13 Best Free WordPress Plugins for Your Site

WordPress makes it super easy to build your own website from scratch at very little cost. This makes WordPress a very affordable option for bloggers and small businesses. Plugins can help you add functionality to your WordPress site and can be both free or premium. But it’s important to consider if the free plugin is well made and worth installing.

How to choose the best free plugin for a WordPress site?

Which free plugins are essential for your site?

Which free plugins are worth their weight in gold (but still free)?

This article is your one stop for some of the best free WordPress plugins for your site. 

TL;DR: There is an enormous market for plugins in the WordPress sphere. But, it’s important to find ones that are compatible with your theme and other plugins, and also are frequently updated. This is important to make sure your site is bug-free and secure. 

WordPress is open source and free to use, so its ecosystem of plugins and themes has also got some incredible products that are completely free. Some plugins will have premium versions that have more features, but the free versions are great too. 

However, there is one major caveat when installing a free plugin that we will get out of the way right at the beginning. Free WordPress plugins do not compensate their developers, as there is no revenue stream except for the odd donation here and there. Therefore, understandably, other commitments take precedence, and sometimes free plugins are abandoned. The only problem with abandoned plugins is the lack of updates. Updates are extremely important from a security perspective, so if a plugin is not actively maintained, chances are higher that it will contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.  

Having said that, there are very generous people who have built superb WordPress plugins for free. Let’s get into that list. I’ve categorized the plugins as follows:

Best free WordPress plugins for site maintenance

MalCare – Security Plugin

Real Simple SSL – SSL Plugin

MigrateGuru – Free Migration Plugin

Airlift – Performance Plugin

EWWW Image Optimizer – Image Optimization

Best free WordPress plugins for marketing and SEO

RankMath – SEO plugin

Google Analytics – Traffic analysis plugin

SiteKit by Google – Analytics plugin

MailPoet – EMail designing plugin

WPMailSMTP – Email transfer plugin

Best free WordPress plugins for creating content

WooCommerce – eCommerce content plugin

WPForms – Form builder plugin

The Events Calendar – Events calendar plugin

Best free WordPress plugins for site maintenance

This category of plugins is made of plugins that I consider important for basic site maintenance. They perform basic tasks like security and performance optimization with very little effort from your end. In fact, I’d recommend you install the plugins in this category before you get to the rest.

1. MalCare

Security is an important part of site maintenance. You want a plugin that can clean malware and install a firewall. MaCare does it all. I love MalCare because all you have to do is add your URL and sign up and within minutes MalCare has a report on all the vulnerabilities on a site (bad plugins, for example). In just a few more clicks, I was able to clean the malware that was identified. 

What does it do?

Daily malware scanner

Login protection

Vulnerability monitoring

Basic firewall

Why do we recommend it?

Easy to test site for malware

Tried and tested

Frequently updated

While MalCare has a free version, I recommend upgrading to the premium version, at the cost of $99 a year, because it offers far better features as seen below: 

Bot protection

Malware removal

Automatic updates

Personal support

Activity logs

Incremental backups

1-click staging

1-click migration

Performance monitoring

Checkout the different MalCare plans to find one that fits you best. 

Alternatives:  There are many WordPress security plugins with different feature sets. A word of caution though: not all of them are effective. 

2. Really Simple SSL

Have you ever noticed the little lock icon in the URL of some sites? This is a sign that the website has HTTPS. This means its communication is secure and any data being sent to this site, like passwords or personal information, is secure. I can’t stress enough that this is important to build trust for any kind of site, but doubly important for e-commerce stores. Plus Google mandates that every site have SSL encryption. The Real Simple SSL free plugin automates the migration from HTTP to HTTPS.

What does it do?

Easy SSL migration

Checks server health

Mixed content scanner

Protect site visitors

Control privacy features

Why do we recommend it?

Essential security feature

Easy-to-use plugin

Alternatives: WP Encryption is an alternative we’d recommend.

3. Migrate Guru

Migration can be an important tool to change web hosts as your site grows. It’s historically a painstaking process, with data loss, links getting messed up, and even severe downtime, but Migrate Guru is a free WordPress plugin that has made it easy. I recommend the migration plugin because it works on its own servers, so your site isn’t affected. It also handles large sites with very little effort from you and works with all web hosts out of the box. In fact, many web hosts use Migrate Guru to onboard new sites onto their servers. 

What does it do?

One-click migration

No site overload

Designed for large sites

No need for storage

Compatible with all web hosts

Real-time migration status alerts

Clone websites

Why do we recommend it?

Automates migration

Helpful support team

Easy-to-use plugin

Alternatives:  We’ve tested migration plugins extensively, and none of them work with every type of WordPress site and every host like Migrate Guru does. 

4. Airlift

I’d be remiss to not bring up the fact that speed is an important factor in how you rank. We need a fast page load speed to rank well. A high performing site also makes for a great WordPress site and customer experience.

