How to Install a WordPress Plugin – Step by Step

31 Aug, 2023

Installing a WordPress plugin is the first thing every WordPress site admins need to learn after installing WordPress.

Plugins enable you to add new features to WordPress, such as add SEO tools, cache tools.

For WordPress, there are thousands of free and paid plugins available.

In this guide, we show you how to install a WordPress plugin step by step.

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

There are three ways to install a WordPress plugin. We have covered all three methods here.

  • Installing using plugin search.
  • Uploading and installing it.
  • Manually installing using SFTP.

1 – Install Using Plugin Search Feature

Using the Plugin Search feature is the simplest way of installing a plugin.

A plugin must be released in the plugin directory – this is the only downside of this option.

The reason is that only free plugins are listed on the plugin directory.

So let us install a popular SEO plugin.

In this example, let us install Rank Math, a powerful highly-rated WordPress SEO Plugin.

Login to your WordPress Admin dashboard, and click on Plugins > Add New.

Search the plugin by typing the plugin name. You can search for the plugin functionality as well.

Install RankMath WordPress Plugin Admin Dashboard

The instant search result now lists the plugin and related plugins.

Now click on the Install Now button.

Plugin installation only takes a few seconds.

You can install a plugin on your site. But it won’t work unless you activate it.

Once the installation is finished, click on the Activate button.

That’s all. Your first plugin is now successfully installed.

2 – Install Using the Plugin Upload Feature

Premium plugins are not available in the WordPress plugin directory. Thus we need to install these paid plugins differently.

WordPress has the Upload plugin method to install such plugins.

Let us see how to install a plugin using the upload feature in the WordPress admin area.

You have to download the plugin from the website you purchased the plugin.

That is from a plugin marketplace like CodeCanyon or directly from the plugin author’s website.

Usually, the plugin would be a compressed zip file.

Next, you need to access your WordPress admin area.

Then visit Plugins > Add New page.

Now click on the Upload Plugin button on top of the page.

Upload WordPress Plugin Admin Dashboard

Here click on the choose file button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.

In this example, we are using Bloom, an Email Opt-in and Lead Generation Plugin for WordPress from Elegant Themes.

Click on the Install Now button once you have selected the file.

WordPress now starts uploading the plugin file from your computer and install it for you.

Upload WordPress Plugin Admin Dashboard Successful

Once the installation finished, you can see a success message.

You can now click on the Activate Plugin button and start using the plugin.

3 – Manually Install a Plugin Using SFTP

In unusual cases, you may need to install themes and plugins by manually uploading to your server.

Manually using SFTP is your best bet to install the plugin.

The SFTP manager method is not a simple way.

I assume that you have the plugin source file downloaded to your computer.

Extracting the plugin zip file creates a new folder with the same name.

You need to upload this extracted folder to your website using an SFTP client.

You can access your host server through the SFTP manager.

Please see How to Connect DirectAdmin With SFTP.

Once the SFTP connection established, you need to access the path /wp-content/plugins/.

Upload SFTP WordPress Plugin

Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file.

Upload the plugin folder you extracted from the zip file to this folder on your web server.

You can upload the zip file and then extract it from the server if you wish.

Once the plugin files are uploaded, you need to visit the WordPress admin area.

Now click on the Plugins menu.

You can see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.

SFTP Uploaded WordPress Plugin Activate

Now click on the Activate button.

I hope this helped you learn how to install WordPress plugins easily.

Gifty Antony

Gifty is passionate about Web Development and connected with various communities. She loves WordPress.

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