How to Update a Plugin in Your WordPress Site

How to Update a Plugin in Your WordPress Site

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For all the praise, downloads, and hype WordPress update plugin gets, it’s easy for people to forget about its shortcomings.

That’s not to say these shortcomings outweigh the perks. The opposite is true, and it’s a testament to WordPress’s great performance as a content management system (CMS). But a great platform can still be improved, and this is why plugins exist.

Even WordPress isn’t perfect out of the box. WordPress security, versatility, and functionality can all be improved with the right addons. But a WordPress update plugin can change the platform’s features to a large degree – meaning the installation process can seem very complex at first.

Even those who know their way around WordPress and use the platform to upload content regularly may feel a little lost when it comes time for updates. The key is in understanding the interface’s relation to your plugin and how the additional features will be used.

The next step is to combine that understanding with a solid grasp of the fundamentals regarding update installations, activation, and troubleshooting. Here’s how to update WordPress plugins and why you should keep up with updates when possible.

WordPress Update Plugin Basics: Why Care and How to Check

WordPress Update Plugin Basics

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WordPress has gotten its reputation thanks to a thriving community of skilled people optimizing it for top performance. If your platform has worked well enough so far, why should you bother updating?

This CMS can be thought of as any other. It can even be thought of like a program, operating system, or any other piece of software. It’s a work in progress, even when it works well, and it is constantly growing. It’s possible for bugs and glitches to develop and updates are usually launched to fix them.

There’s also the fact that such a massive platform like WordPress could experience problems that most users aren’t immediately made aware of. This means checking for updates regularly can help you find ways to improve your WordPress plugin performance and get ideas for WordPress performance tuning.

So how do you check? Updates to the CMS itself are usually advertised at the top and bottom of each page. As for plugins updates, the CMS can still provide insight if the plugin is released on WordPress.org provided you check the “Update” option in the dashboard. It will show how many updates are available and for which plugins.

How to Update WordPress Plugins

Update WordPress Plugins

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Updating WordPress plugins can require you to add, replace, or even delete files. This process can sometimes be done automatically, but in other cases, the manual action may be required.

Ever since version 2.7 came out, updating WordPress can oftentimes be done with a single click. The automatic streamlining of crucial update downloads and installations means less room for errors and a quicker path to a fully updated CMS.

In the “update” tab, users can also choose to download necessary files instead of installing them automatically. This provides a little room for customization among those who like to code their own system but can also be useful for helping people learn more about how the updates work.

Automatic updates are set by default with the current version of WordPress but can be disabled by adding “wp-config.php” (without the quotation marks) to the root WordPress installation folder. Manual updates require the latest version of WordPress and ensuring the plugin you’re updating won’t cause compatibility issues. Knowing how to deactivate plugins from the cPanel can help with this. If you want to do it quick, just select “deactivate” in the drop-down box after selecting all plugins not being updated.

You can see the old files in the system from the plugin you’re updating, meaning you can delete those files and add the new ones. This should be done in the root directory folder as well. Check for database updates afterward (which are offered by a prompt on the main page), then updates should be working as normal.

Update WordPress Plugins

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The Benefits of Updating WordPress Plugins

WordPress update plugin best practices say whether you favor an automatic or manual approach, you should always keep up with updates regularly.

They’re good for WordPress performance tuning and WordPress security. Some plugins can even offer special functions that you never want to be without, such as the WordPress automatic backup plugin to ensure you don’t lose everything to an unexpected glitch.

Any WordPress site user likely favors the simplicity and responsiveness of the CMS. But no system is perfect, and no plugin is free from potential flaws. Updating regularly means you get better performance, improved security, and a bigger return on your WordPress efforts.

Plugins come with bugs on occasion, but they’re a great asset when properly optimized. Make sure they get the updates they need and enjoy unparalleled WordPress progress.

Finding the Best Online Store Plugin for WordPress

Online Store Plugin for WordPress

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The possibilities are endless when it comes to the best online store plugin for WordPress. There are so many options it can be difficult to know where to begin. How do you select a single plugin from the vast sea of available software? What do you need to know to make that choice?

Fortunately, we’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you.

For most sites, WooCommerce will be the best online store plugin for WordPress.

Top 4 Best Online Store Plugins for WordPress

The best online store plugin for WordPress varies according to your needs. Depending on what you intend to sell and how you intend to sell it, you will ultimately have to make a choice on your own.

That being said, we think these four stands out above the rest, and at least one of them should suit your e-commerce requirements.

WooCommerce has very little negative feedback from consumers. If you don’t have a clue as to what exactly you’re going to be selling and just need a general starting point, trying WooCommerce will serve you well. It is currently the most popular online store plugin for WordPress out there, with 1.7 million active users.

Easy Digital Downloads is the best online store plugin for WordPress sites that primarily sell digital products.

Ecwid is built for simplicity and may be a good alternative to WooCommerce for new, smaller e-commerce businesses.

Jigoshop comes with plenty of customizable themes and features that let you create visual layouts of customer data. It has fewer user reviews overall, however.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce WordPress

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Here are a few of the things that make WooCommerce one of the 4 best online store plugins for WordPress.

WooCommerce comes installed with five legitimate payment options. These include:

  • Checks
  • Direct bank transfers
  • Credit cards via Simplify Commerce
  • Cash on delivery
  • PayPal

PayPal and credit cards are the most popular ways to shop online, so that may be all you need. But it’s nice to have other options, too. You never know when you might snag an extra customer just because they want to use a particular payment option.

