What free WordPress plugins are the most popular

Do you know, which free WordPress plugins are the most popular and why they’re so freaking popular?

If you can answer that you are on the way to find out what plugins you could build, and also you could help your client to select the right plugins for websites.

You are aware that you more plugins that you have active on your site, the slower your site becomes in loading a page. It’s ok to have a lot of plugins, make sure you do not have them all activated.

I for instance divided the plugins into must-haves and maintenance mode, the must-haves are always activated and the maintenance mode plugins are only activated during a maintenance cycle.

The maintenance plugins I only activate when I need to use them, the type of maintenance plugins e.g. clean up the DB, rollback of plugin version, import or export plugins.

Here are the top 14 free plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory and my insights into what makes them so popular. The list of top plugins in the repository changes regularly so the list below is in no specific order.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

Increase your traffic, view your stats, speed up your site, and protect yourself from hackers with Jetpack. Jetpack has something for everyone. It’s like installing many plugins, but you only need to activate one.

Why Is It So Popular?

Just one plugin, with many useful tools, included that can help reduce the overall amount of plugins you need to install. It’s also maintained by Automattic, the same folks behind WordPress so rest assured, you won’t have to worry about this plugin being abandoned.

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

This plugin helps you check your site’s statistics through Google analytics. It’s easy to set up and use and has all the basic features most users need.

Why Is It So Popular?
You can check on your site’s analytics within your WordPress dashboard, without switching over to the Google Analytics site.

Regenerate Thumbnails

It allows you to regenerate your thumbnails after changing the thumbnail sizes.

Why Is It So Popular?
Regenerate Thumbnails has a simple function and if you need it, it’s useful. Only use it when you need it.


Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not.

Why Is It So Popular?
It works well and saves sites from a ton of spam. At best, spam is annoying and bloats your site and at its worst, it can lead to many serious threats such as DDoS, XSS and XML-RPC attacks.

WP Super Cache

A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static HTML files. WP Super Cache helps speed up your site with browser caching. This feature is especially handy if you experience high traffic at times.

Why Is It So Popular?
It works well with most sites. This plugin is worth a try in a live testing environment before pushing it to your production site.

WordPress Importer

Import posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, tags and more from a WordPress export file.

Why Is It So Popular?
This plugin is useful when you need to import or export your site, but isn’t necessary to keep installed when you’re not using it.

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W3 Total Cache

Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.

This plugin creates a cached version of your site so it loads faster for your users. It includes browser, page, object, and database caching as well as minification features.

Why Is It So Popular?
Most people find a lot of success with W3 Total Cache, everyone’s site is different so it may not be the best solution for you.

Really Simple CAPTCHA

Really Simple CAPTCHA is a CAPTCHA module intended to be called from other plugins. It is originally created for my Contact Form 7 plugin.


WooCommerce is a powerful, extendable eCommerce plugin that helps you sell anything. With WooCommerce, you can build an online storefront that looks professional and works well. It’s also backed by the folks behind WordPress making it a trustworthy option.

Why Is It So Popular?
WooCommerce works incredibly well without a hefty price tag. In Hindsight, there are many features that are available that do require an investment such as many popular payment gateways.

Why Is It So Popular?
This plugin works well and when used with other free plugins, it can really pack a punch.

Advanced Custom Fields

Customize WordPress with powerful, professional and intuitive fields. This plugin lets you create your own custom fields and also includes many different field options. For most users, it’s all you really need. You can choose from basics such as text, email and password fields as well as more advanced fields such as a WYSIWYG editor, file upload and colour picker.

Why Is It So Popular?
It just works so well to expand your fields for your site, you don’t need another plugin.

Contact Form 7

Just another contact form plugin. Simple but flexible. This plugin lets you create multiple detailed forms on your site. It has a simple user interface and it’s also easy to set up.

Why Is It So Popular?
It’s not the most robust contact form out there, but it’s simple to use which is appealing to many users.

GDPR Cookie Consent

GDPR Cookie Consent, and is a great plugin with 1 million + active installations in the WordPress plugin directory. The plugin is packed with features that include adding a banner to your website that can be customized to look as part of your website, block cookies according to the consent given by the users, manage cookies, enable the users to accept or reject cookies, etc.


Are you using any of these top WordPress plugins, let me know why and how well they work for you.

For a full list of the top WordPress plugins visit this page.



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