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How Plugins Can Enhance Your WordPress Website

Creating a WordPress website in Nigeria is an exciting undertaking, but it can be daunting to create the perfect design. 

Fortunately, plugins can help enhance your website and make it more visually appealing. 

They provide added features to your WordPress website that you may not have been able to accomplish through just coding. 

But which ones should you pick?

In this article, we will explain how to utilize plugins on your WordPress site to maximize the potential of its design and purpose. 

It will cover information on finding the right plugin for what you need, installation instructions, and advice on troubleshooting when needed.

What is a WordPress Plugin?

From the word go, WordPress is not perfect.

Yes, what you get can get the job done, but more often than not, it is not enough.

That’s where plugins come in.

A WordPress plugin is a program that extends the functionality of a WordPress website. 

It is written in the PHP programming language and integrates seamlessly with WordPress. 

These ‘small programs’ are easy to install and use, making them an essential part of any WordPress website. 

WordPress Plugins Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • WordPress Plugins provide an easy way to add new features and functionality to a WordPress website. 
  • They are easy to install and activate with minimal technical knowledge required. 
  • Many plugins are free, although some may require a premium subscription for full access to all features.
  • WordPress plugins allow developers to create custom-made solutions tailored to specific needs of individual websites. 
  • WordPress Plugins can help improve the website’s performance significantly when used correctly.

Cons: 

  • Poorly coded plugins can be slow and have security vulnerabilities that put the website at risk of being hacked or compromised. 
  • Not all plugins are compatible, so care should be taken when choosing ones that will work together without conflicts or errors. 
  • It is possible for users to overload their site with too many plugins, which can lead to decreased performance and instability issues on the website. 
  • Plugins require regular updating to remain secure and compatible with the latest WordPress version. 
  • Plugins can be expensive and may not offer the features or functionality required by the website.

Steps for Installing Plugins

Before you can use a plugin, you must first download, install, and activate it.

So let’s look at how to get that done.

a. How to Install WordPress Plugins

Here are the exact steps to install a plugin on WordPress:

  • Log in to your WordPress site as an administrator.
  • From the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New.
  • In the “Search Plugins” field, enter the name of the plugin you want to install, or enter a keyword related to the type of plugin you need.
  • WordPress will display a list of relevant plugins. Browse through the list and select the plugin you want to install.
  • Click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin you want to install.
  • WordPress will begin installing the plugin. Once the installation is complete, click the “Activate” button to activate the plugin.
  • Some plugins may require additional setup or configuration. If so, you’ll see a notification or a message guiding you through the setup process.
  • If you have a plugin file that you downloaded from a third-party source, you can upload the plugin manually by clicking the “Upload Plugin” button at the top of the “Add Plugins” screen. Then select the plugin file you want to upload and click “Install Now.”

That’s it! 

Your plugin is now installed and activated on your WordPress site. 

You can manage your plugins by going to the Plugins page in your WordPress dashboard, where you can deactivate, delete, or configure your plugins as needed.

Note: Always make sure you download plugins from reliable sources, and keep them updated to ensure they are compatible with the latest WordPress version and function properly.

How to Update Plugins

As mentioned earlier, these plugins are nothing but programs.

And often, the developers will release newer versions of these add-ons. For security reasons and improved usability, you should always update your plugins.

  • From the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins.
  • You will see a notification next to any plugins that have an available update. You can also see a list of all available updates by clicking on the “Updates” link at the top of the Plugins page.
  • Check the box next to the plugins you want to update, or click the “Select All” checkbox to update all available plugins.
  • Click the “Update Plugins” button to begin the update process.
  • WordPress will automatically download and install the updated versions of your selected plugins.
  • Once the update process is complete, you’ll see a message confirming that your plugins have been successfully updated.
  • After updating your plugins, it’s always a good idea to test your website to make sure everything is working correctly.
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Alternatively, there’s an option to enable auto-updates.

With this setting, your plugins will always receive newer versions automatically.

