What is the best free plugin for star rating content by users?

Recently I had to analyze all the plugins to add star ratings to the contents of the blog, because the previous plugins I’ve been using, some for lack of features, others for incompatibilities, had become obsolete or did not offer everything I needed.

And today I want to share with you what I consider the 3 best free plugins for content rating with stars and my final decision on which I think is the best.

But first…

What is a content star rating plugin?

There are several plugins that arguably serve to leave star ratings. In fact, WooCommerce itself includes star ratings for products, and there are other plugins that allow the editor of a content to apply a series of microdata, including star ratings, to certain types of content, such as reviews, recipes, etc., known as rich snippets.

But what I am referring to today is plugins that allow users of your website, of your blog, to leave their rating to your content.

Why is a star rating plugin interesting?

The most popular Internet sites offering content and services offer a star rating system by users. Sites such as Yelp or Amazon, among others, offer users the power to rate content, and this is of vital value for other users, who trust the ratings of other users more than those of experts or the business itself.

This is why we have become accustomed to trusting this type of rating, always choosing those contents or products whose rating is superior to the rest.

In a way, a user rating system gives the user the power to rate the content, and this is perceived by the rest of the users.

What should the best star rating plugin have?

Under my criteria, personal if you want, there are certain basics that a plugin of this type should meet to stand out from the rest, or at least meet the main needs:

  • Free in the main functionalities – That you don’t have to pay to have the (following) most important functionalities.
  • Compatible with Google rich snippets – You must at least have the possibility that the ratings result in rich results in the search engine.
  • Lightweight – Don’t overload every page of your site with lots of scripts and styles.
  • Compatible with various caching and optimization systems – Many of these plugins require special settings or even ask you to disable caching and other optimizations to work properly, and I’m sorry to say, in this day and age this is unacceptable. Such a plugin should not only be lightweight but also allow you to optimize all other elements of your website.
  • Fraud control – The plugin must somehow allow you to prevent malicious mass voting.

There are more possible functionalities, and you will see that some of the plugins incorporate them, but these must fulfill all of them, yes or yes, 100% or at least in part.

The best plugins for rating content with star ratings by readers

I will not bore you with dozens of plugins that do not meet the basics, but we will go directly to what I consider the 3 best plugins with star rating.

Here you have them, with my assessment of compliance with basic functionalities and extra features.

YASR – Yet Another Star Ratings

With more than 20 thousand active installations it is one of the most used plugins for this purpose, and as a whole I could say that it fulfills quite well, in fact I have had it active here on the blog for quite some time.

Fulfilling basic functionalities

If we stick to the fulfillment of the basic functionalities…

  • Free – It is free in its main tools.
  • Rich Snippets – It allows to choose among 17 types of structured data.
  • Lightweight – We will see a comparison at the end
  • Cache compatible – Supports all major caching systems but may require enabling AJAX.
  • Fraud control – Allows voting control via cookie or just logged in.

This plugin offers a very complete star rating system, both from the author and visitors, even allowing to show an average of both ratings.

However, as far as this comparison is concerned, in the functionalities for users, it complies perfectly, and allows to generate rich snippets easily, selecting the type of structured data to use, which generates without errors, only with warnings on optional data.

Leaving aside the optimization issue, of which we will see a specific comparison at the end, it complies well and has lots of interesting display settings.

As for the customization aspect, the free version only allows 2 types of stars.

Valuable extras

Its main additional extra that adds value to the plugin are the multiple sets, which allow you to create sets of different elements to rate, so that both authors and users can rate them.

In this way, for example, you can offer the basics, a rating of the content as a whole or, on the contrary, a detailed rating, according to various aspects, that you generate previously.

KK Star Ratings

This is the most popular star rating plugin, with more than 80 thousand active installations, and perhaps it has not achieved this by the number of features, but precisely by focusing on its target, without extras.

Fulfilling basic functionalities

Let’s see if it delivers…

  • Free – It’s free in its main tools √
  • Rich Snippets – It allows you to choose any type of structured data using JSON-LD code.
  • Lightweight – We will see comparative at the end
  • Cache compatible – It is compatible with the main caching systems.
  • Fraud control – Allows voting control via IP or online only.

This popular star rating plugin is built on simplicity, and it delivers well. It allows customizing the texts but not the display of the stars.

Valuable extras

The main extra is the ability to automatically exclude categories from the system, and that you can apply any rich snippet through JSON-LD code, which by default comes from “CreativeWorkSeries”, but you can change it to any other, replacing the default code. It is not the most intuitive for novice users but on the other hand it is the most flexible.

Rate My Post – WP Rating System

The last plugin to evaluate, but not the worst, is Rate My Post, and do not be fooled by the number of installations (more than 10 thousand) because it will surprise you.

Fulfilling basic functionalities

Is it fulfilling or not?

