E-mail marketing plays a decisive role for companies, while bloggers can also keep their readers up to date with a newsletter. But getting the e-mail newsletter into the inbox of customers and followers can be difficult: for this, you must integrate a registration form into your website. WordPress offers numerous tools for this purpose, including a multitude of WordPress newsletter plugins. Here...
The open-source software WordPress is among the best content management solutions available worldwide. The CMS lets you create your own blog and build a well-designed website with little to no previous knowledge and low time investments. Part of what makes the former blog software so popular, despite its wide range of feature, is its large pool of available plugins.
|Description||Developer||WordPress Version||Active installation||Cost|
|Akismet||Protection against spam comments||Automatic||4.6+||5+ million||From $9 / month|
|All In One WP Security||Comprehensive security suite||Tips and Tricks HQ||5.0+||900,000+||Free|
|AIOSEO||SEO suite||Semper Plugins||4.9+||2+ million||From $49.50 / month|
|Antispam Bee||Protection against spam comments||pluginkollektiv||4.5+||600,000+||Free|
|bbPress||Integration of forum||The bbPress Contributors||5.0+||300,000+||Free|
|Broken Link Checker||Review of internal and external links||WPMU DEV||4.6+||700,000+||Free|
|Contact Form 7||Contact form||Takayuki Miyoshi||5.4+||5+ million||Free|
|iThemes Security Pro||Security suite||iThemes||5.4||1+ million||From $3 / month|
|Loginizer||Brute force security||Softaculous||3.0+||1+ million||Free|
|LuckyWP Table Of Contents||Contents||LuckyWP||4.7+||60,000+||Free|
|MemberPress||Member area||Caseproof||4.8+||28,000+||From $12 / month|
|MonsterInsights||Analytics||MonsterInsights, LLC||4.9+||2+ million||From $3 / month|
|OptinMonster||Marketing toolkit||OptinMonster||4.7+||1+ million||From $8 / month|
|Really Simple SSL||SSL/TLS security||Really Simple Plugins||4.6+||5+ million||Free|
|Restrict Content Pro||Paywall||iThemes||4.4+||10,000+||From $8 / month|
|Slider, Gallery and Carousel by MetaSlider||Galleries and sliders for images||MetaSlider||3.5+||800,000+||Free|
|Squirrly SEO Pro||SEO suite||Squirrly Limited||4.3+||70,000+||From $29 / month|
|Taqyeem||Feedback/rating function||TieLabs||4.5+||50,000+||$29 / month|
|The Events Calendar||Calendar||The Events Calendar||4.9.14+||800,000+||From $8 / month|
|Ultimate Member||Member area||Ultimate Member||5.0+||200,000+||Free|
|WooCommerce||Store platform||Automattic||5.4+||5+ million||Free|
|Wordfence Pro||Security suite||Defiant Inc.||3.9+||1+ million||From $8 / month|
|WP Fastest Cache Premium||Caching||Emre Vona||3.3+||1+ million||$49 / month|
|WP Meta SEO||Meta information and linking||JoomUnited||4.7+||30,000+||Free|
|WPML||Multiple languages||OnTheGoSystems Limited||4.7+||500,000+||From $2.50 / month|
|WP Rocket||Caching and Lazy Loading||WP Rocket||5.2+||1+ million||From $4 / month|
|WPtouch Pro||Mobile optimization||WPtouch||4.2+||100,000+||From $6.50 / month|
|W3 Total Cache||Caching||BoldGrid||3.8+||1+ million||Free|
|YARPP||Article or page recommendations||Shareaholic||3.7+||100,000+||Free|
|Yoast SEO Free||SEO suite||Team Yoast||5.5+||5+ million||Free|
The useful WordPress extensions can be installed quickly and add numerous features to the platform: the selection ranges from extensions for search engine optimization and higher security to e-commerce tools and social media plugins.
- The best free WordPress plugins
- The best free WordPress plugins for search engine optimization
- The best free WordPress extensions for content creation
- The best free WordPress plugins to integrate forums and online stores
- The best free WordPress extensions for added security
- The best premium WordPress plugins
- The best premium WordPress plugins for search engine optimization
- The best premium WordPress plugins for marketing and analytics
- The best premium WordPress plugins for content creation
- The best premium WordPress plugins for added security
- What is a WordPress plugin?
