A plugin is a software component in the form of a .zip file that adds features and capabilities to your website, once it’s uploaded.
It’s easy to install or upload to your website and then “plug in” directly. A plug in allows you to add these functions easily rather than learning to do coding in order to create the same thing.

Plugins do everything you can imagine and more. They add display features like widgets, menus and slider images. They can add mailing list forms, advertising, banners, custom menus and thousands of other additional features.

Some websites are annoying. They make you want to leave quickly by having too many pesky features. These sites are the ones that often have pop-ups when you are trying to read or worse yet, blinking banners down both sides and all over the page. Much of this is done with plugins, so limit the number of them that you have at any one time and also make sure they add to your site, not detract from it.

Don’t Add Annoying Features

The two features I find quite annoying and that drive me from a website right away (even a great site) is the “autoplay” videos and human sales people that walk on the screen as soon as you land on it. This usually happens before you’ve even had a chance to absorb anything about the site.

It’s probably a plugin that did that too. It’s usually the use of plugins that give those particular attractive or annoying features. Plugins can encompass all different functions and needs you may have for the design of your site.  

Each plugin is different, they operate differently from each other and even plant themselves in different places on your dashboard.

Choosing Plugins

Plugins can be found within your WordPress dashboard where it says “Install Plugins” which can be seen on the screen below. Click “Search” and then enter the name or keyword related to the plugin or functionality that you wish to find.

The list of results will show up in order of relevance to your query.

PlugIn Search Dashboard

Plugins can also be found on WordPress.org. Each one would be downloaded to your computer from them and then uploaded to your wordpress website. 

Recently Updated?

Check when it was last updated and check to see if it’s compatible with the current version of WordPress you are using. If it’s outdated or incompatible you may want to avoid it.

If you choose to use it and download it, it’s best to scan it with a virus checker before you upload it and open it to your website. It’s a small step that can save you some huge headaches.

Choose the plugins that really matter as far as protecting your site, SEO and social sharing. The social sharing ones are important because they help other people share your content for you in places such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Installing the Plugin

The install takes just a few clicks, but some of the settings and configuration pages are not quite so easy to set up the way you want them. Many plugins have support forums or tutorials and will help you set it up.

Plugins, as with just about everything online need a little caution when using them. It’s also recommended that you run the plugin through your virus scanner first just to make sure it’s safe and good to use before you activate it.

The plugins that are listed on WordPress.org are solid. I’ve never had a problem with them.

Additionally, some plugins don’t play nice with others and installing and using one may cause another one to not function or worse, it could crash your whole site! So if you notice a crazy change to your site when you activate it, then it’s likely there is a plugin conflict. 

Download then Upload

Once you have chosen a plugin and downloaded it from WordPress.org, the next step is pretty straightforward. Upload it from your computer.

After searching at the very top of the page you will see a tiny little link called “Upload”, this is where you do it. The plugin must be in a .zip format for this to work.

Plugin Install Dashboard

Click “Upload”, then it will take a moment to do that, next it will ask you if you would like to “Activate” it. Click that.

You’ll then find the settings in a couple of different locations on your dashboard. One is down your left side bar main menu at the bottom under it’s own button and visible to you.

The other place you will find it is under the “Settings” button which is below the “Tools” button at the bottom of the standard menu that comes with WordPress.

The third place is on the plugins page itself. In your list of installed plugins, locate the one you need to adjust and it may have a link right there called “settings” right on the plugin list page.

There are usually help forums and support services for premium plugin usage help when you buy the Pro versions. The Free versions of most plugins do not come with a lot of help. 

Not Too Many

Some webmasters will tell you to keep it below twelve (12) individual plugins. Just keep it to the fewest number of plugins you can get away with for a particular site.

Must Have Plugins

Wordpress Dashboard Menu

There are some plugins that are critical to the set up and function of your new website, some are not. Some are purely for eye appeal, UX and ease of use.

You can choose plugins for everything from adding more content editor functions such as with the WP Edit Pro and to mailing list fields to content protection to spam protection and hundreds if not thousands of other features. 

Akismet – This controls and greatly reduces the spam comments your site will get.

GASP (Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin) – This is an antispam plugin that works wonderfully. It adds a button that you must click that says “Confirm you are not a Spammer”.

Only a human can see this and click it. A spambot will not see it and therefore the comment will be automatically blocked.

All In One SEO Pack – This makes sorting out your Search Engine Optimization very easy, just fill in a few blanks, click a few circles and your good to go. The plugin handles all the technical parts of optimizing for SEO. 

Exclude Pages from Navigation – This is a very simple plugin that does just what it says. It adds a little click box so you can easily choose to have certain pages show on your main menu or not.

WP Edit Pro is a must have plugin for all those working with WordPress CMS. This is your ultimate content editor. WordPress dashboards don’t come with a lot of pre-existing functions.

This plugin allows dozens and dozens of additional features to your editor with a little icon that gets placed right on your text editor.

Tweet, Like, Google+1 and Share – A social plugin is imperative for your website. This one is easy to use and install. It easily adds sharing buttons to the top or bottom of your pages and posts. You want to make it very easy for your readers to share your content, this will increase exposure for your site.

Contact Form 7 – This is an easy to use plugin that adds a professional looking contact form to your website page. This enables your visitors to contact you if they desire directly through your website.

Using a contact form removes the need to have your email address displayed on your site.  This is important to prevent automated systems that skim websites for email addresses to send SPAM from getting yours.

Login Lockdown – This is almost a one-click plugin that sets a limit on how many times a person (including you) can enter an incorrect password before being locked out of the dashboard for a predetermined amount of time.

This is the best way to stop automated attempts at accessing your website through repeated tries of a hacking program.

However, if you are a member of Wealthy Affiliate then your login is protected securely behind their walls.

Revision Limit – Since WordPress has been keeping revisions, they can add up on your site which weighs it down. This very simple plugin keeps the number of revisions you choose and discards the rest. 

There are several other plugins that really help a website look it’s best and function efficiently. I’ll feature those at a later date.The image to the right shows a WordPress Dashboard  menu and at the bottom some of my chosen plugins can be seen. This is how they appear under your “Settings” tab.

I hope this has helped to show why some plugins are necessary for your site and why some are just great to make it look it’s best.

Over time you will begin to attract visitors from all over the planet. These are your shoppers! Make your site a great place for them to learn and shop.

What are your favorite plugins? Tell me what they are in the comment section below.
Next Lesson is What is a SERP?

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