WordPress has become one of the most popular frameworks for creating internet websites. In large part this is because it’s free, stable and well supported by an active community of developers and volunteers. Exact numbers are impossible to calculate. However, it’s reasonably certain that tens of millions of websites are running on the WordPress platform.

Even without any add-ons or customization, WordPress probably already does most of what you want it to do for your website. But perhaps there are functions or features that you think would be useful or entertaining for your readers and that might boost traffic to your website. Thankfully, it’s likely that someone has wanted a similar function or feature before you. It’s likely that one or more WordPress “plug-ins” were created to address the need.

What Is a Plug-In?

A “plug-in” is a file (or set of files) of computer code that you can download and add to your WordPress blog to extend your blog’s functionality. For example, you might want to display pop-up slideshows of a set of pictures that you have on your blog. WordPress itself can’t do this directly, but there are a number of plug-ins that can easily provide your blog with this capability.

Other plug-ins can also optimize your blog without any significant time or cash expense to you. If you currently have advertisers on your blog, there are a number of plug-ins that permit you to track their performance, customize how you display those ads, the order in which the ads are displayed and a number of other functions.

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For “back-end” optimization, in order to make sure that your blog posts are as clean as possible from a grammar and stylistic perspective, consider using plug-ins such as “After the Deadline”. This plug-in provides a much more detailed grammar and style check than the standard WordPress function. There are plug-ins to address just about any particular need.

Finding Plug-Ins

The best place to search for plug-ins is the WordPress plug-in directory. It’s located at www.wordpress.org/extend/plug-ins/. Not all plug-in authors submit their plug-ins to the WordPress directory. An internet search will yield additional options. Keep in mind, however, that when you look for plug-ins on the WordPress directory you can see what other users are saying about the plug-in. For example, how well it works, whether they have had any problems, etc. It’s good practice to read some of these reviews before installing any plug-in on your site.

Also, after you install each plug-in make sure to load your blog and test it as if you were a website visitor. Verify that things are working as expected. Do this each time you install a new plug-in, so that if there are any problems you can easily isolate which plug-in is causing them.

Finally, make sure that you update all of your plug-ins as frequently as necessary. WordPress is a constantly evolving framework, and your plug-ins will evolve with it. Simply make sure to check the updates portion of your dashboard every time you log in. Keeping your plug-ins up to date will ensure that your website continues to run optimally.

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