10 Best Free WordPress Plugins

While there are many debates over whether you should blog on Blogger or WordPress as your platform, there is one area that WordPress is by far superior; their supply of free plugins.

Kimberly’s Definition of a Plug-In:   a short cut that saves bloggers loads of time.

Depending on what you are looking for, a Google search will return a multitude of options for plugins that will speed up your site, make it more secure, prevent spam, add images.. pretty much anything you can think of, you can find in plugin format. To make the process a little easier, I’m sharing 10 basic plug-ins that make my life as a blogger much easier.

10 Free WordPress Plugins

10 Free Must-Have WordPress Plugins

1. CommentLuv

CommentLuv is perfect for sharing with your blogging community. It rewards people who comment on my blogs by allowing them to select one of several recent posts to share with me and other readers. I’ve discovered many great blogs and posts through this plug-in.

2. Editorial Calendar

Planning fabulous content on a regular basis can be exhausting- which is why an editorial calendar is so helpful! The editorial calendar plugin allows me to see the holes in my schedule, move things around (there’s drag and drop), and make plans for the future. I’m disgustingly organized and didn’t think I would use this one; I was wrong. I use it daily.

3. Pretty Link Lite

Many bloggers do some affiliate marketing on their site. Pretty Link Lite tracks the clicks inside my WordPress Dashboard and when I share an affiliate link with someone, it’s short and easy for them to remember. (Make sure that you always disclose; I have clearly disclosed to my readers that I’m using affiliate links.)

4. Photodropper

I like all of my blog posts to have an image, but I don’t always have the time to take and edit a picture for each post; Photodropper is my hero. This plug-in allows bloggers to search images with the right licenses (be sure to check “show only photos that can be used commercially,”) to use in blog posts. Each image comes with a credit back to the photographer’s Flickr photostream.

5. Broken Link Checker

Imagine that you worked long and hard on a list post that linked back to all your favorite posts and it was going to be featured on SITS Girls. I can feel the bounce rate dropping now. How would you feel if 8 of the 10 links were broken? Broken Link Checker let’s me know when a link isn’t connecting right away via email.

6. Comment Reply Notification

I didn’t realize that when we reply to a blog our replies just sit on our blog. Another blogger recommended Comment Reply Notification and I love it, because it helps me connect with my readers; I had a back and forth recently about Breaking Dawn and another about blog commenting (I’m well rounded).

7. Related Posts via Categories

This is similar to LinkWithin (which I used to use with Blogger); both plug-ins help keep visitors on your site longer as they check out more of your posts. Longer visits equate to lower bounce rates and higher subscription rates.

8. Tweet Old Posts

This one deserves balloons. Tweet Old Posts lets you dust off older posts and share them again on Twitter in a non-spammy way. I just re-read that sentence and thought “duhhhh.” Here’s something that isn’t so obvious: with this plug-in, you can select the time period it pulls posts from and you can deselect giveaways or other posts that don’t need a repeat.

9. WordPress SEO

I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to SEO and WordPress SEO has made it a little easier by giving bloggers a few things to focus on to make sure our posts are found. My newest blog, Keep the Tail Wagging, was launched on January 1, 2012; in less than 2 months, it had earned a page rank of 2. This is particularly useful if you are running on a free theme that is lacking SEO options.

10. TimThumb Vulnerability Scanner

One day FatCow, my much loved host, shut down my site due to suspicious activity and it was because of TimThumb. TimThumb is something technical that has to do with our thumbnail images; FatCow shared that some older versions of TimThumb open a back door to a blog and invites Sir SpamsALot in to leave malware. I was lucky, no malware was on my site and I was able to shut the back door with this plug-in.

*Note: You can download and activate these through the WordPress Dashboard/Plug-ins/Add New or from the plug-in’s site.

If you’re a WordPress blogger, which plug-ins are your favorites? If you use another blogging platform, what do you use to make blogging easier?

About the Author

Kimberly Gauthier, a perpetually happy person, lives with her amazing guy, their spoiled dogs and cats, and loves dog rescue, photography, reading, and laughing. She’s the author of three blogs, sharing tips and tricks about photography, blogging, and raising happy, healthy pets.

