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17 Essential & FREE WordPress Plugins to Power Up Your Website

WordPress was born quite the capable piece of software. It ships with the flexibility, and most of the features you need to whip up a professional website in the time it takes to brew a mug of latte.  And then some.

However, and unfortunately, WordPress does not come with all the features you’d need to build sites that soar high like the Himalayan golden eagles. This is where WordPress plugins come in and shine.

WordPress plugins add functionality you’d otherwise forego. The only problem is there are 40k+ plugins on WordPress.org, not to mention the many free and premium WordPress plugins available elsewhere on the internet.

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This, of course, makes your selection process everything but easy. How do you get the best out of the horde? Worry not, we have put together this collection of must-have WordPress plugins.

All these plugins will help you to transform your website into a true winner in terms of rankings, earnings, subscriptions or however you measure success in your neck of the woods.

If we miss your favorite or any WordPress plugin you feel is essential for every WordPress user, spare a moment and share with us in the comment section at the end. That out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Yoast SEO

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Search engines are a great source of relevant traffic; the kind of prospects who are most likely to turn into loyal customers. This means you’re already missing out on a lot of juice if you don’t have search engine optimization (SEO) going on for you.

You can, however, stop leaving money on the table using Yoast SEO, a pretty popular SEO plugin with millions of downloads. While WordPress is born SEO-ready, you can improve it further and dominate search engine rankings like a boss.

Joost de Valk, the author, says:

Yoast SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.

That’s not the end of it, this WordPress plugin takes care of technical WordPress SEO, including XML sitemaps, meta and link elements, breadcrumbs and RSS optimization among other things.

Thanks to Yoast SEO, you don’t need to struggle to clinch great rankings; you just need to create better content using the plugin.

Download Yoast SEO

W3 Total Cache

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Did you know, according to Sherice Jacob of iElectrify, decreasing page load time can drastically increase conversions? Well, speed is really good if you’re looking to offer your customers a better user experience.

Mind you, you won’t be entertaining your customers only, search engines too have a thing for fast loading websites. Which is exactly why you’ll want to install W3 Total Cache right this moment if you haven’t already.

What does W3 Total Cache do and why should you even care? Trusted by companies such as Yoast.com, AT&T, Mattcutts.com etc, and recommended by hosts such as Synthesis, Page.ly, MediaTemplate etc, W3 Total Cache improves the speed of your WordPress by leveraging caching technology.

It boosts server performance, reduces download times, and offer transparent content delivery (CDN) integration. It’s one of those essential WordPress plugins you know you must have. The author, Frederick Townes, promises at least 10x improvement in site performance when the plugin is fully configured.

Download W3 Total Cache

Just Writing

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Distractions eat away huge portions of our lives that you can easily feel overwhelmed, spent and unaccomplished at the end of the day. What’s the pleasure in that? Which is why WordPress now features a Distraction Free Writing (DFW) mode, which helps you to concentrate on what matters; your writing.

Distraction Free Writing mode is all fun until you find yourself wanting to do more but can’t because that would mean reverting to the standard post editor. Perhaps you just want to stylize a paragraph or check spelling. Dropping back to the standard mode would defeat the whole purpose of distraction free writing. What to do?

Enters Just Writing, and your day is saved. This is one of the essential WordPress plugins that have direct impact on your writing. The plugin offers you all the functionality of the standard mode in DFW mode, allowing you to create amazing posts without distractions.

How suave? Ultimately, amazing posts lead to better rankings, better conversions and more earnings. Oh by the way, you can easily get rid of pretty much all buttons in DFW as well using Just Writing.

Download Just Writing

Google Analytics by Yoast

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The only way to know you are meeting your site goals, and up your game if you’re not performing as expected, is to stay on top of things by tracking your traffic. How else will you know where you are hitting the bullseye or failing as far as your WordPress site goes?

Google Analytics offers you all the tools you need to track your WordPress site. You can tell where your traffic comes from, who makes up your audience and whether you’re achieving your conversion goals among other things – all from a central dashboard.

Google Analytics by Yoast integrates your website with Google Analytics API, putting the power of the latter right in your WordPress dashboard. This way, you can save time since you needn’t login to Google analytics to check your traffic stats.

You can invest the extra time in creating more content or marketing your website, both of which improve your bottom line.

