Top 5 Free Plugins for WordPress That Every Site Needs

When I decided to write this article I thought I would have more must-have WordPress plugins in the list. I quickly realized that it’s only three because one of them, which you will see below, offers so many features within just one plugin. It easily does the work of 20 other plugins.

The list of plugins is in no particular order. I’m not sure I could rank these from 1-3 if I wanted to. Each one does what it does well.

All of these plugins are ones that I install on every single site I build or manage, including this one of course.

Without further ado, the list.



I know some people hate this WordPress plugin, or they want to love it but just can’t, but it’s one I find essential. I admit, it can add some overhead to your site, however it’s a very feature rich plugin.

There are some features of Jetpack that I can’t live without, so it’s one of the first plugins I install on any site I build.

My favorite features with Jetpack, in no particular order, are:

Contact Form – It’s simple, effective, and way less bloated than so many other contact form plugins out there.

Publicize – It’s easy to share articles across major social networks with this. There are some features I would love to see added, but it’s still a solid add-on.

Sharing – Another simple and effective add-on to let readers share your articles on social media sites.

Site Stats – I do use Google Analytics, but I also use these stats. I like that they are simplified, which are perfect for seeing things at a glance from the dashboard.

Spelling and Grammar – I write my articles and content inside WordPress, instead of in a text editor. So, I need to make sure that I don’t have typos, and that my grammar is at least acceptable. I have tried a few other plugins for this duty, but I found them to have too much overhead, were buggy and unreliable.

Widget Visibility – I don’t use this feature a ton, but it works great, and it only takes a few seconds to configure, unlike some others I have tried in the past.

Brute Force Protection – You can easily protect your site by turning this on. It’s a great way to keep your account(s) safe. Don’t mistake this for a firewall though. I’ve got you covered on that below though.

Lazy Loading – A newer feature with Jetpack is the ability to lazy load images. Nothing wrong with saving load time!

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

Why wouldn’t you want a faster loading site, seriously?

W3 Total Cache can be a headache at times, no lie. The first time you get this plugin installed, there’s some hurdles you may find yourself dealing with as you try to fine tune everything. However, once you have it configured then there’s really nothing left to do but let it work its magic.

If you’re looking for a quick setup guide for W3, then take a look at this video from wpbeginner.

Yoast SEO


Yoast SEO

This is easily the best SEO plugin I’ve used, and I won’t use another one.

Yoast SEO gives you control of everything you need, and you can adjust anything to suit your needs for a particular site. I have seen my sites gain a tremendous increase in search engine traffic because of this WordPress plugin.

It’s not that it will do the work for you, but it will tell you what work you need to do. You can let Yoast SEO handle everything automatically, but if you want a real boost then you have to get in there and do the grunt work yourself.

I do have a much more in depth review of Yoast SEO as well.



Wordfence is a firewall for WordPress. It has a great many features, but top among them is:

  • Site scanning for malware
  • Brute force protection
  • IP blocking
  • General site security

Wordfence has been around for a very long time, and it’s the #1 firewall for WordPress for good reason.

I wish I could say that you don’t need a firewall for your site, but the reality is you do. I’ve used Wordfence for years and it’s been great. I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved my butt from hacks and exploits – seriously.

Don’t look for other firewalls because none compare to Wordfence.



If you’re not familiar with AMP, it’s a technology push by Google to deliver faster content to mobile users.

Basically, AMP takes your article and trims out all the extra stuff, leaving basically text and images. Google then saves that version on their servers to deliver is quickly to people performing mobile searches.

Mobile searches are on the rise. In fact, 58% of all searches on Google are done on mobile devices. So, you can see why Google is pushing this AMP framework of theirs.

Natively, WordPress doesn’t do anything for AMP. However, Automattic (creators of WordPress) has put out a plugin that’s really simple to use and it will create AMP versions of your articles, and even pages if you want.

This is the only AMP plugin I’ve used. It’s by the people responsible for WordPress, it’s easy to use, and I’ve never had a reason to try another.


There are many other plugins I routinely use, but those really are the ones that I install on every site.

Also, if you’re new to WordPress and looking for even more advice then check out my beginner’s tips.

What’s on your list of must-have plugins?

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Author: Thor

I started blogging in 2009 for my wargaming blog. I've been blogging ever since. I even created a niche site about miniature storage of all things.

I have created a free 40K roster builder. I've also set up, maintain, and run my wife's site where she sells the Makeup Eraser.

I'm also a PHP programmer for a local web hosting company where I develop WordPress plugins.

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