WooCommerce has e that make it easy to sell subscriptions and memberships. This is one feature you will have to pay for, however. But you can potentially recoup your cost with just a few sales.

Data is king when it comes to e-commerce. Part of what makes WooCommerce one of the best online store plugins for WordPress is its customer management tools.

The customer history list gives you access to all the information provided by your customers and lets you export it to a list. Armed with this knowledge, you can more easily determine who your best customers are, what makes them tick, and how to focus marketing efforts on their specific demographic.

WooCommerce allows users to log in to their site and create their own user profiles. With extra extensions, you can also add functionality that allows for rewards programs and wishes lists, allowing customers a more in-depth shopping experience.

We give WooCommerce a 5 out of 5.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads WordPress

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As the name implies, Easy Digital Downloads is best suited to selling digital products. It’s not necessarily worse than WooCommerce – it’s just different. It includes many similar features and has many of the same strengths. It’s just a little more specific and some of the features that come free in WooCommerce come in the form of paid-for extensions in Easy Digital Downloads.

Easy Digital Downloads also incorporates many of the most popular payment methods, including:

  • Authorize.net
  • Braintree
  • Stripe
  • Bitpay
  • PayPal

Unlike WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads doesn’t come with all of these payment gateways pre-installed. You will have to pay for some of them in the form of extensions.

Easy Digital Downloads comes with some extensions that are particularly useful for those who focus on selling digital products like eBooks, subscriptions, online courses or software, and memberships.

Extensions such as Software Licensing, MailChimp, and ConvertKit are must-haves for the virtual entrepreneur. One Easy Digital Downloads add-on even allows you to accept recurring payments, making subscription and membership selling a breeze.

Easy Digital Downloads excels in the data department as well. It provides a comprehensive customer management center that stores a separate file for each of your customers. It even has an area explaining the lifetime value of each customer and full details on their buying habits. Customer profiles are integrated with this information.

Shipping and tax calculators and variable product options…

We give Easy Digital Downloads a 4.5 out of 5.

Ecwid

Ecwid WordPress

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If all of this talk about the best online store plugins for WordPress is overwhelming for you, Ecwid may be the plugin of choice for you. Ecwid is known for its simplicity and ease-of-use. You will be comfortable with Ecwid’s basic features within just a few hours of using it.

Ecwid is not made specifically for WordPress. But just by copying and pasting some code, you can add a store to your site. You can even manage multiple website stores from a single place. Ecwid is best-suited to small and mid-size businesses.

One drawback to Ecwid is that it only comes with four themes that are not customizable (unless you have the programming skills needed to tamper with the source code). To change the appearance of your Ecwid store, you will need to either learn some coding or hire a freelance programmer.

We give Ecwid a 4 out of 5.

Jigoshop

Jigoshop WordPress

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Jigoshop is similar to Woocommerce. While you need extra extensions to customize the platform, most of them are affordable, and some are free.

When it comes to themes, Jigoshop has plenty – around 70, in fact. You won’t have trouble finding the right look for your Jigoshop store.

While the other plugins also do a good job of providing customer data, Jigoshop does a fantastic job of presenting that data in a visual format. Complete with an elegant reports section, exportable graphs, and easy-to-manage buttons, you won’t have any problems figuring out who your best customers are or what they’re most interested in.

The modern, clean dashboard has links to every Jigoshop add-on. Whereas WooCommerce requires you to jump from toolbar tab to toolbar tab, Jigoshop has all of its buttons integrated into a single page.

We give Jigoshop a 3 out of 5.

How We Chose Our Ratings

ONLINE STORE PLUG INS WordPress

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Accuracy and honesty are important to us. We mull over as many customer reviews and testimonials as possible to get a better idea of what the community around a product has been saying about it.

Along with the reputation of the brand in general, this can go a long way toward painting a clear picture about the quality of the product as well as any problems or deficiencies you’re likely to encounter.

All of these online store plugins for WordPress have great reputations. The only exception is Jigoshop. It’s used much less frequently than the others and doesn’t have nearly as many reviews. While it doesn’t necessarily have a bad reputation, it doesn’t have a good one, either.

WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads have the best reputations among any of the online store plugins for WordPress. Most WordPress entrepreneurs will find that one or the other suits their needs. But what does the average user have to say? We can answer that question directly by reading reviews.

Let’s look at some user reviews for WooCommerce.

According to the 361 WooCommerce reviews shared on G2crowd.com, the average user gives this online store plugin for WordPress 4.3 out of 5 stars overall.

Kimberly H. describes WooCommerce as being easy to use and configure. According to her, anyone can figure out how to use it and integrate it into their site to manage orders. The free themes included “look beautiful,” and there’s no cost associated with the basic functions.

One complaint this user had was that WooCommerce is “not suitable for mobile devices.” Overall, she gave it a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

Jasmine G. gives WooCommerce a 5 out of 5. She calls it “very user-friendly.” This user claims to have zero coding and web development experience. But with WooCommerce, she has been able to run an e-commerce business.

Jasmine G. notes that WooCommerce comes with many compatibility plugins for those who want to add additional features to their site. And according to her, payment methods aren’t an issue, as PayPal is included.

The one and only thing she dislikes about WooCommerce is that they don’t yet allow for bitcoin payments to be made (unlike Easy Digital Downloads, which offers Bitpay as a payment option).

Easy Digital Downloads has an average rating of 5 stars on WPscoop.com (although there are only 4 reviews total).

Kakoma calls this online store plugin for WordPress the “Swiss-army knife” of e-commerce plugins. He gives it a 5 out of 5.

