How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress?

By | October 30, 2015

The plugins that are available are the real power behind WordPress. If you’ve asked yourself “How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress?” then you’re in the right place. As good as a theme may be it’s still basically a framework for you to add your bells and whistles to. There are a lot of plugins that you can add to your site. The trick to getting the most out of your site is to identify which plugins you actually need to achieve your specific goal. And I’m not talking about your overall goal of your site. I’m talking smaller.

For example you want a comments section that doesn’t get flooded with spam? Solution: Akismet plugin.

You want to generate an XML sitemap? Solution: Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

You’ll want and need to add plugins over the life of your site so now’s as good a time as any to learn about them.

Teach me about plugins

As a starting point, here’s the list of plugins that I currently have installed on this site.

  • Akismet – Akismet is a plugin that will protect your blog from spam. It’s good at it too. In the first few days that I had the blog live, no one knew about it. Then I registered it with Google and Bing. Still no one knew about it. Then I started seeing small amounts of traffic, really small (Not from search engines oddly enough). And before long, comments. “Wow comments already, this is great” I thought. Nope. Spam. Akismet catches them though so you’re not unknowingly advertising some junk sites or worse. 
  • Yoast SEO – Yoast SEO is my preferred SEO plugin because it gives you live updates of how your SEO is performing as you write your posts. It’s a great tool to help you nail down all of those little SEO tips and tricks and really streamline your SEO strategy from Keyword analysis to keyword implementation. You just can’t put a price on that. Well you can actually. How does free sound. Sounds good to me too.
  • All In One SEO Pack – This plugin gives you extra options on your pages and posts to add search engine optimization keywords, descriptions and titles as well as other options. It’s very handy to have all of this right on your pages or blog posts as you create them. You can also use this to add your verification codes from Google and Bing when you are registering your websites with them so it’s good to get this early on. A great alternative to this plugin is the Yoast SEO plugin.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin generates sitemaps that you can submit to Google, Bing and whoever else you want. Incredibly easy to use and has a function to inform the search engines that your site is updated. Nice.
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com – This comes installed with your WordPress installation but it is not activated initially. I use this more than other plugins because of the information it gives me. It’s a beast of a plugin and it really deserves a post all by itself. I use it daily to view stats of visitor numbers and views as well as where people are visiting from. You need to check out the other features it provides. It really is an amazing plugin.
  • Mojo Marketplace – Came pre-installed and adds widgets, shortcodes and themes to your site. I pay zero attention to this at the moment.
  • Page Builder by SiteOrigin – It provides the drag and drop functionality on your dashboard. Again, I don’t have to do anything with this. 
  • Sharify – This is the latest plugin that I’ve installed. It provides those social buttons for sharing at the top and bottom of the page. So far so good. It keeps track of shares too so I can see from each post how much they’ve been shared.
  • Simple Custom CSS – I installed this to overcome a problem I was having with the header image on this site. The problem was that I had to scroll down the page before I would see ANY of my content. With this CSS plugin I added a small bit of code to limit how much of the picture was seen and therefor move my content up the page so it could be seen without having to scroll down. The code is below in case you need it.
  • #masthead {
    max-height: 350px !important;
    }
  • Types – Used for creating custom post types.
  • WP Super Cache – A Caching plugin for WordPress. This came pre-installed so I’m leaving it alone.

 

Adding plugins to your site comes at a performance price so choose wisely which ones you add and don’t go crazy with the amount of them. 

Lets answer the question “How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress?”

Luckily finding and installing plugins is very simple. Go to your website dashboard, in the left hand side menu click on plugins – Add New. This will take you to the plugins page. While you’re there, have a browse around.

How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress - Step 1

A great place to start is to click on the Popular Tab at the top of the page. This will show you plugins that have millions of users. Find something you’re interested in and give it a whirl. You may like it or you may hate it but it’s not going to cost you anything and it might just fix the problem you’ve been having.

Earlier in the post I mentioned that the plugins come with a performance price. That translates into longer loading times and Google and Bing do not like that.

Not one bit.

Each of your pages and posts should be checked for performance issues and when you add more plugins you should check again.

You can do a website speed test here. This is actually a great website and resource for you to use for performance optimization.

Let me show you. Go to pingdom.com and put your domain name into the box and click Test now.

 

How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress - plugin speed result

 

You’ll get results that you can use to optimize the performance and speed of your site. For example I found that the header image is taking too long to load on my home page. 

 

How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress - example of slowing

 

So I’ll go back and look at that image, optimize it a bit more for web and voila, faster page, better rankings. So what has this got to do with plugins? Well they show up here too.

I mentioned earlier that I installed Sharify for my social buttons. This is the impact it had on my sites speed.

 

How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress - Sharify speed impact

 

Now it’s up to me to see if the benefits of having the sharing buttons outweigh the slight increase in loading speed. Looking at the overall picture of the loading speed of this site shows me that the number one item to address is the header image. The Sharify buttons still load before that, so right now that image is in my cross-hairs.

While you’re here click on the Performance Grade option to get a bit more information. This is what my grades looked like.

 

How Do I Add Plugins to WordPress - initial performance grade

 

As you can see there is a recommendation to leverage browser caching. How on earth am I going to do that?

PLUGINS!

So the next time someone asks you “How do I add plugins to WordPress” you’ll have all the answers.

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