What is a WordPress plugin and what is it for?

If I had to lean towards any particular factor that makes WordPress.org a blogging platform superior to others, this would undoubtedly be WordPress plugins.

Thanks to the plugins you can convert, for example, your WordPress blog into a complete e-commerce store or you can increase your visits effortlessly thanks to a trick that you will see a little further down in this post.

Only in the official WordPress.org repository there are currently more than 25,000 (!!) plugins and that means that practically whenever a need arises for something, there will already be a plugin that solves it. In my case, for example, in more than 90% of cases it is just a matter of searching and locating among several options the plugin that best suits my need.

All this means that if you are a blogger, even if you do not use WordPress.org, you should know well what a WordPress plugin is. They have so much potential that it is easy that they are the definitive reason that inclines you to migrate to WordPress with your own hosting from your current platform, since the plugins are only supported in WordPress.org, neither WordPress.com, nor Blogger have this characteristic so powerful.

What exactly is a plugin?

Plugins are code components, that is, programs that are installed in WordPress to extend its standard functionality.

They work in much the same way as they do, for example, also extensions or plugins for web browsers and they are made with the same technologies as WordPress, that is, they are programmed in PHP, and they use HTMLCSS and JavaScript style sheets for the user interface part.

The grace of the plugins is that with them you can implement practically anything you can imagine and that is what makes WordPress so versatile and powerful to the point that, in fact, it is worth much more than just mounting blogs. Many times it is used, for example, for medium complexity websites that are not a blog, such as corporate websites or e-commerce sites.

Also, if you have a very special need and can’t find the right plugin, which is already difficult, you can develop a custom one. For this you can order it from a professional in marketplaces such as, for example, Upwork or Freelancer.

4 Examples of what is possible with WordPress plugins

To give you a more concrete idea of ​​what is possible with WordPress plugins, it is best to see some examples together. At the same time, this should give you good criteria in case you still do not use the option of a WordPress blog with its own hosting and you are considering using it.

1. Create an e-commerce store with the WooCommerce plugin

The following image is a screenshot of an online store, specifically we are viewing a product from its product catalog. Check how are the typical elements of a store of this type such as the shopping cart to which a product has already been added or the means of payment and shipping costs.

What is not seen in the screenshot is that, apart from what we are seeing on the screen, there would still be the backoffice part that we are not seeing here with its management of the product catalog , the management of orders , monitoring and reports of sales , management of the stock and the means of payment accepted , campaigns , etc.

Well, all this has not been done with a specialized e-commerce platform, but by adding the WooCommerce plugin to WordPress which at the moment is probably the best plugin that exists to create stores of this type and, in addition, in its basic version it is free.

To give you an idea of ​​the value of this, just ten years ago implementing something similar, with the same quality and richness of functionality, could easily have cost several tens of thousands of Dollars.

2. Automatically generate internal links with SEO Smart Links

The other plugin that you can see here is totally essential for me, it is the SEO Smart Links plugin and what it does is that it allows you to associate links to one or more keywords, so if you find any of these words in a post or page it will automatically add that link.

Here in the example you can see how this plugin is automatically linking the words blogs and blog with a post I have on the blog that explains what a blog is exactly.

Surely you know that, apart from improving the permanence of the reader in your blog, having a good internal link structure is important for SEO, and with this plugin you can do it fully automatically and with minimal effort (only the initial configuration and maintenance of keywords and links).

Also, if at any given time you want to change the link associated with a keyword, you change it once in the plugin and it will automatically be updated in all your content.

Imagine the hell it would be to have to do this by hand…

3. Generate additional traffic with Tweet Old Post

One of my favorite plugins for the great value it brings is the Tweet Old Post plugin. What this plugin does is to go through the archive of posts and pages of your blog to make random tweets of this content.

That is, it implements a kind of “carousel” periodically tweeting posts & published pages. It may seem a little tiring but if you adjust the frequency well in practice it is not.