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About Ashley Abele

Ashley is a mom of 3 young children, social media consultant and blogger. She focuses on strategizing for bloggers and small businesses to help them reach their online potential and subsequent sales potential as cofounder of Other Half Media. When she’s not busy creating blogger outreach programs, email or social media campaigns, she blogs her life, parenting, and frequent moves at My Front Porch Swing. Connect on @AshleyNAbele on Twitter and on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this very helpful list. I was able to install them all in a matter of minutes and I think it will be great as a new WordPress user. Any advice on a good Facebook plugin to link to my fan page? yep, still at the basics here. I tried Facebook Page Promoter Likebox and I kept getting an href error anytime I clicked on one of my posts. So I uninstalled it and need something else. Thanks for your help!

  2. I’m moving to wordpress soon and am so excited, and a little overwhelmed, to see all these plugins.

  3. Great list!! I’m fairly new to WP, and I’m loving the whole plug in thing! I have Reply Me. Is that the same thing as this comment notification thingy you mentioned. When I reply to the commenter, they get my reply, right? Or does it sit on my blog like you mentioned here?? I sure hope not…

    • I actually prefer replyme. It has less theme and plugin conflicts and allows you to reply in apps and still emails readers. Favorite plugins really vary by users, and what they need their blog to do!

  4. Wow! I thought my plug-in addiction would have exposed me to all of these, but I was missing several. I’m off to check out the editorial calendar and comment luv.

  5. thanks
    that is a nice list
    i have to check out tweet old posts!

  6. This is great. A couple I didn’t know about and a good reminder to install broken link checker!

  7. Thanks for including Photodropper in your round up. We’re really glad you like it. :)

  8. First time i’ve ever come across this blog, and i must say it’s fantastic! So much girl power going on too its turning me feminine! :)

  9. thanks – i remember reading that broken links mess with search engines for the website, so…. :D

  10. These are great tips and ideas. I have used both blogger and wordpress and I enjoy wordpress far more, especially because of this. I am going to go and try out a few of these now. Thanks!

  11. Love Broken Link Checker!!

    • Hi Andrea!
      I know, right! One day I had broken link checker on and a load of links were gone. I had it all squared away in no time. What I really love is knowing that everyone’s site goes up and down (not just mine), because a broken link in the morning will be squared away in the afternoon and I did nothing.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Kimberly

  12. Thanks for the awesome information I just moved to wordpress and love it and have been searching around for must have plugins you post helped me bunches:)

    • Congratulations on the change, Jennifer
      I remember when I first changed from Blogger to WordPress, I was terrified. But it was pretty seemless and I’ve loved WordPress. It’s exciting to see Google making changes to make Blogger even better. There are going to be some great choices out there for all of us.

      Have fun with your plugins!
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; I’ve been under the weather.

      Kimberly

  13. Thanks! I just installed comment reply notification. I hadn’t thought of how important that was.

    Also, blogs with commentluv are my fav!

    • Ahhh, Julie
      Then you’ll love my blogs! Yeah, CommentLuv ROCKS!!! And another blogger told me about Comment Reply, I thought when I responded people were notified, NOPE. It really sparks a conversation and keeps people coming back!

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; I’ve been under the weather.

      Kimberly

  14. Hi Kimberly,

    an update – I installed the Photodropper first. Tried it for my latest blog post but it just froze on the picture and then when I tried to schedule my blog post to go out later, all the edit buttons were also frozen. Luckily I could still publish a post.

    I’m going to try un-installing as I see you mentioned above and see if the problem is fixed. Too bad because I liked the picture I found!

    • That’s awful!
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; I’ve been under the weather.

      If you’re still having trouble, contact the PhotoDropper people. Nicky has helped me and they are really responsive.

      Best of luck!
      Kimberly

      • Hope you are feeling better. My husband has got a cold right now and it’s a miserable one.

        I’m always hesitant about installing plug ins because so many don’t work.

        Is this because WP is open source so each website template is coded differently. I think if I understood this better I wouldn’t be as nervous about trying plug ins.

        • Pretty much. 1000s of people are making plugins, but not checking in with each other (an impossibility) on the details so they sometimes conflict with each other. What I do is add them slowly instead of a bunch at a time so that I can easily identify the ones that don’t work.

          I also check reviews before downloading. If a plugin has 1000s of downloads and good reviews then I feel safe. If it hasn’t been tested with an updated version of WP, my thought is that it’s been abandoned so there’s no support for it if it goes wrong.

          Feeling loads better!
          Kimberly

  15. This is a great list, but I have a (possibly dumb) question – plug-ins are only for self-hosted wordpress blogs, not wordpress.com blogs, right? I’m trying to figure out how to make my blog more organized and would love to use some of these – but as a wordpress.com user!! ANY guidance, however brief, would be VERY appreciated!

