14 Best Free WordPress Sidebar Plugins

Check out the best free WordPress sidebar plugins and top widgets to add many functions to your site or blog. See now the ultimate list

By Claudio Pires
Updated on March 20, 2023
14 Best Free WordPress Sidebar Plugins

Widgets are one of WordPress most adaptable features. They make it possible to add a ton of different functionality to your WordPress sidebar with some plugins, as well as other areas that accept widgets. Best of all, you can find plenty of free WordPress sidebar plugins – so you won’t need to open your wallet to get their benefits. Check out the best free WordPress sidebar plugins and top widgets.

Free WordPress Sidebar Plugin

1. Relevanssi

Out-the-box WordPress ships with a built-in search function and widget. Unfortunately, most users consider it relatively poor at its job.

To help visitors find helpful content more quickly, consider upgrading the default search function with Relevanssi. The plugin can partially match a visitor’s search query, plus it’s better at sorting by relevance than the default option.

With the plugin installed, you must still use the default WordPress search widget. However, behind the scenes, the widget is now powered by Relevanssi.

If you also publish content on YouTube, perhaps you want to use your sidebar area to promote your channel. Enter the YouTube Channel Gallery plugin.

The plugin lets you display thumbnail stills of your videos in any widgetized area — all you need is a YouTube API Key.

Then, when a visitor clicks on one of the videos, the video starts playing. You can also add multiple YouTube widgets to one page, letting you promote different videos and channels simultaneously. This is one of the best sidebar plugins. So, the best free WordPress sidebar widgets plugins.

Related posts are the most sophisticated navigation widget — the plugin needs an algorithm to determine which posts are related, after all.

The Contextual Related Posts widget uses a post’s title and content to discover related posts. However, you can omit posts or entire categories from the search. Related posts can be displayed with thumbnails, plus the posts are cached to increase website speed.

4. Ninja Forms: Best & Top Free WordPress Sidebar & Widgets Plugins

The sidebar is an excellent space to place a contact form so that your visitors can reach out to you.

Not every contact form plugin comes with a dedicated widget, though. If you want one that doesNinja Forms is one of the best free options — it’s super-easy to use and comes with loads of customizations and advanced fields. As a result, the best free WordPress sidebar widgets plugins.

5. SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle

Let’s begin with an excellent all-in-one widgets plugin — SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle.

The plugin introduces all the widget functionality you could request, with an impressive 20 dedicated widgets available. Here’s an idea of some of the widgets included in the box: The devices are fully customizable, too, with support for infinite colors and over 1,500 icons.

6. Testimonials Widget: Best & Top Free WordPress Sidebar & Widgets Plugins

The widget space on your website is perfect for building social proof. Consider adding testimonials, which tell the world what a fantastic job you’re doing, right from the mouths of real-life customers.

The Testimonials Widget plugin lets you display text, images, or video testimonials in stylish sliders. You can also tailor which testimonials are displayed based on a post’s category.

7. Recent Posts Widget Extended

Most visitors expect to see links to your blog posts in the sidebar — they depend on this for navigation. Generally speaking, there are three navigation widgets: recent posts, popular posts, and related posts.

For a recent posts widget, I recommend the Recent Posts Widget Extended plugin. The plugin lets you display a thumbnail and excerpt for each post — you can also target recent posts based on category. The plugin lets you order your posts based on publication date or most recent comments.

If you don’t fancy recent posts, what about your most popular posts? After all, these posts are popular for a reason, right? They’re probably the best-written or most informative, providing exceptional value to all visitors.

WordPress Popular Posts is the best plugin for the job. It displays the posts’ thumbnails, plus you can target the popular posts based on category and time range. You can even have multiple popular posts widgets live simultaneously, each with different settings. In conclusion, the best free WordPress sidebar widgets plugins.

9. Image Widget

Want to make your website more eye-catching? Then why not use the sidebar area to display images? If you want to place a single image, the Image Widget plugin is the obvious choice.

The plugin lets you display an image from your WordPress media library. You can also control image settings such as size, alignment, and title. You can point the image at a custom URL when clicked, too.

10. Instagram Feed

Instead of your media library, perhaps you’d prefer to pull your images straight from Instagram. If so, you need the Instagram Feed plugin. It has scored a perfect 5/5 rating over 300,000 downloads — no mean feat.

The plugin lets you display thumbnails and medium-sized and full-sized images. You can also mix and match multiple Instagram accounts. The photos don’t have to be from your account either — you can display images from any non-private account. And, if visitors like what they see, they can load additional pictures by clicking a Load More button.

11. Meks Smart Author Widget

The Meks Smart Author Widget lets you display stylish author bios in your website’s widget space. The plugin has a use for both multi-author and one-man blogs. Moreover, the best free WordPress sidebar widgets plugins.

For multi-author blogs, the plugin detects the writer of a particular post and then displays the relevant bio.

If you’re the sole contributor to your blog, you can display your bio on every page — use this as an “About Me” widget. By revealing information about yourself, you become more relatable to readers.

12. Poll, Survey, Quiz & Form by OpinionStage

Got a burning question to ask your visitors? Perhaps you want their input on future content. Maybe you want answers to topical questions in your niche. Or perhaps you want to run silly quizzes to make people smile. Either way, you need Poll, Survey, Quiz & Form by OpinionStage — you can even use it to run competitions.

The widgets look stunning, letting you upload custom images and apply your branding. You can also monetize the device by generating ad revenues or requiring visitors to sign up for a mailing list.

13. Google Maps Widget

Want to show visitors your physical location on a map? Then you need the Google Maps Widget plugin — a dedicated maps plugin for your widget space.

The plugin boasts customizable map dimensions and zoom levels, plus you can bring your maps to life by creating custom pins.

14. Content Aware Sidebars: Best & Top Free WordPress Sidebar & Widgets Plugins

Content Aware Sidebars is a useful plugin that allows you to display different widgets and sidebars for different content. For instance, you can show one collection of widgets for posts in one category and another collection of widgets for posts in another category.

With this ability, you can create a more personalized, targeted sidebar.

You can construct conditional logic sidebars using a simple interface, and you have 13 additional options for displaying sidebars, including post type, taxonomy, author, template, and more.

15. Ad Inserter: Free WordPress Sidebar Plugins

Plugin for managing ads that has a variety of advanced advertising features that can insert ads at the most influential positions.

Provides support for all kinds of ads, including Google’s AdSense, the DFP (DoubleClick for publishers) of Google’s Ad Manager, Amazon’s Native Shopping Ads, Media.net, the Infolinks, and the Rotating banners.

This plugin is more than either the AdSense plugin or the plugin for ads. It offers numerous advanced features that enable the insertion of opt-in forms, scripts for headers, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, PHP, analytics, tracking or advertisements anywhere on the page.

Add sponsored content where other add-ons fail.

Awesome Weather Widget (Honorable mention – Outdated)

For some businesses, the weather can have a significant impact on trade, like its sidebar plugins — say, holiday lettings or outdoor recreation, off the top of my head. If the weather is relevant to your business, why not provide visitors with the info they need using the Awesome Weather Widget plugin?

The weather widgets look gorgeous with customizable color schemes. Most importantly, the weather data is provided by OpenWeatherMap, so you can trust that it’s reliable.

Best & Top Free WordPress Sidebar & Widgets Plugins Conclusion

Free WordPress sidebar plugins are one of the easiest ways to add new features to your site, such as custom contact forms, upcoming events, and maps to your location (among many other options). Finding the right widgets can help your site look and work better by adding extra functionality.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the free WordPress widgets we’ve introduced you to in this list until you find the best combination.

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.