WordPress plugins: the best, free and premium, you can’t give up (2020 -2021)

If you want to work with WordPress properly, you must necessarily rely on the  best WordPress plugins .

As you know, WordPress plugins allow you to add extra features to your website. They are “bolted” – or “connected” – to WordPress installations in a way that allows you to use the same plugin on any site built with WordPress .

The WordPress plugin can turn your website: Add the shop functionality and you have a complete e-store; add a simple contact form and readers can easily write and contact you. There are thousands of plugins available to add any kind of functionality.

Without going too far, you can find tons of amazing  free and premium WordPress plugins that add all sorts of useful features to your site. Such plugins can help you create better content, market your site more effectively, load faster, and many other features.

But not all WordPress plugins are the same. Some have poor code that can block your website. Others are rife with bugs, making them nearly unusable in terms of functionality. That’s why we want to offer you the best WordPress plugins , to ensure that your website always works at maximum performance.

To help you find the best WordPress plugins , we’ve rounded up what we consider to be the  best free and premium WordPress plugins of all time . Indispensable, lightweight and highly functional, based on both our personal experience and user reviews / popularity on WordPress.org. These WordPress plugins can be incredibly useful for anyone who wants to  create a blog  or website .

We will divide this list of the best WordPress plugins into four macro categories:

  • content creation of all kinds (  from a basic module to e-commerce functionality)
  • marketing and SEO
  • performance, safety and maintenance
  • for advanced users who like to tinker

Depending on the case, you may not need all of these WordPres plugins , but we believe many of them are necessary for any site.

If you are a casual user or you like to play with custom fields and custom posts , you should still find some interesting options in this list of the best WordPress plugins .

Before starting, however, it is worth taking a moment to examine some concepts:

  • How to search for the best WordPress plugin
  • Free WordPress plugins vs. premium
  • How to install a plugin on WordPress

Let’s begin…

How to search for the best WordPress plugins

As mentioned above, there are thousands of free and paid WordPress plugins . Finding the best WordPress plugins to add specific features to your website can be tricky if you don’t know how to search.

Here’s how you would start your search:

 

The WordPress.org directory search feature can help you narrow your search. Either way, you’ll have to scroll down a lot and many of the results won’t be relevant at all.

When looking for plugins in the WordPress.org directory, check the stats under each listing. They show the total number of active plugin installations . Higher installs indicate that the plugin has been tested and used on multiple websites.

You’ll also find review stars, latest updates, and information about compatibility with WordPress versions.

Best WordPress Plugins – Free vs Premium

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available for free in the WordPress.org directory. However, there are many WordPress plugins sold on third-party marketplaces as premium plugins . This makes many new users wonder if premium plugins are better than free ones.

The free WordPress plugins are available without collateral. Support is generally limited and not guaranteed. Some authors provide excellent support for their free plugins , but in the long run it becomes a hassle for many of them.

As there is no financial incentive for WordPress plugin authors to continue answering user questions about their free plugins . This means that the free WordPress plugins are available as is with no guarantees.

Paid WordPress plugin developers offer premium support for their products instead. Many of these WordPress plugins are also GPL licensed, which means they also come with a limited warranty. But having access to support means you can get help much faster.

This doesn’t mean that premium plugins are always the best alternative to free WordPress plugins . In fact, many of the best WordPress plugins are free.

You should focus on finding a good WordPress plugin that is easy to use and with great reviews. After narrowing down your search, you can decide whether to choose a premium plugin or a free alternative.

You can try the free plugins first , but if they are too complicated to use, you can choose a premium plugin.

How to install a WordPress plugin

There are two simple methods to install a WordPress plugin from the admin area of ​​your site. For free plugins , go to  Plugins »Add New  and search for the name of the plugin you want to install.

Check the results carefully to make sure you download the plugin you want then click the Install button . Once installed, you will need to activate the plugin .

If you downloaded a WordPress plugin in a zip file, here’s how to install it

Go to  Plugins »Add New , then click the Upload Plugin button at the top.

