The Best 15 WordPress Plugins The Newbie Blogger Needs

WordPress has many free plugins that extend its functionality in every imaginable way. It’s time-consuming to sift through them all to find those that nicely perform the tasks we need. Here, I try to save you time by pointing you to the best plugins for many common functions. Some of my recommended plugins have been downloaded millions of times, while others have just a few thousand, but they’re all instrumental.

The plugins and their competitors were tested live and compared. The criteria for selection for this list were that the public output does not link or redirect to the site of the plugin’s author. All these plugins are straight-up installs, usually with minimal configuration. It does not require any modifications to any other files (except. htaccess) or registration on any site and does not contain advertising. Use your WordPress plugins search form to find and install them (names in bold).

1. Efficient Related Posts: Create more page views by providing “related posts” links with titles at the bottom of each post. Note that it has one shortcoming: it displays the section even when no related links are are found. It uses tags, so make sure all your posts are accurately tagged.

WordPress Plugins

2. Social Bookmarking Reloaded: Generates a row or rows of nice little icons for various social networks (you choose which). The great thing is that the links go directly to the sites rather than through a third party, as with the hugely popular (undeserved) AddToAny plugin. It has insignificant defects in its settings page, where the default text is in Italian, which you can easily change, and a page exclusion selector, which was broken in our tests.


3. Header-Footer: To add stuff to the header or footer without modifying the theme files. Modifying these files isn’t recommended since any edits will be lost if you upgrade the theme or change it for another. Particularly useful for adding your Google Analytics javascript to the footer area.

4. GD Star Rating: Adds a rating system for your posts, comments, and pages. Uses Ajax effectively. It has an excessive number of options, which may be a little intimidating at first but works beautifully once you get the hang of it. This is a great feature to add to your site as it invites visitors to get personally involved.

5. All in One SEO Pack: This is justifiably one of the most popular plugins. One of WordPress’ biggest shortcomings is that it doesn’t produce keyword and description meta tags. This plugin can automatically generate them and let you enter your own wherever necessary. Additionally, it can auto-generate single post titles that use the actual post headline, making them more search engine-friendly. It can add HTML to the head area of a page but not the footer, hence our need to include the Header-Footer plugin.

6. WP-Polls: My choice to add polls to your sidebar(s) is another great mechanism to get your visitors to participate in your site. Uses Ajax. Every other popular poll plugin we tested used a third-party polling site and required registration. WP-Polls is very easy to use and has all the options that matter. I would only use this on a place with a decent number of visitors since a poll with few participants can be unattractive.

7. WordPress Automatic Image Hotlink Protection: To protect your images from bandwidth thieves, that is, other sites using your image URL in image tags, use this plugin. It will save your files in the wp-content/uploads directory by modifying the WordPress root directories—ht access file. If any images are linked to other sites, you should move them from the uploads to an unprotected directory you create.

8. WP Archive-Sitemap Generator: Create a site map page, which helps you get more page views. Has many settings. Remember that Google recommends having no more than 100 links on a single page.

9. Redirection: To redirect old URLs to new ones. It’s good to have onboard, even if initially you don’t have any bad incoming links.

10. Contact Form 7: This is one of the most popular plugins for its simplicity yet high flexibility. It requires the Really Simple Captcha plugin by the same developer. Don’t even think of having a form without a captcha unless you like spam! Despite the name, you can use it to create all types of mail forms.

11. User Photo: This option allows users to include their real mugshot in their bios rather than the ugly avatar icons.

12. Favicon Generator: Use it to upload an image that will transform into a favicon. It will also automatically add an HTML tag in the page head output, but be mindful that if your theme comes with its favicon, it won’t remove the existing tag.

13. Register Plus: A good way to keep the connection with your visitors is to have them register for something. This popular plugin lets you upload your logo for the log-in and registration page, replacing the default WordPress logo. More importantly, it can send out a confirmation email, which requires them to click on the link it contains to complete the process (lest you like spam again!).

14. Subscribe2: Once you have registered users, you can use this plugin to email them. It can be set to automatically email new posts to all users.

15. Google XML Sitemaps: It’s simply wrong not to have a sitemap.XML file, as it will guide Google and other major search engines’ spiders to the right resources on your site, resulting in more page indexing. This plugin will automatically generate a valid sitemap.xml for you.

16. WP Super Cache: A big defect with WordPress is the large number of files it needs to load, plus all the code it has to execute to render a page. Google and other search engines could penalize your site because it takes too long to download pages, and visitors might not want to wait around. This plugin saves copies of pages to disk and returns them instead of letting WordPress go through the normal page construction process. Please turn it off when changing your site so you do not see your modifications on the spot.

17. WP Photo Album: This problem-free plugin will do the trick if your site needs one or more photo galleries. If some of you are wondering why I didn’t pick the more popular and complex NextGen, the latter was buggy when viewing photos and included software advertising.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.