WordPress is a web server framework that provides a specific set of functionality.
A plugin is a piece of software specifically made to extend the capabilities of WordPress sites. It is like a small program that is self-contained, packaged, and serves one very well defined function.
Installing WordPress plugins (or removing them) is really simple and straight forward. There is an entire plugin section of the WordPress dashboard just for this purpose.
Examples of plugins are:
- Create and maintain a properly formatted Sitemap file (if you don’t know what that is right now, don’t worry).
- Make it easy to update the SEO meta-data (again, don’t worry if that term is still unfamiliar).
- Provide social media sharing buttons.
There are literally thousands of different plugins available.
Some plugins are for free and there are paid plugins, often presented as an extended version of a free plugin.
For the various plugins you might need,
Some provide SEO benefits.
Some provide conversion benefits.
Some enable social sharing.
So what can a plugin do?
A plugin can do almost anything, but each specific plugin is limited in it’s scope. Some plugins:
- filter out comment spam
- extend the capabilities of the WordPress editor
- make it easy to update the SEO meta data
- display a list of related posts at the bottom of every post
- perform backups then move the files to offsite storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc)
- check for and report on broken links
- implement a CAPTCHAs to eliminate software robots from trying to login
- allow you to create forms your visitors fill out
- shrink (optimize) images
- create Call to Action buttons
- automatically grab a random post every X hours and tweet it
- throw up a popup to encourage people to sign up for your email list
- and more……
One of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to easily add new applications (plugins) that immediately enhance your website’s functionality.
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