Ariel gives Easy Digital Downloads a 4 out of 5. She says everything about it is wonderful. Her only complaint is the fact that it gets “a little bit boggish” from time to time. Still, it’s great for digital downloads, she says.

Out of 7 reviews on FitSmallBusiness.com, Ecwid has an average rating of 5 stars.

Nicolas G. notes that Ecwid is highly scalable and works with e-commerce sites of all sizes. It has a great appearance that “does not push your customers away.” He describes it as “a totally must have” for anyone building an e-commerce site. His only negative comment is about the name “ecwid” itself, which doesn’t speak much to the plugins’ performance.

Jigoshop reviews are few and far between. And the user reviews that do exist vary from one extreme to the other. On WordPress.org, however, the plugin only scores a 3.7 out of 5 stars.

While one user named “apsi” says that Jigoshop is a “much better experience than WooCommerce,” another user named “mcten” claims the plugin is flat out “not usable.” “Kiwi Ally,” however, simply describes Jigoshop as “fantastic.”

ONLINE STORE PLUG INS WordPress

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Buyer’s Guide

When making a decision about which online store plugin for WordPress to use, consider your experience, the size of your business, and what it is you will be selling.

  • If you aren’t sure of the answers to any of these questions, WooCommerce is a good place to start.
  • For digital products, Easy Digital Downloads is a no-brainer.
  • For a small business that you expect to grow quickly, Ecwid may be the best option.
  • Jigoshop works well if you want an alternative to WooCommerce for whatever reason.

Overall, go with the plugin that sounds like it would work best for you given the nature and size of your business.

Best Online Store Plugin for WordPress Summarized

In the end, the best online store plugin for WordPress will be the one that works best for you and your business.

WooCommerce is a good place to start for beginners. Easy Digital Downloads is the go-to solution for everything digital. Ecwid is simple. And Jigoshop can give you all the customer data you need in an easy-to-read way.

Pick the best online store plugin for WordPress wisely.

 

Finding the Best WordPress SEO Plugin

WordPress SEO Plugins

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No matter what the goal of your website is, you need a WordPress SEO plugin. Whether you’re a blogger, e-commerce site, or website of a brick-and-mortar business, having the best WordPress SEO plugin will help you gain visibility. Greater visibility leads to more customers.

As with other WordPress plugins, searching through the smorgasbord of software alternatives can be overwhelming. There are so many options it can be difficult to know where to begin. How do you select a single SEO plugin from all of the choices that are out there? How do you even begin going about making that choice?

While there are many options available for the best WordPress SEO Plugin, a few stand out above the rest. To narrow down the choices further, we’ve investigated a few of the most popular SEO plugins for you here.

Top 4 Best WordPress SEO Plugins

The top 4 best WordPress SEO plugins are Yoast SEO, SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, and Open Site Explorer. They can be used interchangeably. It’s widely recommended that you don’t limit yourself to just one SEO or keyword tool. They all have different features that complement each other.

Still, Yoast SEO is the most comprehensive and easiest to use of all the WordPress SEO plugins. In our opinion, Yoast SEO is the way to go if you’re in doubt.

SEMRush gives you detailed information about your competitors and is used by many of the biggest names in the business.

Google Keyword Planner works well for choosing the best keywords for your content.

Open Site Explorer provides good link-building tools while also allowing you to examine the links of your competitors as well as their “domain authority.”

Let’s take a closer look at each of these 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.

Yoast SEO for WordPress

Yoast SEO for WordPress

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Yoast SEO is one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins ever, period. Over 5 million people have it installed on their WordPress sites. Yoast SEO uses red, yellow, and green light icons to give you an approximation of how well your WordPress content is doing in terms of SEO.

Yoast SEO has two broad categories that it analyzes your web copy for readability and SEO. Each of these gets broken down into further subcategories that detail how you can improve your content for greater search engine optimization.

The readability section includes metrics for things like use of passive voice, number of words following each H2, and overall readability according to the Fleisch readability test. The Fleisch readability test takes into account aspects of your content like the use of big and confusing words, use of passive voice, length of sentences, and length of paragraphs.

Sometimes it’s just not feasible to get a green light on readability. Passive voice is sometimes unavoidable, and not all web copy will be suitable for elementary school readers. But you should always try to at least get a yellow light.

The SEO feature gives you an even longer list of metrics, including:

  • Metadata (meta title, meta description, and URL slug)
  • Focus keyword
  • Keyword density,
  • Images and alt text
  • Inbound/outbound links

It’s not that difficult to get a green light on your overall Yoast SEO score. And doing so will mean your content is way ahead of the pack as far as SEO is concerned. The free version of Yoast SEO provides many of the most important features.

This WordPress SEO plugin is both useful and easy to use. Some might even say it makes SEO fun!

We give Yoast SEO a 5 out of 5.

SEMRush

SEMRush WordPress

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SEMRush gives you detailed information on your competitors – for a monthly fee, that is.

It’s used by top industry experts and leaders – big corporations and major content managing companies that need every possible edge they can get. Overstock, eBay, and SEO Book are a few examples of big names that use SEMRush.

One useful feature of SEMRush not provided by other WordPress SEO plugins is a social media engagement measuring tool. This allows you to see how people on different social media platforms interact with your content over time. The data is presented in the form of a bar graph and can be compared to that of your competitors.

If you’re a small-time blogger or new e-commerce site, SEMRush might not be for you. Not only will it make a dent in your budget, but you can probably do just fine with a more basic, free SEO plug-in like Yoast SEO.

