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What are WordPress plugins?

Enhance your website by using WordPress plugins

If you’re new to WordPress, you probably keep hearing about WordPress plugins but aren’t entirely sure what they are or how to use plugins. Plugins are the building blocks of your website. They enhance your website design, improve SEO, increase site speed- you name it, WordPress has a plugin for it.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the ins and outs of plugins to give you a better understanding of how to use plugins to your advantage.

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What is a plugin?

A WordPress plugin is an additional piece of code that can be added into your WordPress site. Each plugin contains a group of functions to enhance your website, either by adding new features or extending existing ones.

You’ve probably also heard of WordPress themes, but it’s important to note that these are completely different. A WordPress theme includes all styling aspects of your website, while plugins simply add to it. In theory, you could run a WordPress site without plugins; however, if you want to get the most out of your website – you’ll need to install plugins. Plus, you can use plugins conveniently, without any programming skills, so why wouldn’t you?

What are the best WordPress plugins?

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, so, we know it’s difficult to figure out which ones you should use. The good news is whether your site is big or small, or if you’re selling eggs or shoes- there’s a plugin you’ll want to install. Because the plugin you’re looking for will be dependent on your needs, we’ve compiled a list of the 6 must-have WordPress plugins and why you need them.

  1. Yoast SEO
    • An SEO tool. Start optimising your pages using keywords, meta tags, site maps and more.
    • It checks how well your content is currently optimised and gives recommendations.
  2. MonsterInsights
    • This is a Google Analytics plugin; here, you can see exactly how people find and use your site.
    • You can optimise your website based on subscribers & revenue to increase your traffic.
  3. Redirection
    • A redirect tool. It lets you set up custom 301 redirects and keeps a full record of data on clicks.
    • It will show you a list of 404s, all you need to do it enter the URL where you want to redirect the visitor.
  4. LiveChat
    • Live chat support software. It allows you to add live chat on your WordPress website.
    • It works on mobile, allowing for real-time support. Also, it loads quickly to improve the user experience.
  5. Pretty links Pro
    • A link management tool. It allows you to manage affiliate links while making them short and memorable, so they’re easier to share.
    • It’s a great tool for podcasters, businesses, affiliate marketers and anyone who wants to create short URLs in WordPress.

Where can I find WordPress plugins?

You’ll be happy to know WordPress has a ‘WordPress Plugin Directory’. Here you can choose from thousands of plugins, with more being added every week. All the plugins are free; however, most plugins offer paid versions which provide more powerful features.

Free plugins vs Paid plugins

There are so many free plugins to choose from, but there are also paid ones. So, why would you choose paid plugins when you can get something similar for free? Firstly, free plugins mostly come with generic documentation and support forums for help.

If you opt for paid plugins, you will get regular updates and a support team that works fixing issues reported by users. Secondly, free plugins will perform the basic tasks you need; if you need more advanced functions, you’ll need to pay for a plugin. Finally, if you choose to install free plugins, you must pay attention to the source and reviews. That way, you do not install a plugin designed to hack your website.

Is it secure to install WordPress plugins?

The truth is, no plugin is 100% safe. However, we can give you some tips on what to look out for before installing them.

  1. Odd-looking repository  
    • This is an obvious one, but we’re going to mention it anyway. Scout out the plugin repository and see if the content is up to date, ensure you can contact the developer, and that it doesn’t look like the site was built in 1980.
    • We recommend sticking to reputable sources like CodeCanyon and the WordPress plugin repository.
  2. The Developers reputation
    • We’re not saying you need to know where they went to school or their mother’s name but do some research. Google search them- if nothing appears, do not install the plugin.
    • You’ll most likely get some reviews and warnings too from other users. Also, look out for how long they’ve owned the plugin, and how long they’ve been a developer. If they have no prior history, they’re likely using the plugin to inject malicious code into your website.
  3. Amount of downloads
    • You’ll be able to see the number of websites which currently have the plugin installed on their WordPress site. If it’s a large number, it’s likely to be trustworthy.
    • As a general rule of thumb, avoid plugins that have less than 1,000 downloads, and ideally more than 5,000.
  4. Updates
    • WordPress plugins need to be updated frequently and recently. You’ll be able to find out in WordPress how long it’s been since the last update.
    •  As a general rule, If the plugin hasn’t been updated in over 6 months, we recommend avoiding it.
  5. Ratings
    • Ratings and reviews are important. You should be looking for the dates of the reviews, lengthy reviews, and how the developer responds to the reviews.
    • Take note, a developer should offer to investigate and fix the issue. You’ll also likely find reviews that mention security.  

How do I install WordPress Plugins?

The first thing you’ll need to know is how to install a WordPress plugin. Think of them like iPhone apps but for your WordPress site.

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to be using wordpress.org and not wordpress.com, or you won’t have access to the directory.  
  2. Secondly, research which plugin you want to install and find it in the WordPress plugin directory.  
  3. From the left-hand menu, select plugins and ‘add new’.
  4. Click ‘Install now
  5. Next, you’ll need to select ‘activate’. A plugin will not work if you skip this step.
  6. That’s it, start using your plugin!

How do I update WordPress plugins?

The good news is, you can update WordPress plugins with one click. To do this, you’ll need to go to the ‘update’ section in your administration panel. If there is an update available, it will appear below the section that tells you if there’s a new version of WordPress to install. Simply select your plugins and click ‘update plugin’.

How do I delete WordPress plugins?

Deleting WordPress plugins is pretty easy. Just go to the admin section, deactivate the plugin and select the delete option. Remember, by just deactivating plugins, you won’t be deleting them, and they can still pose security threats; therefore, you must delete them.

Is there a limit to how many WordPress plugins I can have?

Technically, no. However, too many plugins are a gateway to security breaches. Not only security breaches, but it can also cause issues for your site—for instance, slow loading speed, your site crashing, and much more. We recommend not exceeding 20 plugins. If your site is running on shared hosting, stick to 5.

Now you know everything about plugins, get started building your WordPress website. Did you know we offer a 1-click installation feature? That means you can download WordPress hassle-free with one click.