One of the highlights of using WordPress is the ability to install WordPress plugins to add extra features & functionality to your theme. From spam protection to newsletter forms to SEO, WordPress plugins offer a wealth of helpful ways to customize your theme and blogging experience!

Below, we’ve documented 10 of our favorite free WordPress plugins (in no particular order) and how to install them.

1. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is a popular plugin which will create cached versions of your site to “serve up” to visitors. This often leads to increased loading speed and happier visitors! Just remember to clear your cache if you don’t immediately notice changes to settings taking place. Explore W3 Total Cache

2. Akismet

Tired of logging in to see loads of spammy comments? Akismet, also created by Automattic, is a straight-forward, powerful plugin that will dramatically reduce your spam comments. It checks comments against their constantly-updated database of spam to filter out the fake stuff. This can increase site speed and save you headaches! Explore Akismet

3. Autoptimize

Every time a page or post is loaded on your site, there are TONS of scripts running in the background. Autoptimize helps aggregate, cache, and minify the masses of scripts on your site so pages load more quickly and smoothly. Explore Autoptimize

4. Jetpack for WordPress

Jetpack is a hugely popular plugin created by Automattic, the makers of WP.com. It offers an impressive suite of features for your blog ranging from image optimization to login security. Explore Jetpack for WordPress

5. Backup Guard

Your WP content (images, posts, comments, etc.) will be saved to your WP Database. Protecting your WP Database is critical and one of the best ways to do so is to make backups. Backup Guard operates quietly in the background, making occasional WP database backups. If the unthinkable were to occur and you lose your content, fear not! Simply access a backup of your database and restore it. Explore Backup Guard

6. Loco Translate

Loco Translate makes it easy to translate your WordPress theme from one language to another. Forget having to download translation programs and importing .po or .mo files– Loco Translate lets you do it all straight from your WordPress Dashboard! Explore Loco Translate

7. MailChimp for WP

MailChimp is a newsletter service which allows you to create mailing lists and send out email newsletters to your followers. Using the MailChimp for WP plugin, visitors can signup to receive your newsletter via a widgetized form or a form inserted into your post/pages. When you’re ready to send out your newsletter to the masses, you can use MailChimp’s clean & stylish email templates to keep your followers in the loop! Explore MailChimp for WP

8. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a straight-forward plugin that allows you to create a “Contact Me” form. Visitors can use this form to send inquiries or messages directly to your preferred email account while keeping your personal contact information totally private. Explore Contact Form 7

9. EWWW Image Optimizer

Is your site very image-heavy? Images, especially large ones, can cause strain on your server if numerous image files need to be loaded at the same time. EWWW Image Optimizer will create alternative, less-weighty versions of your images to decrease load time for your visitors and reduce bandwidth usage. Explore EWWW Image Optimizer

10. Yoast SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) seems to be on most bloggers’ minds these days, and for good reason! Yoast SEO is perhaps THE leading free plugin that will further optimize your site’s SEO and even provide guides to write more SEO-friendly content. Explore Yoast SEO

*Please note that not all of the thousands of plugins out there may be 100% compatible with your particular WordPress theme.


How to Install a Plugin

Installing a plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory is simple!

  1. On your WordPress Dashboard, select “Plugins” on the left.
  2. In the top-left, select the button titled “Add New”.
  3. In the top-right, search for your plugin or a keyword.
  4. Click the plugin’s title to read more about it, or, click “Install Now” to begin installation.
  5. After the plugin is installed, click “Activate Plugin” to turn it on.

Additional resources to optimize your blog

Solo Pine Recommended Resources: Whether a blogging beginner or a WordPress whiz, here’s some tools we personally recommend to help make your website experience easy and efficient!

Crucial steps to setup and optimize your WordPress: Once you’ve installed WordPress, do yourself a solid and follow these simple steps to make sure your site is setup for success!

Top 10 Recommended WordPress Plugins: Here’s a list of some of our favorite free WordPress plugins to protect and improve any site!