How To Install Wordpress Plugins

Published June 04, 2024

WordPress plugins add many features to change and improve your website. This article will show you how to find, install, and take care of plugins on your WordPress site. We'll talk about different ways to install plugins, like using the plugin search tool and uploading plugins with FTP. We'll also share tips for keeping your plugins and site safe.

Key Takeaways

  • Only download plugins from trusted sources to avoid security issues
  • Keep plugins updated to ensure you have the latest security fixes and features
  • Deactivate and uninstall any unused plugins to reduce security risks and improve site performance
  • Research a plugin's reviews, ratings, and compatibility before installing to ensure reliability
  • Regularly back up your WordPress site, including plugin files and settings, in case of any issues

Install a WordPress Plugin by Uploading a ZIP File

You may need to install a WordPress plugin that is not in the official WordPress plugin directory. This could be a premium plugin you bought or a custom plugin made for your site. In such cases, you can install the plugin by uploading the plugin ZIP file via FTP.

Using FTP to Upload and Install a Plugin

To install a WordPress plugin by uploading a ZIP file via FTP:

  1. Download the plugin ZIP file from the WordPress plugin directory or a premium plugin provider. Save the file to your computer.

  2. Use an FTP client to connect to your WordPress hosting server. You'll need your FTP login credentials, which you can usually find in your hosting control panel.

    Here's an example of what your FTP login credentials might look like:

    • Host:
    • Username: your_username
    • Password: your_password
    • Port: 21
  3. Once connected, go to the wp-content/plugins directory in your WordPress installation. This is where all the plugin files are stored.

  4. Upload the plugin ZIP file you downloaded to the wp-content/plugins folder. You can do this by dragging and dropping the file into your FTP client.

  5. After the upload is done, go to the Plugins page in your WordPress admin area. You should see the new plugin listed there. Click the "Activate" link below the plugin name to activate it and start using it on your site.

graph TD A[Download plugin ZIP file] --> B[Connect to server via FTP] B --> C[Go to wp-content/plugins] C --> D[Upload plugin ZIP file] D --> E[Activate plugin in WordPress admin]

Some examples of when you might need to install a plugin via FTP:

  • Installing a premium plugin bought from a marketplace like CodeCanyon or a developer's website
    • Example: You bought a premium SEO plugin from CodeCanyon and need to install it on your site.
  • Installing a custom plugin made for your site
    • Example: A developer made a custom plugin to integrate your site with a third-party API, and you need to install it.
  • Installing a plugin when your WordPress admin area is not accessible
    • Example: Your site has issues, and you can't access the admin area, but you need to install a plugin to fix the problem.
  • Troubleshooting plugin installation issues
    • Example: You tried installing a plugin through the WordPress admin area, but it failed. You can try installing it via FTP instead.

Make sure you download plugins from trusted sources to avoid security problems. Always keep your plugins up to date and remove any plugins you're not using to keep your site's performance and security.

Tips for Maintaining Plugin Security

  • Only download plugins from trusted sources, such as the official WordPress plugin directory or known premium plugin providers.
  • Keep your plugins updated to ensure you have the latest security fixes and features.
  • Remove any inactive plugins from your site to reduce security risks.
  • Regularly check your site for any unusual activity or signs of a security breach.

Installing Premium WordPress Plugins

Premium WordPress plugins are paid plugins that offer features and functionality not in free plugins. These plugins are often more powerful, reliable, and well-supported than free plugins. If you need specific features for your WordPress site, investing in a premium plugin can be a good choice.

Buying and Installing Plugins from Third-Party Providers

To install a premium WordPress plugin:

  1. Choose a premium WordPress plugin that offers the functionality you need for your site. Some popular premium plugin marketplaces include CodeCanyon, ThemeForest, and CreativeMarket. These marketplaces offer many premium WordPress plugins for various purposes, such as e-commerce plugins (e.g., WooCommerce extension), marketing plugins (e.g., OptinMonster, Bloom), membership plugins (e.g., MemberPress, Restrict Content Pro), and backup plugins (e.g., BlogVault, VaultPress).