WordPress will show you a page where you can upload your plugin zip file . Just click the Choose File button , locate the zip file on your computer and then click the Install Now button .

WordPress will upload the plugin file to your website, extract and install it. Once the installation is finished, it will show a success message with a link to activate the plugin .

It is important to remember that you need to activate a plugin before you can use it on your WordPress site .

That said, let’s take a look at the best WordPress plugins .

The best WordPress plugins for creating content of all kinds

If you want to create a contact form, create new pages, or add eCommerce features , this list of the best WordPress plugins can be of great help.

WPForms is a professional and easy to use form solution. It uses a drag-and-drop system for creating forms and includes pre-built templates to help you quickly create your forms.

The  free version  of the plugin , which has over a million active installs, supports Constant Contact, has an import and export system, and reCAPTCHA functionality to prevent spam.

WPForms is an easy to use quality form builder plugin . You may find the free version of WPForms limited as it does not support additional fields like ” URL ” and “file upload”.

The basic premium license is reasonably priced at $ 39.50 per year and adds conditional logic and other great features.

If you want to know more about this WordPress plugin read our WPForms review .

Official site

Ninja Forms

Every site needs a contact page, and when it comes  to contact forms  (or other forms), Ninja Forms is one of the best solutions. This is probably why it is active on over a million websites.

Ninja Forms features a drag-and-drop interface for beginners and AJAX form submission so you can submit forms without having to reload the page.

If you feel limited by the (generous) free version, you can always add extra features with Ninja Forms’ huge library of premium extensions .

Official site

Elementor

Elementor  is a  drag-and-drop visual page builder . This means it allows you to design complex looking pages without knowing a single line of code. This WordPress plugin is available in both free and premium versions.

You can use it to create landing pages , popups , forms etc, all important elements that will help to increase lead generation on your website.

In essence, it makes web design accessible to anyone.

The premium version  does everything the free version can do, of course. This means you can use the same drag-and-drop page builder but you are no longer limited to just using this tool in the content areas of your site. Elementor Pro’s theme builder functionality allows you to use the plugin editor to edit almost any part of your site.

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WooCommerce

If you want to create an eCommerce store with WordPress , WooCommerce is the best and easy way to do it. According to BuiltWith , this WordPress plugin powers over 42% of all ecommerce stores.

If you want to know more about this plugin, read our WooCommerce guide .

Official site

Easy Digital Download

As the name suggests, Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a WordPress plugin focused on selling digital products. It’s a great solution if you want to sell products like:

Digital photographs

Music files

Software products (many WordPress developers sell themes and plugins via EDD)

Basically, it can handle anything you can deliver over the internet!

Official site

TablePress

TablePress has one of the most impressive ratings I’ve ever seen for a WordPres plugin , and as I use it often I can say it deserves all those 5 star reviews.

If you need to display any type of table on your WordPress site, with TablePress you can do it.

It has a simple, Excel-like interface right in your WordPress dashboard. You can import data from Excel or Google Sheets, use any type of media in your table, and you can extend it with a large variety of free add-ons.

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User Role Editor

User Role Editor is a great plugin that allows you to create custom permissions and roles for your WordPress site. It’s great for membership sites, e-commerce sites, corporate sites, or any type of multi-author / multi-user website.

While not a necessary plugin , it’s the best WordPress plugin of its kind.

WPML

WPML is a premium translation plugin that allows you to translate posts, pages and custom post types.

Unlike other WordPress translation plugins , WPML is compatible with most WordPress themes and plugins , so you don’t need to adjust themes or plugins to make it work. It also allows you to translate websites created with the most famous drag & drop page builders .

If you need help with translation, WPML connects you to leading translation services. WPML takes care of all the multilingual SEO and works perfectly with the most popular SEO plugins . You can use as many languages ​​as you want with WPML.

WPML is the best (and most trusted) WordPress plugin for  building multilingual websites .

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Envira Gallery

If you have a lot of images you want to view at the same time, you need a gallery. WordPress includes basic image gallery functionality built into the core, but it’s not very flexible and the final product is pretty poor.