    • Hi Susan,
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; I’ve been under the weather.

      Yes, you’re right. These are mainly for the self hosted version. I think that the hosted version has access to some, but the majority are made for self hosted. I don’t have any experience with the hosted version, but found the WordPress forums are really helpful and you might find some people there who have figured out a work around. That’s where I always go when I have a problem.

      Good luck!
      Kimberly

  16. I have another website on wordpress http://candilanddessertco.com and I have all in one SEO and have no clue how to use it. I also got WWSGD and it doesnt seam to work. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Candi!
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; I’ve been under the weather. All in One SEO was too hard for me to figure out. I’m sure if I took more time with it I would have gotten it, but I like things that are more obvious so I use WordPress SEO by Yoast.

      I used to use WWSDG and if I remember correctly it worked, but it wasn’t obvious to me. I had my dashboard open on one screen and my site on another and would toggle back and forth to see what it was doing. I no longer use it.

      Kimberly

  17. This is really helpful for me as I have just recently moved over to WordPress. Thank you so much!

  18. This was great! I thought I’d read every “Tops” WordPress Plugin articles and found all of the goodies. This one listed a few that I hadn’t heard of. Good looking out! lol.

    • Oh, good, Kesha
      I tried to make it a little outside the box. These are the ones I came up with because people recommended them on the fly or I needed them to fix a problem. I find that those types are the ones that I fall in love with; they make my life so much easier.

      Kimberly

  19. Thanks for the tips! Can’t wait to check them out.

  20. Great information ~ I do love my WordPress and your suggestions are definitely going to keep me busy this weekend downloading a couple I don’t have. Thanks.

  21. Thank you for sharing such great tips!!!!!! I just downloaded them all. Except for Related Posts. Now comparing that with nRelated.

  22. I just started a blog on Blogger, but have the Word Press name too in case I wanted to switch. Wondering if I should be switching now? Any advice people have on one vs the other would be really helpful!!

    • I wish I did have advice. I hired a designer to make the switch for me in 2010 and I love it. I think Blogger has great features too, but I really enjoy WordPress and now that I’ve learned more about HTML coding, I feel really in control of my sites.

      The best advice I could offer is to communicate with other bloggers right here on SITS Girls to see how the transition went for them. I remember a discussion about this a while back on The Blog Frog in the SITS Girls community.

      Best of luck!

  23. Thanks for the tips, I’m going to be checking out several of these.

  24. Great tips, thanks! I already use most of those plugins, but I’m definitely going to install the tweet old posts plugin! ;)

  25. Thanks for the reminder on the Twitter plugin – I had heard of it ages ago and totally forgot about using it. I’m a huge fan of the SEO plugin!

  26. This is a great list! And some I didn’t know about and must go check out now. Thanks, Kimberly!

  27. This is a great post and really making me consider switching over from Blogger to WordPress! When I do, I will definitely be coming back to this post.

    • Good luck with the switch if you do make it, Christine. I’ve heard that it’s not as hard as we think and I even think there’s a post in the archives here about how to do it!

      Kimberly

  28. Wow, thank you for posting this! I’ve been looking for the Related Posts plugin, and I had no idea that PhotoDropper even existed! I’m uploading these ASAP! I’m also snagging the SEO one — my blog has been up since Jan. 30th but doesn’t even have a pagerank. Thanks again!

  29. Thanks for posting this and I am so glad I came across it on Pinterest! I am new to wordpress and am very overwhelmed by all the plugins. I have installed a few you recommended and look forward to figuring them out.

  30. I already use comment luv and I love, love, love it. I’m going to check out photodropper and comment notification because those sound awesome…

  31. Great list, Heading off to download a few.

  32. Thanks for this list! A lot of these plug ins are things that I would have never thought of, so I wouldn’t have known to even search for them. Very cool!

  33. These are so fantastic. I’ve used Akismet with much applause – comment luv, and photodropper. Editorial calendar sounds like such a help and several of the others will be great to implement. Kimberly you are so great! Thank you for all this help and the continued offers for support. And to all of you who commented – I’ve found some new plug-ins to check out, as well. Love the sistahs here – always such fun and help. Girls rock.

  34. Hi Kimberly,
    Some of the plugins I have heard of and us and others sound like I really need to check them out. Especially PhotodropperAnd the Thumb Anti Malware Plugin.