- The best sources for WordPress extensions
- How many WordPress plugins can you install?
- Where does WordPress store extensions?
- WordPress: Install plugins carefully
The best free WordPress plugins
WordPress extensions are created by a huge community of developers. Whether an extension is offered for download free of charge or at premium is a decision that’s usually made by its respective developer. Often, two versions of a plugin are available, whereby the free version is limited in terms of functions, so that the user can only have the full range of functions when purchasing the full extension. In the following sections, we will show you our top 15 free WordPress plugins.
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The best free WordPress plugins for search engine optimization
Yoast SEO Free
With the free edition of the extension, it is easy to prepare your WordPress project for Google and automatically assess the readability of your copy. Although you are limited to one basic main keyword in the free edition, you can plan more extensive keyword strategies with Yoast SEO Premium.
|Readability analysis||Free version restricted to one keyword|
|Many automatic SEO optimizations via canonical URLs or meta tags||Support only available with premium edition|
WP Meta SEO
WP Meta SEO allows you to make your WordPress website more search engine-friendly too. The plugin lets you influence the most important factors of onpage optimization directly from the WordPress backend by not only editing titles and meta descriptions, but also managing internal links and permalinks or creating an XML sitemap.
The free version of WP Meta SEO supports the integration of pictures. The WordPress extension ensures that images are integrated at the right size, but also provides image SEO features to help your website rank higher in image searches.
|Extensive image SEO function||Support and updates only available in premium version|
|HTML and XML sitemaps||Sitemaps only automatable in premium version|
You can find more tips for the search engine-friendly design of your WordPress project in our guide “WordPress SEO for beginners”.
W3 Total Cache
Caching is a great option to keep loading times of your WordPress project as low as possible, which is guaranteed to impress your visitors and Google. Pages that have been loaded once are cached so that no new database query is made when they are called up again. The WordPress extension W3 Total Cache helps with the implementation. It generates static HTML pages and thus ensures shorter loading times. This improves the performance of your pages and keeps website visitors satisfied.
|Supports object caching||No lazy load option (only lazy load for Google Maps in premium Pro edition)|
|Full features available in free edition||Configuration of WordPress plugins via backend could be easier|
Broken Link Checker
Non-functioning links are a nuisanceand can get you in trouble. When your readers are frustrated it sends a negative signal to search engines. But checking all your links manually is no longer feasible if you’ve got a large web project. That’s where the Broken Link Checker can help.
The WordPress extension automatically testsall your internal and external links on the website and even in the commentaries and reports broken links. The extension can even detect missing images or redirects. Website operators receive a message via the dashboard or email to replace or deactivate broken links, images, or redirects.
|Easy to configure||Few opportunities for personalization|
|Replace or deactivate links directly from within the plugin menu|
Most bloggers will have had to deal with spammy comments in the comment section. They’re not helpful for a smooth user experience and neither for search engine rankings. You can use plugins like Antispam Bee to put an end to annoying spam. The WordPress plugin blocks spam bots before they can gain access to forms or comment fields. Optionally, the extension can also check archived pages of a blog for spam.
The dashboard features the daily updated spam statistics such as values for the detection rate and the total of blocked comments. Another advantage of Antispam Bee is that it complies with European data protection guidelines in case your website operates in the EU.
|100% data protection guideline compliance|
|Very effective spam protection|
The best free WordPress extensions for content creation
LuckyWP Table of Contents
Tables of contents are a tried and tested means of structuring a blog or the pages of a website. They help the reader to grasp the structure of written content more quickly and serve as classification aids for search engine crawlers. A WordPress extension that automatically creates a table of contents on the desired page is LuckyWP Table of Contents.
For this purpose, the plugin uses the defined headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.). From the settings, a user can also determine the design and positioning of the content or specify the number of headings from which the plugin should create a directory.
|Easy to use|
|Creates table of content optionally via short code, Gutenberg block or widget|
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) sounds complicated, but this WordPress plugin offers a simple and practical option for listing topical posts or pages below written articles. This is one simple trick to extend the stay of your site visitors – get them to check out relevant additional content.
