The Best Free WordPress Plugins for Niche Websites & Blogs

It’s kind of sad that most of the blog posts you read today (that cover WordPress plugins) only seem to highlight premium plugins (generally, because the blogger gets an affiliate commission).  Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of great premium plugins, and I use many of them myself.  However, I wanted to come up with a detailed list of free WordPress plugins that I think are helpful for niche websites and blogs.

You certainly don’t need every one of these plugins for every single niche site you create, but I thought it would be helpful to compile a list that you can reference whenever you’re creating a site, or for a site you already have and want to improve.  These plugins are not listed in any particular order.

The Best Free WordPress Plugins (Especially for “Niche Sites”)

Note: Although I am linking to the websites of the below plugins, you can also find these plugins within your WordPress dashboard (go to Plugins >> Add New and then search for the name of the plugin).

1) All-In-One SEO Pack

This plugin is a must-have for every WordPress blog, because of its basic (yet essential) features that allow you to put your site in the best position to be found and ranked higher by Google and other search engines.  The feature I use most is the “title” field, which allows you to set the title seen by the search engines.  This can be customized not only for the main website page, but also for individual blog posts.  Most people will agree that (besides the URL of your site) this is the most important on-page element of your site’s SEO.

2) Contact Form 7

There are a lot of contact forms out there that can probably get the job done, but I like this one for its simplicity.  Maybe you need more advanced features, in which case, you may want to check out a more advanced contact plugin.

3) fbLikeButton

Facebook has practically trained us to “Like” things online – in fact, it’s rare that you’ll find a place where you can’t “like” something.  Therefore, I think it makes sense to include this “Like” button on blog posts or any other content you’re producing online.  This plugin makes it simple to do.

4) Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and to better index your blog.  Sometimes when search engines crawl your website, they don’t see everything.  This simple plugin helps guide them.  The thing I like about this plugin is that it automatically rebuilds your sitemap every time you create a new page or post.

5) Pretty Link

This is easily one of my favorite plugins.  Essentially, it allows you mask a URL, or customize it with your domain.  This has a lot of purposes, but one of the primary uses is for affiliate links.  Sometimes your affiliate link may look something like: (no, this isn’t an actual site), which looks really messy.

Even worse, it gives someone the opportunity to cheat you out of a commission by removing your affiliate ID from the URL.  You could use a free URL shortner like to mask the URL, but I think links sometimes look spammy.  Pretty Link would allow me to make the URL look like this:   Much cleaner.

6) Robots Meta

No, this isn’t the most exciting plugin, but it serves an important purpose.  Basically, it allows you to control which of your site pages the search engines will index, and on which pages links will be followed (or nofollowed).  While you may think this doesn’t matter, there are certain pages you might not want indexed, such as your admin login page and your site’s search results (from the internal search tool).  You can read more about what the plugin does on the plugin’s website.

7) RSS Footer

This plugin is best for blogs, where you are more likely to gain RSS subscribers.  It’s an additional way to reach out to your audience.  For example, you can include a note about opting into your newsletter, or following you on Twitter.  If you subscribe to my RSS feed, you’ll see I use it for both!

[Note: This plugin has been succeeded by the WordPress SEO Plugin, by the same developer.  I haven’t tried the new plugin yet, but it seems to combine the functions of many other plugins.  It’s worth checking out, but keep in mind that it’s still in a beta testing phase as of right now.]

8) SexyBookmarks

These are the sharing/bookmarking buttons that I use on my blog, which you’ll see at the bottom of each post.  I think it’s a clean, cool way to present these sharing buttons, and you can customize it to include or exclude just about any social bookmarking/networking site you can think of.  This is probably more useful on blogs, or sites with regularly updated content (vs. static niche sites).

9) Ultimate Google Analytics

Honestly, I think there are several Google Analytics plugins out there that can get the job done, but this is the one I use and can attest to the fact that it makes it really easy to set up your WordPress site to work with Google Analytics.  Regardless of which plugin you use, you should definitely be using Google Analytics for all of your sites.  The data gathered is very valuable (and checking your stats can be addictive).

10) Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

One important on-page SEO factor for a website is how interconnected each page is.  When you link your different pages and posts together, it helps search engines find everything.  This plugin helps that interconnectedness, and also helps to keep visitors on your site longer by telling them about posts that may be related to what they’re reading.

11) All in One Adsense and YPN

For niche sites that use Adsense ads, I love this plugin because it saves me a lot of time when it comes to adding AdSense ads.  There are a ton of customization options, including ad size, colors, number of ads per page/post, and ad positioning.  The are also other options to include or exclude ads on certain pages.

My favorite feature of this plugin is the ability to set your ad positioning to “random,” which will cause the ad to appear at different places in your blog posts each time the page is refreshed.  What this does is keeps people from becoming blind to your ads, by always changing their position.  This plugin also supports the Yahoo Publishing Network (with which I’m not very familiar).

12) Theme Tester

When you have a niche site that’s up and running and hopefully earning you money, you can’t afford downtime while you play around with new themes.  While you have the plugin activated and you’re logged in, you will see everything as if you’ve changed the theme.  To prove that the theme hasn’t actually changed for your visitors, you can log out and go back to your site, and see the the original theme remains active. 

Warning: This theme will also eat up your time as you get carried away with testing out new themes!

13) WP125

While many WordPress themes have the 125×125 ad blocks built-in, many don’t.  This plugin allows you to create those ad blocks on your sidebars, and offers several other nice features.  For example, if you’re selling ad space, you can set a time limit (e.g. 30 days) for the ad, so that it automatically comes down after 30 days.

There are other features worth checking out too, if you’re interested in adding advertisements to your site. 

Tip: You don’t actually need to sell this ad space – you can simply use it to display ads for your affiliate products!

14) s2Member

I’ll preface this by saying: I haven’t used this plugin yet, but I’ve heard great things.  Basically, it allows you to add a membership element to your site (or parts of your site), by integration with PayPal.  When it comes to niche sites, I can see a lot of uses for this plugin as a way to monetize a site effectively.  You would expect a plugin like this to cost money, but sure enough, it’s free.


That’s all! Hopefully there’s at least one plugin here that can help out your site.  Unfortunately, I’m sure I missed a lot of great free plugins that are out there, but I really wanted to share with you the ones that I know have helped my sites and others’ sites. 

What are your favorite plugins? Please share them in the comments!

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21 Responses to “The Best Free WordPress Plugins for Niche Websites & Blogs”

  1. Outstanding post!

    I swear your timing couldn’t be any better. I just got locked out of my dashboard because I was trying to add a simple email contact form, and now I know which one I want to use!

    I appreciate your taking the time to put this together. I have found that WordPress has been a baby step process. I love that you are sharing your techniques so I can follow along.

    Again thank you!



    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Brooklyn, I’m really glad this post helped you!

    WordPress is definitely a baby step process, and fortunately there are a ton of resources around the internet that can tell you how to do just about anything you want to do.

    I have some pretty extensive experience with WordPress at this point, so feel free to send me any questions you have and I’d be happy to help you out.


  2. Holy crap Eric, this is boss.

    I have a lot of those already but two that stood out were the theme test and membership plugin. I actually have a paper in front of me about a niche site I want to start with a membership backend.

    The theme tester is perfect cause I’m going to be updating my blog with a new theme and such; perfect timing – you rock man :)


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Murray, glad this list came at a good time for you. :) If you get around to using that membership plugin, let me know what you think. I don’t have a use for it right now, but I’m very interested in seeing what it does for someone else.


  3. Thanks Eric – the WP125 and the YARPP I’ll be putting into use soon.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Awesome, great to hear Tom!


  4. Eric:

    I am currently using the Theme Tester plugin as I am deciding on the new Theme I am going to use in the near future. I have also just installed the WP125 plugin and added some affiliate banner to my sidebar. I am trying to monetize my blog and the WP125 plugin is an easy way to do so.

    I use most of these plugins.

    The one I do not use that intrigues me is the S2member plugin. I am definitely going to check this one out.

    One plugin I love is “TanTanNoodles Simple Spam Filter”. As my blog popularity grew so did the spam comments. Since I have installed this plugin I have not received any more spam comments.