If you want a hands-off experience, this is a great option for you.

Types of WordPress Plugins

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of plugins you can use for your blog in Nigeria.

But not all of them are that necessary.

To make it easier for you to choose the rights, we have grouped all WordPress plugins into at least 4 categories.

Let’s look at each and why they matter.

a. Security Plugins

Security plugins are essential for any WordPress website. 

With over 13,000 WordPress websites hacked daily, a secure site is more important than ever. 

Security plugins can help protect your website from malicious attacks and provide additional features such as password protection, two-factor authentication and more. 

Furthermore, these plugins are designed to detect any suspicious activity on your site and alert you of any potential threats so that you can take appropriate action.

That said, here are 5 popular WordPress security plugins along with their unique features:

  • Wordfence Security: Wordfence is a comprehensive security plugin that includes a firewall, malware scanner, and login security features. It also has real-time threat defense feed that constantly updates and protects the site against the latest security threats. Its unique feature is its ability to compare the WordPress core, plugins, and themes with the official WordPress repository to determine whether they are genuine.
  • Sucuri Security: Sucuri Security is a popular security plugin that provides both security hardening and website monitoring services. It includes a website firewall, malware scanner, and security activity auditing features. Its unique feature is that it can monitor website uptime and send alerts when a website goes down.
  • iThemes Security: iThemes Security is another popular security plugin that includes a range of features such as two-factor authentication, brute force protection, malware scanning, and security hardening. Its unique feature is that it can schedule automatic backups of the WordPress database and files.
  • All In One WP Security & Firewall: All In One WP Security & Firewall is a user-friendly security plugin that includes a range of features such as user account security, file system security, and database security. Its unique feature is its ability to rate the overall security level of a WordPress site based on a grading system and provide suggestions on how to improve it.
  • Jetpack Security: Jetpack Security is a security plugin that includes several security features, such as brute force protection, spam filtering, and downtime monitoring. Its unique feature is that it can automatically fix various security issues such as weak passwords and outdated plugins.

b. SEO Plugins

SEO plugins are essential for website owners, allowing them to optimize their WordPress websites for organic search traffic. 

For example, the latest study by BrightEdge analyzed a variety of business websites and reported that over 53% of their overall website traffic came from organic search. 

As such, installing SEO plugins on WordPress can help increase your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Several types of SEO plugins are available, each designed to improve different aspects of your website. 

Popular options include Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO Pack. 

Let’s look at each in detail.

  • Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO is one of WordPress’s most popular SEO plugins. It includes a range of features such as content analysis, XML sitemap generation, and social media integration. Its unique feature is the ability to provide a readability analysis and suggestions on improving your content’s readability.
  • All in One SEO Pack: All in One SEO Pack is another popular SEO plugin that includes various features such as XML sitemap generation, Google Analytics integration, and social media integration. Its unique feature is the ability to generate meta tags and optimize titles for search engines automatically.
  • Rank Math: Rank Math is a relatively new SEO plugin that includes a range of features such as content analysis, keyword optimization, and XML sitemap generation. Its unique feature is the ability to provide a comprehensive SEO analysis for every post or page on your website and suggest how to improve it.
  • The SEO Framework: The SEO Framework is a lightweight SEO plugin that includes a range of features such as content analysis, title and description optimization, and social media integration. Its unique feature includes an option to generate a separate sitemap for images.
  • SEOPress: SEOPress is another popular SEO plugin that includes a range of features such as content analysis, XML sitemap generation, and social media integration. Its unique feature includes an option to add custom structured data to your website, which can help improve search engine visibility and click-through rates.

Remember, you don’t need all of these plugins.

Only one can do the job.

c. Social Media Plugins

Social media plugins can make it easier for users to connect and share content from your site with their networks, which can help increase engagement and boost your visibility.

As of January 2022, Nigeria had 32.9 million active social media users. 

Therefore, adding plugins that allow users to quickly share content on popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is a great opportunity to tap into this large user base. 