We give SEMRush a 4.5 out of 5.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner WordPress

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Google Keyword Planner is a part of the Google AdWords advertising program. As such, it can only be used by participants of Google AdWords. It’s not suitable for everyone and should never be used by itself as your only SEO tool.

Obviously, Google has the greatest insights into what people are searching for. Google Keyword Planner is great for (you guessed it) planning keywords! You can get free ideas for keywords straight from Google itself.

Google Keyword Planner’s primary goal is to let advertisers know about the focus keywords they might want to bid on for their ad campaigns. It assists advertising in determining the best keywords by showing the estimated search volume, difficulty level, and the number of results.

The higher search volume and lower difficulty a keyword has, the easier it will be to rank for. This information is critical for those who need to drive search traffic to their website. In other words, pretty much everyone with a website.

When you’re wondering what keyword you should use for your next article, turn to Google Keyword Planner.

We give Google Keyword Planner a 4 out of 5.

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer WordPress

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Open Site Explorer is a link-researching tool. This WordPress SEO plugin allows you to discover links that could potentially hurt your site’s SEO, find link-building opportunities, and research backlinks. Using this tool, you can evaluate inbound links to your own sites, your client’s sites, or those of your competitors.

Open Site Explorer deals with one specific aspect of SEO and should not be used by itself. If you were to only use this plugin, you would be missing out on a whole lot of important SEO metrics.

That said, link building and researching is an important part of SEO, and Open Site Explorer offers in-depth information about links that you simply can’t find elsewhere.

We give Open Site Explorer a 4 out of 5.

How We Chose Our Ratings

We value honesty and accuracy. We spend time considering as many user reviews and testimonials as we can to get a clear picture of how people perceive and interact with the products we review.

Combined with the general reputation of the brand, this information can lead to insightful conclusions about the quality of the product and also reveal any potential difficulties you might encounter when using it.

Let’s look at some user reviews for the 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.

Yoast SEO has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on TrustRadius.com. It has similar ratings just about anywhere else you look, too. We’re surprised it doesn’t have a 5 out of 5 overall, considering the vast majority of user reviews online give it the highest rating possible.

Gwendolyn K, a marketing communications specialist at Mindlance, insists that Yoast SEO is a “must-have for every WordPress site.” She notes that it works well for novices who don’t know a thing about SEO. The only negative she cites is that the tutorials provided don’t always keep pace with the plugin’s updates.

Seth T. a growth hacker at CourseStorm, says that “Yoast is awesome!” He recommends the plugin to anyone unfamiliar with SEO. The only drawback he notes is that Yoast doesn’t dive into some of the more in-depth aspects of SEO.

Out of 19 ratings on FitSmallBusiness.com, SemRush has earned 4 out of 5 stars.

Lisa T. says SEMRush is great all around, despite being “a little pricey” for some businesses. Putting in the time and effort required to use it will yield some “amazing results” according to this user. Her sole complaint lies in the fact that for a relatively expensive service, the trial period is rather short. It takes a while to become familiar with the software, she says.

Chandler E. is a big fan of SEMRush. He claims there is “nothing else like it.” It’s simply the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market, according to him. His only complaint is that the platform is not so easy to use.

Google Keyword Planner doesn’t have a lot of user reviews out there. This suggests it’s one of the less-popular keyword planning tools.

Abhishek K of Infosys gives Google Keyword Planner 4.5 out of 5 stars. He says the tool is suitable for all business categories and has a user-friendly interface. His only complaints are that the Google Keyword Planner is missing some key features. Namely, there is no tool to check for keyword density, no negative keyword list, and long-tail keywords aren’t suggested for certain categories.

Out of 17 reviews on Trustradius.com, Open Site Explorer has earned a 4 out of 5-star rating overall.

Amber S. of “Salem Communications” describes Open Site Explorer as a “useful link building tool.” According to her, this WordPress SEO plugin does its job well when it comes to building links. However, she also notes that its functionality is limited to just that – link building. Even though she lists far more pros than cons, she only gives Open Site Explorer a 3 out of 5 rating.

Susan S. of “The Search Guru” says that Open Site Explorer is “a must for SEO.” According to this user, the most valuable feature of Open Site Explorer is the “domain authority” tool, which provides data on the influence a given site has on search rankings.

WordPress SEO Plugins

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Buyer’s Guide

As is most often the case regarding WordPress plugins, the best choice varies depending on your site, business, and needs. When it comes to SEO, you’ll probably want to use some combination of the 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.

But if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure exactly what you need, or if the term “SEO” is just a strange-looking acronym to you, you should definitely give Yoast SEO a try.

Top 4 Best WordPress SEO Plugins Summarized

When all is said and done, the top 4 best WordPress SEO plugins all have useful features. While Yoast SEO is as close as it gets to an all-in-one best choice, it lacks many of the more in-depth features provided by the other SEO plugins.

To truly manage your SEO using a WordPress plugin, you will have to use several of them together. Google Keyword Planner can be used to determine keywords. SEMRush works well for in-depth information on competitors. And Open Site Explorer helps with link-building.

Both Open Site Explorer and SEMRush are geared toward larger businesses who need an extra edge over their competition. Yoast and Google Keyword Planner are made for smaller businesses and beginning bloggers.

Overall, however, Yoast SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin for beginners. On this point, many millions of people agree.

