Why use them
I always promise not to use geek talk, so in this post I am going to explain to you exactly what a plugin is and what it does. Without knowing it you are probably already using plugins on your computer, maybe add-on is a more familiar name?
You may use them in your internet browser [Chrome, Firefox etc] for example a password manager or a pop-up blocker.
And that is exactly what a plugin does on your website as well. It is a little bit of computer code that adds a function to your existing website.
A lot of functionality is already included in WordPress but it can’t do everything for everybody. And that is why it is so great that WordPress allows you to install these plugins that can be built to do just about anything.
For example, I can build my self-study courses with the help of a plugin, and I then sell them on my website with the help of a plugin. I keep my website secure with a plugin and I make monthly backups with the help of another.
But also making your website SEO [search engine optimization] friendly can be done with a good plugin. For each page you can then fill in your keywords and make a bit of text that shows up on the google search engine.
The text I mean is above in the illustration. Usually Google pulls up the first sentences of you page or post. With a plugin you can change that to something you write yourself.
It would not be right if I did not add a little warning as well. Plugins can be dangerous as well. That is why you have to be careful what you install. If a plugin is not maintained and updated by the people who made it, it can be dangerous. Most websites are hacked because they are not maintained well. Hackers use old code that can be found in plugins or old versions of WordPress to sneak in the back door. The good news is that you can limit the risk as much as possible by regularly updating your website. Which means updating your version of WordPress, any themes you have installed and your plugins. If you do this once a month you limit the risk of anything happening to your website considerably. And if you add a good plugin for security you are doing more than most website owners to keep yourself safe.
If you are interested in getting some help with your WordPress upkeep have a look at the plans I offer.