The 36 Free Plugins That Every WordPress User Could Need

The 36 Free Plugins That Every WordPress User Could NeedBack in March of this year, I published The Top 100 WordPress Plugins For Your Site. It was a list of the most popular plugins available on, filtered and sorted by compatibility, freshness, and ratings.

As I expected, reactions to the post were a mix between, “This is a great resource — thanks!”, and “This is the worst post I have ever seen in my life — you are an awful human being”.

Or something similar to that anyway. I’m paraphrasing.

Not one to be discouraged, I set out to compile a resource that would better my top 100 plugins post. Something that could serve as an extremely useful tool for any WordPress user. Here’s what I came up with.

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A Comprehensive List of Free Plugins That You Could Need

As a standalone content management system, WordPress is awesome. It does a whole load of cool stuff. But its real power lies in its extensibility — the plugins you can add to your installation of WordPress to make it do just about anything.

The problem is in (a) knowing what WordPress is capable of via its extensibility, and (b) finding the best solution for whatever additional functionality you desire. This resource seeks to provide the answer to both of those questions, by providing a list of plugins for a comprehensive list of popular functions.

In compiling this resource, I stuck to three simple rules:

  1. The plugin must be free and available for download on
  2. The plugin must offer functionality that might of use to any blogger.
  3. Only one plugin of each type is to be included.

Whilst there are many good “niche” plugins out there (like WooCommerce, for example), my focus was only on plugins that could be of use to any blogger, regardless of the style of their site, or their chosen subject matter.

With that said, let’s not waste any more time!

The List

For your ease of browsing, the plugins have been split into broad categories.

Better Content Production

Security, Backups and Spam

Speed and Optimization

SEO and Analytics

Admin Improvements

Content Promotion

Improved Enduser Usability

Now It’s Your Turn

I don’t think this list is finished yet — I want to see that number in the headline climb. I think there are other plugins out there that deserve inclusion. With that thought in mind, I am opening up the comments section to any and all suggestions as to what else should be included.

As you know, the criteria are simple:

  1. The plugin must be free and available for download on
  2. The plugin must offer functionality that might of use to any blogger.
  3. Only one plugin of each type is to be included.

So please, share with us your suggestions in the comments section below!

Creative Commons image courtesy of gagilas

Comments (24)

  1. Plugins pose a challenge for me. The problem is there’s no guarantee that this combination of plugins won’t crash my site.

    Also a question: is performance improved when running less plugins but more functions in functions.php?

    Great work though, Tom and thank you! I’m missing WP UI for tabs, accordions and spoilers.

  2. Great list! I see a lot of my favorites, plus some others I want to check out.

    I notice you have these listed:
    SEO: WordPress SEO by Yoast
    Sitemaps: Google XML Sitemaps
    I think Yoast’s plugin generates XML sitemaps; is there a reason to have Google’s plugin?

    I used PhotoDropper with satisfaction for a while, but I recall seeing it hogging resources and took it off.

    • Lane — Hope you are doing well. :)

      I’d love to hear how PhotoDropper was hogging resources.

      Could you provide more info? We’ve completely revamped the plugin this year and most of the heavy lifting is done behind the scenes so it doesn’t have a huge server load.

      Any more info would be great.

      -Nick Reese

  3. Nice list, but I think you are missing a whole category – which is getting more and more important through the increased use of mobiles IMHO: mapping.

    This could be done e.g. with “Leaflet Maps Marker”, which allows you to pin, organize & show your favorite places through OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Google Earth (KML), Bing Maps, GeoRSS or Augmented-Reality browsers (see

    Other popular mapping plugins would be “Comprehensive Google Maps”, “Pronamic Google Maps” or “MapPress Easy Google Maps”.


    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for the suggestions, but plugins on the list must offer functionality that might of use to any blogger. Whilst mapping is of use to some bloggers, there are plenty of blogs out there for which it holds no value. That’s why there are no mapping plugins included.