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.

The Art of Strong Blogging Content
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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! Great tips!

  2. Thanks! I just downloaded like half this list for my WordPress blog!

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  4. ooo how lovely and useful! I just discovered how the websites i comment on knows what i wrote last! Hehe, it had me completely dumbfounded but now I know its CommentLuv.
    I will download and install it right now.
    Thanks for great tips!
    Corlie

  5. comment luv is one of my favorite plugins. I’ve found a lot of other fellow bloggers to network and converse with from their comment luv link.

  6. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! I recently switched over and I am looking for the top plugins that I need.

  7. Thanks for some of these suggestions! The SEO has one wonders for my blog.

  8. Thanks for the great tip will be incoporating them on my site today :)

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  14. Thank you very much!

  15. Some great plugins-thanks for the post Kimberly Gauthier. Have a great day on purpose!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I have been wanting the related posts and I searched for it, but never found nothing. This time I did, I found more than one lol. Thanks again :)

  17. Thanks – this was incredibly helpful!

  18. Great post! Thanks so much for the tips. Do you have any wordpress plug-in recommendations for adding a watermark to your images?

    • I do not; I’ve seen people ask about these. I use Lightroom to watermark my images. Many fellow bloggers use PicMonkey. I also use MS Paint. But Lightroom is easiest when doing mass images.

  19. Thank you for this post – even though it’s a year later that I’m reading it. I went from blogging for myself, to blogging in general, to now really wanting to share content. I’ve been battling with wordpress.com for the last two days, trying to figure out whether to host or try one of the less popular blog sites. I’m convinced now that I will buy my domain (www.lifeonthehorizn.com) and install the wordpress.org! Thank you!

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  21. Whats up are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  22. Great points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your put up that you simply made a few days ago? Any sure?

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  24. Living in New Mexico, I found this resource by clicking on a link from Google. Very Happy I did. Good topic, and great site. Keep up the Great Work.

  25. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.

  26. Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my website so i came to go back the want?.I am trying to in finding things to improve my web site!I guess its ok to use some of your concepts!!

  27. OMG why didn’t I know about Tweet Old Posts. Lifesaver !!!!! I was spending hours each Sunday digging thru the archives and posting via hootsuite. LOVE YOU GUYS ! xoxo

    • You are going to LOVE this one. I see my brands retweeting my posts, because of this plugin. So easy :) And I just eliminate the giveaways and holiday posts from being retweeted. Voila! It’s awesome!

  28. This is EXACTLY what I needed today! I was scouring the web for insight and literally praying for some simple, yet informative guidance and then voila’- I stumbled upon this post. Thank you for sharing! Blessings!! Krissy

  29. Thank you for the information. I just started blogging this year and I hadn’t heard of most of those plugins. I’ve uploaded most of them. The editorial calendar should help me organise my posts better.

  30. Thanks for all these great ideas! I’m totally loving a few of my plugins too.
    1. Jetpack
    has just about every plugin you need all in one place! I believe you use it on this site ;)
    2. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
    The simple click of a box tells me your not a spammer. I’ve only had one spammer since installing this, compared to dozens daily!
    3. Follow
    Just another reminder that you can follow my page in an unobtrusive way

    Thanks for adding comment luv and Timthumb to my list!

  31. Thank you so much for sharing! As a new blogger

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  33. I am excited, I am going to try Tweet old posts. I am using WordPress SEO by Yoast and love it, along with Instapress for pulling in my instagram photos, and Twitter @ Anywhere Plus, and Yet Another Related Post which is like Reltaed posts via categories.

  34. does this work with the wordpress.com or just the wordpress.org

  35. Wow! I actually just stumbled upon this site today by accident. I’ll call it serendipity:) Not only did I love the featured post but I’ve subscribed to your RSS feeds and am making sure to spread the word about Women Get Social. Beautiful design, well put together, and a great read. Great place to learn when your working on a small business venture/blog! Thanks for all the info., looking forward to reading more!

  36. Thank you so much for sharing! As a new blogger this helps tons! :0)

  37. Tracy @ The UnCoordinated Mommy says:

    Love this list! Thanks so much!

  38. I am so glad I read this post. I love the idea of Tweet Old Posts and plan to check it out today!

  39. Hi Kimberly!
    Great post! I’m pretty new to blogging and so I wanna make sure I start out right. So thanks for all of the tips and must-haves! And be sure to check out my blog, EmptyMyBrain – new content added EVERY DAY!

  40. Thanks for the quick overview of tips! I have a question in re TimThumb. How does it differ from other spam blockers? I use Akismet, which has been quite successful – and any that it does not block automatically always end up in my “Approve/Delete” comment page. It could be I don not understand exactly what TimThumb is and/or does. Let me know if you have the time! Thanks!

    • Hi Paula – the TimThumb is a code related to our images – the thumbnails ones. Apparently there was something dealing with the coding that allowed hackers into our site. So spam blockers don’t protect against this. The good news is that many themes today have already addressed this and resolved the risk :)

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