Here's our rundown of key plugin functions
The term “plug-in” comes up a lot in the world of website development, and it’s interesting to step back and reconnect with the word’s etymology.
Who is plugging what into what?
I want to offer a definition of the word and its origins as a launching point to help you determine where to begin when researching plugins for your website. And since plugins come in tens of thousands of varieties, I’ll organize them into the key categories to be aware of.
A plugin is a piece of code that you “plug in” to your existing website or software to enhance its capabilities. Synonyms that you’ll hear people use interchangeably are “extension,” “add-on,” or “widget.”
The code you plug in gives your underlying website new computing powers. Some of these new capabilities are geared to help your site visitor, while others help you, the site administrator.
WordPress is famous for its robust plugin ecosystem. Similar to an app store for mobile devices, the WordPress plugin marketplace offers an array of services to peruse and determine which is right for your site.
Installing plugins for websites can be as simple as clicking a button, or as technical as writing your own code. And one word of caution here: Make sure the plugin you are considering installing has good reviews and solid support. A bad plugin can bring down a site just as fast as a hacker can, and sometimes do more damage.
Let’s take a look at the different functions website plugins can provide.
Site analytic plugins such as Google Analytics, Jetpack, and Simple Feed Stats offer powerful data that you will wonder how you ever lived without.
Information about your visitors’ geographic location and how they found your page, as well as which content on your site is most popular, is available. This information is vital to growing site traffic and improving your site by better understanding what your visitors are looking for.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a key to bringing in new site visitors, so employ a little plugin magic to help you do it right. Add-ons like Yoast SEO and SEO Friendly Images will ensure any images you import will have titles and alt-text that are infused with the keywords you are trying to get found for.
SEO Smart Links will automatically link any keywords written on your site (whether it’s within your content or in a comment written by a site visitor) with one of your internal pages that is associated with that keyword. For example, if you have a webpage devoted to the sale of shoes, you can set this plugin to link every mention of the word “shoe” with that page.
Ecommerce (online store)
Several categories of items are sold online: hard goods, services, subscriptions and digital media downloads, for example. E-commerce plugins can be customized to handle each, and to make the whole purchasing process seamless on your site, instead of redirecting customers to a third-party website.
An e-commerce plugin like WooCommerce gives you and your customers a decluttered, customizable online store and allows your branding to remain front-and-center throughout the purchasing process. It will also track your customers’ buying history
Image plugins offer a variety of layout options for your site, and allow you to choose a featured image that will follow your content as it gets shared around the web. This is particularly helpful when you post a blog with multiple images.
Forms are a key part of any business web page - they act as the bridge that converts site visitors into qualified leads.
A plugin like WP Forms for Wordpress uses a drag-and-drop system alongside a collection of pre-made templates so you can quickly create exactly the type of form you need. In addition, all forms are mobile responsive so they'll still look and function the way they should on any device.
Winning Wordpress websites with Breezy Hill Marketing
Great plugins are like shortcuts that give your website an array of extra functions. Many of the best ones come in both free and premium versions. Some require one-time fees while others are subscription based.
Research what you think will work best for your needs. If you're not sure, give the free version a try before going premium. It will become clear what you are using and when it is worth it to pay for an upgrade.
Breezy Hill Marketing is a full-service Vermont marketing company providing Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, and Vermont Web Design services to customers in Vermont and throughout the United States. We work closely with customers to devise a strategy and build a marketing plan that fits their needs and goals.