10 Top Free WordPress Plugins

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10 Free WordPress Plugins

It’s been a while since my last post about WordPress plugins, so I thought it was about time to write another as I have found a few gems for you to use.  One of the reasons I love WordPress so much is because there are literally tens of thousands of great, free WordPress plugins to choose from (26,015 at the time of writing this).  You can find a plugin for just about every website aspect that you would want, and more are being added all the time.

Let’s take a look at some that I’ve been testing out recently.

Top Free WordPress Plugins

Allow REL= and HTML in Author Bios

An important part of any blog is the Author ‘Bio’ section at the end of each post.  This is where you can sell yourself and include links to your website and social links.  Now, as far as I’m concerned, all external links (i.e. links to your Twitter profile, Facebook page, etc.) should open in a new window, but for whatever reason WordPress doesn’t allow you to add HTML to your author bio, making this impossible.  This is where this plugin comes in!

Allow REL= and HTML in Author Bios’ lets you add HTML to your author box, making it easy to add the ‘target=_blank’ markup (open in a new window) to your external links.  It will also let you add the ‘rel=”nofollow”’ markup (stops search engines following the link) if you want.

Admittedly, the plugin hasn’t been updated in a while, though it still works perfectly.  Why WordPress hasn’t got around to fixing this themselves I don’t know, but until they do, this plugin will serve you well.

BJ Lazy Load

Free WordPress Plugins

This is a plugin that I have talked about a couple of times already on the blog, but I thought it was only fair that I mention it again in a ‘WordPress Plugin’ post.

One of the biggest factors for slowing down a website are images, particularly when you have a lot of them in a post.  Every time someone opens up one of your posts/pages, ALL the images on that page have to be loaded.  That’s not necessarily a problem if the person is going to read right down to the bottom of the page (remember the comment section has pictures), but most people don’t.

The ‘BJ Lazy Load’ plugin simply stops images from loading until you scroll down to them (you may have noticed this whilst reading this post).  This can vastly improve page load times, as only the visible images are loaded.  Add in image optimization and you will have your website loading lightning fast!

Floating Social Bar

The ‘Floating Social Bar’ is a fantastic plugin that (unsurprisingly) adds a floating bar at the top of your page that includes all your social sharing buttons.  This is great for a blog, as it encourages people to share your posts by keeping the buttons on the visible page.  Again, you can see this working on this post.

Currently, it supports all the major social sharing buttons (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest), though I’m sure more will be added in future updates.

The added benefit to this plugin is that it has been built for speed!  Normally when you open up a post/page, all the social media buttons need to be loaded (a bit like images), which takes time to load each script.  This plugin displays a replica image of each button with social counts (updated every 30 mins), meaning no script has to be loaded.  Only when someone goes to share your post and moves their mouse over a button will that button’s script be loaded.  This is another great way to boost your site speed.

Fluid Video Embeds

Free WordPress Plugins

Another plugin that I mentioned fairly recently, ‘Fluid Video Embeds’ allows you to add responsive videos from YouTube and Vimeo to your site.  This way, when people browse your site on their smart phone, they will be able to view it perfectly.  As it stands at the moment, videos that you add aren’t responsive, so they won’t shrink to fit a smaller screen.  This plugin fixes that problem really easily, allowing you to concentrate on making the actual videos themselves.

Hikari Category Permalink

If you are like me, you may have included your category string in your URL (e.g. example.com/CATEGORY/post-title/).  This is fine if you only add posts to a single category, but what if you want to add them to multiple categories?

At the moment if you select multiple categories, WordPress will select the category string at random.  This can be rather frustrating if you want a specific category string to be displayed in your URL, perhaps for a series you are doing.

The ‘Hikari Category Permalink’ allows you to select your main category manually, so that you can control what your URL looks like.  Admittedly this plugin may not be needed by everyone, but for me it is very useful.

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

Free WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are great, but too much of a good thing can be bad for you!  The more plugins you have running on a site, the slower it can be (depending in the plugin).  The ‘P3 Plugin Performance Profiler’ lets you analyse all the plugins that you are running to see which are slowing down your site the most.

I have used this quite extensively on a few sites and have been surprised to learn that some plugins are REALLY slow, and not the ones that you may have expected.  I’ve tested most of the ones mentioned on this list and thankfully they are all pretty good, but you should check your site.  Try to remove any plugins that are causing significant load times, or at least try to find a better alternative.

Oh… and just remember to remove the ‘P3 Plugin Performance Profiler’ once you have finished with it.  You don’t want that slowing down your site when your aren’t using it.

Ultimate Coming Soon Page

Free WordPress Plugins

If you are starting a new website or doing a site redesign, it can be good to set up a ‘Coming Soon’ page to let people know, which looks much better than just taking your website offline.  You (and your team) will still be able to log in and access the rest of the site, whereas your visitors will just be shown the ‘Coming Soon’ page.