Some knowledge of CSS is recommended to adjust the recommendations YARPP makes optically.
|Easy to use||Very resource-intensive for larger projects|
|High-performance algorithm to automatically find relevant content or pages|
Slider, Gallery, and Carousel by MetaSlider
Want to showcase a series of images or photos? Then Gallery plugins like Slider, Gallery, and Carousel by MetaSlider are the perfect solution. The practical WordPress extension helps you publish your images as galleries, sliders, or carousels on your website.
Use drag and drop to select images and photos from your WordPress media library and then drag them into the desired MetaSlider template, which you can also reposition in your project. You can then use the plugin to define suitable meta information and links.
|Good support||Integration of YouTube and Vimeo clips in slides, galleries and carousels not available in free edition|
|SEO support included|
The best free WordPress plugins to integrate forums and online stores
bbPress turns your project into an individually adaptable forum or adds one to the existing website. It is up to the operator whether the forum should be accessible to any visitor or whether registration is necessary to read or write posts. The WordPress forum plugin also allows certain topics to be highlighted (“sticky”) or closed (“closed”).
Setting up a forum with bbPress is easy to do via a central admin account. In just a few clicks the desired community area is installed and adapted to suit your design.
|Multi-site support||Optics of standard layout are old-fashioned|
|Over 100 extensions to personalize bbPress forums available|
Thanks to the WordPress store plugins WooCommerce, an online store is easy to realize. New sellers with smaller product ranges can benefit from being able to manage all important e-commerce processes, such as managing the product range, shipping, or purchase processing, via the familiar WordPress interface.
The navigation and design of your own WooCommerce WordPress web store is fully customizable – the installation assistant generates a basic navigation pane with four menu items: “Store”, “Shopping cart”, “Checkout” and “My account”. To meet the needs of large, professional online stores, developer Automattic also offers (paid) premium functions for the WordPress store plugin. You can find out more about setting up a WordPress store with WooCommerce in our article “Create an online store with WordPress”.
Use WooCommerce Hosting from IONOS to choose the right package for your project and get going with WordPress and WooCommerce right away. Start your online store today! SSL certification, DDoS security and quick page load speeds are included!
|Quick, easy installation of web store|
|Large member community|
Whether forums or online stores: a web project that includes user registration as a central element depends on excellent user management. The WordPress extension Ultimate Member replaces such standard user management and makes the registration of users or customers on your site child’s play.
Use Ultimate Member to create registration, login fields, and customizable user profiles – directly in the frontend. Directories for registered users can also be set up if necessary.
|All-round package for sustainable user management||Prone to cyber attacks|
|High user friendliness thanks to drag-and-drop tool with pre-defined fields||Support could be improved for free version|
Contact Form 7
The extension is quick and easy to integration and provides all the functions you need. The contact form can be adjusted to match the design of your website more closely, but a basic knowledge of CSS is required for this.
|Respects user privacy (in standard configuration)||Visual adjustment requires CSS know-how|
|Can be extended (for example, addition of spam bot security)|
The best free WordPress extensions for added security
Really Simple SSL
Once you’ve got your certificate and installed Really Simple SSL, you can activate SSL/TLS in one click. Additional security through HTTP Strict Transport Security is only available with the Pro edition.
|Automatic checking of the current security status||Plugin must be activated permanently|
|Compatible with all certificates|
If you activate Loginizer in your WordPress project, the plugin automatically blocks all IP addresses for 15 minutes from which more than three incorrect login attempts have been made. In the event of multiple blockings, this period is increased to 24 hours. You can also remove IP addresses from the blacklist manually.
|Effective protection against brute force attacks||Sometimes disproportionately resource-intensive|
|Clear log file with failed login attempts|
All In One WP Security & Firewall
Though WordPress has become more secure over the years, its growing popularity is attracting an increasing number of cyber criminals. With the free WordPress extension All In One WP Security & Firewall you can raise the security level of your site to a new level – thanks to features such as firewall, brute force protection, security scanner, and spam protection.
For critical security elements like the admin username or file share(s), the premium plugin provides an overview with an on and off switch. In the extension’s dashboard, you can view a specific security score for your site(s), to monitor the status of your project.
|Huge range of security features|
|Beginner-friendly thanks to simple explanations|
The best premium WordPress plugins
Following the recommendations for the 15 best free WordPress plugins, we’ll now show you the 15 best premium plugins. Because users pay a fee, these plugins usually offer a wider range of functions and provide special customer support from the manufacturer.
