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Hard-to-Find Free WordPress Plugins You Need

Back in the old days there were many great WordPress plugins for free. Later some plugin developers started to create freemium plugins and promoted them very well. So when you search to complete a certain task it can be hard to find a really helpful free WordPress plugins.

This is a list of hard to find free plugins without annoying upsells and ads.

They are overshadowed by freemium plugins with essential features offered for premium price.

This list will help you to save time by eliminating trial and error methods for finding the perfect plugin to complete the task.

I also have a hard time finding these plugins when needed. This post will help me find them quickly when needed.

Hard to find free WordPress plugins

Hidden Gems: Powerful Free WordPress Plugins

These plugins are free and best in terms of completing their task. There are no annoying ads or upsells in them as well.

Velvet Blues Update URLs

Velvet blues Update URLs plugin

When you want to update URLs across all posts and pages in your WordPress blog then Velvet Blues Update URLs plugin is the best clean solution to achieve that.

There are many use cases for it.

Here are some cases how I use Velvet Blues plugin to update URLs:

  • Update URLs when moving site from localhost to remote server.
  • Update URLs from http to https.
  • Update URLs from non-www domain to www domain.
  • Change URLs to new domain, subdomain or subfolder for WordPress website.
  • Update some URLs to external websites across all posts where it was used.
  • Update some affiliate links across all blog posts. ( Affiliate providers can change their tracking URLs over time, you may find alternative affiliate products to switch your existing URLs, update existing direct links with affiliate versions when needed.)

Update URLs across all posts in WordPress

For example recently Google Bard AI changed its name to Gemini and so its domain and URL changed as well. I used the Velvet Blues plugin to update all links from the old Bard website to the new Gemini website.

While the plugin allows you to change URLs you can also use it to change any text inside your blog as well. But make sure that text is long and unique so you do not convert your perfect articles to meaningless sequences of letters.

Also be careful while using this plugin because you can accidentally break some links or content which is not recoverable. To be safe, always backup your database before making any changes.

Plugins Garbage Collector (Database Cleanup)

Clean database by detecting and deleting tables left by uninstalled WordPress plugins

After removing some plugins there are extra database tables that will be left in your database. They are not used any more and will slow down your website. Plugin Garbage Collector plugin will help to detect unused tables and delete them.

Cleaning your database by removing unused tables will help to speed up your WordPress website.

Delete unused tables from WordPress database left by deleted plugins.

Here is how you detect and delete unused database tables that are left after deleting WordPress plugins.

  1. Navigate to “Tools” → “Database cleanup”.
  2. Select “Search non-WP tables” and check “Show hidden tables” then press the “Scan database” button.
  3. Plugin will find all tables related to plugins. It will indicate tables that can be deleted in red and mark them as “unused”.
  4. Select tables that you want to delete with a checkbox near the table name. Only “unused tables” will have a checkbox and can be deleted.
  5. Then press the “Delete selected tables” button.

Plugin scans your website and detects “active”, “unused” and “inactive” tables. Then it allows you to delete “unused” plugins.

It is pretty cool.

Without it you will not know how many unused tables reside within your WordPress database. I use it regularly after removing some plugins from WordPress.

Redirection plugin

Redirection WordPress plugin: create custom short URLs, monitor 404 pages, redirect deleted articles to new URLs.

When you need to redirect old posts, redirect hot linked downloadable files, create custom affiliate URLs, detect 404 pages, create trackable short URLs, the Redirection plugin is a powerful solution without any ads.

Check how I use the Redirection plugin to redirect important 404 pages and pass its link power to the updated URL.

Custom logic in Redirects Plugins to redirect users depending on login status, cookie, IP, referrer etc.

Apart from regular redirect features plugin has unique features like redirect depending on logged in user, depending on referrer, cookie, IP, language etc.

Actually this plugin is very popular and does not need any additional exposure. I am very thankful to the developer for creating, maintaining and keeping such a great plugin without ads.

Not sure how the developer monetizes it but hopefully this plugin will not be sold to any aggressive advertiser that can ruin it.

I use it for many things, especially using the redirection plugin I removed other 2 plugins (Pretty links used for affiliate links, Download manager used for tracking software downloads). Switching from 3 plugins to a single one helped me to speed up my website dramatically. Learn how I switched to a single plugin and how much performance my WordPress website gained.

This plugin is updated regularly and optimized well enough so it should not be overshadowed by freemium plugins with limited functionality.


Why is it hard to find good free plugins?

Because the main purpose of totally free plugins is to provide solutions. These plugins are not promoted and most of the time are not named correctly. Also they are not updated regularly and have very few reviews and ratings.

