Updated: 26 Dec 2016

Now that you’ve created your self-hosted WordPress blog, I’ll tell you how to install WordPress plugins so you can supercharge your new blog.

But what are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are components of a self-hosted WordPress blog used to extend the functionality of the blog to suit particular needs.

With plugins, you can add specific new features to/enhance existing features on your blog to achieve specific results.

How to Install WordPress Plugins

But why are these not pre-installed?

Great question! Think of your phone when you bought it new. It came with some default features and applications.

But now, you have enhanced its capabilities by installing different apps. Maybe you’re a chess lover and you’ve installed a chess application.

Or you’re a podcast junkie and you’ve installed an app to help you listen to them on the go.

Perhaps you’ve also installed e-readers, Dropbox and [insert your favorite app].

You see: there are thousands of awesome applications in your phone app store.

And your phone manufacturer could not have pre-installed everything on the phone. Why not? Because if he did, the apps would overwhelm you.

They’d waste memory space and slow down your phone’s processing speed.

The manufacturer had to pick a few general use apps to pre-install and leave the window open for you to choose the rest.

Based on your needs, you can install more apps from the thousands of others available in the app store. That’s how you should think of WordPress plugins.

There’re many, you can’t use them all and you definitely don’t need most of them, even though they might be awesome.

So the correct answer to the question “What are the best WordPress plugins?” is “It depends on your specific needs.” Now, let’s get to the meat of this post…

Method 1: How to install WordPress plugins via the admin area (from dashboard)

This is the easiest of the methods, especially when you know the exact name of the plugin you’re looking for.

  1. Check the name of the plugin
  2. Login to your WordPress admin panel
  3. Enter the name of the plugin
  4. Install the plugin
  5. Activate the plugin

1. Check the name of the plugin

If you aren’t sure of the exact name of a plugin, I suggest you first do a Google search with function-related keywords to get the name of the plugin.

2. Login to your WordPress admin panel

Once you know the name of the plugin, login to your WordPress admin panel, hover the mouse on “Plugins” and click “Add New”.

Plugins add new

3. Enter the name of the plugin

Type in the exact name of the plugin you want and hit the “Enter” key.

plugins search

4. Install the plugin

The plugins related to your search are displayed. Click “Install Now” under the particular plugin you want.

Plugins install

5. Activate the plugin

The plugin would be downloaded and installed on your blog. Click “Activate Plugin”.

Plugins installing

Congrats! You’ve just installed a WordPress plugin. You’ll now be able to configure the activated plugin to suit your needs (how to do this varies for each plugin).

Just check if new options have been added to the left menu on your WordPress admin area. You can use those options to configure the plugin.

That’s how to install a WordPress plugin via the admin area. But this method will fail if the plugin you want to install is absent from the WordPress plugin directory.

In that case, you’ll have to use the second method of manual installation…

Method 2: How to install WordPress plugins manually

This is the ideal method if the plugin you want to install isn’t in the WordPress plugin directory. This can be the case, for instance, if it’s a premium plugin.

  1. Download the plugin
  2. Login to your WordPress admin panel
  3. Upload the plugin
  4. Install the plugin
  5. Activate the plugin

1. Download the plugin

First, you have to download the plugin from the source in .zip format.

2. Login to your WordPress admin panel

Next, go to your WordPress admin area. Hover the mouse on “Plugins” and click “Add New”.

Plugins add new

3. Upload the plugin

Click “Upload”.

Plugins upload4. Install the plugin

Click “Choose File” and navigate to the location on your computer where you saved the plugin .zip file. Choose the .zip file and click “Install Now”.

Plugins upload zip

5. Activate the plugin

Click “Activate Plugin”.

Plugins installing zip

Bravo! You’ve now installed a WordPress plugin.

There’s a third way to install WordPress plugins – via FTP – but that’s technical and likely to confuse many newbies. So I won’t be covering it.

Best WordPress plugins for general use

Now that you know how to install WordPress plugins, which plugins should you install on your new blog? Well, like I earlier said, it depends on your specific needs.

Below are some basic WordPress plugins that every WordPress blog should use. You can search for and install each of them from your WordPress admin area.

  • Akismet: this helps you fight spam comments. (As your blog grows, you may find Akismet lacking. If so,  you can look into Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin.)
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast: this helps you optimize your posts for search engine visibility.
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com: this adds an array of awesome new features to your blog.
  • Limit Login Attempts: this secures your blog from possible unauthorized login attempts.
  • Shareaholic: this is my favorite plugin for creating social sharing buttons.

That’s it for today. Now you can start a blog that matters and make it powerful with a suite of plugins.


1. How to choose the best WordPress plugins?

As explained above, the best WordPress plugins differ from person to person. I urge you to download plugins on an as-needed basis. Otherwise, you might find your site bogged down with plugins.

2. How to install WordPress plugins without ftp? Where to install/put WordPress plugins?

In today’s post, I showed you 2 methods to install WordPress plugins without using ftp. Using these methods, you’ll install/put the WordPress plugins in the Plugin folder of WordPress admin.

3. How to install WordPress plugins on localhost/in cPanel/via ftp?

This is beyond the scope of this post. If you want to install:

  • on localhost, you can refer to this
  • in cPanel, you can refer to this
  • via ftp, you can refer to this

4. No plugins menu/option on WordPress. Why can’t I install WordPress plugins on WordPress? How to add plugins to WordPress free blog?

That’s because you’re using WordPress.com and WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install/add plugins. If you want to install/add plugins, you’ll have to switch over to WordPress.org.

5. Why can’t I install a WordPress plugin on multi sites?

This is probably because it’s a premium (paid) plugin and the licence limits the number of sites you can use it on.