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7 Free Must-Have WordPress Plugins (& Some You Don’t Need!)

Essential plugins for every WordPress website!

There are so many thousands of WordPress plugins out there, it can feel pretty overwhelming when you’re just getting started with a new website. So we’ve put together a list of our must-have plugins for any WordPress site.

The plugins in our list are simply intended to create a good foundation; there are plenty of other fantastic plugins out there for adding a store, creating memberships, building forums, and so on. But the plugins we’ve listed are great for literally any blog or website.

You can install all these plugins simply by going to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress Dashboard. Search for the name and click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’. We’ve included the direct links to the plugins below so you can get more information about them and check you’re installing the right one.

All these plugins are free to use, but many have premium versions too. You don’t need to upgrade unless you want to and you love the plugin: the free versions are still great.

Currently reading: 7 Free Must-Have WordPress Plugins Share on X

On with the list!

01. Akismet

Akismet is a plugin to stop spam comments on your blog. There are tons of comment spam plugins available for WordPress; the tricky part with anything that stops spam is the balance between blocking fake comments while still allowing all the real ones through. We’ve tried a bunch of spam plugins but Akismet is our favorite.

02. Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode

If you’ve just started your blog and it’s not ready to go live yet, or you need to temporarily show a maintenance mode screen while you work on your site, SeedProd’s two-in-one Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode plugin is great for letting you work on your website behind the scenes while keeping your visitors in the loop.

03. Contact Form 7

Make it easy for visitors to get in touch with you with Contact Form 7, an easy to use contact form. It’s super flexible and easy to edit to include the fields you want. You can create all the forms you need for your website and add them to posts and pages easily using short codes.

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04. AddThis

Add social media sharing buttons and share counts quickly and easily. They’re great for social proof and prompting users to share your content. There are dozens of great plugins for this, but a good options to start with is AddThis.

WordPress Social Sharing Plugins

05. Smush Image Compression & Optimization

Optimizing your images is a must – it keeps your site fast, visitors don’t waste time or data loading huge images, and it’s lighter on space and bandwidth for you. For maximum optimization, compress your images in a graphics program or using a free online tool before using a lossless compression plugin like Smush for your Media Library. ShortPixel is another great alternative.

06. Wordfence Security

There are plenty of great security plugins around, but Wordfence is one of our favorites for securing your WordPress website. It includes scanning functionality and automatically protects your site against common threats.

07. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO makes it easy to submit your website to the search engines, enter meta descriptions, choose images and captions for social media, stay on track with writing content, and much more. RankMath is a good alternative, too.


Some plugins you don’t need

So that’s our list complete! If you’re familiar with WordPress, you may be thinking there are a few things missing. And you’d be right – we haven’t mentioned any caching or back up plugins.

All our WordPress plans include our own caching plugin preinstalled. Caching is basically for speed and can help your content, images, scripts, fonts, pages, and other files all load faster.

You don’t need to install a caching plugin such as WPCache, W3 Total Cache, or WP Rocket because you already have caching, and multiple caching plugins – ironically – can slow your site down. In fact, we strongly recommend you don’t use a third party caching plugin as our own tests show our in-built plugin performs better in our own environment, especially for US visitors to your website.

We back up your website and database daily automatically, and you can roll back to any version from the past 30 days for free any time you like. We store all backups on separate servers to your website for extra security. You can also download a free one-click backup yourself from your control panel at any time. If you want another option in the form of a backup plugin, however, Updraft Plus and CodeGuard Premium are both worth a look.

Related:  40+ Elegantly Feminine Free WordPress Themes

For more plugins to avoid, check out WordPress Plugins You Don’t Need.

This list of plugins has been adapted from The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with WordPress, which is included free with every Lyrical Host WordPress Hosting Plan.

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7 Essential Free WordPress Plugins

Jenni Brown
Co-founder of Lyrical Host, Jenni has been in the web hosting industry for years and specializes in social media, copywriting, search engine optimization, and email marketing. She loves cats, baking, photography, and gaming.

  • 09/27/2017

    Found a few gems in here – thanks!

  • Chuck Self

    AddThis is now close. What do you recommend for social media sharing instead?

  • 10/09/2023

    Hi Jenny! First, thank you for this amazing blog you run 🤍 I was going through this because I once used a plugin for social sharing and I’m not sure where I found it (perhaps on the seo course…) but I can’t find it again. what’s your current recommendation since ‘AddThis’ mentioned above has been discontinued? Thank you 😊

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