There are approximately 75 million websites powered by WordPress. That means a quarter of the web relies on the world’s most popular content management system.
One of the main reasons why WordPress is so popular is that it’s easy to add extra functionality to a website by using any of the many plugins available.
However, when looking for the perfect plugin you’ll encounter a number of options that all look great. So how do you know which one to choose?
This article will help you find good free WordPress plugins that give you what you are looking for as well as weigh up your options when it comes to free vs premium WordPress plugins.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A plugin is a piece of software written in PHP that you can install onto your WordPress site to add functionality. Thankfully, you don’t need to carry out any coding to add a WordPress plugin to your site.
Plugins, once installed, need to be activated before they work on your site. If a plugin isn’t working properly, or you no longer use it, you can easily de-activate the plugin or even delete it from your site. Again, you don’t have to touch any code in order to do this. You simply go to Installed Plugins, select the plugin from the dashboard and click Delete from the Bulk Actions menu.
Free vs. Premium WordPress Plugins
When it comes to finding good free WordPress plugins, you might always have to consider premium options. You see, some plugins cost you absolutely nothing to use. That’s right, they’re free for you to install and use.
Many of these free plugins offer support via their own community or knowledgebase. The ability to contact a support team if you have problems or need customization is relatively limited with free plugins.
At the other end of the spectrum are premium plugins. These will cost you money to use. Most premium plugins collect money through a subscription model, usually charging annually for ongoing access to support and updates.
Premium plugins often offer more features, additional upgrade options, and, in most cases, provide a better level of support than their free counterparts.
Freemium plugins are another option that you may find. These plugins are free to install and use, however, not all functionality is opened up to you unless you pay. Yoast SEO is a good example of a popular freemium plugin.
How to Find Good Free WordPress Plugins via the Plugin Directory
Most WordPress website owners go directly to the official WordPress Plugin Directory. After all, it is the official source for free plugins and is very easy to access. A website owner need only go to the Plugins tab in their WordPress Dashboard, then Add New to search for, install, and activate a new plugin.
However, as any experienced WordPress admin can tell you, the results displayed in the plugin directory are often subpar. Often times, you find yourself installing and activating, deactivating and uninstalling many plugins over and over until you find exactly what you need; and exactly what works.
Why Adding Plugins from WordPress.Org Isn’t the Best Option
It may seem like relying on the official directory makes the most sense when you want to install a new plugin. They are vetted by the creators of the application itself so only the best ones make it into the directory, right?
There are some rules that developers need to follow in order to pass the review process. Plugins are checked to ensure that they are:
- Using the GNU Public License
- Obtaining consent before storing user information
- Not spamming
- Not using obfuscated code
- Not embedding public links
So, you see, there is nothing in the review process that ensures quality. That is left to the users of the plugins to review them using a star system.
However, that’s not the only reason to reconsider using the official repository as your main source of plugins.
Poor search capability makes it tough to find good free plugins
The WordPress official plugin directory doesn’t have the best search functionality. Right now, you can search for plugins by keyword, author, and tag. That is it. There is nothing that allows you to narrow down your search.
For a library that boasts over 52,000 plugins, you may have to spend quite a bit of time sifting through all of the results to find exactly what you want.
A Better Option for Finding Good Free WordPress Plugins
Google is a great search engine, but when you are looking for something specific you will likely use their specialty search options. For example, if you want to buy something you use Google Shopping. If you are looking for airfares you would use Google Flights. Both of these give you more exact search results for what you are specifically looking for.
That’s where Addendio comes into play. Think of Addendio as a more powerful search tool for WordPress plugins. Instead of giving you three options to narrow down your search results, Addendio gives you seven more than just the keyword. You also have the option to sort the results by relevance, install count, and the plugin ratings.
So let’s take a look at some of the options you have available with Addendio that can help you narrow down your search for the perfect plugin.
The official WordPress plugins directory gives you one source for plugins, WordPress.org. Addendio includes this source too, so anything you find in the official directory they include here as well.
However, when using Addendio you can have an other option. You also see the results from CodeCanyon.net, a premium WordPress plugin library.
Here, you have the option to choose how many times the plugin has been installed. This may be important if you want to find a plugin that has a large userbase for community support, or if you want to find something without a large number of installs so you have something unique.
If you are looking for free plugins, this is the most important search option to choose. You can select all models or choose from:
- Paid (Premium)
In addition to plugins available in English, you can choose from 14 other languages. If you prefer another language to English, you may need to search for plugins in your native tongue.
When searching for a free plugin, you definitely want one that is rated well by other WordPress users. Using this search feature, you can find plugins that have a minimum rating of one star, two stars, three stars, or four stars.
Plugins of all types are software. This means they main contain bugs or security vulnerabilities. Plugins that are frequently, and recently, updated are well-maintained and are less likely to contain either. This lets you weed out any plugins that may be abandoned by their developer or poorly maintained.
Looking for free plugins that deal with widgets or maybe Twitter? Use the Tags filter to choose from some of the frequently searched for tags attached to different plugins.
Trying Out Free Plugins
One of the biggest hassles when looking for free plugins is that they don’t always give you the functionality that you want.
Instead of installing a plugin and activating on your website so you can test it out, wouldn’t it be nice if you could see how a plugin works in a sandbox? This way you aren’t adding and removing code by installing and uninstalling software.
Using the Try Now! feature, you have that option.
When you click on this button next to a plugin that you have found, you have the ability to open up a sandbox that shows exactly how the plugin works. You can choose the version of WordPress you are using, select a language, and add necessary information to fully test the plugin.
Addendio Plus Plugin
However, by using Addendio Plus, you’ll have the ability to add the search capabilities of Addendio to your WordPress dashboard. This makes it even easier for you to find the right free plugins for your site.
Addendio Plus is free for download here. Once you download it, you will need to install it using the method described above. Addendio Plus is not available through the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Once installed, you will see a new option available under Plugins on your Admin Dashboard titled Search Plugins.
When you click on it, you are shown the same thing as you would see on the Addendi0 website!
Finding good free plugins for WordPress doesn’t need to be a struggle for you. With the ability to search more effectively, it’s easier to find both free and premium plugins that suit your needs.
Addendio‘s enhanced search features give you just that. Search either via the Plugins section of the site or install Addendio Plus to bring this capability into your own WordPress dashboard.
What problems do you face when looking for good free WordPress plugins? Please let us know in the comments below.