The Envira Gallery plugin changes everything by providing you with an intuitive interface to create beautiful looking image galleries.

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Smart Slider 3

As with image galleries,  slider plugins offer an alternative way to display multimedia content on your site. When it comes to free slider plugins , Smart Slider 3 is one of the best.

Smart Slider 3 has a live slide editor for beginners and some beautiful templates to get you started. Even using the free version, you’ll feel like you’re using a premium WordPress plugin .

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 Coschedule

CoSchedule is one of the best WordPress plugins for several reasons. It provides a beautiful editorial calendar within WordPress to plan and assign articles to your bloggers. You can also collaborate on blog posts, while using the tool to promote them after publication.

Multi-author blogs require some sort of organization tool for planning, editing, and scheduling blog posts. With CoSchedule, you will have a great view of your entire content strategy and can organize it however you like.

This will not only help you as an administrator, but your writers will thank you as well.

Official site

The best free WordPress plugins for marketing and SEO

Whether you want to position your site in the SERPs or want to grow an email list, these plugins will be very useful for your marketing work.

Yoast SEO

Active on over five million sites and with an impressive 4.9-star rating from over 27,000 reviews,  Yoast SEO  is, in fact, the  SEO plugin used by most WordPress sites.

This plugin can handle all the important aspects of your site’s on-page SEO – from checking title tags and meta descriptions to creating XML sitemaps . It can also help you analyze your content for SEO optimization and readability.

All in all, there are several reasons why Yoast SEO is one of the best WordPress plugins ,

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Rank Math SEO

Rank Math is the MyThemeShop SEO plugin. While fairly new, it is already active on over 300,000 WordPress sites and has a 4.9-star rating of over 1,200 reviews on WordPress.org.

Rank Math is a complete alternative to popular plugins like Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack. It can help you set up meta titles / descriptions, add schema markup , optimize keywords , suggest internal links and much more.

Official site

Pretty Links

Pretty Links  allows you to manage and hide all the various affiliate links you use on your WordPress site. In addition to masking links, you can easily insert affiliate links into content directly from the WordPress editor .

With the premium version, you can also automatically link certain keywords, affiliate programs, do split tests, and more.

If you want, you can even track how many clicks each link receives.

Official site

Broken Link Checker

As your site grows, it will inevitably collect broken links. By broken links, I mean internal or external links that no longer “link” where and how they should.

Broken Link Checker  can help you find these links by scanning all your internal or external links. You can then easily update all broken links and guarantee your visitors an exceptional experience.

Although Broken Link Checker is a great plugin, I recommend that you leave it disabled when you are not using it to avoid performance drops  .

AddToAny Share Buttons

There are many great social media share button plugins out there, so it’s hard to pick one. But if you want a huge selection of social networks (over 100), good-looking buttons at a free price, with AddToAny Share Buttons you’re on the safe side.

Active on over 500,000 sites with a  rating of 4.7 stars on over 900 reviews ., It is the most popular plugin for WordPress social sharing.

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Mailchimp for WordPress

If you want to build an email list, there are so many great email marketing services , but one of the biggest names – and one that also offers a generous free plan – is MailChimp .

To help you build your email list, you can use MailChimp for WordPress . This plugin is active on over a million WordPress sites , has an impressive  4.8 star rating on nearly a thousand reviews .

Mailchimp for WordPress makes it easy to create great opt-in forms for your newsletter.

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MonsterInsights – Google analytics plugin for WordPress

After using plugins to improve SEO and social media, you will probably also want to have a way to analyze how all your marketing efforts are going.

This is where MonsterInsights comes in. This plugin not only helps you to install the Google Analytics tracking code on your WordPress site ,  but also to view data from Google Analytics without leaving the WordPress dashboard  .

And if you like, it can even help you track your visitors’ actions, such as which buttons and links are clicking the most.

Official site

The best WordPress plugins for security, performance and maintenance

The plugins in this section may be the most important on this list. They will help you speed up your site, make it secure, and generally keep everything under control.

BBQ: Block Bad Queries

Block Bad Queries  is the fastest firewall plugin for WordPress and also the most intuitive.