Finding the Best WordPress Facebook Plugin

WordPress Facebook Plugin

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When it comes to the best WordPress Facebook plugin, the possibilities are almost endless. There are so many options it can be tough to even get started. How do you choose a single plugin from absolutely massive selection? What should you consider when making that choice?

There is good news, though. We’ve done the bulk of the research for you.

The best WordPress Facebook plugins all serve different purposes. The one thing they all have in common is integrating some aspect of Facebook with your WordPress site.

Whether you need to have a customizable Facebook feed shown on your site, incorporate a Facebook calendar or fan page, or have an instant messenger available on your page, you can find a WordPress plugin for Facebook to get the job done.

The 4 Best WordPress Facebook Plugins

To help you find the best WordPress Facebook plugin for your own unique circumstances, we will give a quick overview of what we consider to be the top four.

Custom Facebook Feed gives you the ability to put the content of a Facebook feed on a page of your website. It can be customized to make it look like it was designed as a part of your page.

Facebook Events Calendar for WordPress integrates Facebook events with your WordPress site. Using this plugin, it’s possible to show events that have been created on Facebook directly on your page. It even integrates with Google Maps to give your visitors directions to the event.

Facebook Messenger for WordPress provides functionality for Facebook’s instant messenger feature. Using this plugin grants you the power to engage in live online chat with those who visit your site. This is one of the best possible ways to interact with your audience.

Facebook Fan Page Widget for WordPress integrates Facebook fan pages with pages on your site. It is by far the simplest WordPress Facebook plugin in existence. Widgets are one of WordPress’s easiest features to use. And the Facebook Fan Page Widget is no exception.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these WordPress Facebook plugins.

Custom Facebook Feed WordPress Facebook Plugin

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Custom Facebook Feed

Custom Facebook Feed allows you to easily display Facebook feeds on your site. It lets you customize Facebook feeds to match the theme of your site perfectly.

It even enhances the SEO of your site by being crawlable by search engines. Using the shortcode provided by this WordPress Facebook plugin, Custom Facebook Feed lets you place customized Facebook feeds from any Facebook page or group on your site.

Facebook Events Calendar for WordPress

Facebook Events Calendar for WordPress WordPress Facebook Plugin

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What makes Facebook Events Calendar one of the best WordPress Facebook plugins is that it allows you to import Facebook events into your website. This plugin is mobile device ready.

Facebook Events Calendar was created to work right out of the box. All you have to do is import events from any public Facebook page or group. You can even sync the plugin to a particular page or group and have it automatically update the Facebook events calendar on your page as new events are added.

The Facebook Events Calendar for WordPress plugin allows for a great deal of customizability on its backend. You can set up the events page however you like. Imported events can be shown in a list, calendar, map, or grid views.

This plugin is integrated with the API for Google Maps, so it can even create a map for every event displayed on your site. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

(Note: due to recent events regarding Facebook’s privacy policy, their APIs have changed. As of April 4th, 2018, events will have to be manually approved by Facebook staff before being allowed access to a plugin like Facebook Events Calendar.)

Facebook Messenger for WordPress

Facebook Messenger for WordPress Facebook Plugin

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Facebook Messenger for WordPress allows site owners to create a more personal experience for their audiences. This WordPress plugin allows you to communicate with your readers or customers just as if you were one of their Facebook friends.

While Facebook Messenger for WordPress doesn’t include a whole lot of options for customization and configuration, it does keep things simple and to the point.

After installing this WordPress Facebook plugin, you only have to configure a few things in the settings tab. The Facebook Messenger chat box will then automatically appear for those visiting your site.

This plugin only works with individual Facebook pages. No Facebook groups allowed.

Facebook Fan Page Widget for WordPress

Facebook Fan Page Widget for WordPress

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Facebook Fan Page Widget is simply a special widget for your WordPress site that allows you to integrate a Facebook fan page. It provides a shortcode that you can use on any part of your WordPress site.

This one might be the easiest WordPress Facebook plugin of all. Just install, select your settings, and let the fans come marching in. You can customize the width and height of the widget if you like. But all you really have to do is put the widget where you want it and enter the page URL. It really is as simple as that.

All of these WordPress Facebook plugins get a 5 out of 5 rating. They all serve entirely different purposes. The only thing they have in common is integrating a Facebook feature with WordPress.

How We Chose Our Ratings

We pride ourselves on honesty and accuracy. We search through as many customer reviews and testimonials as possible to get a better idea of what people are saying about a particular product.

When taken in context with the general brand reputation, these reviews can go a long way toward painting a clear picture about the quality of the product. They can also shed light on any troublesome issues you can expect to encounter.

All of these plugins have outstanding reputations and far more positive reviews than negative ones. One problem that gets mentioned time and time again is an issue with Facebook’s API (application programming interface) that doesn’t let Facebook Events Calendar automatically update new events. This doesn’t speak to the quality of the plugin, however.

Let’s see what users have to say about the 4 best WordPress Facebook plugins.

Facebook Events Calendar only has 7 reviews total on WordPress.org. Still, the average review is 4 out of 5 stars.

@Robmason32 says this is a “potentially great” plugin. He says that the plugin sometimes stops feeding events. He later updated his review and noted that customer support informed him of Facebook’s recent API changes in light of high-profile privacy concerns. This user gives Facebook Events Calendar a 4 out of 5.

@Woturner says the plugin works well. Despite a few initial problems with getting the calendar to display events correctly, support was helpful and eventually got things up and running.

Facebook messenger has 4.8 out of 5 stars on WordPress.org. Everyone seems to agree it’s both effective and easy to use.

