Top 10 Free WordPress Plugins that I use & Recommend – 2015

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Written by Monlam Makhampa

I use WordPress for my blog and for small and simple websites. By small and simple I mean websites that don’t require complex functions. For example a website for a restaurant. That would require just a few pages to show the Restaurant Menu, Restaurant information, Contact detail and may be a blog section.

For websites that require complex functions, I use Joomla. Websites that need Social Media capabilities, e-commerce sites and even News websites.

You should know that if only a website’s requirements are complex, go with Joomla. For everything else, WordPress is the way to go despite its security vulnerabilities. WordPress is simple, easy and has tons of useful plugins. At the time of writing this post, the total number of plugins available is 37,754.  

I am not going to write on all the best wordpress plugins out there, may be I will do a post on that in the future; today I am going to reveal the top 10 free wordpress plugins that I use on my different sites. All these plugins are from reputed developers, updated regularly and tried-n-tested so you can be sure it will rock your site for a long long time.

Top 10 Free WordPress Plugins that I use – 2015

The Best things in life should be Free.  🙂

1. For Popups & lead capture – Icegram

icegram-wordpress-plugin2

Icegram is a plugin that I started using just recently. It has a lot of settings to play with and it works perfectly on the latest version of wordpress. Icegram can be used as a Popup, Floating Action Bar, Messenger and Toast Notifications to capture leads. I normally use the Popup to get subscribers to my newsletter (most probably you saw this pop up on my site a few seconds ago).

Striking features of Icegram Plugin

  • Popups, header / footer bars, toast notifications, messengers – everything!
  • Powerful targeting rules – You can enable it sitewide, specific page/pages or URLs or only on Home page
  • You can set it to show after a set time
  • Schedule – You can choose to show between a specified period of time
  • Target User – You can set it to show only to logged in users, non-logged in users or to all
  • Device – You can choose to show it on mobile, tablets, desktop or disable on any device.
  • Compatible with auto responders, other plugins and themes
  • No backlinks to the Author

For more info see Icegram WordPress Plugin Page

2) For Social Sharing – Super Socializer

super-socializer

There are many social share plugins out there but this one is a complete package. With the plugin you can install a social sharing, Facebook commenting system and even Facebook Login/Signup option for your site (if you allow users to login/signup on your site)

The advantage of having a Facebook Commenting system is that you won’t get spam comments, will add credibility and will get your posts noticed on facebook.

For more info, see Super Socializer WordPress Plugin Page

3) For Analytics – Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard WordPress Plugin

This plugin displays Google Analytics reports and real-time statistics in your WordPress Dashboard. Remember you must have a Google Analytics account for this to work. To create a google analytics account click here => http://www.google.com/analytics

Once you have your google analytics account setup, install the plugin, activate it and then go to its settings to authorize it. Its just a few clicks of a button, simple!

You can even show your stats on your website (frontend). The reports that you can view are

  • visitors by pages, referrers and searches reports
  • location reports, displaying visitors by country on a Geo Map and in a table chart
  • traffic overview reports with details about acquisition channels, social networks, search engines, traffic mediums and visitor type
  • per post or page analytics reports in Posts List and Pages List

I use this on all my wordpress sites.

For more info, see Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

4) For Security – iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)

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Warning: if you are new to wordpress or a novice then you should take great care while installing and setting up a wordpress security plugin like this one. A few wrong settings can lead to your website being inaccessible or your admin area (backend) becoming inaccessible. Of course you can get help from others and set it right but you will waste a lot of your time.

Having said that, this is a great free security plugin for wordpress. If you ask me if this will give 100% protection to your site? The answer is NO! No plugin or security system can give 100% protection to your site but this plugin has many features that blocks or tries to stop common hacker attacks on your site.

One of the best features is the ability to hide your admin area. Usually anyone can tell you are using wordpress by just typing the URL of your admin area =>  www.YourAwesomeSite.com/wp-admin   With this plugin you can change your admin url to something like  www.YourAwesomeSite.com/honeybooboo

For more info, see iThemes Security WordPress Plugin Page

5) For Hiding/Showing Widgets – Display Widgets

wp-display-widgets-plugin

One of the biggest disadvantage of wordpress is that the sidebar is same through out the site. This is very frustrating if you have a fairly large site and need to show different widgets on different pages/posts/categories.