The best premium WordPress plugins for search engine optimization
The premium WordPress plugin WPtouch Pro optimizes the layout and functionality of your website for mobile devices. The use of this extension ensures that a mobile-friendly version of the desktop version is offered via the same URL – the original version remains unchanged. Optionally, the entire content can be transferred one-by-one or adapted manually. For example, it is possible to generate alternative menus or landing pages that are better suited for the various mobile devices.
WPtouch Pro is among the mobile solutions supported by Google, which is why the website is automatically marked as “mobile-friendly”. Depending on the chosen package, you can use the plugin for 1, 5, 20 or 50 WordPress projects.
|Mobile solution supported by Google||Subscription for one project doesn’t include all themes|
|Does not require prior programming skills|
WP Rocket is often the first choice for experts when it comes to improving performance for a better Google ranking. The premium WordPress plugin ensures, among other things, that all website pages are loaded into the cache, which means that they can be delivered more quickly. For this purpose, a “preload” bot simulates a visit to the website at regular intervals.
|Database optimization||No free test version available|
|Lazy loading feature|
Squirrly SEO Pro
Squirrly SEO Pro makes search engine optimization of your WordPress project a breeze. The WordPress premium plugin provides a multitude of useful and powerful SEO features such as regular keyword suggestions, a blogging assistant, content marketing analytics or the “Focus Pages” function, which automatically highlights the most promising pages on your website or your stores for optimization.
The “Business” and “Agency” packages let you activate additional Squirrly features such as advanced analysis, in-depth keyword research or an overview of the top-ranking websites in your sector.
|Powerful features for keyword research||In-depth keyword research only available in “Business” edition|
|SEO recommendations in real-time|
WP Fastest Cache Premium
When it comes to caching, hardly any plugin in the premium segment can compete with WP Fastest Cache. The plugin generates static HTML content via Mod_Rewrite to optimize the loading time of your web project. If you publish new content, the existing cache of relevant pages is automatically deleted. You can also exclude pages from caching if necessary.
|Features for image optimization included||No official documentation available|
|Selected pages can be excluded from caching|
The WordPress premium plugin AIOSEO boasts a whole range of features to help optimize WordPress for search engines. Users can create custom SEO user roles to manage access to features, improve their local SEO ranking, and even rank in Google’s video widget thanks to video SEO sitemaps. It’s a good tool for business owners, designers and bloggers. Best of all, no coding skills are required to get going.
AIOSEO is available in four package options: Basic (1 site), Plus (3 sites), Pro (10 sites), and Elite (100 sites).
|Intuitive, clear user interface||Priority support only for Pro and Elite packages|
|Advanced SEO modules and WooCommerce SEO integration|
The best premium WordPress plugins for marketing and analytics
Long-term success of a web project is difficult to achieve without returning visitors. Successful lead management is important when looking after a website. Operators of online stores and blogs are dependent on the best tools to regularly attract new customers and readers. One of the best solutions in this regard is the premium WordPress plugin OptinMonster.
Thanks to the integrated drag-and-drop editor, it’s quick and easy to create appealing forms within a few minutes. Forms can be used to collect user email addresses, for example. Simple A / B testing and detailed statistics allow you to measure and analyze the success of different variants.
|Uncomplicated campaign creation in a few minutes||Few integrations of third-party tools|
A feedback or rating function on your website or below individual articles is a good opportunity to measure the satisfaction of your site visitors. In e-commerce, reviews also serve as product recommendations for potential buyers. In addition, ratings that can be presented in Google search results, adding value for search engine users. Taqyeem by Egypt-based company TieLabs provides one of the most successful and best WordPress plugins to integrate user rating systems and present product reviews (e.g., in the context of test reports).
Ratings can be customized with the premium plugin, thanks to more than 500 Google Web Fonts, various typography options and three rating schemes (stars, points, and percentages).
|High quality reviews including buttons||Extensions available at extra charge|
|Three different rating schemes available|
If you want to measure the success of your web project numerically, the premium WordPress plugin MonsterInsights offers the right basis for this. In combination with Google Analytics, the extension shows you all relevant figures in real-time – whether page views, bounce rate, average length of stay or user devices – all as part of one clear dashboard. E-commerce tracking for WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, LifterLMS, and MemberPress is also possible.
