What is a WordPress Plugin and How to Install the Best Plugins

What does a website for a landscaper have in common with a website for someone selling lampshades online?  Besides both being my clients, they are running WordPress as their CMS (Content Management System).  However, the content on each site is COMPLETELY different!  If WordPress had all the functionality that both websites needed plus functionality that every website might ever need, the code would be ENORMOUS.  Instead, WordPress has solved this problem with plugins.

What is WordPress Plugin?

A WordPress plugin is like a tool or resource a person may use to get a job done.  We aren’t born with smart phones in our hands, but we’ve learned that we can be more productive if we have one.  So it is with plugins and WordPress.  Plugins can easily be installed to add special functionality to WordPress that doesn’t come out of the box.  For example, while WordPress is set up to be SEO friendly, it doesn’t contain special SEO features that would allow you to set up keywords and descriptions for each page.  Therefore, I always install Yoast SEO plugin that adds that functionality.  Another example would be a plugin that inserts the ability to add a home page slider.  WordPress isn’t built with this functionality out of the box, so a plugin adds this ability.  Plugins are really handy tools that allow you to tailor your website to do exactly what you need it to do and no more.  If WordPress came out of the box with every function imaginable, the code would be so bloated and heavy that websites would run extremely slowly.  The use of plugins ensures you aren’t getting more than you need.

Uninstalling Plugins

But just as a smart phone can be put down when it isn’t needed, a plugin can be uninstalled if it is no longer useful.  A WordPress site can have a limitless amount of plugins, but I recommend no more than 20.  I’ve found that the speed of a website starts to decrease significantly when more than 20 plugins are used, and that more often than not, some of the plugins aren’t being used and can easily be uninstalled.  If you feel like your website is slow, your plugins may be to blame.  The best way to check would be to take a speed test after deactivating each plugin to see if your website speed increases.

For more information on how to speed up a WordPress website, please read the following articles.
Make WordPress 3x Faster Using this Plugin
Top 5 Reasons Your SEO Website Ranking is Suffering & Top 8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

How to Install the Best Plugins

Currently, the WordPress plugin directory lists 47,379 plugins and that number increases daily.  Choosing a plugin can be difficult.  Since plugins can be created by anyone with a computer and an Internet connection, it’s possible you’re downloading a plugin that a 5 year old created.

So how do you know which are the best plugins to install?  Here are some helpful tips.

  • Reviews: look at the reviews to see if others have been pleased with the plugin.
  • Last Updated: look to see when the plugin was last updated and if it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
  • Demo: visit the demo page if there is one to make sure it has the functionality you are looking for.
  • Install One at a Time: don’t go overboard and install more than one at a time.  If there’s a problem with a plugin that conflicts with your theme or another plugin, you want to make sure you can track down the culprit easily.

Want even more helpful advice, plus a sneak peak at the plugins I use for SolopreneurMentor.com?  Well, you’re in the right place!  Click on the link below to access my behind-the-scenes free video tutorial!

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