Learning how to add functionalities to your website through WordPress plugins.
Hi and welcome back. In this lesson, I’ll cover the basics of plugins and show you how to install two of my favourites that I think will enhance your website.
Introduction to plugins
First, what exactly is a plugin? Well, it’s a lot like a phone app, that gives your phone more functionality than what came with it when you first bought it. WordPress is like your phone’s operating system, which comes with some apps (or in this case, features) built-in, and some that you’ll need a third-party software to get. The version of WordPress without any additional plugins is called WordPress core. WordPress core is updated a few times a year, and each release comes with new features and enhancements.
Like apps, plugins can be free, paid, or on a subscription model. Some plugins are created by plugin companies who create and maintain the software as their business, and other plugins are created by freelance developers just trying to share their code with others who might benefit from it.
In any case, if you have something you need to do, chances are, there’s a plugin for it. To search the official WordPress plugin repository, click on plugins and add. But not all plugins are created equal, so here are a few tips when picking plugins. The repository has rules to be added, so already, you can feel more confident about picking a plugin in there. What I look at before choosing a plugin are 1) stars 2) active install and 3) how recent was the last update, so I can tell if it’s being actively maintained.
Two of my recommended plugins for bloggers are Jetpack and Yoast SEO. Both of these have free and paid versions, so I’ll show you the free ones, how to use them and install them, and you can decide to upgrade later if you feel the need as your site grows.
Installing Jetpack and introduction to the added tools
In this video, I explain what plugins are and guide you through the setup of Jetpack, the free version. Hot tip, if you do choose to upgrade your Jetpack subscription in the future, follow them on social media to catch a 20-30% off sale.
Once Jetpack is installed and activated, you have to activate the modules you want to use. To do this, go to the Jetpack section on your dashboard, and at the bottom go to Modules.
For more Jetpack support, you can view their support documentation here.
With Jetpack modules activated, you’ll notice extra features in the Jetpack settings area of your dashboard. You now also have additional blocks available when editing your posts and pages and additional widgets when editing widgets in the Customizer.
Using Jetpack to add Testimonials
When you activate Testimonials, you can add testimonials to your site on the back end, just like a post or page. Using testimonials also generates archive pages on your site by default.
Testimonial Archive – yoursite.com/testimonial/
Single Testimonial Page – yoursite.com/testimonial/testimonial-slug/
To display the testimonials, you can use the shortcode block on any page or post.
You can use the following shortcode attributes with testimonials.
- display_content: display testimonial content. (full/true/false)
- image: display the featured image. (true/false) Defaults to true.
- columns: number of columns in shortcode. Defaults to 1. (number, 1-6)
- showposts: number of testimonials to display. Defaults to all. (number)
- order: display testimonials in ascending or descending chronological order. Defaults to ASC for sorting in ascending order, but you can reverse the order by using DESC to display testimonials in descending order instead. (ASC/DESC)
- orderby: sort testimonials by different criteria, including author name, testimonial title, and even rand to display in a random order. Defaults to sorting by date. (author, date, title, rand)
Of course, you can bypass this altogether and decide to display testimonials using plain text and an image. There are other blocks in the editor that can help you achieve this goal like text, columns, quotes, and images.
Installing and configuring Yoast SEO
Although Jetpack does have some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features, the gold standard for WordPress SEO plugins is Yoast. It has tools that allow you to prepare your website for search engines to index and rank your content so people can find it. It also has great tools for individual posts and pages, so you’re really optimizing each piece of content for search engine optimization. If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of advice as a website owner, it would be to really put in the extra love and attention to each post to optimize it to the max.
Yoast SEO has free and paid versions, but like Jetpack, the free one is rich with useful features. This video will give you a quick tour and show some of the strongest features for site owners. Yoast’s blog and lessons are also a great source of knowledge on all things search optimization.
If you’re curious about how to really optimize your site for search engines, you’re in luck, that’s what we’ll talk about in the next video.