Adding these types of plugins also allows you to easily track the performance of different posts or campaigns across various social networks. 

You can monitor how many people have shared or viewed posts related to your site, allowing you to see where adjustments may need to be made in order to increase engagement or reach more potential customers.

Here’s a sample of social media plugins to consider:

  • Jetpack: Jetpack is a multipurpose plugin that includes a range of features such as website statistics, contact forms, and social media sharing buttons. Its social media sharing buttons are easy to customize and include options to display share counts.
  • Social Snap: Social Snap is a comprehensive social media plugin that includes a range of features such as social sharing buttons, social auto-posting, and social media follow buttons. Comes with a “click to tweet” option that allows you to create tweetable content on your website.
  • MashShare: MashShare is a simple social media plugin that includes customizable share buttons for popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Comes with a social media counter that displays share counts next to each social media button.
  • AddToAny: AddToAny is a lightweight social media plugin that includes customizable share buttons for popular social networks. Includes an option to display a floating share button bar that follows the user as they scroll down the page.
  • Social Warfare: Social Warfare is a premium social media plugin that includes various features such as customizable share buttons, social media share recovery, and click-to-tweet functionality. Includes an option to display popular posts based on social media shares.

Like SEO plugins, you don’t need all of them. 

Pick one and see if you like it.

You can always uninstall it and test the next one.

Related: 9 Proven Strategies to Drive Traffic from Social Media in Nigeria

d. Analytics Plugins

If you don’t know what’s going on in your site, you won’t grow.

Unfortunately, WP doesn’t include native analytics capabilities.

That means you must rely on third-party applications to understand the performance of your website.

Analytics plugins are one of the most valuable tools available on WordPress to help you track and analyze your website performance.

From understanding visitor behavior to monitoring web traffic, analytics plugins provide insights into how people are using your site.

With powerful reporting features, these plugins can be used to gain an in-depth view of who is visiting your website, what pages they’re viewing, and how long they’re spending on each page. 

This data allows you to determine which content or features are popular with visitors and which could use further optimization for better engagement.

Popular analytics plugins include Google Analytics for WordPress (GADWP), Jetpack by WordPress.com and MonsterInsights. 

Each plugin offers its own unique set of features such as tracking goals, visitor demographics and providing detailed reports about user engagement.

  • Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP): GADWP is a popular analytics plugin that allows you to view your website’s Google Analytics data directly in your WordPress dashboard. Its unique feature includes a real-time reporting option that lets you see how visitors interact with your website in real-time.
  • MonsterInsights: MonsterInsights is a comprehensive analytics plugin that includes a range of features such as real-time stats, page-level analytics, and ecommerce tracking. Comes with an option to track file downloads and outbound link clicks.
  • Jetpack: Jetpack is a multipurpose plugin that includes a range of features such as website statistics, security, and social media sharing buttons. Its stats module lets you view your website’s traffic data directly in your WordPress dashboard.
  • WP Statistics: WP Statistics is a lightweight analytics plugin that includes a range of features such as real-time visitor tracking, search engine optimization (SEO) statistics, and customizable email reports. It includes an option to exclude visits from logged-in users.
  • Analytify: Analytify is a user-friendly analytics plugin that allows you to view your website’s Google Analytics data directly in your WordPress dashboard. Its unique feature is that it includes an option to track custom post types and custom dimensions.

These plugins and SEO ones won’t work by just activating them.

You need to integrate them with your analytics account.

For example, MonsterInsights will need access to your Google Analytics account and Google Search Console to function as its supposed to.

e. Page Builders

Page builders are a plugins that allows users to build pages for their WordPress website easily. 

These tools provide an intuitive user interface and drag-and-drop editing capabilities, allowing users to design and customize pages without having to write any code. 

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You can create beautiful layouts, add sections and widgets, adjust fonts and colors, embed videos or images, and much more. 

And many page builder plugins come with pre-built templates, making it easy for even the most novice user to construct a professional-looking website in no time quickly. 

