Must-Use Free WordPress Plugins in 2017

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Yoast SEO

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/

The plugin Yoast SEO is great for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as I realised that I can add metadata in Categories, something you don’t normally find in other SEO plugins. Also, it’s got some handy features like its own XML sitemap feature with an Image XML sitemap automatically put into it. And of course we have support from other plugins since Yoast SEO is popular, like W3 Total Cache has some support for Yoast too.

HTML Page Sitemap

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/html-sitemap/

Remember that this is completely different from an XML sitemap. I believe that every page needs an HTML sitemap, so that you can properly index all your page links across your website as internal links. You must provide a user-friendly sitemap linked somewhere in your footer, and I personally found this plugin to be suitable. All you do is install and activate this plugin, then head over to Create a New Page, call it something like ‘Sitemap’, and place the shortcode [html_sitemap]. You will then be outputted a hierarchical list of pages of your website. Then, please link this too in your footer, call this link something like ‘Sitemap’, or ‘User Sitemap’.

Redirection

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/

If you wish to redirect old URLs towards new ones, without spamming your .htaccess file, you are given the privilege to have the same utility plus more using this plugin ‘Redirection’. It gives you the ability for RegEx, and grouping the URLs as either WordPress/Apache redirects. But if you’re not sure of what you’re choosing, then go for WordPress redirects. I personally use WordPress redirects 😉 . This plugin also provides a 404 log file for any broken links, which can come in handy. And it also tracks how many times your redirection has worked, which is great too.

Contact Form 7

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/

This plugin is known worldwide and in different languages as the simplest Contact Form plugin you can get for WordPress. You can start extending the plugin from there, and in fact it has great documentation/support articles. This is a completely free (and open-source) plugin. There is no WordPress Web Developer who doesn’t know about this plugin.

Contact Form DB

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7-to-database-extension/

The plugin ‘Contact Form DB’ stores all of the contact forms’ info around your website. It has a tonne of support including Contact Form 7, which I personally use for its flexibility, simplicity, and customisability. Afterwards, should you wish to export the info collected you may do so! This db plugin could also be used to easily spot problems with email clients i.e. you are not receiving their emails, then Contact Form DB will ‘catch’ them for you.

UK Cookie Consent

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/uk-cookie-consent/

If you are in an EU country, you are bound to the EU Cookie Law, which states that you need to ask users if they wish to have their Cookies saved (also temporary files, but used in saving password only within the user’s browser; it is completely safe and secure). The plugin ‘UK Cookie Consent’ is quite customisable and quick to setup, since it automagically adds a page ‘Cookie Policy’ for you. With regard to if this is duplicate page content, of course Google has known that this is going to be common, so they have ruled this out.

W3 Total Cache

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/

All websites need caching support, so that both the website owner and the users are in a win-win situation: the owner saves bandwidth whilst the user has fast loading time. How Caching works is saving a set of temporary files on a user’s browser so that for example I want my Header to load blazing fast, my user will only load it one time, and it is saved in his browser as a file so that when he visits his second or third page, he doesn’t have to ‘download’ the header for him to see it. There is a great guide on setting up W3 Total cache by GT Metrix here https://gtmetrix.com/wordpress-optimization-guide.html.

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WP Retina 2x

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-retina-2x/

The plugin ‘WP Retina’ will provide retina screens with the crisp-clear image it is capable of rendering. Retina-ready screens can pack more pixels per dot than a normal screen, that is why Retina comes in 2x, or 4x, or more varieties. For example, 1x is non-retina, meaning you could say 1 pixel per dot. Whilst 2x comes in 2 pixels per dot. You can read more about it here.

WP Smush – Image Optimisation

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

The plugin ‘WP Smush’ is used to losslessly compress your images so that you can save even more bandwidth (with having an anti-spam plugin as below, and a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache). ‘Lossless compression’ basically means shrinking the file size of your images without losing quality. Which seems like a miracle. But in fact, what is removed usually are the metadata associated with the image, like who took the photo, their address, etc. WP Smush can be set up to compress/‘smush’ your images upon uploading, or they could be done individually by visiting the image in your Media Library and clicking the button ‘Smush’, somewhere where you would find the place to edit your alt text.

WP-Spamshield Anti-Spam – All-in-One Spam Protection

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-spamshield/

Don’t keep the spam comments hogging down your bandwidth. You need to have an anti-spam plugin. What’s more, this plugin also stops Spam coming from Contact Forms. Essential for keeping your site secure.

Developer

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/developer/

Every Developer must use the WordPress plugin called ‘Developer’. It’s basically a quick setup that leads you to install other handy Developer plugins, like a Debug bar, among others. First you’ll be given the choice to select either Theme or Plugin Development, and then you will be given a selection of plugins best for either Theme or Plugin development.

WP Core Plugin Manager

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wpcore/

With this plugin you can create a Collection of your commonly installed WordPress plugins and directly upload and install them. Way faster than what you would have been doing before. When a new website had to be made I used to have a Browser Bookmark Folder of 11 WordPress plugins’ links and I would open each individual tab and click download. This is not exactly the fastest way of installing a set of plugins, until I recently found WP Core Plugin Manager.

There’s a sweet pro version that offers you to save more time for yourself, by having as many collections as you want. Right now the free version is limited to only 2 collections. But if you are the person who wishes to have a wide variety of plugin setups for your different clients, because your clients come from different Industries, then I would highly recommend you go pro. Additionally, you can view the collection I made here.