Demystifying WordPress Plug-Ins
When you set up a new WordPress website for your small business, you get introduced to a variety of components and all those moving parts can be overwhelming.
Here we take a look at plug-ins, which are useful for making your site function well. We'll walk through what they are, how to set up a plug-in in WordPress, and what plug-ins you should consider using.
What is a plug-in?
A plug-in is a piece of software that's designed to enhance the functionality of a WordPress website. One of the best things about WordPress is that you can find a plug-in for virtually anything you could want to include in your website.
Want your articles to be automatically shared on social media networks? There's a plug-in for that. Want your web design to show different time zones? There's a plug-in for that too. The reality is, if you want to build a high-performing WordPress website, you're going to need to have some plug-ins installed.
How to set up a plug-in WordPress
Installing a plug-in in WordPress is super-simple. You just need to follow these steps:
1. Login to WordPress
2. Click on the dashboard menu item Plugins.
3. Choose Add New.
4. Search for different plug-ins
5. Install and activate the ones you wish to use.
The official WordPress Plugin directory has over 50,000 plug-ins that you can access either from within your dashboard or from the WordPress.org website.
What are the best plug-ins for WordPress?
While there are tens of thousands of plug-ins available for WordPress, you only need a few to get started. Below are some of the top plug-ins for new WordPress installations.
1. Yoast SEO
When it comes to search engine optimization, few can match the functionality and power of Yoast SEO. From helping with the optimization of your meta titles and alt tags to the density of your target keywords and basic readability, Yoast SEO makes it a breeze to conduct on-page SEO. Assuming you've already done the initial keyword research, the plug-in will take you through the whole process of optimizing a blog post for search engine algorithms.
2. WP Smush
Images with large file sizes take longer to load and can drastically reduce the speed of your website. Fortunately, plug-ins like WP Smush allow you to compress images without affecting their quality. You can compress PNG, GIF and JPEG images up to 32 MB in bulk or individually using WP Smush's dedicated servers. Additionally, you can set up automated compression so all of your new uploads are automatically resized for the web. Another unique aspect of WP Smush is its compatibility with WordPress galleries — it's capable of displaying high quality featured images using the lowest possible file sizes.
3. W3 Total Cache
If your main objective is to improve the speed of your WordPress site, W3 Total Cache will leave you totally delighted. This plug-in is designed to improve website performance by reducing load times through features like content delivery network (CDN) integration and minification of embedded, line or third-party code. Activating this plug-in should improve site performance and conversion rates, which are key to obtaining a good rank in search engine results.
4. Broken Link Checker
When you have a broken image or link on your website, the user experience becomes compromised and search engines start to take note. So, it's in your best interest to replace or eliminate links that lead to empty pages. The Broken Link Checker plug-in is designed to do exactly what you suspect: It scans your website for broken links, and then pings you to fix those URLs. The scanning also accounts for broken pictures and redirects. Overall, the plug-in allows you to clean up your link structure, which leads to happier visitors and improved SEO rankings.
As you become more proficient with WordPress, you'll likely come across additional plug-ins boasting all sorts of functionality. However, what's more important than the raw number of installations is what each plug-in offers and how well it's aligned with your needs. In other words, keep plug-in installation to just the necessities.