The Ultimate Guide to Promoting Your Plugin

When releasing a plugin on the WordPress plugin repository, you’re guaranteed some downloads.  Most likely, you’ll spike right away when you’re in the newest plugins section and while your plugin gets announced in various plugin roundups.  Then things will die down from there.

WordPress has a small section on how to promote your plugin on the submission & promotion page, but it’s a bit outdated and leaves something to be desired.  That’s why we put together this guide.

So without further ado,  here’s your go-to guide for promoting your plugin and getting more downloads!

This is the “Ultimate” guide for a reason.  Why don’t you bookmark it so you can come back later?

 

Start with Social

Social sharing is easy and fast so we’ll do that first.  It’s worth noting that this kind of traffic is extremely temporal ie, it will come and go in a flash, so it’s just the first step in promoting your plugin.

Tweet it

Okay, I know this is obvious, but for the sake of thoroughness, I’m telling you to Tweet it!  I’m sure some of your followers will want to check out your work.  Add a hashtag or two like #wordpress and #plugins to catch some internal traffic from Twitter as well.

I’ll save us both some time and just say here to also share it on Facebook & Google+.

StumbleUpon

Submit it to stumbleupon next.  While you’re there, pick a few interests and do some stumbling.  Why?  Because stumbleupon’s algorithm isn’t based on understanding content like Google, it’s based on understanding people.

In other words, as StumbleUpon gets to know you, it will suggest pages to you that people like you liked.  So just reverse this process for targeted traffic.

Create the persona of a stumbler who would want your plugin, and the links you submit (your plugin) will be suggested to people like you ie your target market.

Design Float

Design Float is a social bookmarking site for the design community.  You can submit your plugin to the promos section no problem.

Leverage your existing assets

Before moving any further in the promotion process, why not utilize some of the resources sitting right beneath your nose?

Write a blog post about it

Take a few minutes to write up a post about your plugin.  Consider adding some details that aren’t on the plugin description page like why you decided to create the plugin.  You can then promote this post with the social networks already listed here.

Also, make sure to link to your plugin whenever relevant on your blog.  You can even write posts that are intentionally relevant and involve the use of your plugin.

Email your subscribers

Have an email list?  Send out a quick email letting them know about your plugin, what it does, and where they can download it.

Include it in Your Email Signature

For a while after launch, you can add a link to your plugin in your email signature.  This is a passive way of getting your plugin in front of more people.

Include a link in Your Twitter Profile

Same as above, but just include a link to your new plugin in your twitter profile.

Submit Your Logo

Creating a logo for your plugin is great for branding and making it more memorable.  If you have an existing brand, don’t just use your current logo.  Create a logo specific for your plugin that is influenced by the colors and style of your existing brand.

You can leverage your plugin logo for links by submitting it to logo directories.  Here are a few:

Make sure you link to your plugin’s page and not just your own site.

Update Your Plugin

You should be keeping your plugin up-to-date and adding bug fixes anyway, but here’s a little more incentive.  You’ll actually get more downloads every time your plugin is updated.  This is likely because it will appear in the “recently updated” category on WordPress where people will find and download it.

If your downloads start to really slow down, add a new bug fix or feature sooner rather than later to jump start your count again.

Content-based Promotion

These methods basically all include writing content and including a link to your plugin.  They take a bit more effort, but will help you get more links and traffic to your plugin.

Guest Blogging

Learn anything while developing your newest plugin?  Write a post for another blog in your niche about what you learned and include a link to your plugin.  The link will help your plugin’s rank and you’ll likely get some downloads from interested readers.

You can also do a list post like “Top 7 Plugins for X” and include your plugin in it.

Submit a Press Release

Writing and submitting a press release is actually a very easy thing to do.  The fact that your plugin just went live is newsworthy enough to write a release about.

Cover the story behind the plugin, some stats about the industry, and quote yourself a few times talking about the plugin.  Your PR should be 300-750 words long.

Submit it first to PR Log so you can get it published on the front page, and then submit it to PR Urgent, Online PR News, and Press Box.

Video Submission

Create a tutorial video on how to use your plugin and include it in your plugin description.  The video might lead to more conversions and reduced support requests, but it can also drive traffic.

You can embed a Youtube video using markdown like this:

[youtube http://youtube.com/stuffhere]

Traffic benefits of uploading a “how-to” video to Youtube:

  • your video may rank for your keywords giving you 2 of the 10 listings in the SERPS instead of just one.

