This week in the series on teaching you how to build your own real estate website I am going to explain plugins. Plugins are small bits of code that can add functionailty to your website. As an example let’s say you wanted to add an email sign up form to your website. With a traditional HTML website you would have to know the HTML code to add it or hire someone to write the code for you. Nightmare right? What I love about WordPress is that there are thousands and thousands of plugins that you can upload instead of having to write the code that I just mentioned. That is why WordPress is so popluar. They have made it easy for the non-techies to make adjustments to their websites without knowing any code!
My Favorite Plugins
I add these plugins to every website that I create:
Akismet: Included with WordPress to help fight spam comments.
Yoast SEO: Great to help add keywords, meta description and SEO title for each post
Google Analytics by Yoast: Install tracking analytics
Tinymce-advanced: Additional text options like font color, size, etc.
WP Super Cache: To clear the cache on the website and make it run faster
Wp Optimize: Optimizes your WordPress database. Gets rid of spam comments, post drafts, etc.
iThemes Security: Smart plugin that keeps your website safe from hackers and backs up your site
ContactForm 7: Easy to use contact form for your contact page or any other place you need a form
Really Simple CAPTCHA: The funny letters or numbers someone has to enter before submitting a form on your site.
Additional plugins I add depending on the end user include:
SumoMe: Pop up email submission forms
AWeber: Email submission forms for AWeber users
MailChimp: Email submission forms for MailChimp users
OptimizePress: Great plugin for creating landing pages
Floating Social Bar: Light social plugin that floats with each post and page to remind readers to share the post
IDXBroker: Plugin for agents that want MLS on their website
How Many is Too Many?
A common myth is that if you install too many plugins it will slow down your site but that’s not true. What is actually going on is you have installed a badly coded plugin. A badly coded plugin can slow down your site or even worse make it look wonky. If you start to notice issues on your site, deactivate all the plugins and reactivate them one at a time. When you activate one, test your site and see how it looks or is running. If it’s fine so is the plugin you just activated. Do this on every plugin until you find the culprit. You can also install and run the P3 Plugin Profiler to find out see which plugin is slowing down your site.
Here are two really great posts about plugins and WordPress:
If not secured or updated properly, your website can easily get hacked. What I do to protect all my sites are the following:
1. Login to WordPress sites once a week and look for plugins, themes or WordPress updates. Updates that need to be done can be found on the dashboard when you first login.
2. Install and thouroughly set up the iThemes Security plugin
3. Lock everything down behind Sucuri’s firewall. This is an absolute must for me and any website that I create. It’s an inexpensive way to have peace of mind for your website.
How to Install Plugins
Install Plugin from WordPress
1. Most plugins can be installed right from the back end of your WordPress website. To find plugins go to Plugins—>Add New. WordPress will bring you to this screen where you will see popular plugins to install. To find a plugin you want to install type the name of it in the search box.
2. WordPress will return the list of plugins. Find the one you are looking for and click the Install Now button.
3. A small box will pop open asking if you are sure you want to install this plugin. Click Ok.
4. You will then be taken to the Installing Plugin screen. Once it says “Successfully installed the plugin” click Activate Plugin to finish the install on your site.
5. You will then be directed back to the plugins page. Some plugins are ready to use out of the gate. Others require more setup. To find out what kind of setup your plugin requires visit the plugins page on WordPress.org. Click Plugins in the menu—>Enter your plugin in the search box. Click on your plugin and go to the Installation tab. Here you will see the installation instructions for your plugin.
Another idea that I use to see more custom solutions to installing plugins is to Google “plugin name + setup” to see more instructions on how to use the plugin. WPBeginner and WPMayor are also great resources for WordPress help.
Manually Installing a Plugin
There are some plugins that have to be manually installed. What that means is they can’t be installed from the WordPress dashboard. There are two reasons plugins have to be manually installed.
1. The plugin is too large for WordPress to open it
2. The plugin isn’t available on WordPress.org. Usually these are plugins you purchase outside of WordPress.org.
As an example I use OptimizePress for my landing pages. This is a manual plugin that I have to install via FTP. I know this sounds complicated but bear with me! I will walk you through this too!
1. First download your plugin into your Download folder. Then unzip it.
2. Download FileZilla FTP. This software is what you will use to manually set up a plugin. Install the software.
3. Contact your hosting company to get details to connect to your server. You will need:
- User Name
4. Once you have the FTP information open FileZilla. Go to File–>Site Manager. A box will pop open. Click New Site.
5. On the right hand side you will see the FTP settings you need to input. Use the same settings I have here, except select logon type Normal and enter your own host, user name and password. Then click Connect.
6. Once you are connected your folders for your website will show on the right hand side. You might find folders such as domain, HTML, your domain name. This will vary per host. What we want to do is drill down until you find the WP-content folder. So click on a folder and keep clicking on folders until you find one called WP-content. I don’t want this process to freak you out. As long as you don’t hit delete you are fine. Think of this process as the same way you find folders on your computer’s hard drive.
7. Once you find the WP-Content folder click on it. Inside that folder you will find another one called Plugins. Click on Plugins. Inside is a list of all your plugins.
8. Now on the left hand side is the files on your computer’s hard drive. Click on those files until you find your Download Folder. Locate your plugin that you unzipped in step 1. Open that file up so that you can see all of the folders that are included in that file.
9. Right click on the plugin folder that is in the left hand side in your Download folder. Click Upload. At the bottom of the screen you will see it running in your upload folder.
10. Once the upload is complete, go into your WordPress dashboard. Go to Plugins–>Installed Plugins. Here you will find your plugin listed. Underneath the plugin name click Activate to activate your plugin.
Deleting a Plugin
1. There may come a point when you want to delete a plugin because you no longer need it or it isn’t working well. To delete a plugin go to Plugins–Installed Plugins.
2. Next in the list find the plugin you want to delete. Select Deactivate under the plugin name.
3. Scroll back down your list and find your plugin again. It will be a white color while the active plugins are light blue. Under the plugin name select Delete.
4. You will then be taken to a confirmation page asking if you really want to delete this plugin and all of it’s files. Click Yes, Delete these files. Once the files are deleted you will be redirected back to the plugin page.
Now that you have the back end of your website all set up and ready to go, it is time to start making it look good! Next week we will dive into how to add pages and what content you will want to include in your website!
If you have any questions about WordPress or are interested in getting training for WordPress, I do offer training sessions. Please contact me for more details!