Download Google Analytics by Yoast

Broken Link Checker

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Broken links are bad news for your website. The worst part is you could have a broken link (or a couple) sitting smack on your site for an eternity without ever noticing the negative effects the this has on your rankings, user experience, your reputation and ultimately, your revenue.

Oh yeah, broken links are that bad, and can suck the life out of your website if they are prevalent, and you don’t take action.

First off, broken links stop search engines spiders in their tracks, which means any page that sits behind a broken link won’t be crawled, indexed or ranked.

Secondly, broken links send away prospects since they can’t find what they want resulting in lower rankings. Yep, search engine algorithms assume your site isn’t providing visitors with relevant and quality content.

Thirdly, it’s frustrating to run into a broken link, which makes for disgruntled users who will never return. Fourthly, broken links disrupt your conversion process/sales funnel costing you money and effort.

You can avoid all these issues with the Broken Link Checker plugin that scans your content for broken links and missing images. If the plugin spots that something is out of place, it notifies you via the dashboard or email.

All you have to do from this point is fix the links from the plugin’s page. That’s right, you don’t need to update each post manually. How sweet?

Download Broken Link Checker

WP Notification Bars

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If you just created new content or product that you’d like to promote actively, you need a solution that makes it incredibly easy to serve notifications on demand.

You definitely need to keep your notifications and alerts way above the fold to maximize exposure, which is exactly what notification bars are for. They show at the very top of your website, where they drive huge amounts of traffic to your intended destination.

But WordPress doesn’t come with notification bars by default. What are you to do? You go for WP Notification Bars by MyThemeShop.

In a few steps, you can use WP Notification Bars to create awesome notification bars that compliment your website’s style. You can add call to action buttons and links easily, and implement conditions that control where and when the bar is shown. Can you think of a better way to increase conversions without breaking the bank?

Download WP Notification Bars

WP Review

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Do you run or plan to run a review website? If you plan to make money from affiliate commissions, you need reviews that are out of this world. You need killer reviews that attract your reader’s attention while equipping them with the bits of information they need to convert.

For this very reason, you need a WordPress review plugin made with affiliate marketers and bloggers in mind. You need WP Review by MyThemeShop. Why? You ask.

For starters, WP Review is built by a reputable WordPress developer, meaning you’re getting a high quality plugin gratis. All the same, the stellar reputation of the developer isn’t the only thing that should make you go for WP Review; the plugin comes packed with all the features you need to boost engagement by reviewing and rating content on your site!

But even with the many features, the plugin is easy to setup and use I was creating beautiful reviews in no time.

You can expect features such as:

  • Stars, percentage and point rating systems
  • Support for Google Rich Snippets (schema.org) so your reviews will look awesome in search engine results
  • Fully responsive design
  • Fully customizable : unlimited colors + designs
  • Translation ready
  • WPMU and WPMS compatible
  • Shortcode support
  • Amazing support
  • Et cetera

Now you can create reviews that will knock the socks off your readers, so you can make a killing, all thanks to WP Review. There’s a pro version that comes with more options.

Download WP Review

Revive Old Post (Formerly Tweet Old Post)

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Old is gold goes an old adage. While we won’t refute the internet is a fast-paced environment where what’s hot now will probably be old news in a few hours time, we can’t ignore the fact you stand to benefit from content you published ages ago, especially if it’s evergreen content that’s still relevant to your readers.

Now, you can generate engagement and more traffic by reviving the golden posts of days gone using a nifty WordPress plugin known as Revive Old Post by ThemeIsle and CodeinWP.

With a great rating of 3.9/5.0 and over 80k active installs, Revive Old Post helps you to share new and old posts, include links back to your site, and use hashtags to focus on specific topics.

You can easily choose the number of posts to share, the time between posts, and exclude specific posts or entire categories among other things. The PRO version gets you more features, so yeah, it’s worth checking out as well.

Download Revive Old Post

WP Tab Widget

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It’s frustrating to do everything (you can think of) and fail to keep visitors on your site longer. If you register high bounce rates and nearly non-existent conversion rates, you my friend need help building site engagement. Like. Right. Now.

However, you needn’t struggle with this now that you have the WP Tab Widget from MyThemeShop.

In no time, and without breaking a sweat, you can configure the WP Tab Widget so as to draw the most attention to your best content. Your best content will appear in the sidebars where your visitors can find it without struggling to find it.