  • Free – It is free in its main tools.
  • Rich Snippets – Allows you to choose from 14 structured data at a click.
  • Lightweight – We will see a comparison at the end
  • Cache compatible – It is compatible with the main caching and optimization systems, and allows compatibility with the rest by activating AJAX.
  • Fraud control – Allows IP voting control, online only, IP tracking and unique user tracking.

This plugin is surprising in every way, as it seems to have acquired the best of the rest of the plugins and added some extras of real quality and utility. In fact it includes features that should set a new standard in this type of plugins.

The basic functionalities are more than enough, and with additional features in each of them, which are best seen in the extras section.

Valuable extras

It has lots of them, to sum up:

  • Automatic exclusion from the system by ID
  • Prevent accidental votes asking for confirmation
  • Suggestion system in case of negative score – If the score is below a rating you define, a field appears where users can email you suggestions for improvement.
  • Social sharing system in case of positive score – If the score exceeds a rating you define, social icons appear to encourage users to share the entry or follow your social profiles.
  • Multilingual web support.
  • Full customization of texts and styles, with a choice of stars, emoticons, thumbs, hearts or trophies.
  • Manual manipulation of total ratings and average from the editor, with control of the minimum profile to perform the manipulations. With this you can protect yourself, a posteriori, of someone who has left many bad scores intentionally.
  • Control and blocking of votes by IP.
  • Spam protection by reCAPTCHA v3.
  • Import (perfect) from ratings of the main plugins of this type.

All extras add great value to the plugin, especially those that allow greater interaction with the user. In particular, the suggestion system seems perfect to me, because it is like the logical sequence after a bad rating, to learn from it, and that the user feels useful, don’t you think?

The system works perfectly, because if the user leaves a bad rating (depending on what you have configured) the suggestion box will be automatically displayed, and if the user leaves a good rating, the social icons for sharing or subscribing will also be automatically displayed, whatever you decide in the settings.

As for the fraud control in the voting is basic, because after all you don’t want to appear in Google with only 1 star because ONE person doesn’t like you.

Why didn’t you include WP PostRatings?

With over 1 million installations it would seem logical to include this classic plugin, but it’s been a long time since it met the basics, namely:

  • Free – Yes.
  • Rich Snippets – Hasn’t worked for a while and doesn’t let you choose which data is structured.
  • Lightweight – Fairly lightweight, but includes additional scripts and styles.
  • Cache compatible – Incompatible with most persistent caches and optimization plugins.
  • Fraud control – No fraud control.

I used it myself in the past, but it is now totally obsolete, and there are much better ones, as much as I love it.

Optimization and loading speed comparison

I wanted to leave this evaluation for the end because there are details that deserved to be seen together, comparing results between the analyzed plugins.

The method chosen for this assessment has been the following:

  • All plugins tested on the same hosting, WordPress installation and compared in the same post.
  • Optimization plugin SG Optimizer active with all caches active.
  • Measurement with Query Monitor.

So, under the same conditions, and comparing the load of the same posts with the different plugins and without them…

Performance results

In view of the analysis performed, these are the performance results:

PLUGINScriptsStylesTime to generateMemory peakDB queries
Without plugin17150,28 seconds55,2 MB30
YASR21170,29 seconds59,5 MB37
KK Star Ratings18160,27 seconds59,1 MB30
Rate My Post18160,32 seconds56,5 MB30

Looking at the results you can see that both KK Star Ratings and Rate My Posts are almost on a par, with the former standing out in page generation time and the latter in memory consumption.

What is the best plugin for star rating of content by users?

Before I tell you my rating let me ask you a question, what do you value most in a plugin of this type, because although there are few plugins there are many differences:

  • YASR – In performance it is the worst of all, as well as in compatibility with optimization plugins, but it offers many more customizations than KK Star Ratings, although less than Rate My Post, so, in my opinion, it is the worst off in the comparison.
  • KK Star Ratings – It stands out in simplicity, whether this is a virtue or a disadvantage, because at the same time it lacks customization options, although on the other hand it is the most flexible when choosing the type of structured data, although it has to be configured through code. In terms of performance, it only adds 1 additional style and 1 additional script, without increasing the number of database queries or load time. On the other hand, it consumes quite a lot of memory.
  • Rate My Post – It stands out in terms of features, there is no color, and curiously in terms of performance it is practically on par with the most austere one.

So which one should I choose?

  • If you are looking for maximum simplicity and being able to apply any JSON-LD Schema for free, then KK Star Ratings.
  • If you’re looking for maximum functionality, customization, ratings control, with extras, without penalizing performance, and you don’t need non-included Schema types, Rate My Post without a doubt.

I encourage you to leave your assessment to this comparison, using, as you can see, the Rate My Post system, which has been my choice for the blog, mainly for these reasons:

  • Performance and compatibility with caching plugins and optimization without the need to load AJAX.
  • Suggestion system, which I think is fair for users, and useful for the author of the content. It brings a lot of value.
  • Voting fraud control, to be able to “fix” the massive negative votes of some IPs that I have already identified for years, and that this plugin allows me to control and solve easily.

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