No, I am not talking about the electrical plug for your toaster, laptop or smartphone. 🙂
My post is all about a small helpful tool that will make your website/blog more functional and user-friendly.
What is a plugin? What are plugins used for? How can you add one and what do you have to watch out for? I am only talking about WordPress plugins in my article.
Finally, I’ll show you my favorite plugins.
Without further ado, let’s get started
A plugin is a small code program that adds extra features to your site. You don’t need to write one single code. It’s already been done for you.
Did you know, that a whopping 21 000 free plugins are available on the WordPress.org plugin directory?
So if you need to customize your site and your theme doesn’t have this particular feature, you sure will find a plugin that will do the job.
For instance, you want to use a table, offer prints for recipes, add social media share buttons, optimize your images, make your website load faster … the list is endless.
How To Add A Plugin
There are two ways to add a plugin to your WordPress site. First) Download the plugin in from the WordPress directory and install it manually.
Second) My preferred method ⇒ Login into your WP dashboard. Go to Plugin ⇒ New Plugin; Search and once you found it simply click ‘Install’ and ‘Activate.’ (refer to my screenshot)
A Few Things To Watch Out For
I have marked a few important things on the screenshot. Before you install the desired plugin, check if it is compatible with your version of WordPress. If not, don’t install it.
Also, check when it was last updated. If the last update has been a few months ago, I will stay away from it.
Check out the rating as well and how many people have installed the plugin is. The rating is a good indicator, too. A higher score is, of course, preferable.
Lastly, bear in mind that too many plugins can slow down your site which in return can affect your Google ranking. The faster a site loads, the better in terms of ranking and for the user experience.
Now and again I check my website speed with this free tool gtmetrix.com.
Your checklist in a nutshell:
- Is the plugin compatible with your version of WordPress?
- What Is the Rating?
- How many people installed the plugin?
- When was the last update?
- Are the plugins compatible with each other?
My List Of Free Favorite Plugins
I have got a few core plugins I am using for all my three websites and others according to what additional features are necessary for my particular niche.
Because all my sites are hosted on Wealthy Affiliates, I don’t need to worry about any Anti- Spam plugins and the likes. One less to worry about.
My Core Plugins
For this website, I am using All in One SEO, and for the others, I have installed Yoast SEO.
I really like the Yoast SEO because it analyzes my posts for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It provides a checklist of what I can do to improve my ranking.
As you can see on the screenshot, a few fields are marked with red. These are the areas I should change to improve my SEO. I find Yoast SEO easy to use and I like the on-page analyzation.
Another one is Sumo (formerly Sumome) to add social share buttons. Sumo has so many more features like Google Analytics, heat maps, email sign-up forms, content analytics, image share. Most features are free, and some are paid.
I like Sumo because it has the most options for social sharing besides the usual Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. I like to use Flipboard as well.
Reduce Bounce Rate
I use this one on all my sites. It shows me the real Bounce Rate and page views in Google Analytics (GA). For example, if a visitor only reads one page and leaves your site, GA shows a 100% bounce rate.
This plugin shows me the time a visitor spends on the one site. I get a better impression of what my visitor is doing, and the bounce rate is less than 100%.
The only free plugin to automatically localize/globalize and affiliate-ize Amazon links. Add automatic amazon affiliate IDs to monetize your site, and localize your affiliate links to earn commissions from all Amazon stores globally. (description of developer)
It works perfectly for me, no complaints.
Makes my affiliate links look cleaner and as the name says ‘pretty.’ I also see how many clicks my links are receiving. Very cool!
WP Fastest Cache
This is a great plugin because it reduces my site loading time.
Here is the official description.
This plugin creates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. When a page is rendered, php and mysql are used. Therefore, system needs RAM and CPU. If many visitors come to a site, system uses lots of RAM and CPU so page is rendered so slowly. In this case, you need a cache system not to render page again and again. Cache system generates a static html file and saves. Other users reach to static html page. Setup of this plugin is so easy. You don’t need to modify the .htacces file. It will be modified automatically.
Here is a list of plugins depending on the needs of my site
WP SEO Structured Data Schema
Comment Approved Notifier Extended
Really Simple SSL
WP Smush – reduces image sizes
YARPP – shows related posts.
Wrapping It Up
I hope this post helped to clarify a few things regarding on What are plugins used for.
A plugin is simple to install but stick to only a few and updated ones. Check the rating, compatibility, and popularity.
You don’t need to know any coding. The hard work is all done for you.
The right plugins will increase the functionality of your site. Overall, your reader will have a better experience on your site.