The best part about using page builders is that they are incredibly simple to use while providing a high degree of customization options and scalability when needed. 

Not to mention, they offer the ability to preview changes before committing them, which helps reduce mistakes or potential design errors. 

  • Elementor: Elementor is a popular drag-and-drop page builder plugin that allows you to create responsive designs easily. Its unique feature includes a visual form builder that allows you to create custom forms for your website.
  • Beaver Builder: Beaver Builder is another popular drag-and-drop page builder plugin that includes various features such as customizable templates, responsive design options, and module-based design. Its unique feature includes a front-end editing option allowing you to see real-time changes.
  • Divi Builder: Flexible page builder plugin that allows you to easily create custom layouts and designs. Its unique feature includes a library of pre-built templates and modules that you can use to create your designs.
  • WPBakery Page Builder: WPBakery Page Builder is a popular drag-and-drop page builder plugin that includes various features such as customizable templates, responsive design options, and module-based design. Its unique feature includes a backend editor option that allows you to create and edit pages from the WordPress dashboard.
  • Thrive Architect: A conversion-focused page builder plugin that includes various features such as customizable templates, content elements, and pre-built landing page designs. Its unique feature includes various conversion-focused design elements such as countdown timers, lead generation forms, and testimonials.

Consider any of these plugins if you don’t want just another WordPress theme.

You can enhance the look of your WordPress website instantly without coding.

f. eCommerce Plugins

In 2020, the number of online buyers in Nigeria was at about 76.7 million – and with the rise of ecommerce.

AND what better way to get a piece of this market than adding plugins to your WordPress website?. 

Ecommerce plugins are a great way to easily add shopping carts and payment buttons right onto your site so customers can purchase products directly without ever leaving your page. 

Not only do these plugins increase sales efficiency, but they also make the entire checkout process more secure for customers. 

In fact, some plugins even allow you to customize product pages with images and videos, giving retailers more control over how their products are presented. 

In addition to security and convenience benefits, these ecommerce plugins also help business owners keep track of inventory levels and shipping costs – ensuring that orders are fulfilled swiftly and accurately each time. 

  • WooCommerce: WooCommerce is a popular and powerful ecommerce plugin that allows you to create a complete online store on your WordPress website. Its features include product and inventory management, payment and shipping options, and marketing and promotional tools. Its unique feature includes a range of extensions that allow you to add extra functionality to your online store.
  • Easy Digital Downloads: This lightweight ecommerce plugin is designed to sell digital products. Its features include customizable checkout and payment options, file access control, and customer management. Its unique feature includes a range of extensions that allow you to add extra functionality to your digital store.
  • WP eCommerce: WP eCommerce is an easy-to-use ecommerce plugin that allows you to sell physical and digital products on your WordPress website. Its features include customizable product pages, payment and shipping options, and tax and shipping calculators. Its unique feature includes a range of extensions that allow you to add extra functionality to your online store.
  • Ecwid: Ecwid is a cloud-based ecommerce plugin that allows you to add an online store to your WordPress website easily. Its features include product management, payment and shipping options, and marketing and promotional tools. Its unique feature includes a range of integrations that allow you to connect your online store with various popular platforms.
  • Shopify: Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform that also offers a WordPress plugin that allows you to embed your Shopify store on your WordPress website. Its features include product and inventory management, payment and shipping options, and marketing and promotional tools. Its unique feature includes a range of integrations that allow you to connect your online store with a range of popular platforms.

Related: Starting an eCommerce Business in Nigeria: 5 Easy Steps

Conclusion 

With the right plugins, you can add features like advanced security, more powerful analytics, and custom page designs. 

They are also useful for automating tasks and streamlining processes. 

When choosing and installing plugins for your WordPress site, read reviews and test them out before committing to the full version. 

You should also make sure that any plugin you choose is compatible with your existing theme or framework so that it functions properly.

Finally, keep an eye on updates from the plugin developer as these can improve security or introduce new features over time.

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