WP Tab Widget is the ultimate WordPress tab widget thanks to a number of cool features such as:

  • It AJAXified, meaning it loads content by demand thereby making it super fast and super lightweight
  • Fully responsive design
  • In-built pagination system
  • You get Popular, Recent, Comments and Tags tabs
  • Show/hide post date
  • Cool effects because who likes boring tabs
  • Control the order of your tabs
  • Awesome support
  • Et cetera, the list of features is long you needn’t try hard to see why this plugin made the list.

You also don’t need to try hard to see why WP Tab Widget has a superb rating of 4.8/5.0 with over 80k active installs.

Download WP Tab Widget

FD Word Statistics Plugin

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Apart from being relevant and valuable, quality content is also pleasurable to read. At times, in pursuit of great (read voluminous) content, you might end up killing the readability of your content, making it hard to read, and comprehend.

This, of course, doesn’t lather well with the same readers you’re trying hard to keep on your site. What to do?

You can dig through search engine results for the perfect readability analyzer, or you can simply install FD’s word statistics plugin, and determine word counts as well as the readability without ever leaving your site.

The FD Word Statistics plugin “…shows word and sentence counts plus a readability analysis of the post currently being edited using three different readability measurements: Flesch, Flesch-Kincaid and Gunning-Fog.”

With this tool, you can improve your content and attract more readers, which is incredibly good for your rankings and bottom line.

Download FD Word Statistics Plugin

Title Experiments Free

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Have you had the chance to read the ViralNova case study we published a couple of weeks ago? Well, in that post, we saw how ViralNova has capitalized on catchy headlines to drive traffic and engagement.

In fact, Aaron Miles, who covered ViralNova’s success story for Social Media Today has this to say about the headlines:

ViralNova’s content succeeds because its headlines have the annoying insistence of a friend tugging at your sleeve and saying “Dude! Dude! You won’t believe who I ran into this morning!

The title of your post matters a lot since it can either pull in the reader or have them clicking over to the competition. If your titles are getting in your way, you can turn the tables using the Title Experiments Free plugin.

With this plugin, you can A/B test different variations of your post titles to determine what your readers find interesting. Your title variations will be displayed in any post list randomly. You can then easily tell what percentages of impressions get clicked for each title.

Download Title Experiments Free

Click To Tweet

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Cooked and served hot by CoSchedule – the same guys who help more than 10,000 bloggers, editors and social marketers to plan their blogs – Click To Tweet was built to play one role, and play it well. This nifty plugin will help you to boost social sharing on Twitter.

In recent times, social media has played an integral part in traffic generation. Now, as a digital marketer, you’re always on the hunt for the best methods to boost site engagement as well as drive traffic.

There are business owners who depend largely on social media to drive traffic (cf: Want to Build a $100M Blog Empire? You’ll Love Scott DeLong’s Success Formula).

Now, you don’t have to try hard to get readers sharing your content on Twitter, the Click To Tweet plugin has your back covered. The plugin helps you to easily create tweetable bits of content using a number of styles. For instance, you can use pull quotes and custom messages to entice readers to share.

The Click To Tweet boxes are responsive, easy to implement and beautiful in the looks dept. This plugin has a superb rating of 4.2/5.0 and 10k+ active installs.

Download Click To Tweet

Proofread Bot

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A couple of careless grammatical errors is all it takes to turn off a prospect previously swooning over your brand. It goes without saying that readers appreciate great content, and great content has everything to with good grammar and style.

There are other ways of attracting more customers, but creating great content precedes them all.

Perfecting your writing can be a challenge, whether you’re a native English speaker or not, a pro writer or a beginner blogger. If you employ a team of writers from all corners of the globe, you will definitely need automated help accessing their work, in order to save time and money. This is where Proofread Bot comes in.

Using top-of-the-class natural language processors, Proofread Bot helps you to put a finger on difficult grammatical and stylish issues. That’s not the end it though, this plugin scans your content for plagiarism. Whoa!

Setting and using this plugin is pretty straightforward, we don’t expect you to run into any problems. If you do, though, the support team is more than glad to help you out. We can chip in as well :)

However, there’s a catch. You get one free proofreading up to 600 words per day. If you need more, you have to purchase a proofreading package. Meh. They have an affiliate program too that earns you 50% of every sale you refer.

Download Proofread Bot

My WP Translate

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Good thing with the internet is you can easily get to a prospect on the other side of the globe. You could live in LA, but attract visitors from New Delhi – it’s the internet; everybody is connected to everybody else.