@Jesongoh says that Facebook Messenger is “so easy to use.” If only all plugins were this simple. This five-star review ends by saying the plugin is “highly recommended.”

@Pritamobi says she had been searching for a live chat plugin for a very long time. Finally, her prayers were answered the moment she found Facebook Messenger. She ends with a note of gratitude by simply saying “great plugin, thanks.”

Custom Facebook Feed has some of the highest-rated reviews we have ever seen. Out of just over 1,000 reviews on WordPress.org, this plugin has a stunning 4.9 out of 5 stars. 956 of those reviews are 5-star reviews.

@hackercampers says Custom Facebook Feed is “simple to install and set up.” This user says he simply loves the plugin and would recommend it to anyone.

@dorrisliney notes that Custom Facebook Feed comes with many options for customization. This is an important note, considering most of what this plugin receives praise for is its simplicity. It’s good to know that Custom Facebook Feed is both simple and customizable.

@installbasique1911276 also states that the plugin is easy to install and set up and can be up and running in under 5 minutes. This user also notes that the plugin allows for users to take their “customization to the tops” if they so choose.

Facebook Fan Page Widget has six reviews on WordPress.org. The average rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars. However, this total is a little misleading. 5 out of 6 of those reviews are 5-star reviews. The total was dragged down by a single 1-star vote submitted by a user who claims the plugin wasn’t working properly.

User @Danybro says that Facebook Fan Page Widget is the best WordPress Facebook plugin around for getting more likes and recommendations. He says that anyone who needs to increase their visibility on Facebook should consider installing this plugin.

User @Forkanhossain says this WordPress plugin is “highly recommended.”

Buyer’s Guide

The best way to use the 4 best WordPress Facebook plugins is to use some or all of them together. They all provide different functions that will have different benefits depending on the nature of your business and website.

For example, if your business is constantly posting updates on Facebook that you need people to see, then Custom Facebook Feed will serve you will.

If the bulk of your business comes in the form of customers attending events, Facebook Events Calendar will be invaluable for you. No matter where your event will be hosted, the integration of Google Map’s API makes it easy for your audience to find.

Facebook Messenger will prove useful for a wide range of businesses, from bloggers to lawyers and financial advisors. If you find benefit in being able to engage with your audience or customers in real-time, then this plugin is for you.

The Facebook Fan Page Widget will be best suited to those with an active online community. If your Facebook fan page has a lot of followers who are constantly engaging with it, adding this widget will bring that engagement to your WordPress site. It’s also easy to use, just like other WordPress widgets.

Top 4 Best WordPress Facebook Plugins Summarized

All in all, the top 4 best WordPress Facebook plugins serve different functions. Some people might find they only need one of them to improve the functionality of their site. Others might want to use two or more of them at the same time to provide further integration of Facebook services for their users.

There are no ratings given for the top 4 best WordPress Facebook plugins because they are all good at what they do. Since they’re not necessarily competing with each other, it’s tough to say that one is better than another.

Whether you need to show a Facebook feed, allow Facebook chat in real-time, or include Facebook events and fan pages on your site, one of these best WordPress Facebook plugins can help provide the tools you need.

Finding the Best WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

Photo credit to CodeCanyon

WordPress is the undisputed leader for creating powerful, engaging websites for personal blogs, small business, and even enterprise solutions for global businesses and eCommerce.

One of the most effective attributes of websites is the incorporation of media such as images, audio, and video in web pages.

WordPress facilitates the inclusion of pictures and groups of pictures through the use of image galleries that store pictures or other content for the purpose of organizing and adding them to posts or web pages. Thus, the WordPress image gallery plugin makes an integral role for blog development.

What Makes an Image Gallery Plugin the “Best”?

WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

Photo credit to WP Dev Shed

There are hundreds – perhaps thousands – of image gallery plugins available to WordPress developers, but how do you pick the best one, and what makes a particular plugin better than another?

Finding the best WordPress image gallery plugin can be a true challenge.

WordPress comes equipped with its own gallery feature, but as with many software packages that try to do everything, the result is often that individual functions may not be as robust or easy to use as you might prefer. The built-in gallery is a perfect example.

Creative minds have developed plugins that improve performance and greatly enhance the visual presentation of images on your website, improving the appearance of your web pages to enhance the experience of your visitors.

Some of the advantages presented by image gallery plugins include:

  • Improved Performance – Many plugins available provide lackluster performance, even with plenty of server power and bandwidth backing your WordPress site. Speed is a critical factor in selecting your image gallery plugin. It’s essential not only for your user interest but also for SEO.

This is especially true if your site will include a large number of images such as social media posts or travel websites.

  • Features – You want a plugin that will have at least a reasonable number of features that will simplify development and provide dazzling presentations, but sometimes less can be better.

Features such as navigation through images, the creation of albums, and presentation effects can be very useful, but too many functional details can be over-complicating, especially for beginners.

  • Ease of Use – Hand-in-hand with features comes usability. If the plugin is too technical or takes weeks to understand and become productive with it, it’s probably not the best candidate for your development.

There are a few stand-out image gallery plugins that are worth a close look. These include the desirable attributes of being fast and easy to use, while still possessing the features most WordPress users find useful.

Finding the Best WordPress Image Gallery Plugin – for You

Everyone has different needs and uses for WordPress and images, so finding the image gallery plugin that’s right for you may require in-depth comparison of features, options, and pricing.

Upfront Gallery in WordPress

Upfront Gallery in WordPress

Photo credit to WPMU Dev

With Upfront Gallery, WordPress users can add, organize, and edit images into posts and web pages quickly and easily, creating galleries in seconds, rather than hours or days.