  2. Buy and download the plugin ZIP file from the provider. You'll usually get a download link after paying.

  3. Follow the same steps as uploading a plugin via FTP: Connect to your WordPress site via FTP. Go to the wp-content/plugins directory. Upload the plugin ZIP file to this directory.

  4. Activate the plugin from the Plugins page in your WordPress admin area.

  5. Configure the plugin settings as needed. Each plugin has its own settings page where you can customize its functionality.

Tips for Choosing Premium Plugins:

  • Read reviews and ratings from other users before buying a plugin.
  • Check the plugin's compatibility with your WordPress version and other plugins.
  • Look for plugins with good documentation and support.
  • Consider the long-term costs of using the plugin, including renewal fees and extra features.

Examples of Premium WordPress Plugins

Gravity Forms is a powerful form builder plugin for WordPress. It lets you create custom forms, surveys, and quizzes easily. Some key features include a drag-and-drop form builder, conditional logic for showing fields based on user input, integration with popular email marketing and payment gateway services, and add-ons for extending functionality, such as user registration and post creation. Pricing for Gravity Forms starts at $59 per year for a single site license.

Yoast SEO is a popular WordPress plugin for optimizing your site's search engine rankings. The premium version offers extra features not in the free version, such as a redirect manager for fixing broken links and setting up 301 redirects, internal linking suggestions for improving site structure, content insights for analyzing readability and keyword distribution, and 24/7 support from the Yoast team. Pricing for Yoast SEO Premium starts at $89 per year for a single site license.

WP Rocket is a caching and performance optimization plugin for WordPress. It helps speed up your site by reducing page load times and improving overall performance. Key features include page caching for faster loading times, browser caching for reducing server requests, code minification for smaller file sizes, and lazy loading for images and videos. Pricing for WP Rocket starts at $49 per year for a single site license.

Plugin Purpose Starting Price
Gravity Forms Form builder and surveys $59/year
Yoast SEO Premium Search engine optimization and site structure $89/year
WP Rocket Caching and performance optimization $49/year

Best Practices for Managing WordPress Plugins

Check for Plugin Updates

Keeping your WordPress plugins up to date is important for site security and compatibility. Plugin developers release updates to fix bugs, add features, and fix security problems. Check for updates in your WordPress admin area:

  1. Go to the Plugins page
  2. Look for plugins with a notification about a new version
  3. Update the plugin to the latest version

Deactivate and Uninstall Unused Plugins

You may collect plugins that are no longer needed for your site. Inactive plugins can slow your site and be a security risk if not updated. Review your installed plugins:

  1. Go through your list of installed plugins
  2. Deactivate plugins that you're not using
  3. If you don't plan on using a plugin again, delete it to free up server space

Keep Plugin Count Low

Using too many plugins can slow your site and cause conflicts. Only install plugins that are needed for your site's functions. If a single plugin can do multiple tasks, that's better than installing separate plugins for each function.


Instead of using separate plugins for SEO, sitemaps, and open graph tags, use a plugin like Yoast SEO or Rank Math that handles all these functions.

Check Reviews and Ratings Before Installing

Before installing a new plugin, research its quality and reliability. Look for plugins with good reviews, high ratings, and many active installations. These factors show that a plugin is well-maintained and less likely to cause issues.

Make Regular Backups

Regularly back up your WordPress site, including your plugin files and settings. If a plugin causes problems, you can restore your site to a previous state. You can back up your site manually or use a backup plugin.

Popular backup plugins:

Use Plugin Management Tools

If you manage multiple WordPress sites, consider using a plugin management tool to simplify updates, backups, and other maintenance tasks across all your sites from a single dashboard.

Popular plugin management tools:

Example workflow:

graph TD A[Install management tool] --> B[Connect WordPress sites] B --> C[Schedule updates and backups] C --> D[Monitor site health and performance] D --> E[Manage plugins and themes]