They have many paid alternatives that are better optimized for search and outranks them in WordPress plugin repository.

This makes it hard to find free plugins that deliver desired solutions for free.

Also some plugins are used once and removed after completing required tasks. These types of plugins are not used for a long time and can be hard to remember when you need them to use next time. Most of the plugins listed in this article are single use tool plugins.

Why do good free plugins need extra exposure?

First of all they are great plugins that offer brilliant solutions to solve the problem. If something is good then it deserves to be highlighted.

Here are additional reasons to help them reach right audiences:

  • Google and WordPress Search algorithms are not perfect. Some of these plugins are not optimized to appear at the top of search results within WordPress. Because they are not regularly updated. If something is working there is no need to update it every month.
  • Other plugins with similar paid features are outranking them and users need to try several plugins before they find a good free plugin.
  • Plugin is not supported financially. So plugins are not promoted with various marketing solutions like content , social or video.
  • Plugin is not endorsed by affiliate marketing.
  • Plugin is not selling additional services or products.

By writing about good plugins we help others to save their time and money.

How can you support great free plugins?

You can help to spread the word about good free plugins in following ways:

  • Leave an honest review with a real use case and the benefit you gained using the plugin. Reviews always motivate developers.
  • Write about plugins in your blog, social media.
  • Create a video review or tutorial using a plugin.
  • Help to translate plugins to additional languages.

How to stop plugins with aggressive ads and upsells?

WordPress plugin repository has a rating and reviewing feature for letting you know about bad plugins. When downrated by many users, plugin developers will notice that aggressive advertising causes more harm to the plugin. They may review their free and premium features to satisfy the majority of WordPress users.

Plugin will continue to appear at the top of search but with many one star ratings users will read reviews and see all downsides of the plugin.

Here is an example of a previously popular free plugin. Company bought it to reach hundreds of thousands existing users and dominate the WordPress plugin repository. They rewritten the plugin and made most previously free features available with recurring subscription. Plugin users were unhappy and angry with this change and started to give 1 star rating to the plugin.

One star rating for plugins with aggressive upsells and very limited features.

Screenshot from plugin review page at WordPress. (taken on February 2024)

Plugin still appears in top positions with 500k active installations. But it has a very bad rating that will discourage new users from using it.

What happens if the plugin is not updated for a long time?

WordPress lists plugins by update time. Recently updated plugins appear at the top.

When the plugin is not updated with indication of its support for the current version of WordPress it will show a warning in the plugin page.

Warning showing that plugin was not tested with latest major releases of WordPress.

WordPress shows warnings so users will know that the plugin may not work with the latest version.

WordPress plugin repository shows that plugin is not updated for last 3 years. This also makes it hard to find some good free plugins.

Same happens when a plugin is not updated for more than a year.

Plugin developers advised regularly to test their plugins with the latest WordPress version. Also update the readme file showing that the latest WordPress version is supported by this plugin.

This simple action will move plugins position in related searches to the top reaching to more users.

How to optimize a plugin for search in WordPress directory?

WordPress uses multiple ranking factors to order plugins in search results.

Here are tips to rank higher in plugin search results:

  1. Do keyword research to find the best title for your plugin. Choose the most searched keywords that describe your plugin’s main feature.
  2. Every time a new WordPress version is released, test your plugin in it and update the plugin readme file with supported WordPress version. Better to support more versions when possible. For example at least 2 major WordPress versions 5 and 6.
  3. Make sure that plugin also works on the latest PHP version. Ideally make sure that plugin works with PHP 5.6, 7.x, 8.x versions. This will make your plugin usable to a wider audience with different server setups.
  4. Write tutorials in your blog and create videos about your plugin.
  5. Create a short video demo of your plugin.
  6. Ask users to review and rank plugins in WordPress repository.
  7. Provide support for your plugin in the WordPress forum.

These are the most obvious ways to optimize your plugin for WordPress plugin directory.


Listed hard to find free plugins that I use regularly for a long time. Some of the plugins are unlisted from the WordPress repository so I didn’t include them here. Others are not updated for a couple years but still work perfectly.

Plugins in this list have many premium alternatives. For this reason it is hard to find them in WordPress plugin repository or in google.

Reason for listing them here is to make it easier to find when I need them next time. Also show some support and importance of having free plugins that many WordPress websites can benefit.

This list will be regularly updated with more free plugins that are hard to find.

Plugins are the heart of the WordPress CMS. Regularly write reviews to plugins that you use and it will be much easier to find good ones in a crowded plugin repository.

Using the right plugins can help you to reduce the total number of plugins in your WordPress and keep your website fast.

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