Even inexperienced WordPress users can produce beautiful pages and enhance posts by including responsive images with drag-and-drop ease.

Adding styling to images is a snap, allowing you to enhance the appearance of your web pages, changing attributes to suit your personal taste and to dazzle visitors of your website:

  • Change borders
  • Add captions
  • Adjust thumbnail settings

Just drag an Upfront element to the page where you want to display the gallery, drop the images you want visitors to see, then add the styling that transforms the page into the masterpiece you want your visitors to see.

This familiar drag-and-drop approach to editing your web pages makes the use of the plugin very familiar and smooths out the learning curve. You can position images, entire galleries, or even other elements onto your posts to design the web pages that best suit your taste.

Envira Gallery

Envira Gallery WordPress

Photo credit to enviragallery.com

Envira Gallery measures up as one of the fastest plugins for images available. That alone brings Envira high up on the list.

Other factors that make Envira attractive, especially to beginners:

  • Envira generates and displays the shortcode immediately when you create a gallery. This makes it very simple to include the gallery on your WordPress posts or web pages.
  • The template tag is also created, for ease of including galleries into your theme files – very handy when you’re creating image galleries for specific themes, such as for a client or individual topic.

One notable design element of Envira is its attention to efficiency for mobile use. The result is ease of use in choosing layouts, selecting thumbnail sizes, adding meta tags, and more from one single interface.

Envira is an incredibly intuitive plugin, with ease of use for moving beautiful images around on your posts with drag-and-drop simplicity, selecting columns and spacing to present your artworks effectively.

Add-ons – Envira has plenty of extras that you can add as you become more proficient and gain experience:

  • Social sharing
  • Video
  • Albums and slideshows
  • Fullscreen mode
  • And many more

An added attraction is that Envira adheres closely to WordPress’ standard coding, look, and feel. This makes it ideal for WordPress beginners since it’s not necessary to become familiar with two totally different ways of doing things.

Don’t forget backups of your image gallery. Since Envira follows WordPress methodology and best practices, images are stored right in the database as custom post types. That’s significant since it means that when you back up your database, your Envira galleries are also backed up.

Envira also allows you to import/export galleries individually. That makes your image galleries transportable from one WordPress site to another.

Pricing for Envira begins with a free version (Lite), which is a great way to get started and see if the plugin is right for you. Once you’re sold on Envira, you will undoubtedly want to move up to the full gallery plugin for $19, then determine if you can benefit from additional add-ons to gain even more power:

  • Gallery themes
  • Tag function that provides the ability to add tags to your gallery images
  • Password protection to protect your images
  • Pinterest add-on that creates a simple-to-use “Pin It” button

Need even more functionality? Move up to the $99 Gold level for the ultimate in add-ons:

  • Fullscreen for lightbox display
  • Album add-on to organize images into albums
  • More add-ons that stretch and challenge your creativity

Regardless of the features and add-ons, you select, you get an impressive tool to create and manage your media and WordPress website easily and beautifully.

NextGEN Gallery

NextGEN Gallery WordPress

Photo credit to Torque

NextGEN has taken a somewhat different approach, building its own user interface rather than adopting standard WordPress methodology.

This may cause some developers to back off a bit, just due to the variation from traditional WordPress appearance that can make NextGEN appear intimidating. Still, there are thousands of NextGEN users who consider it the best WordPress image gallery plugin available.

Along with the variation in appearance, NextGEN also stores data in its own set of database tables and image folders. With its own way of getting work done, new WordPress users may struggle a bit getting reasonably productive with NextGEN. Uploading and creating galleries can be more challenging than other plugins.

A downside of using its own database tables is that, because of this, NextGEN does not support import/export functions.

Backup is also a separate issue, as the NextGEN tables must be backed up as a separate function, or incorporated into your backup plugin.

NextGEN is a very mature plugin and has been around longer than most. As such, there have been many features included in the base plugin that others make available as add-ons.

Even with all the features packed into NextGEN, there is still room for additional functionality, if you move up from the free version to Pro and Plus versions.

Gmedia Gallery

Gmedia Gallery WordPress

Photo credit to Gmedia Gallery

Gmedia combines power and simplicity for getting started creating a wide variety of galleries including playlists with photos, audio, and even videos.

Organize your items into albums and create tags like a pro, with little or no skill or experience.

Gmedia is ideal for novices who want to hit the ground running and be productive with image galleries quickly. Gmedia’s search bar even helps you find your albums and galleries easily.

With over 20,000 installations, Gmedia Gallery plugin is enabling WordPress developers to load and manage photos, videos, and music files to incorporate on sites, even managing them from anywhere utilizing the iOS app.

Benefits of Gmedia:

  • Organize files easily into albums
  • Add tags as desired
  • Drag-and-drop sorting for images
  • Image editor including filters
  • Insert images or files into a post or web page with a single click
  • Responsive – adjusts to your visitors’ device seamlessly

Pricing for Gmedia Premium is based on the number of website licenses needed, beginning at $29.99 for a single site license.

Besides the advantage of the iOS app, Gmedia has an impressive selection of add-ons to handle every need you have for developing dazzling web pages and posts, among them:

  • PhotoCluster – categorize images and other media as your personal preference
  • AlbumsList – search and locate albums with a single click
  • Cubik Lite – 3D cube gallery
  • WaveSurfer – music module that allows you to create and save music waveforms

Gmedia also integrates with WordPress comments, allowing visitors to your blog or website to post comments on your media galleries.