There are tons of ways to make your site work faster. You essentially have to optimise your site’s code and find ways to optimise your pages. Sounds complicated right? Thankfully, Airlift exists. It’s a free WordPress speed plugin that helps you do just that. 

What does it do?

Improves CSS

Offers caching

Optimizes images

Creates a CDN

Why do we recommend it?

Easy to use

Great support team

Instant results

Alternatives: W3 Total Cache is a popular free speed plugin

5. EWWW Image Optimizer

While we’re on the topic of speed plugins, optimising images, specifically, can boost your page load speed. There are a few things that you can do to optimise images: resizing, compressing different formats, or changing formats altogether. However, doing this manually on a site with 1000s or even 100s of images is a huge effort, and that’s why I recommend an image optimiser plugin. 

EWWW Image Optimizer is one of the top image optimisers. It’s a free plugin that improves images without affecting the quality and no trouble from you.

What does it do?

Compresses JPG, PNG, & PDF

Resizes any site images

Add dimensions to images

Compresses unlimited file sizes

Optimises images in bulk

Converts PNG to JPG and back

Why do we recommend it?

Works with popular formats

Automatic optimisation

Superb support team

Alternatives: Imagify is also a great image optimiser plugin. 

Best free WordPress plugins for marketing and SEO

I’ve clubbed plugins that are great marketing tools together. So, if you’re looking for SEO plugins that help you rank higher or traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics, this is the section for you.

6. RankMath

A big indicator of having a successful site is having one that ranks high. SEO plugins take care of the backend optimisation of your site. It also analyses your content and gives you information on how to improve your blog and pages. I recommend using RankMath for its vast abundance of features, even with its free version.

What does it do?

AI content suggestions

Keyword information

Smart Linking

Intelligent schema markup

Related keyword information

Why do we recommend it?

Well documented


Alternatives: Yoast is a great alternative. 

7. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is Google’s tool to analyse your site traffic. You can understand where they come from, what they like, and which pages they flock to most. This makes it a great way to understand what changes you need to make to improve traffic. Install the Google Analytics plugin to integrate it with your site without needing to fiddle with the core files.  

What does it do?

Tracking code for header

Tracking code for footer

Tracking code for web pages

Admin-level control

Why do we recommend it?

Easy to use

Frequently updated

Sleek console

Alternatives:  MonsterInsights is one of the top Google Analytics plugins.

8. Site Kit by Google

Site Kit helps you consolidate all the data from other amazing Google traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Page Speed insights, Tag Manager, and Optimise. Everything you need, can be found on one dashboard and you’re able to see reports that are easy to understand. In my opinion, this free plugin is an easy way to manage all the information you need about your traffic.

What does it do?

Traffic reports on wp-admin

Reliable stats from Google tools

Reports for specific pages 

Detailed reports for full site

Why do we recommend it?

Easy integration with Google tools

One dashboard for everything

Quick setup and install

Alternatives: Exact Metrics also connects to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Optimize. 

9. MailPoet

Email marketing is a great way to let existing fans know something new about your brand. Maybe you have a new blog. Maybe you want to let them know about updates. Another reason for using emails is for transaction alerts. Maybe you want to let a customer know that their purchase was successful.  MailPoet is a very popular free plugin for WordPress site owners to send emails. It’s my favourite because it’s easy to add pictures or content, all from your WordPress dashboard. 

What does it do?

Sends newsletters

Sends welcome mails

Latest post alerts

Pre-made templates

Basic analytics

Why do we recommend it?

Comes with documentation

Easy to use interface

Great for small businesses

Alternatives: MailChimp is another popular plugin. 

10. WPMailSMTP

Another free plugin to manage email marketing is WPMailSMTP. I added it to this list because it enables you to send emails and keep tabs on them. It helps you make sure your emails have actually reached your subscribers. It even sends you regular reports of all emails sent. This helps you keep track of how successful your emails are. 

What does it do?

Failed email alerts

Weekly reports

Google/Outlook integrations

Email logs

Why do we recommend it?

Reputable developers

Amazing support team

Easy integration

Alternatives: MailChimp is another powerful email marketing tool.

Best free WordPress plugins for creating content

The basic WordPress site is pretty limited. You can’t add an e-commerce store front or add forms that help your customers get in touch with you. Depending on the type of site you have, these types of content can improve our customer experience. So, here’s my list of recommendations of free content plugins for your WordPress site.

11. WooCommerce

A default WordPress site doesn’t have the functionality to sell products and services, but that is easily added with WooCommerce. WooCommerce is WordPress’ free e-commerce plugin. In my experience, it is very easy to use and set up and I know it can be used to sell physical or digital products. You can use other extensions to add more functionality like sell memberships or subscriptions. However, it must be noted that extensions from the WooCommerce directory can be at a premium. 