In my case, for example, I have 6 tweets a day scheduled, which may seem like a lot, but it is not so much, especially for these reasons:

  1. The blog already has about 170 posts plus several dozen pages, therefore, there is quite a variety.
  2. The content of the post is aimed at being durable(that is, it is not news, etc.) and that content that is not is excluded from the tweet wheel.
  3. Your followers do not see all your tweets, they only see a small fraction because they do not spend all day on Twitter , so they will only occasionally see one of these tweets and the vast majority will miss them. Therefore, they do not have a perception of being “pounded” with these tweets.
  4. As the Twitter account continues to grow, for a not inconsiderable part of followers, tweeted posts will thus be completely new

In the image of this example you can see a post that at the time when I published it I did not manage to rank well in Google but thanks to its title (which is striking and touches on a topic of interest to everyone) it does work very well in Twitter

Notice how in this case, thanks to the automatic tweets that the plugin generates, from time to time there is a peak of visits.

In fact, in this case it looks very good how the number of followers of the account is reflected in the impact of the tweets, that is, if you look at the peaks on the right side, they are much more pronounced than those on the left, even arriving one day almost 500 visits.

Total, that thanks to the plugin I get a significant amount of visits every day without any effort and that I am currently estimating around 100 or 200 visits. Not bad for not requiring any effort once the plugin is configured…

4. Monitor your plugins with P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

Plugins consume resources and, therefore, be careful not to create a plugin inflation on your blog.

The fact of the matter is that there is no theoretical limit, you cannot simply say ”do not install more than 10 plugins”  and stay so wide, this statement so often made by supposed “experts” is nonsense . The consumption gap between plugin and plugin is huge and depends entirely on each case.

In fact, WordPress does not impose any limitation on the number of plugins that can be installed and on this same blog there are currently 35 active plugins and almost 50 installed, which would be outrageous according to some of the “experts”.

The limit is practical and that means that it depends on the resources of your server and the nature of the set of plugins you have installed. A single troublesome plugin can tear down a blog when 10 lightweight plugins can have a virtually negligible impact.

In short, finding out the maximum number of plugins you can install is a matter of testing and very variable depending on the specific blog and its circumstances, so the best thing is to control your plugins well, know how much each one consumes and what is the total sum of those consumption.

This is precisely the objective of the P3 plugin (Performance Profiler Plugin) and what it does is measure how long your plugins add to the loading of your pages or what is the same: to what extent they slow down the loading times of your blog and, In addition, break down those times so that you can see the consumption of each one of them.

Which allows you to do two things:

  1. Assess whether the penalty implied by your plugins remains within tolerable margins. That is, if you see that the plugins begin to add more than 2 or 3 three seconds of loading time, you are probably reaching the limit of what your readers are going to be willing to endure as the loading time of the pages without you having a significant dropouts.
  2. Detect if you have a particular plugin that is especially problematic, which would be advisable to uninstall.

So as you can see, the P3 plugin really is worth its weight in gold, and that is free, because it allows you to control quite well one of the biggest sources of technical problems in a WordPress installation which are precisely the problems that the plugins generate conflicting.

Where can I get WordPress plugins?

The main reference for WordPress plugins is the official repository of WordPress.org, there you can find most of them and they are more than 25,000 in total and, in addition, you have the peace of mind that you are downloading them from a trusted site.

Other trusted sites can be, for example, blogs and online magazines known to talk about WordPress, projects free software and logically also the manufacturers “premium”, i.e., those that offer payment plugins. In another post I will talk a little more about these sources and make specific recommendations.

Be very careful with unknown sites, especially those that offer you free premium plugins.

Many times you can effectively download paid plugins for free on these sites, but it is not uncommon for these plugins to have some type of malicious code added to them, such as code that inserts links to “bad” sites, that is, links that they can harm you in Google, that they insert ads from porn sites, that they open some kind of security hole in your blog or similar things.

So be careful with this because at a certain moment it can cause a serious security or image problem.

And finally, I would like to suggest you the page of the best plugins of BloggerGeeks in which we currently have a compilation with +100 plugins that is growing day by day, sorted by categories.

They are all plugins that we have used or, at least, thoroughly tested and that we will be completing with new entries as we see interesting plugins and we are testing them.

Arsalan Masoodhttps://arsalanmasood.com/
Internet Entrepreneur, Blogs Writer, Marketer, Social Media & SEO Expert. Passionate about WordPress Blogging, Digital Marketing and SEO. Founder & CEO of Virally Media Private Limited & BloggerGeeks

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