    I use the Editorial Calendar and I really lovve it. It let’s me figure out what is going where in my blog and on what day. I am reuing some of my content from a previous wp blog. I now am on a self hosted so yeah… I can plugin to my hearts content.

    I do have several blogger blogs because that is what I was intorduced to blogging by. But I only have one that is really active and linked through my “social buttons”. I am using it as a “get to know my business as a business” site. That seems to work for me right now.

    I am using Link Within right now, but I am willing to deactivate it for the “Relate Posts via cataagory” plug in. Link within seems to link my posts randomly without making sense to me… but I am still building my blog and I only have 29 posts published.

    I love Comment Luv… Really wish some of you gals come and visit me… I could really use the traffic. And I would visit you back through your links.

    Broken Link sounds interesting. So yeah… I have a lot of work to do… and I book marked this post for reference…

    Thank YOu for this… I really appreciate it.

    Also…I found a plugin that I think would be useful to my fellow SITS Girls bloggers. It’s called, Thank Me Later. Basically, if someome comments on your blog it sends a thank you message to the commenter. And you can customize your messages and the more messages you have they go out randomly.

    Hope this can help

  35. I already have a few plug-ins but from the looks of it I need to consider a few more! Very insightful post! Yay!

  36. These are great, just added the related posts via categories :)

  37. Personally I don’t like LinkedIn for related posts even though lots of bloggers use it. It wasn’t pulling posts I felt were truly related. The best related post plugin I’ve found is nRelate. So far the plugin hasn’t taxed my server or slowed down my site like some plugins can and it pulls from the actual post content instead of just category or tags and it’s got tons of options. I can exclude certain categories from the plugin which comes in handy when it comes to giveaways, deals and freebies that tend to have a short lifespan.

    • Thanks for the tip, Jenn. I’m going to definitely check that one out this weekend! Anything that doesn’t tax my server + works well is a bonus!

      Kimberly

  38. I love WordPress SEO! It’s easy to use and really works. The Facebook meta tags are awesome too. Other plugins I swear by are Regenerate Thumbnails and Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Both are invaluable to me.

    • I can’t remember which related post plugin I use, but I love it and I adore WordPress SEO. It was really paramount when I was getting my newest blog, Keep the Tail Wagging, off the ground. I hit PR2 in less than 2 months thanks to good SEO and timing.

      Kimberly

  39. Jamie @ Roubinek Reality says:

    I’m definitely going to check out TimThumb and the Twitter plugin. Thanks for the tips!

  40. Thanks for the great tips! I will have to check out the photo dropper. I spend a lot of time looking for photos and this would be a great help! I also love akismet, display widgets, and page links to.

    • Hi Krystle
      I love Photodropper; the recent update makes Editorial Calendar not work and I had to make a tough choice, so I notified the coders for Photodropper (great guys) and kept that one, because I can have a calendar on my phone or Kindle until the bugs get worked out.

      :)

      Kimberly

  41. Thanks! I’m a recent migrator from wordpress.com to the self hosted .org format, and I feel like I’m floundering in a sea of plug-in possibilities!

    • Welcome to WordPress. There is a learning curve, but you’ll get there. There are tons of great resources out there to help. One thing that I learned is that the more plugins we use, the slower our sites are; so although it’s tempting to download everything, I try to keep my total below 20; some people say 10 – that’s just too hard for me!

      Kimberly

  42. Hi Kimberly! You have no idea how helpful these tips are. I am currently on Blogger, but the fabulous @NapWarden has created a new WP site for me. All that’s left if for me to write the dreaded about me page and she can flip the switch.

    Anyway, I know nothing of SEO, plug-ins, or WP for that matter so I am definitely going to take advantage of these plug-ins and your other blogging tips.

    Also – how the heck do you keep up with three blogs?! I can’t even maintain one with consistency. You have motivated me!

    • I’m happy that I can help! Feel free to connect with me and I’ll be happy to help where I can. I think I can manage 3 blogs, because I love it. I’m having so much fun. Plus I don’t have human kids – my fur kids sleep a lot. I do a lot of work (like right now) on my commute two and from work.

      Thanks for commenting, Suzanne!
      Kimberly

  43. Thanks for these tips. I’ll be checking out photo dropper and broken link checker.

    Can you recommend a SEO plug in that automatically fills in terms? I have a couple years of old post that have no SEO filled in when I moved from Blogger to WP. I’ve been filling in by hand but this would be a handy tool since I mostly write about one topic.