This plugin has one job: to protect your website at all times by blocking all malicious requests.

Block Bad Queries does not require any configuration. Just install, activate and let it do its thing in the background – a true plug-and-play plugin .

Official site

Wordfence Security

Active on over three million sites,  Wordfence  is the most popular WordPress security plugin . Implement most of WordPress security hardening techniques in an all-in-one package, including:

a firewall

WordPress vulnerability scans

strengthening of login.

It also has a premium version but the free version is still a great solution for most sites, which is why Wordfence has a  4.8-star rating out  of over  3,500 reviews.

Official site

All in One WP Security and Firewall

The name of this plugin says it all. Firstly,  All in One WP Security and Firewall  offers comprehensive WordPress protection with its powerful range of features.

As the name suggests, the plugin adds a firewall to your WordPress site. This firewall has several predefined configurations that can be activated with the click of a button, allowing you to select the desired level of protection.

All in One WP Security and Firewall also includes  backups of important files such as htaccess  and  wp-config.php , anti-spam measures and content copy protection. It also protects the WordPress database by changing the default “WP” prefix. And, to ensure that your core files are protected, the plugin constantly scans in the background for any changes.

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Really Simple SSL

Moving your WordPress site to HTTPS / SSL is a great way to make it more secure for both you and your visitors.

With the availability of free SSL certificates , it won’t cost you a penny – you just need a way to securely migrate your WordPress site to HTTPS.

This is what Really Simple SSL does .  It is basically a one-click solution for setting up redirects , updating old URLs, and managing whatever is needed to securely migrate your site to HTTPS .

Because of this, Really Simple SSL quickly received a  5-star rating out of over 4,500 ratings  on WordPress.org and is already being used on  over four million sites .

Official site

UpdraftPlus – Backup WordPress plugin

It is vital that you  create a backup of your WordPress site, so that if something goes wrong, you have a copy that is intact and working.

There are some great premium backup services but when it comes to free backup plugins it doesn’t get any better than  UpdraftPlus  .

This plugin has a  4.8-star rating  from over  3,500 reviews  and is active on over a million websites.

It allows you to manually or automatically backup your site with a single click, and you can have UpdraftPlus store your backup on cloud services such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

If you need to restore your site, UpdraftPlus allows you to do it with one click.

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Duplicator

There are many reasons why you may need to move your WordPress site.

You may want:

migrate WordPress to a new host

upload your local development site to your live host

create your staging site

Whatever the reason, Duplicator can help you. This handy plugin exports the entire WordPress site  in two simple files. To move your site, all you need to do is upload those files to the new location and run the automatic installer.

Its ease of use is the reason why Duplicator has a  4.9-star rating out  of more than  2,600 reviews  on WordPress.org.

Official site

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is probably the best WordPress plugin to invest in to speed up your website. It packs all the speed optimization features into one incredibly useful package.

In seconds, you can enable the caching of pages, stored in the browser cache, lazy loading, the minification, the feature compression GZIP and more.

Is it the best WordPress caching plugin ? Definitely.

If you want to know more about this plugin read our WP Rocket review .

Official site

Autoptimize

Autoptimize helps you  speed up your WordPress site by  optimizing your site’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It does this through:

Minification  : Remove unnecessary characters from your site code (such as whitespace)

Concatenation  – Combine multiple separate files into one.

Official site

Query Monitor

Query Monitor  helps you track down bottlenecks in your WordPress site’s database. It is actually designed more for developers, so beginners may have a hard time gleaning useful information from the plugin.

But if you have some technical experience, Query Monitor allows you to see:

Slow queries

All database queries made on the current request

Duplicate queries

Query with errors

You can also filter queries by type, component, and the function that requires it.

It can also be helpful in debugging , as it displays PHP errors , scripts / styles, HTTP requests , and more.

There’s a reason this plugin boasts a 4.9-star rating out of over 336 reviews .