    Have fun!

    – Rick


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Rick, thanks for sharing. Theme Tester is definitely one of my favorites, because I get really nervous when I’m testing new themes on an active site. You never know what will go wrong, so it’s nice to be able to work “behind the scenes.”

    The S2member plugin is definitely intriguing, and as I mentioned in the article, I haven’t tried using it yet. If you do get around to using it, I’d love to hear about what you think. It seems like a great option for membership functionality (which usually costs a fair amount of money to implement).

    I’ve never heard of TanTanNoodles (although its name is making me hungry). How does this function differently from a plugin like Akismet? I’m always up for trying new ways to reduce spam, so maybe I will check it out soon.

    Thanks for the comment, Rick!


  5. Hi Eric,

    Been lurking around your blog for awhile and I am really enjoying it. Thanks for this list. I am just getting up and running and appreciate the information. I downloaded Pretty Links,Sexy Bookmarks and YARPP due to your recommendations here. (most of the others I already had).

    Thanks again for your work on providing a quality website with great information. I will continue to look over your shoulder as I learn.



    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Alan, I appreciate it. It’s plugins like these (and many others) that make WordPress such a great platform to start with. There are so many things you can do without know the first thing about web programming and design.

    Best of luck to you! :)


  6. Good post! I have also tried Yoasts’ new SEO WordPress plugin ( to optimize my WP weblog and IMO it is way superior in comparison with all other SEO WP plugins, the most praised plugin All in one SEO included!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Rene! I’ll need to try out Yoasts’ new SEO plugin soon.


  7. Hi Eric,

    Thank you for such a great website. your post are very interesting and insightful.

    My daughter and I want to get into affiliate marketing and I wanted to know if is a good platform to start her on since she just wants to monetized your blog with ad sense and affiliate links. she is 14 and wants to make some pocket change. What the best way to start her off. If anyone has a suggestion please share.


    Eric G. Reply:

    I would definitely recommend WordPress, as it’s a great and easy way to build an attractive website. It’s probably most people’s preferred platform for building affiliate niche websites. (the free version) doesn’t provide you with as much flexibility and customization, which is why I usually recommend people set up their sites with, which is where you actually host the WordPress installation yourself and have a bit more control over it.

    The downside is, you need to pay for hosting and need to know how to set it up (which isn’t terribly difficult – there are a number of great tutorials online).

    Let me know if you have any other questions!


  8. I have used many of these plugins and find them very beneficial. I’m not an affiliate marketer, but I actually build niche websites for my dental practice.

    We have bought many keyword rich domains in our market and are building out niche sites on these domains… so it is actually very similar to niche site building in affiliate marketing.

    Thanks for the info!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Tom, that’s cool to hear about people applying affiliate marketing concepts to “real” businesses. Just visited the site that you have linked here – looking very good!


  9. Hi Eric
    Thanks for the info on the plugins, i use most of these anyway but now have one other new one from your info

    Also, quick question…. what’s your thinking behind using images for your titles and sub-titles but the actual words in tags?

    SEO Tip? care to share?

    Steve @ Games Tables for Kids recently posted… Games Tables for Kids- Big &amp Small


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Steve – I’m not sure exactly how I feel about using images for titles – I assume you just mean using them as titles for the actual blog post? I think most of the SEO power comes from the actual < title > tag, which should remain unaffected if you use an image as the title on the post itself.

    I’m not sure how the search engines view that, however…Certainly something you could experiment with though.


    Steve @ Games Tables for Kids Reply:

    Hi Eric
    I was meaning yours, on this page for example – the title doesn’t highlight like text does, seems like its an image – or is it something to do with your theme?

    Steve @ Games Tables for Kids recently posted… Who Makes the Combination Games Tables


    Eric G. Reply:

    Sorry for the delayed reply to this comment.

    What you’re seeing is actually called a “cufon” font. You can read more about it here:

  10. Oustanding article! I have always seem the “sexy bookmarks” and wondered what plugin that was! Thank you for the good read. If you are interested I wrote up my “Best of” WordPress plugins here: Let me know what you think.


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