But even with this much convenience, there’s a challenge that could easily bar your way to total world domination; the issue of humans speaking different languages.

While we should definitely appreciate our different cultures, having prospects who speak varying languages can present a problem when creating content for a global market. How do you reach the readers who only speak Sanskrit, French or Spanish among other languages?

That’s easy; you simply needa grab My WP Translate by MyThemeShop, still a reputable name in WordPress circles. As long as your WordPress theme and plugins support translation, you’re golden. Simply install this WordPress translator and spread the word to all corners of the globe.

Le plugin is easy to install and use you require no coding knowledge. You can easily translate any WordPress theme or plugin from the backend. If you’re stuck, MyThemeShop offers awesome support and detailed documentation.

Download My WP Translate

Google XML Sitemaps

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For most website owners, search engines are a great source of organic traffic. But you won’t receive the juice if you don’t invite search engines to find your content. Damn these spidey bots, they won’t move an inch unless you invite them in – much like vampires.

Search engines employ a simple process to serve content to millions of their users:

  • You create amazing content
  • You submit your site to the search engines
  • The search engines crawls your site and indexes your content
  • Search engine shows your content when a user submits a relevant search query

Simple as A, B, C.

But where in this well-orchestrated opera do sitemaps shine? A sitemap helps you to inform search engines what pages to crawl on your website. In its most basic form, a sitemap is an XML document listing all URLs of your site.

The importance of sitemaps should not be downplayed. They help search engines navigate your website more easily, which helps search engines index your content better. If you think of your website as a building, the sitemap is a blueprint that informs search engines exactly where everything is located. – Kevin Muldoon, Importance of Google Sitemaps.

Now, the Google XML Sitemaps plugin will automatically generate an XML sitemap for your WordPress site. It supports all types of WordPress pages as well as custom URLs, and informs major search engines whenever you create new content.

Google XML Sitemaps has an outstanding rating of 4.9/5.0 and over 1 million active installs. It’s the brainchild of Arne Brachhold, he who has four other impressive plugins under his belt.

Download Google XML Sitemaps

WP Subscribe

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A well curated mailing list is a surefire way of driving traffic to your website and generating leads for years to come. It’s a powerful way of driving repeat customers (where the real money is) to your site, since:

  • Firstly, you become less dependent on external (read third party) sources of traffic, and
  • Secondly, you have more ability to interact with your audience at an intimate level

If you don’t have the right tools, email marketing will make you want to pluck out your own eyes. One of the tools you need in your email marketing arsenal is WP Subscribe, again, by the gracious guys over at MyThemeShop.

Within no time, you can use this bad boy to create attention grabbing subscription forms that will boost your email conversions twofold. WP Subscribe is easy as pie to install and use, and since it employs optimized code, it’s lighting fast as well.

It’s fully responsive meaning you won’t lose potential subscribers lurking on your site via mobile devices. It plays well with MailChimp, AWeber, and FeedBurner.

The plugin comes with many other features, and has a cool rating of 4.5/5.0 and over 50k active installs.

Download WP Subscribe

My WP Backup

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You can lose your website at any time and due to a number of reasons. At these unfortunate times, you can only rely on a good backup solution to save your arse from fire. After all, nothing is as nasty as extended downtimes that cause loss in revenues and brand trust.

With a great backup plugin such as My WP Backup, you can be up and running in no time whether you were hacked, your site broke due to human error, natural calamities or server issues among other things.

100% of businesses and websites that use My WP Backup have avoided permanent data destruction and loss to their business, and have been able to focus on content creation as opposed to manual backups and technological stress. – MyThemeShop

Setting up the plugin is easy peasy work and so is creating backups. You can create unlimited full-site backups (files + database) and save them on Dropbox, Google Drive or FTP. Restoring your backups is a matter of point and click.

It works as advertised, My WP Backup, and the PRO version ships with more features, obviously.

Download My WP Backup

Final Words

In no way is this list of essential WordPress plugins conclusive; there are definitely many other plugins out there, which means we might have missed your favorites. All the same, we hope you’ll find a couple of gems from the list above.

That said, which are you favorite WordPress plugins? Or, which plugins are a must have for your website? Let’s extend this list for the benefit of the WordPress community at large. Please share your favorites, thoughts and recommendations in the comment section below. We always look forward to your thoughts!

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