Other areas of your WordPress project can also be tracked with MonsterInsights. These include file downloads, contact forms, links, and tags as well as the development of SEO score and focus keyword. The WordPress extension regularly displays clear reports for each tracking category.
|Extensive tracking options for every type of web project||Fairly expensive|
|No registration with third-party services required|
The best premium WordPress plugins for content creation
If you plan to make your web content available in different countries, you’ll usually require different language versions to provide visitors with the best possible user experience. The premium WordPress plugin WPML from OnTheGoSystems provides some excellent functions to accomplish this such as translation aids for articles, pages, taxonomy, and menus as well as an automatic browser speech recognition. The basic package offers all the features for a multilingual blog.
The more expensive “Multilingual CMS” package gives users access to additional translation options to translate widgets or texts from themes, plugins and other WordPress extensions. To coordinate work on multilingual projects, WPML provides a translation management tool.
|Simple management of over 40 languages||Doesn’t work with all WordPress themes|
|Translation editor (requires “Multilingual CMS” package)|
The Events Calendar
Want to add a calendar to your WordPress website? The The Events Calendar lets you add one quickly. Optionally, you can use the extension to add a calendar with new events or to integrate existing data from Meetup, Eventbrite, Google Calendar, iCalendar, or other sites or apps.
To adapt the calendar optimally according to your ideas, the code of The Events Calendar is particularly developer friendly. In addition, various display options are available to present your events, for example by the day, week, or month or in a list.
|Short-code integration possible|
|Automatic adjustment of the event times to the respective time zone|
Restrict Content Pro
Well-structured membership management is essential to offer premium content. The WordPress extension Restrict Content Pro supports users in the implementation of a paywall and functions for membership organization. You can create an unlimited number of membership packages, which can easily be assigned different access rights with the tool.
|WooCommerce integration||Many features require additional extensions|
|Interfaces to payment services such as PayPal|
MemberPress is another WordPress premium plugin for managing exclusive website content. Users can define the properties for the various membership packages such as the price, content or the duration of the subscription or test phase. MemberPress then automatically generates the registration page via which visitors purchase the respective offer – including a button for the desired payment option.
If desired, the extension sends notifications by email, for example if a new membership has been concluded or a membership has been terminated, a transaction has failed or if a user has changed their package. A detailed overview is available via “Reports”, which shows detailed statistics on all active and previous subscriptions and payments.
|Integrations for third-party services such as PayPal, Mailchimp, ConvertKit or Help Scout||Difficult instructions|
|Includes functions to create coupons||No member directory|
The best premium WordPress plugins for added security
Akismet from Automattic is a premium solution to combat web spam. Launched in 2005, the basic version is available to all users who host their project on WordPress.com by default.
To use the features of the premium WordPress plugin for commercial sites, you need to subscribe to a monthly plan. The two fee-based packages “Plus” and “Enterprise” (or “Enterprise Plus”) include extended statistics and priority support from the manufacturer. The extension is updated regularly to be able to react promptly to current spam trends.
|Spam check on an external server (resource-saving)||API key required for use|
|Extensive spam database||Transmission of the IP addresses to external servers poses data protection issues|
With Wordfence you can get your hands on a WordPress security package that protects your project against malware and other cybercriminal attacks 24/7. The heart of the system is the WordPress firewall, which receives regular updates to immediately recognize known harmful malware signatures and remove the relevant malware from the server promptly.
Additional protection is available in the form of an integrated malware scanner, regular checks of the WordPress core files and vulnerability checks. If necessary, you can use Wordfence Pro to limit the number of login attempts on the server in order to set up basic brute force protection.
|Regular updates for firewall and malware scanners||To use the plugin smoothly, you must switch to new WordPress versions as soon as possible|
|Detects changes made to WordPress core files|
iThemes Security Pro
iThemes Security Pro is another premium WordPress plugin dedicated to protecting your WordPress projects. Once the extension has been installed, the individual security features can be monitored from the “Security Dashboard” in the backend and configured as desired. Among other things, iThemes Security Pro offers a malware scanner, 404 error detection to combat bots, and the option to replace the standard URL for user and admin logins.
iThemes Security Pro provides various features to make the login to your WordPress project as secure as possible for all parties. The plugin ensures that users set strong passwords during registration. The registration itself can be secured via two-factor authentication (mobile app, email, or backup code).
|Enables set-up of two-factor authentication||Some features like checking changed files (deactivated) slow down performance|
|Lets users make strong passwords mandatory for all|
What is a WordPress plugin?