    • I’d love to read about that as well since I will be moving over non SEO posts from Blogger to WP in the next week or two.

    • The only SEO plugin I can recommend is WordPress SEO by Yoast. It doesn’t automatically fill things in, but it’s really easy. For example, when you choose the keyword to focus on, it’ll give you a drop down list (it’s nice, because maybe there’s something better). I use it on all three of my blogs with every post. If you have any questions on it, please email me and I’ll be happy to help where I can.

      Kimberly

  44. Am I the only one who really dislikes the automatic posting of old posts on Twitter?

    • I would love to know why? Maybe you thought of something that I haven’t thought of and I’m always looking for ways to improve in my blogging.

      The reason why I tweet older posts is because it saves me time and since we get new followers on Twitter all the time it’s nice to share older work with them. I also have a related posts type plugin to share older posts when people visit my blog. For me, it’s a way to bring more and newer traffic to my blog and to share posts my followers may have missed, because Twitter moves so fast.

      I’m really interested in your thoughts – thanks!!
      Kimberly

      • You’re completely correct! Driving traffic to older posts and keeping people on your blog longer through programs like LinkedIn Widget are great and vital. I dislike the posting of old posts on Twitter (and anything automated really) because it seems really spammy to me. I always breeze right through those tweets. Twitter and social media is very “now”, current and ever changing going back seems like back tracking to me.

        I know a lot of bloggers do it so I’m sure I’m in the minority. I just prefer to have real/live conversations. Just my preference.

        • I see where you’re coming from. I have my settings so that it only goes back for a month or so and it does spark up conversation. I think it would be way spammy if that’s all we have on Twitter is automated tweets. I follow up each reply with another reply. What’s really cook about this plug in is that you can put a sentence with it like “an oldie but a goody” so people see that it’s an older post or “one from the archives.”

          I think it’s all in how we use it; some profiles seem more like a robot than like a person, because there’s no fun interaction. Having a smart phone also allows me to keep up on Twitter so that people know that I’m real.

          Thank you so much for sharing. You gave me something to think about !

  45. Awesome tips! I use a a handful of these plugins myself. The WordPress SEO plugin is highly recommended! Still learning to use it to its fullest advantage.

    • I’m a huge fan of WordPress SEO. It’s a lot easier for me than All In One, which a lot of people also recommend. If you have any questions, feel free to email me; I maybe able to help. I use it on every post.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Kimberly

      • Yes, I began using All in One but found this to be much better, especially with the meta elements. The thing is sometimes I FORGET to use it when I’m excited to post, so I have to go back and fix things, lol! SEO really has to be intentional. :) Any other tips on how best to use the meta tag descriptions to their fullest advantage?

        • Hi Martine!
          What I do is write my post, then think of what someone would search for to find it. I then try and change my post to include several instances of the key phrase as possible while still looking natural. The post I wrote last night (linked here) about Keep the Tail Wagging advertising is ranking for “pet safe businesses” – I went back and updated each instance of “pet businesses” to “pet safe businesses” in my post before publishing.

          It’s sort of hard to explain. I’m going to hold a hang out this weekend (and every weekend on Google Plus) to share these things, because it’s easier for me to explain, but in the mean time, feel free to email me. I don’t mind sharing my phone # and we can chat. I love sharing how I’m doing this, because I learn something new in the process!

          Kimberly

  46. Great plug-ins – I just went through this list and added several of them to my blog – Many thanks!

    • Happy to help! If anything stops working on your site, just deactivate (one at a time) until the problem is resolved to see which plugin is starting the problem. What’s really nice is if you have in incompatible plugin and contact the creator, many of them will work with you on a fix, because you’ve identified a potential bug.

      Have fun!
      Kimberly

  47. Oh, these are good tips! I will have to look into the Twitter Plug-in….

  48. Kimberly, I had no idea about TimThumb. I’m gonna check it out, because I live in fear of having my site closed down!

  49. What wonderful tool!

  50. Great tips, Kimberly!

    I already have a few of these plugins and I love them. I’m going to explore Tweet Old Posts and TimThumb, so thank you for that.

    I love What Would Seth Godin Do – it allows me to customize a greeting message ont top of my posts, directed at new readers and returning visitors.

    As a big Pinterest user, I also use Pretty Pinterest Pins that updates my latest Pins (up to 5) on my sidebar and has a Follow Me on Pinterest button.

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