Recommendations

When considering any of these image gallery plugins for your WordPress development, consider these findings:

Envira offers the best rating in pure speed and combines that with ease of use to help you become productive with its features and functions quickly. The combination of features and ease of use makes Envira a truly attractive choice for most WordPress users, especially novices.

NextGEN is hands down the most feature-laden plugin, although you may find it intimidating or overkill for your needs. But if you need the feature-laden plugin that gives you the most power and functionality, take a close look at NextGEN.

While NextGEN is somewhat more costly than other options, those who need the full array of options it provides may find the price and complexity outweigh any negative factors.

As a WordPress developer/user, the use of a powerful image gallery plugin that gives you the features you need without slowing your website performance is a very effective investment.

Selecting Your WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

Photo credit to BoldGrid

Selecting Your WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

Creating an image gallery in WordPress is an important feature for embedding uploaded images within posts and WordPress web pages. The use of image gallery plugins makes the process easier and faster for developers.

Finding the best WordPress image gallery plugin that suits your purposes may take a little time, but the return on your investment is well worth the due diligence.

Picking the right plugins for your website means evaluating each option on its own merits, and selecting the one that’s right for you. Your choice of image gallery plugins is dependent on several factors:

Ease of use – if you can’t use the plugin effectively, it’s not right for you.

Some plugins include a staggering array of features that may be great for those seeking in-depth manipulation of images such as lightbox and animations, but beginners can quickly become frustrated by complex features that are not needed.

Speed – As with any WordPress task, stepping through the process quickly optimizes your development efforts

Performance – You will want to be sure the plugin performs well for your website without impacting overall website response

Other Features – Image gallery plugins vary in design and user functions/interfaces. Pick the one that has features that are relevant for you.

With a little research and evaluation of available plugins, you will be able to select the image gallery plugin that will allow you to easily include images with your WordPress posts and web pages.

5 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Security

5 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Security

According to their own statistics, WordPress is used as the backbone for 30% of all websites today. It’s no surprise that so many people choose WordPress when building a website. The software offers functionality and customization at an affordable price with options for all different types of users.

However, the size of the WordPress community makes the software a prime target for hackers online. Plus, the increasing number of themes and plugins available could introduce various new vulnerabilities for people to exploit.

This is not meant to be a scare piece. In fact, quite the opposite. WordPress is an amazing tool that can take your blog or business to the next level. Following some simple recommendations to improve your WordPress security can help you enjoy the power of WordPress without opening yourself up to online threats.

Ready to ensure your WordPress security is up to the test? Here are some solutions you can start putting into place today.

1. Choose a Secure Username and Password

This may seem like an obvious solution but it is often overlooked by many users. One major example of this is using “Admin” as a username. By using a default-style username, hackers already know half of the information needed to gain access to your WordPress website.

Try creating unique usernames and avoid using names for authors or contributors that may appear on your site. This simple username practice can save you a lot of grief down the road.

In addition, making a secure password can thwart a lot of attempts to breach your WordPress security. There are a number of methods to ensure you have a secure password. Most importantly, don’t reuse passwords on multiple sites, don’t use common phrases, and make passwords as long as possible.

2. Only Use Trusted Plugins and Follow Updates

One of the biggest threats to WordPress security is third-party plugins or themes that are not offered by WordPress. There are tens of thousands of plugins available from WordPress and even more are available from third-party sources like GitHub and Code Canyon.

It would be alarmist to say that people should avoid third party-plugins. Even plugins available from the WordPress repository could pose a threat. You should always read reviews and ratings for a plugin before choosing to install it on your website.

In addition, you need to ensure that the plugins you use are being updated. Automatic updates can protect you from old vulnerabilities that have been patched. If plugins are no longer offering updates, then you may want to consider looking for a similar plugin with better support to help with WordPress security.

3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication for Login

A strong username and password are great, but they still can’t protect against some forms of data theft. Even if a hacker is able to get your login and password, two-factor authentication can stop them in their tracks and alert about attempts to circumvent your WordPress security.

There are a number of plugins available from the WordPress repository that enables two-factor authentication using the most popular methods available including Google Authenticator, SMS, and email.

Of course, two-factor authentication is only as secure as the second method used to verify your login. You should also enable two-factor authentication on other services that allow it including your email account.

4. Remove Unused Themes and Plugins

If you have been using WordPress for some time, then you may have installed themes or plugins that are no longer in use because you have found other services that you prefer.

Just like updating existing plugins in a timely manner is important, so is removing unused themes. Best practice for protecting your WordPress security is to remove any themes and plugins that you are not using as soon as you stop using them.

This helps remove the clutter of unused plugins that can build up over time and eliminates additional areas where hackers could find vulnerabilities. Only keep the plugins you are actually using. If it’s not in use, then you should uninstall it immediately.

5. Backup Your WordPress Site Regularly

When all else fails, you can count on a recent backup to save the day. This is true for your own personal computer, your smartphone, as well as your WordPress site. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there may be a security breach or loss of data unrelated to any security issue.

The easiest way to get back up and running is to reinstall your WordPress site from a backup. There are a number of services and plugins that help you back up your WordPress site. Research the options and find the one right for you.

Always Stay Vigilant to Ensure WordPress Security

5 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Security

Keeping your site safe and secure is an ongoing job. Use these best practices to help protect your WordPress security and always stay on top of the latest news and updates.

The more effort you put into WordPress security, the fewer opportunity hackers have to destroy your business and your hard work.