If you are just beginning to build your website you have probably noticed that plugins are very prominent aspect of any WordPress website. So, exactly what are plugins? Why are they important to my site? How do I find and install them?
In this post I am going to give you a brief overview of why plugins exist and how you can use them to your advantage. In part 2 of this series on plugins I will show you how easy it is to install a plugin on your WordPress website.
What are plugins?
Basically, plugins are mini programs or codes written by an individual or a company that you can install, or “plugin”, to your website. Once you install a plugin it is now a part of your website and is affecting it in some way.
Most plugins are offered for free with the option of upgrading to a premium version for increased functionality. Some plugins are only available through purchase. And some are free but will ask for a donation. Typically there is no need for someone just starting out to purchase any plugins. All of the good and most widely used plugins are available for free.
Why do we need plugins?
As you know, the internet operates by languages called code. Unfortunately, most of us (me included) do not know how to speak code. If we do know some code, it’s typically not enough to really do any advanced and complicated things with our websites.
Also, the WordPress content management system is purely the platform your website is created from. It is not very advanced and doesn't offer a lot of functionality by itself. To increase this functionality you can either write your own code (which is probably impossible for you and I) or find someone else to do it for you.
Basically, plugins are designed to fill this knowledge gap and allow us to improve our site, increase its functionality, and better our user experience.
I’m still confused…could you give me an example?
Definitely! I'll even give you more than one. Here are 4 VERY different plugins I am currently using on this very website.
1. All-In-One SEO Pack
All-In-One SEO Pack was created to increase the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of the content you publish on your website. This plugin allows you to easily edit how your posts will show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), integrate webmaster verification, edit website and post Meta data, among a plethora of other things.
It all sounds very boring and complicated, but it is probably one of the most important plugins you can install if you are looking to get traffic from search engines…and it will automate most of the process for you!
MaxButtons is a plugin created by Max Foundry that will allow you to create nice looking buttons throughout your website’s pages and posts. Without this plugin, if I wanted to put a button on my page, I might have to create an image in Photoshop, make sure it is the perfect size (down to the pixel), upload it to the website, place it perfectly in my post or page, insert the proper link…and it still probably won’t look as good as if you just used MaxButtons.
Here is an example of a button I created with MaxButtons in, literally, 30 seconds:
3. Pretty Link Lite
Pretty Link Lite is designed by the company Caseproof. This plugin can affect your site positively in very subtle ways. Basically, using this plugin will make all of your links “pretty”. Many times urls and links that show up throughout your website can be quite long and “ugly”. This plugin allows you to shorten them up and make them more appealing to your visitors
This is also a very good plugin to utilize if you plan on doing any affiliate marketing. This is because it allows you to hide your affiliate links from Google. (This topic is worthy of a whole series of posts itself…so more about this at a later date!)
4. Subscribe To Comments Reloaded
I consider Subscribe To Comments Reloaded to be one of the most important plugins I have installed on this website. How many times have you left a question or comment on a website and really wanted to know what the answers or responses would be? Unfortunately, in many cases the only way to know if someone has responded is to manually check the website. This is huge hassle…not to mention you will probably just forget about it.
Subscribe To Comments Reloaded solves this by allowing commentors to subscribe to your comments. This means that if someone replies to their comment they will be notified via email of the response. This dramatically increases visitor engagement on your site and also gives you a presence within their email.
I hope you now have a better understanding of what WordPress plugins are and how they can vastly improve your website. Keep in mind that this was just a VERY brief overview. There are literally tens of thousands of plugins available for you to experiment with.
However, keep in mind that, as with everything, you need to have due diligence to make sure a plugin is legit and won’t do more harm than good to your website. Also, if you install too many plugins, it can have negative effects on your site speed.
Was this post interesting and informative? If so, here are some others you may want to look into:
- What Are WordPress Categories? – How You Can Use Them To Group And Organize Your Posts
- 4 Simple Steps To Build Your WordPress Website With Wealthy Affiliate
- Two Easy Methods To Install A New WordPress Theme
- WordPress Too Slow? 9 Simple Steps To Make A Faster Website
If you still have any questions regarding WordPress plugins or any suggestions of good plugins you have used, please drop me a comment below. Be sure to subscribe to your comment (thanks to my plugin) so you know when I, or someone else, responds!