What does it do?


Optimised cart experience

Sell physical and digital products

Flexible for high volumes

Integrates with payment gateways

Why do we recommend it?

Easy to customise

Vetted developers

Detailed documentation

Easy setup

12. WPForms

I’d talked about forms earlier in this article because they are a great way to get information from your customers or readers. Readers can fill in details to subscribe to your newsletter, if you have one. If you’re an e-commerce store, you can use forms for customers to add shipping and billing details. WPForms is a great free plugin that helps you make forms easily. They have pre-designed templates that you can choose from so you don’t have to go through the trouble.

What does it do?

Pre-made templates

Quick notifications

Entry management

Why do we recommend it?

Drag-and-drop builder

High performance

Alternatives: If you’re looking for alternatives, check out Contact Form 7.

13. The Events Calendar

I can think of many reasons to use an events calendar. Maybe you’re a coach that wants to host a seminar. Maybe you want to host a meet and greet with your members. Maybe you even want to host a concert for your music. Whatever the reason, you need a plugin that lets you add important details and is easy to use. The Events Calendar is a free plugin that offers all that and more. 

What does it do?

Creates events quickly

Adds venues and organisers

Customises event list views

Adds location links and details

Integrates with Google calendar

Why do we recommend it?

Helps with SEO and rankings

Improves customer experience

Great support and documentation

Alternatives: Amelia is a booking plugin with a great events calendar feature.

Note: If you’re new to WordPress, there are a few ways to install a plugin though, so be aware of that before going in. You might also find our article on essential WordPress plugins very helpful.

When you should spring for a premium plugin

Although there are a variety of free plugins for WordPress, there are certain essential features that you will only get with premium plugins. 

For instance, there is no free backup plugin that gives your site the safety net it deserves. 

BlogVault is a premium WordPress backup plugin that keeps your data safe and acts as insurance. We actually recommend that you install it first, so you can backup your site before installing the other plugins. The free versions of backup plugins just aren’t enough. They either don’t take frequent plugins or store backups on your server, slowing your site down. So, free plugins aren’t always equal or better than their premium counterparts. 

How to pick a great free plugin for WordPress?

There are a couple of markers of a great plugin and we’ve discussed them in the section. A lot of this information can be found by checking the developer’s site, reviews, and the support pages of the plugin. 

Compatibility: Free WordPress plugins need to be compatible with your WordPress version as well as other themes and plugins that you’ve installed. This is important to make sure that your site doesn’t crash. 

Support: A support team needs to be reliable and responsive. They should be able to help you whenever you need it because you don’t want your traffic to be impacted. They can also be helpful with setting up the plugin if you need it. 

Updates: Every plugin update is an opportunity to reduce bugs and introduce new features. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable plugins that can be manipulated to hack your site. Updates have fixes for those vulnerabilities. Additionally, we recommend you install a security plugin like MaCare. It scans for vulnerabilities and installs a firewall so your site is never affected. 

Active installations: This is a good indicator of how many other people use the plugin. The more popular, the more you can be reassured of quality code. 

Documentation: These are helpful articles containing everything you need to know about the plugin. It includes information about installation, best configuration, and even information for developers. 

For the most part, premium plugins enable developers to maintain their plugins. This is why we generally advocate for premium plugins because their developers are compensated for their effort and work. 

Additionally, you may find online stores that have nulled plugins. These are unlicensed premium plugins which usually contain malware. Remember that a hacker is rarely going to offer you anything for free without malicious intent. 

Final thoughts

WordPress is a blank canvas for you to build on. Plugins enable you to do just that. There are lots of free WordPress plugins that you can pick from but not all of them will have good code. Good code is important to make sure that your site isn’t vulnerable to hacks or ruined by bugs. We recommend installing a security plugin like MalCare so that you are notified of vulnerabilities and can clean malware easily. 


How many free WordPress plugins are there?

There are over 50,000 free plugins to choose from for any kind of functionality you’re looking for. Some will have premium upgrades that offer more than the free versions do. We recommend looking for compatibility issues, great documentation, a responsive support team, and active installations when choosing a plugin. These are signs of a good plugin. 

Do WordPress plugins cost money?

Yes. They can. Plugins can be free and have premium versions. Free plugins will  have less functionality than their premium versions. But we recommend using plugins that are well made and have good reviews regardless of price. 

Which WordPress plugins are the best?

Our favorite plugins are BlogVault for backups, MalCare for security, and Airlift for performance and speed. Our favorite SEO plugin is RankMath and we recommend the Google Analytics plugin. These 5 make a great starter pack for WordPress plugins.

Why are plugins helpful?

Plugins help you add more features and design elements to your WordPress site. They can help you manage your site better too or improve user experience. If you can think of it, there’s probably a plugin that can do it. 

The post 13 Best Free WordPress Plugins for Your Site appeared first on MalCare.

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