My Top 12 Free WordPress Plugins Every User Needs

wordpress plugins

WordPress has become a popular target for hackers due to it’s increasing popularity for building and managing small business websites. It’s very difficult to restore your site if it get’s shut down as a result of security flaws. Besides installing security plugins there are other “must have” plugins to make your site easier to manage.

Here’s a list of the Top 12 Plugins
I currently use based on their purpose:

1. Filter Out Comment Spam

This is a free plugin that is installed by default on all WordPress sites. It automatically filters out your comment and track-back spam.

How to Mass Delete Comments From WordPress Using phpMyAdmin

2. Reward Commenters

Comment Luv. This plugin rewards readers by automatically placing a link to their last blog post at the end of their comment.

Comment Luv Premium is an alternative paid plugin ($67.00) that contains additional features such as:

  • Prevents human generated spam from ever getting near your blog.
  • Automatically displays your Twitter name in the comments.
  • Rewards readers by allowing keywords in the names of comment authors.
  • Sends an email to users when they get a direct reply to their comment.
  • Get advanced backlink features on EVERY CommentLuv blog when you comment

3. Secure Your Site

Better WordPress Security
This plugin protects your WordPress installation from attackers. It reinforces standard WordPress security by hiding vital areas of your site, protecting access to important files via htaccess, preventing brute-force login attempts and detecting attack attempts.

This plugin includes a firewall, anti-virus scanning, malicious URL scanning and live traffic It can repair changed files that are security threats even if you don’t have backups. It includes login security to lock out brute force hacks and stop WordPress from revealing info that will compromise your security.

8 Steps To Protect Your WordPress Website From Hackers

4. Social Media Sharing

Social Profiles Widget
This plugin enables you to insert icon links to your social profiles in any widgetized area on your blog.

This plugin makes it easy for visitors to share your content with their friends. It places social sharing buttons along the bottom of each post so a reader can simply click one of the icons when they want to share the content they just finished reading.

Tweet, Like, Google +1 and Share Plugin
A very simple social share plugin with just 4 social icons. (i.e Twitter, FB Like, Google +1 and FB Share)

Top 7 Reasons to Create a Social Media Presence for Your Business
How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 10 Minutes a Day

5. Monitor Site Statistics

This plugin creates a graphical display of your site’s statistics at the top of your admin window for easy and immediate viewing. It shows how many daily, weekly and monthly views you received, where your views came from (which post) and what search engine terms were used to find your posts.

How To Monitor Website Traffic
Website Traffic Analysis Tool – Google Webmaster Tools

6. Redirect Affiliate Links

If you want to track affiliate links within your posts and make them look pretty (easy to spell and remember) install the redirection plugin. I currently use it to create and track affiliate links placed in YouTube videos I create or to track affiliate links within posts.

For example instead of displaying the long affiliate URL for the Subscribers Magnet Plugin ( I shorten it to

7. Capture Contact Information

Contact Form 7
Installing a contact form enables site visitors to easily get in touch with you. This plugin has the flexibility to add additional form fields besides name and email. It also has the ability to add multiple contact forms to any number of pages or posts using short codes.

A paid plugin alternative to consider with more advanced features is
Gravity Forms.

Here are some of it’s best features:

  • Create multi-page forms
  • Add pricing fields
  • Add check boxes, drop-downs, radio buttons
  • Create WordPress Post (great for user-generated content)
  • Developer version allows you to create polls, quizzes, capture signatures online and enable user registration.

Gravity Forms Contact Form Plugin for WordPress

How to Collect Email Addresses From Your Website
7 Tips For Creating Effective Autoresponder Messages

8. Build a list of subscribers

Subscribers Magnet
Learn how to double or triple the number of subscribers to your blog or without getting any additional traffic. This plugin enables you to place opt-in forms at the top, sidebar, bottom of your blog or even as a pop-in. Each form can be monitored to see which one performs the best. All forms utilize responsive design which means it will display correctly on all devices (ie computers, tablets, mobile phones). it works with most major email list providers (ie Aweber, GetResponse, etc)

A free alternative (ie if you already have an Aweber account) for building a list of subscribers is to simply install the opt-in forms that are included with your Aweber account.

Editor’s Note:
Read my Review of Aweber
33 Points To Consider Before Choosing An Email List Provider

5 ways to build a relationship with your autoresponder list
How to Build an Email List……And Actually Make Money From It

9. Increase Site Speed

W3 Total Cache
Site speed is one of Google’s main ranking factors. A slow loading site will cause visitors to lose patience and drive them away. This plugin will improve your visitor’s experience by increasing server performance, and reduce load times.

5 Ways to Decrease Your Website Loading Time
How to Calculate and Speed-Up the Download Time of Your Website

10. Google XML Sitemap

Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator
XML-Sitemaps helps your blog get indexed by the major search engines It helps web crawlers to discover pages from links within your site.

How To Create a Google XML Sitemap
How to Add a Site Map to Your Word Press Blog

11. Optimize WordPress Default Ping Services

MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer
WordPress automatically pings your blog whenever you add a a new post but it also pings whenever you edit and update any existing post.

This plugin corrects WordPress’s pinging system by:

  • When you create a new post, your blog will ping and notify all the ping services that it has been updated. This encourages search engines and different blog directories/services to index your updated blog properly.
  • When you edit an existing post, it won’t send an unnecessary ping to ping services and saves your blog from getting banned.
  • When you post a future post by editing the time stamp, it will ping only when your post appears in future. It won’t unnecessarily ping many times when you schedule posts as WordPress does by default.

12. Backup WordPress Files

WordPress Backup
This plugin creates backups of your core WordPress tables as well as other tables of your choice in the same database.

A great alternative for backing up all your WordPress files and databases (if your hosting provider utilizes cpanel) is to do a one click backup every month and save all the files on your hard drive.

How to Backup SQL Database – 4 Top Methods
How to Backup mySQL Database With phpMyAdmin

Watch On YouTube: My Top 12 Free WordPress Plugins Every User Needs

Additional plugins to consider

* Welcome Gate

Welcome Gate
This plugin is a cross between a popup and a squeeze page but less annoying and aggressive. When visitors go to your home page they’re redirected to a squeeze page (ie which they can either skip or opt-in. A visitor will only see your Welcome Gate once in their lifetime (unless your site is accessed from another computer).

View How The Welcome Gate Plugin Backend Works

* Add E-commerce Functionality

This is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress that enables you to easily create and manage a storefront catalog of products and take care of customers and orders.

Read my Review of Shopp E-commerce Plugin for WordPress

How to Create Your E-commerce Website
How to Set up an Online Store Step by Step

* Create Membership Sites and Landing Pages

This plugin allows you to build secure membership sites, sell ebooks, software, do advanced lead generation and take recurring payments with secure log-in-protected member gateways. It can also quickly and easily create 8 different types of landing pages (so you don’t have to waste time designing your own).

* Site Maintenance

Maintenance Mode Plugin
This plugin replaces the front page of your blog with a splash page that lets visitors know your blog is currently under construction or down for maintenance. It comes in handy when you’re in the process of building or redesigning a blog and don’t want to display the unfinished site to your customers.

Moving WordPress to a New Server Step by Step
Website Maintenance Tips
Why You Need a SEO maintenance plan
61 actionable strategies

Let me know what “must have” plugins you currently use by entering your comments in the box below.

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