Display Widgets is a free wordpress plugin designed to solve this problem. There is no separate settings for this widget, just install it, activate it and you will see a new option under all your widgets. Appearance> Widget> Your Widget> Display Widget Option

For more info, see Display Widgets WordPress Plugin Page

6) For Auto Posting on Social Networks – SNAP (Social Network Auto Poster)

Social Network Auto Poster WordPress Plugin

With this plugin you won’t have to post your articles to the social network sites, the plugin will do that for you automatically whenever you publish an article on your blog/site.

Now setting this plugin is easy but it requires you to setup a Facebook App. Setting up the Facebook App is also very easy but might seem a bit complicated if you are completely new. It’s just following a few screens and entering few information. I also use Jetpack Publicize module for Auto posting on a few sites which doesn’t require you to setup a Facebook App and it works well too.

See How to Setup SNAP (Social Networks Auto-Poster) and Jetpack Publicize module

There is a pro version of this plugin too which allows you to auto-post your articles to Google Plus and pin to Pinterest. With the free version of SNAP you can auto post your articles to social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Tumblr etc but not Google Plus and Pinterest.

There are lots of settings you can play with to customize the way your article gets posted on the social network sites.

For more info see SNAP (Social Network Auto Poster) WordPress Plugin Page

7) For SEO – Wordpress SEO by Team Yoast

wp-yoast-seo-plugin

Now I have no idea why this guy is drinking presumably an energy drink but this plugin is the undisputed champion when it comes to wordpress SEO. And it’s Free.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not denying that wordpress itself alone is technically good enough when it comes to SEO. But this free plugin will make it even better and help you rank better with its features that you can use.

This is a must install plugin if you care about SEO of your site. There is also a pro version of this plugin but the free version is good enough.

After installing and activating the plugin when you write a post you will see extra fields under your post. You can type a different post Title and Meta description if you want. This will be used by the search engines. You will be able to preview the serp Snippets also so you will know exactly how your post will appear in search engine results.

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For more info see WordPress SEO by Yoast WordPress Plugin Page

8) For Spam Comments protection – Akismet

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Spams are a pain. If you are using the default wordpress commenting system on your site then Akismet is a must have. Akismet plugin comes preinstalled with wordpress but you have to activate it. Go to your Plugin settings and activate it.

If it's a newly installed wordpress, you will see a green bar to activate Akismet

If it’s a newly installed wordpress, you will see a green bar on top to activate Akismet

You can always activate Akismet from Plugin settings

You can also activate Akismet from Plugin settings

After activating Akismet, you need to get Akismet Key. To get this key go to  www.akismet.com  Click on Get a WordPress Key Button. It will take you to the pricing plans, just select the Free plan for personal non-business.

Just follow the signup process and at the end you should have the Akismet key. Copy the key and paste it in your site’s Akismet Configuration page. That’s it! The good news is that the same Akismet key can be used on your other wordpress sites as well.

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For more info see Akismet WordPress Plugin Page

9) For Forms – Contact Form 7

wp-contact-form-plugin

Contact Form 7 is just another contact form plugin – simple but flexible. Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms for your site. Moreover you can customize the form and the mail contents with simple markup.

The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

For more info see Contact Form 7 WordPress Plugin Page

10) For Post Scheduling – WP Missed Schedule

Wordpress Missed Schedule Fix Plugin

This is a handy little tool that fixes a flaw in wordpress post scheduling. I am sure you are aware that wordpress allows you to write a post and then schedule it to be published at a set future date and time. This is a very useful feature but it often misses and doesn’t work some times.

WP Missed Schedule Fix Failed Future Posts” is a fix for this problem and it works great! All you need to do is install the plugin, activate it and forget about it. There are no settings for this plugin as it is just fix for the WP post schedule feature.

For more info see WP Missed Schedule Fix Failed Future Posts

Conclusion

These were my favorites, tried and tested! Do you have any favorite plugins that is not mentioned here, feel free to share in the comments. Also if you need any help with any of these plugins, feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to help.

About the author

Monlam Makhampa

My name is Monlam Makhampa and I'm a Freelance Web Designer. I started Digital Shangrila in 2014 & I write on various topics related to technology and Web Designing. Read more here

2 Comments

  • That’s pretty Monlam. I have seen most of top sites like sew, searchenginecap are using disquss plugin for comment system. I really like it. Try this one also.
    Thanks

    • thank you for mentioning it Anil.. I have seen a lot of big sites use disquss for commenting as you said but I personally like the wp inbuilt commenting system or a fb commenting system, the later helps bring some traffic too. I haven’t used disquss till now, may be i’ll give it a try 🙂

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