Even in the basic version, WordPress provides plenty of important functions to create new pages, link them and add new content. However, you can get much more out of the content management system with the addition of plugins because they significantly expand its functionality. Extensions for stores, security, search engine optimization or social media links – WordPress extensions make it possible to expand the open source platform so that it is perfectly tailored to the needs of the respective website owner.
A WordPress plugin is an additional program. It extends the code of the web application, and thereby adds a new function. Strictly speaking, every extension or adaptation of the WordPress code is a plugin. An experienced user with programming skills also has the option of manipulating the code to add more features to the functions.php file of their theme. When downloading WordPress extensions, you should always make sure that the source is trustworthy and secure (such as the WordPress repository or the IONOS app center).
The best sources for WordPress extensions
To speak of the “best WordPress plugins 2021” is, strictly speaking, a bit difficult. As interests and needs vary greatly from one user to the next, in most cases only one or the other of the plugins presented will be relevant. For this reason, we recommend that you search for the most suitable extensions for your needs. The aforementioned official WordPress repository is accessible directly via the content management system. It is, without a doubt, the most important source for WordPress plugins. As with the IONOS App Center, every new extension listed is checked for its functionality and trustworthiness, to ensure that the WordPress plugin is secure.
But there are several other options to source extensions, especially when it comes to premium WordPress plugins which are not listed in the official directory:
- CodeCanyon: When it comes to highly functional, premium extensions, there is no getting around CodeCanyon. The directory boasts over 7,400 WordPress plugins, and sells extensions for other content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal. The results can be filtered by price, category, popularity, or user ratings.
- MOJO Marketplace: The MOJO Marketplace WordPress plugin directory includes around 50 extensions. The web platform, which provides a live demo for every expansion, also provides more than 700 themes and templates for the content management system.
- accessPress: accessPress offers a mix of 100+ free and premium WordPress plugins for download. Detailed information (description, publication date, price, license, time of the last update, etc.), documentation and a live preview of all the extensions can be accessed.
- GitHub: New WordPress extensions are regularly published on GitHub. Searching for them is a little more complicated, since only the entire developer platform can be searched. However, if you choose to make the effort and look in the over 108,000 available repositories with WordPress extensions, you can find plenty of useful plugins.
How many WordPress plugins can you install?
There is no limit as to the number of extensions you can install for WordPress. The quantity of plugins does not necessarily affect the performance of your website. So, it is quite conceivable that the project will still perform at a fast speed, even when running many extensions. Much more decisive than the number is the quality of the individual WordPress plugin. Under certain circumstances, a single incorrectly programmed extension can significantly worsen performance or cause other problems.
To avoid technical issues, plugins should always be chosen carefully and checked regularly for their necessity. Otherwise, you may quickly lose sight over the number of extensions you’ve installed. The Managed WordPress hosting lets you track your plugins carefully. Such hosting packages provide a fixed selection of high-quality, functional plugins.
Where does WordPress store extensions?
Because new plugins are installed directly within WordPress, the expansion of the content management system is simplified enormously. Whether a selected package is downloaded via the integrated search or the import function, the user just needs to follow the instructions of the wizard to add and activate the desired plugin. The overview of all implemented WordPress extensions makes managing them all easier. In addition, the CMS automatically classifies the installed plugins in the folder structures by placing all extensions in the wp-content/plugins folder. Language files and translations for the extensions, however, end up in the wp-content/languages folder.
Files relating to a WordPress plugin can be copied manually into the listed folders to install them.
WordPress: Install plugins carefully
There are many free WordPress plugins and new ones are added each day. But too many plugins can clutter your backend. In addition, there is a risk of unpredictable “interactions”. The incompatibility of different programs and components can quickly lead to security gaps. You should only install plugins that you use regularly. Many administrative plugins can be uninstalled after single use. With the Plugin Security Scanner, you can check whether installed plugins pose security gaps.