WordPress is so much more than a blogging tool. This flexible, easy-to-set-up web publishing platform has served as the foundation for more than 64 million websites since its launch more than a decade ago. Its popularity has spawned an incredibly rich plug-in ecosystem that helps webmasters improve their sites in many ways. From search engine optimization (SEO), to article enhancement, to comments management, you’ll find an amazing number of ways to trick out your WordPress installation’s base functionality, whether you’re hosting your own website or using a managed WordPress hosting service.
There are more than 54,000 WordPress plug-ins available as of this writing. The upside? You’ll never run out of of plug-ins to choose from. The downside? You don’t even know where to start. As with the Android and iOS app stores, the WordPress plug-in catalog houses countless goodies mixed in with even more duds. Our goal is to highlight those that will most benefit your website. You can, of course, visit WordPress’ Most Popular Plug-in Directory(Opens in a new window) to see the most downloaded plug-ins of the moment, but you’ll miss many great potential additions by not digging deeper. That, however, is a potentially massive time sink, so we’ve done the digging on your behalf.
These top WordPress plug-ins will help your site perform like a champ. And they do it without costing you a cent because these plug-ins are all free (although some offer premium tiers with additional functionality). We’ll regularly refresh this list to ensure these plug-ins are all freshly updated. An out-of-date plug-in may work with your recently updated WordPress installation, but it’s not guaranteed to do so. Every plug-in featured here has been updated within at most the past two months as of this writing. Many were updated last week.
Oh, one more thing. Now’s the time we should mention that plug-ins can be installed only on self-hosted WordPress sites or sites using managed WordPress hosting services; if WordPress.com is your host, this article isn’t for you. If you are self-hosting a website, and ready to enhance your WordPress-powered site, continue to our list of excellent plug-ins below.
Elementor Website Builder
Developed by Elementor.com
Elementor(Opens in a new window) offers numerous tools to make your WordPress site as robust and attractive as possible. Add video and image galleries. Integrate services, such as Google Maps and SoundCloud. Display your social media icons. Insert custom HTML code to further expand your site’s functionality.
Developed by Automattic
Jetpack(Opens in a new window) is an official WordPress.com plug-in that gives your self-hosted WordPress blog a truckload of extra features. The plug-in serves up visitor stats, social media sharing options, and After The Deadline (a grammar and spell checker). Featuring design, marketing, performance, and security tools, Jetpack gets you started with a little bit of everything.
Developed by John Godley
Redirection(Opens in a new window) is a plugin that lets you redirect links, track 404 (“page not found”) errors, and fix other link-based issues. The plug-in is incredibly useful if you are migrating pages from an old website or making changes to your site’s WordPress directory.
Developed by The Simple:Press Team
Want to add a forum to your WordPress setup? Simple:Press(Opens in a new window) lets you do just that. Don’t underestimate its capabilities; with Simple:Press, you can customize the forum with skins, create sub-forums, grant user rankings based on post numbers, and more.
Developed by The Events Calendar
With the COVID-19 pandemic still plaguing us, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your events, both in-person and online. With the Events Calendar(Opens in a new window) plug-in, you can create and view events, coordinate with venues and fellow organizers, and publish your schedule for visitors to browse.
Developed by UpdraftPlus.com
Because you put so much effort into building a website, the last thing you want to do is lose it. UpdraftPlus(Opens in a new window), lets you back up your WordPress site and files into cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Rest easy knowing you can restore your site whenever you want.
Developed by Wordfence
The internet can be a dangerous place. Wordfence Security(Opens in a new window) protects your WordPress site and keeps your visitors safe from malicious attacks. A strong firewall filters out known suspicious IP addresses, deeply integrated encryption thwarts data leaks, and multifactor authentication adds that last extra safeguard for your WordPress login. You owe it to your users to keep your site safe and sound.
Developed by Team Yoast
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the single most important thing for getting your website in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Millions of WordPress sites trust Yoast SEO(Opens in a new window) to offer all the insight they need to keep their SEO game on point. This tool analyzes your content for keywords, monitors your ranking, and helps you clean up your URLs. Premium users can even preview how their site appears on social media.