Official site

Optimole

Optimole is a cloud-based image optimization plugin. Featuring a simple to use user interface, Optimole can be configured in seconds to work with WordPress and Elementor. It has the following features:

Improve your PageSpeed ​​score with images scaled to the exact width of the container on your device or screen.

Best mobile experience with all images compressed and sized by device, browser and viewport.

Automatic watermark for your images.

LazyLoading without moving the content.

Official site

WP Optimize

Did you know that every time you save a post, WordPress saves the revisions in its database? When you save a post 10/20 times before publishing it, the revisions add up quickly.

But once a post is published, are all these revisions really necessary? Most certainly not. This means they will clog your database and slow down your website.

WP-Optimize is one of the best database optimization and maintenance WordPress plugins . Every week – or at intervals of time you specify – the plugin will delete any unnecessary data from your database, including post reviews, spam comments, trackbacks and pingbacks etc. This will keep the MySQL database in tip-top shape, as optimized and efficient as possible.

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Login LockDown

In addition to using a powerful username / password combination , one of the best ways to protect your login page from brute force attacks is to  limit the number of login attempts a user can make  .

This is why if you enter incorrect information when logging into your online banking, they usually block you after three incorrect attempts.

Login LockDown allows you to add the same functionality to your WordPress site. You can also control how many attempts a user can make and how long you want to keep them blocked.

Google Authenticator

The Google Authenticator plugin allows you to further secure your login page by adding two-factor authentication via the Google Authenticator app.

It’s  free for unlimited users,  and it’s also very easy to implement.

For complete peace of mind when it comes to brute force attacks, this is a great solution.

Enable Media Replace

Enable media replace solves a problem very well: it allows you to replace any file in your WordPress media library by uploading a new file in its place.

You no longer have to go through the annoying process of deleting a file and then make sure to upload a file with the exact same name .

Akismet Anti-Spam

Due to its popularity, an unfortunate side effect of WordPress is that sites built with this CMS attract comment spam (and more).

Akismet Anti-Spam helps you to contain this problem by automatically screening all your incoming comments.

It does a great job, which is why it has a  4.7-star rating out of over 878 reviews . It is also developed by Automattic, so you can trust its quality and longevity.

Official site

The best WordPress plugins for advanced users who love to tinker

If adding code snippets and custom post types is your idea of ​​a fun Saturday night (  or if you’re just an advanced user  ), you’ll love this list of the best WordPress plugins for more experienced users.

Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced custom fields makes your WordPress site much more flexible. As the name suggests, it does this by making it easy to add a variety of custom fields to your WordPress site.

You can use these custom fields for… well, pretty much anything! That’s why this plugin is  very popular with developers  and has a  4.9-star rating out of over 1,000 reviews  on WordPress.org.

If you’re feeling limited by the WordPress editor, you can use ACF to customize the editor with fields that make your life easier and improve your productivity.

You have to be a bit of an expert to benefit from the plugin, but you definitely don’t have to be a developer to use it.

Official site

Code Snippets

If you enjoy tinkering with your WordPress site, you probably already have an intimate relationship with your functions.php file   .

Code Snippets greatly simplifies using php code snippets in two ways:

It allows you to add each code snippet separately using a custom title. You can also enable / disable individual snippets as needed, making organization much easier

Code snippets will remain on your site even if you change themes.

These benefits are why it has a  4.7 star rating  on WordPress.org.

Head, Footer and Post Injections

This WordPress plugin is very similar to Code Snippets – only instead of adding code to your functions.php file , it adds code snippets to yours:

header

footer

post content.

This feature actually offers many benefits. You can:

add tracking scripts, such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel or any other JavaScript code that needs to be entered in the <head> section

inject ads or other content above or below the content of your post.

The plugin also allows you to enter code conditionally depending on whether a visitor is on a desktop or mobile device.

All of these features explain why Head, Footer, and Post Injections  got a 4.9-star rating out of over 550 reviews  on WordPress.org.

Official site

Conclusion

These, in my opinion, are the best WordPress plugins that every site needs. As mentioned, these plugins provide basic functionality, improve site SEO, optimize speed, strengthen security, and help market your content and products better.

Good job!

 

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