If you haven’t set up your legal pages, TermsFeed can draft super cheap legal policies for you)
Moving along, this plugin will display as a banner on your website. Take a look at my website as an example:
To install the plugin, navigate to your WordPress plugin dashboard and enter GDPR in the search field.
Select the GDPR Cookie Consent by WebToffee plugin.
After installing and activating the plugin, your GDPR plugin will automatically go into effect.
You can locate the plugin on your WordPress sidebar if you want to customize it. To do this, hover over the GDPR Cookie Consent and select Cookie Law Settings.
From here, you can make a variety of changes, such as choose where to display the banner and customize the buttons.
However, I find the default settings to work best.
4. Google Analytics for WP
Google Analytics is a very powerful analytics tool that every single blogger and online business owner must-have to track website performance. It’s completely free to sign-up and use.
Some of the metrics Google Analytics tracks is your blog pageviews, how many people are visiting your blog at a given time, their location, the content they’re viewing and traffic source.
If you haven’t already signed up for Google Analytics, I walk you through the entire process in my free blogging guide here.
For the plugin itself, you’ll install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by Exact Metrics (pictured below).
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, watch this step-by-step tutorial below on how to connect your Google Analytics to your WordPress website.
Since a lot of my content is focused around detailed guides and tutorials with images, this plugin has been a lifesaver!
The Smush plugin basically compresses and optimizes all the images you upload to WordPress, without the images losing its quality.
Most importantly, if your images aren’t compressed, it’ll slow down your website and take longer for blog posts to load- thus, turning away visitors.
While manually resizing and compressing images can be a darn headache, the Smush plugin does it all automatically.
Install and activate the Smush plugin shown below.
You can access the activated plugin from your WordPress sidebar. From here, click Bulk Smush Now and wait a few seconds for your images to compress.
Every now and then, it’s always best to double check if your images have been compressed. To do so, simply click Re-Check Images on the top right corner.
And that’s it!
6. W3 Total Cache
Without getting too technical here, let me explain what caching is and how it works.
All the images, contents and files on your web page are stored in a temporary folder so they can be accessed quickly.
Every time someone visits your website or a particular web page (i.e. blog post), the cache server remembers your content and then loads it quickly for your website visitors to view.
Now, if you frequently make changes to a blog post or your website, it may not update on other servers.
For example, say you wrote your college term paper on Microsoft Word and sent it to 3 friends to review. But later you decided to make some changes to the document. In order for those 3 friends to view the updated doc, you’ll have to resend it to all 3 again.
However, with W3 cache, it’ll update automatically on all servers so you don’t have to resend the updated file.
So, needless to say, enabling the W3 Total Cache plugin will update your content across servers and help decrease load times.
Hope that made sense! Here’s the plugin you’ll want to install:
Once activated, I like to leave it as is on default settings.
If you wish to access plugin settings, you can find it under the Performance tab (see image below).
If you’re planning on making money from your blog through affiliate marketing, then you must disclose this to your audience every time you mention an affiliate product or service (it’s the law!).
So instead of writing a snippet of your disclosure every time you publish a blog post, the Shortcoder plugin will insert it for you.
Upon installing and activating the plugin, go to your WordPress sidebar and click on Shortcoder.
Then click Create shortcode.
From here, click Visual editor from the drop down menu.
Add a title, then write a brief affiliate disclosure (your audience will see this).
To insert the disclosure into your blog posts, click the blue Shortcoder icon.
And finally click Insert shortcode.
The disclosure will be inserted into your post.
Yayy, you’re all set!
- RELATED POST: 13 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
8. Easy Table of Contents
Another one of my fave free WordPress plugins for blogging is the Easy Table of Contents.
This baby can do wonders for your blog!
A TOC helps readers easily scan your blog posts and navigate to the section they’re interested in. Additionally, it’ll also tell your reader what they can expect from the post.
Here’s an interesting fact: 55% of website visitors will spend less than 15 seconds reading your post– yikes!
With that in mind, the Easy Table of Contents plugin simply adds a TOC to your blog posts. And adding it is really simple.
Head on over to your WordPress and locate the Easy Table of Contents plugin (shown below).
Once activated, you can find the plugin under your Settings tab (see below).
Personally, I only like TOCs to appear in my blog posts. But you can have them appear anywhere you’d like by ticking the appropriate boxes.
To customize the colors of your TOC box, scroll down until you see Custom Theme. Or you can choose from one of the built-in themes.
Don’t forget to save changes! To see your TOCs in action, simply visit your blog post and hit refresh.
9. Grow by Mediavine
Ahh, social media. Some love them, while others can’t stand em’. Whatever may be your case, social media share buttons are a must for all bloggers, especially if you’re looking to monetize your blog.
If you haven’t noticed, at the top of this post is a social media icon bar. That’s the plugin in question- Grow.
Basically, it encourages website visitors to share your content. This expands the reach of your content, thus resulting in more pageviews and unique visitors.
And since majority of my website traffic comes from Pinterest, my articles get hundreds of shares.
To install the plugin, select Grow by Mediavine.
Now, to edit the style of the social media bar, click Toolkit.
You’ll have two styles to choose from: Floating or Inline. I like inline because the floating bar can be a bit annoying on a mobile device.
Choose the one you like and your social share buttons will be activated!
Be sure to refresh your page incase you don’t see it at first.
10. Editorial Calendar
Lastly, we have Editorial Calendar. This plugin allows me to schedule my blog posts and helps me stay focused on my goals.
Moreover, it encourages me to publish blog posts more consistently.
One of my greatest challenges as a new blogger was finding motivation to publish blog posts in a timely fashion.
I was spending more time worrying about the looks of my website, than creating content. Big mistake!
Unfortunately, this is a common mistake new bloggers make and I wouldn’t want you to do the same.
With that being said, this plugin will be your new blogging BFF.
To install, search Editorial Calendar and select the one pictured below.
Once activated, you can find the plugin under the Posts tab > Calendar.
Once you click on Calendar, you’ll be directed to the scheduling page.
Here, you can easily create a schedule by entering a title, description and time.
Check out this example:
It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable, too!
Wrapping Up: Best Free WordPress Plugins for Blogging
I really hope you found these 10 best free WordPress plugins for blogging to be helpful.
Are you already using some of the plugins mentioned in this post? If you know of other amazing free WordPress plugins for blogging, please share in the comments below!
Also, it would mean the world to me if you’d share this post with anyone who’d benefit from it. Thanks in advance!
- 8 Common Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make
- How I Tripled My Blog Traffic with Pinterest in 30 Days
- 13 Best Affiliate Programs Every Blogger Should Join
- Start A Blog Like A Pro and Make Money Fast