WordPress comes with a good range of features, and if you are a hobby blogger it comes with everything you need. If, however, you are serious about making money from your blog, you’re going to need some extra functions that don’t come with the basic WordPress install. That’s where WordPress plugins come in. WordPress plugins are a way to extend the functionality that already exists in WordPress. The core of WordPress is designed to be lean and lightweight, to maximize flexibility. Plugins offer custom functions and features so you can tailor your site to your specific needs.

This post is part of the Blog Cogs Start Blogging With WordPress Today tutorial.

  1. Start Blogging Today with This WordPress Tutorial
  2. Choosing the Right Domain Name for Your Blog
  3. Registering for a Bluehost Web Hosting Account
  4. How to Install WordPress on Your Domain
  5. Optimizing the WordPress Settings
  6. Installing WordPress Plugins
  7. Install These WordPress Plugins Now!
  8. Choosing and Installing a WordPress Theme
  9. SEO Optimize Your WordPress Blog Posts
  10. Improving Your WordPress Blog Security

How to Install WordPress Plugins

There are three ways to install WordPress plugins on your blog:

  1. Search and install with the WordPress dashboard
  2. Upload and install with the WordPress dashboard
  3. Upload via FTP

The first two methods are simple and are done within the WordPress dashboard. The third method, upload via FTP, is a more advanced option which is done using FTP software such as FileZilla or SmartFTP.

Search and Install Plugins with the WordPress Dashboard

This is by far the easiest of the methods to install WordPress plugins. Simply click on Add New under Plugins and search for the plugin you want. In the example below, I searched for Yoast SEO which is one of the plugins I recommend you install (see the next post for my complete list of recommended WordPress plugins).

Installing-WordPress-plugins - Installing WordPress Plugins

You can see that Yoast SEO is compatible with the version of WordPress I’m running, it has over 1 million installs and has four-stars from 1,938 ratings. In other words, Yoast SEO is a plugin you can trust. If you click on more details you can learn about the features, see some screenshots, read the reviews, and read the documentation (something I recommend you do before installing any plugin). When you’re ready, click on Install Now and Yoast SEO will be installed.

Plugin-install-successful - Installing WordPress Plugins

Once the plugin is installed, you’ll see the message above telling you the install was successful. Just click activate plugin and you’re done. Yoast SEO should now be on your plugin list as shown below.

WordPress-plugin-list - Installing WordPress Plugins

Just because you’ve installed and activated a plugin doesn’t mean it’s working optimally. For that you need to click on settings and adjust them to your preferences. I’ll walk you through the Yoast SEO settings in another post.

Upload and Install Plugins with the WordPress Dashboard

If you have downloaded a WordPress plugin from a third party site (probably a paid, premium plugin), you can upload the .zip file and install it with the WordPress dashboard.

Upload-WordPress-plugin - Installing WordPress Plugins

Under plugins, click on Add New, and then click Upload Plugin. The next screen will give you the option to browse for and install your plugin in .zip format. Once installed, you simply activate the plugin as described above.

WordPress-upload-plugin-browse - Installing WordPress Plugins

Upload Plugins via FTP

The methods above will be fine for the vast majority of plugin installations. There may, however, be occasions where you have to install plugins via FTP. Before you do this you must get your FTP login details from your web host. Here’s a guide to show you how to get your FTP login details from Bluehost and set up FileZilla FTP client:

The plugins are usually located in the wp-content/plugins folder. With this method, you need to upload the unzipped folder to FTP. If you don’t have suitable software installed, there are many free compression/extraction options available to download such as PeaZip. Once you’ve unpacked the folder, simply drag and drop the unzipped folder into the wp-content/plugins folder. You can then activate the plugin on your WordPress dashboard as described above.

FileZilla-FTP-screen - Installing WordPress Plugins

Deleting Plugins

Whichever of the above methods you used for installing plugins, they can be deleted via the WordPress dashboard. Deleting plugins is a two-step process. First, you must deactivate the plugin. Once the plugin is deactivated, its background in your plugins directory turns white and the option to delete it will appear.

Deleting-WordPress-plugins - Installing WordPress Plugins

Confirm you want to delete the files and wave bye-bye to the plugin. If you installed WordPress on your domain using the Bluehost one click install, your install will come with two unnecessary plugins: Hello Dolly and MOJO Marketplace. Go ahead and delete both of them now.

Confirm-delete-WordPress-plugin - Installing WordPress Plugins

Dealing with Plugin Compatibility Issues

Because WordPress plugins are written by third parties, occasionally a plugin may not function properly when another plugin is installed. If you find your site isn’t behaving quite as it should after installing a new plugin, the first thing to do is to deactivate it and see if that solves the problem. If you really want to keep the plugin you just installed, try deactivating all the others then reactivating them one at a time until the problem returns. You now know the problem plugin and have to decide which one you want to keep and which one to uninstall. Chances are you can find an alternative for one of them. It’s always a good idea to read the documentation before installing a plugin as it usually lists known conflicts with other plugins.

Next: Install These WordPress Plugins Now!

Now that you know how to install plugins, it’s time to install some that will be vital for the smooth-running of your blog. Click the button below to get started.

Install These WordPress Plugins Now!

About The Author

David Borrowdale is the founder and editor of Blog Cogs, a blog about making a living from blogging. Learn more about him here.

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