The ‘Ultimate Coming Soon Page‘ plugin works with all WordPress themes, is really simple to setup and you can fully customise the look of the page to suit you (i.e. add branding, custom background image, etc.)

You can also add a Feedburner subscription box for potential visitors who are interested, and add your social media links for people to find you.  Check out their Demo Page to see an example yourself.

WP Google Maps

Free WordPress Plugins

Lots of websites these days are making use of maps on their sites, especially local businesses.  After all, it pays to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.

The ‘WP Google Maps’ plugin allows you to add custom maps with quality markers that include images, descriptions, links and directions.  This is great for contact pages.  The plugin can also be added as a widget, is compatible with Google Maps Streetview and you can adjust the size of your map to fit your page.

There is also a ‘Professional Edition’ ($14.99) that includes even more features for you to use.

WP Smush.it

Free WordPress Plugins

Another plugin to help with site speed, the ‘WP Smush.it’ plugin helps to reduce the file sizes of your images that you use.  Like I said before, images are one of the worst offenders for a slow site, so it pays to optimize them properly.

‘WP Smush.it’ simply tries to remove as much excess information from your images that it can, without reducing the image quality.  It may only slightly reduce the size of your individual images, but if you use the ‘Bulk Smush.it’ function and run it for all your images, you may be surprised.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Free WordPress Plugins

I bet you can’t guess what this is?  ‘Yet Another Related Posts Plugin’ (or YARPP for short) is a great way to display related posts at the end of your articles.  For me, what makes this stand out from the countless other related posts plugins is that it is actually good at showing relevant posts.

I’ve used a few of these types of plugins and most seem unable to show related posts at all.  It can be quite frustrating to write a post about a subject, let’s say yellow objects, only to then see that posts about blue objects are being displayed, even though you’ve written plenty of yellow posts (a daft example I know).

What YARPP does is it grades your posts to find which are the most relevant and displays them.  This can work really well when you have built up a nice back catalogue of posts to refer to.

So there we have it!  A few quality WordPress plugins for you to have a play with on your site.  If I could only pick one to recommend, it would be the ‘P3 Plugin Performance Profiler’ so that you can test your existing plugins and see which are slowing your site down.  It’s such a great tool to use.

Do you use any of these plugins?  If so, what do you make of them?  What other great plugins have you found recently?  We’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • http://jigar-doshi.com/ jigar doshi

    activated floating social bar on the blog. but can’t see the sharing buttons on the posts. :(

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Have you added them in the ‘Floating Social Bar’ menu? You have to drag and drop each of the buttons you want into the active panel

      • http://jigar-doshi.com/ jigar doshi

        Yes, i did drag them to activate and saved the settings. Although it says settings saved, the buttons don’t show on any post.

        • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

          Strange?!? You must have missed something. Try reinstalling it.

          Only took my a couple of minutes for me to set it up on this site.

          • http://jigar-doshi.com/ jigar doshi

            I don’t know what was wrong. I re-installed it and tried too. But it just wasn’t working.
            But there was a new update recently. After updating the plug-in, it works fine :)

          • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

            That’s great! Strange that you were having problems, but I’m glad you managed to sort it out.

            Now you can make use of this awesome plugin. I’m really liking it since I installed it :)

          • http://jigar-doshi.com/ jigar doshi

            Yes, the plug-in is wonderful. :)

  • Andi the Minion

    Hi Matt, this is a great post and a great list of plugins, there are a couple that I think would be very useful to me. I have a question though, I mainly house a lot of my images on a 3rd party platform like photobucket, I say like it is photobucket. These images load up from these sites as my site pulls them in via their URL link, what I want to know is… Is that good or bad on the speed of loading my site?

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Personally, I’d say it was bad! The more information you have loading from external sites, the slower your site will be. That includes; pics, social buttons, external ads, videos, etc. Plus, if (for whatever reason) that site had problems, it would have a knock on effect on your site.

      I have ALL my pics load from my server, which makes it much quicker. An added benefit is that you can set up a CDN (I use MaxCDN) to speed up your site further, which wouldn’t work with a 3rd party platform like Photobucket.

      If you optimize images properly, they don’t have that much of an impact on server space (which is probably why you use a 3rd party site). I suppose it depends on which hosting you’re using, but I still have tons of free space to use on mine and I have hundreds of pics.

      • Andi the Minion

        Does that mean that you upload your images via cpanel and not into WordPress media library when you say your images are on the server?

        • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

          No I upload them via WordPress (when editing my post). What I meant was that they will be stored on your server (via WordPress media library) instead of a 3rd party site.

          That way, all your files are loaded off your server instead of from other sites.

  • http://WWW.EXTRA-CASH-ONLINE.COM/ Robert Connor

    Hi Matt,
    Another great post! We love plugins and found one that will put will find relevant videos about your post tags in YouTube – Have a great day in the UK!

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Hi Robert,

      What’s that plugin called? May have to check that out :)