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How to Choose a WordPress Plugin

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How to Choose a WordPress Plugin


WordPress plugins are helpful. But they can also slow a site down, invite hackers and even cause a Google penalty. These are my top five considerations when choosing a WordPress plugin.

Five WordPress Plugin Considerations

  1. Plugin is Vetted
  2. Popular
  3. Changelog indicates fairly regular updates
  4. Support Feedback indicates a healthy plugin
  5. Doesn’t overlap with an installed plugin

Plugin is Vetted

A free plugin should ideally be vetted by WordPress. WordPress provides an official plugin repository where trusted free plugins can be downloaded.

If an issue is discovered with a free plugin, WordPress will remove the download from it’s repository. Typical issues can be coding that results in a vulnerability but can also be related to other issues as outlined in the WordPress Plugin Guidelines.

It’s not a perfect system for being assured that the plugin is safe to install. But it’s generally safer than downloading a plugin that is not available through the official WordPress depository.

The exceptions to this rule are premium paid plugins by reputable companies. Generally, the premium plugins have a free version and a paid version. The fact that a free version has been vetted by WordPress provides assurance (to me) that there is some kind of quality control.

There are premium plugins available and those plugins may undergo their own private testing. They are generally safe to purchase and download. However it may be useful to research the testing and vetting practices before purchasing.

Plugin is Popular

I’m generally not a believer in the wisdom of crowds. However I do feel some safety in knowing that a WordPress plugin is popular and well liked.

Popularity by itself does not guarantee that a plugin is not without issues. A few of the most popular plugins have been the sources of near catastrophic issues or larding up web pages with needless code.

Nevertheless, popularity along with other factors can contribute to an assurance that that the plugin is likely safe and works reasonably well.

Changelog Indicates Regular Updates

Some plugins may be abandoned. Every plugin’s WordPress page notes when the plugin was last updated. A plugin might not be updated because the function it performs is relatively simple. But in general this is a sign that a plugin has been abandoned.

Abandoned plugins should in most cases be avoided. WordPress is constantly evolving. Installing a plugin that hasn’t been updated could cause conflicts with the current version of WordPress or the version of PHP that your website runs in.

Support Feedback

Every plugin page in the WordPress Plugin Repository has a support page. The support page may provide evidence if a plugin that has ongoing issues. Typical issues might be that the code conflicts with other plugins. Sometimes the WordPress template may need changes in order for the plugin to function.

The support page will reveal any potential issues you may face before discovering them the hard way.

Plugin Doesn’t Overlap with an Installed Plugin

A common issue I see is when two or more plugins designed to do similar things overlap. This generally happens with structured data and speed optimization plugins.

The usual result is that you have more plugins than you need. It’s important to use as few plugins as necessary. Overloading your site with plugins can slow down the server. Even a plugin designed to speed up your site may slow down your site if you are using too many of them at the same time.

Before you install a plugin, think hard about how this plugin will solve your problems. If it doesn’t solve all of them, will installing a second or third plugin cause a duplication in functions?

How to Choose a WordPress Plugin

These five considerations are not a complete list of considerations. There are other factors that can be added, like user reviews, the reputation of the company behind the plugin, if the plugin is over-engineered and slows down the site and so on.

Downloading plugins can seem like the shell game, where a pea is placed under a cup and then shuffled around. Are you making an educated guess or just guessing?  These are what I consider important factors for judging if a WordPress plugin is trustworthy and will help take some of the guesswork out of choosing a trustworthy WordPress plugin.

Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author

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Price extensions now supported in Microsoft Advertising Editor

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Price extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor.

Price extensions launched in Microosoft Advertising a little over a year ago, allowing advertisers to show products and pricing in text ads in mobile and desktop search results.

Why we should care

Now you can manage those extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor. That means you can manage them in bulk and much more quickly.

From the Shared LIbrary in Editor, you will be able to add headers, descriptions and prices, including currency.

To associate price extensions with ad groups in your campaigns in Editor, select an ad group and use the “Choose price extension” dialogue box.

More on the news

Some helpful reminders for price extensions:

  • The prices must be included on the landing page.
  • They are charged the same CPC as a click on an ad headline.
  • They can link to third-party retailers.
  • Do not duplicate the same copy in the header and description of a price extension.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads

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Google is introducing a new ad format that lets marketers run YouTube live streams in display ads.

Live stream ads can appear anywhere Google’s display ads are shown. So a person could be scrolling through a website, such as this one, and see a live stream playing right where an ad would be.

People can expand the video to full screen and interact with the live stream just as they could on YouTube.

Here’s an example of what a live stream ad looks like:

Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads

Live streaming on YouTube is free, so advertisers will only have to pay for the ad unit itself.

The new live stream ad format is currently in a limited beta. There’s no further information available about how Google plans to charge advertisers for these ads.

One of my initial thoughts was whether viewing time would be a factor in the cost.

For example – would an advertiser be charged the same if a person only watched a few minutes of a live stream as opposed to watching the whole thing?

I presume we’ll learn more when the ad format rolls out more widely.

Other Google Advertising News

In related news, Google introduced another display ad format today that allows users to interact with 3D objects.

The new ad format, called Swirl, lets advertisers showcase products from all angles.

A car manufacturer could take an existing 3D model of a car and use it in a Google display ad. Then, those who view the ad could rotate the car as well as zoom in and out of it.

For more information about the Swirl ad format see our coverage here.



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Google Search Console image search reporting bug June 5-7

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Google posted a notice that between the dates of June 5 through June 7, it was unable to capture data around image search traffic. This is just a reporting bug and did not impact actual search traffic, but the Search Console performance report may show drops in image search traffic in that date range.

The notice. The notice read, “June 5-7: Some image search statistics were not captured during this period due to an internal issue. Because of this, you may see a drop in your image search statistics during this period. The change did not affect user Search results, only the data reporting.”

How do I see this? If you login to Google Search Console, click into your performance report and then filter by clicking on the “search type” filter. You can then select image from the filters.

Here is a screen shot of this filter:

How To Filter By Image Traffic in Google Search Console

Why we should care. If your site gets a lot of Google Image search traffic, you may notice a dip in your traffic reporting within Google Search Console. You may have not noticed a similar dip in your other analytics tools. That being said, Google said this is only a reporting glitch within Google Search Console and did not impact your actual traffic to your web site.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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