  • people searching in youtube will find your video (Youtube is the world’s 2nd biggest search engine)

How to Optimize your Youtube Video:

  • Transcribe your video and include Closed Captions.

    • Google reads your CC and uses the language it finds there to interpret the meaning of your video.  This helps your video become more relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.

    • Use Koemei or Express Scribe to help transcribe your video.

  • Include relevant tags

  • If you make multiple tutorial vids, combine them all in one playlist

    • Youtube indexes playlists separately in results pages, so this will often give you an additional result when people search in Youtube

  • Include a link to your plugin at the top of the description

    • Make sure you include the “http://” or the link won’t be clickable

Outreach

These methods involve actively finding and engaging people who would be interested in using or sharing your plugin.

Post in Blogs & Forums

Search in Google and look for blog posts and forums threads where people are discussing the problem(s) that your plugin solves.  Add a comment to the discussion letting them know about the solution you built.  Post publicly so a lot of people see it instead of just emailing a few people privately.

Monitor the Web

Setup Google Alerts for the problems your plugin solves.  Now, whenever someone writes anything about struggling with that problem on the web, you’ll be alerted so you can stop by and drop a link to your plugin.

Reclaim Links

While you’re monitoring for problem phrases, also track every time the name of your plugin comes up.  If someone mentions your plugin in a blog post and doesn’t link to it, just shoot them an email asking if they could include a link to your plugin.

Ask Your Blog Commenters

Use this plugin to collect the email addresses of anyone who has commented on your blog.  You can send them an email about the plugin and ask them to try it out.

You also have their website address this way, so see if any of them have a site where they might want to do a review of your plugin.

Blog Reviews

If you have a paid plugin, you can pick a few relevant bloggers who have readers that would like your plugin, and give them a free copy of your plugin to try out and review.

You can still ask bloggers to review your free plugin, but you won’t get the same kind of response.  With a paid plugin, you’re giving them something valuable in return for a review.  With a free plugin, at best you’re giving them something to post about (which bloggers still need).

Competitive Analysis

Wait a minute!  You’re not the first person to do this right?

Why not do some competitive research and find out how and where other people just like you are promoting their plugins?

Use a tool like SEO Spyglass, Open Site Explorer, or Majestic SEO to find out where plugins like yours are getting links from.  SEO Spyglass is my personal favorite and the free download should suit your purposes just fine.

Here are 3 types of plugins you should check out:

  • Run a Google search and see if any plugins are ranking for keywords you want to rank for.  Find their backlinks and see if you can copy them.

  • Go to plugins.svn.wordpress.org and search for similarly named plugins.  Find their public page and then find their backlinks.

  • Lastly, check out the backlink profiles for some of the most popular WordPress plugins.  They should serve as a good source of inspiration for further link building.

When you have the backlink profile of a plugin there are a few things you need to know:

  • These aren’t all the links and you’ll never know about ALL the links

  • “nofollow” links do not attribute to search rankings

  • Don’t get obsessed with PageRank

Now, it’s time to replicate their links.  First, see if you can get any links on the exact same pages as the ones your competitors have.  If not, fallback to getting a link on the same domain.  Lastly, replicate this type of link on similar sites.

Here’s an example:

Your competitor has a link from a guest post on a blog so you:

  • Comment on that post for a link

  • Write your own guest post for that blog

  • Write guest posts for other similar blogs

You can find similar sites using SimilarSiteSearch or by searching in Google like this:

related:www.thewebsite.com

Bonus: If you find any similar plugins to yours that haven’t been updated in years and no longer work, contact anyone who links to that plugin and let them know about yours.  Most webmasters will thank you and change the link to point to your plugin.

Increasing Word of Mouth

Before wrapping up the guide, I want to cover a few marketing tactics that will take place within your users’ dashboard.

These techniques will help you get more reviews, better reviews, and increase the word of mouth that is going to propel your plugin.

Increasing Word of Mouth

First off, be awesome, obviously :P

In all seriousness, word of mouth can be architected beyond delivering an excellent product.  You want to deliver a real “WOW” experience.  One way to do this is to immediately deliver your core gratifying experience.

…what?

Get them to install your plugin, and immediately say “Wow!”

Your core gratifying experience is what people install your plugin for.  If your plugin adds attractive social buttons to blog posts, minimize the time it takes people to do that.  Get that process as refined as possible and people will be ecstatic.

Link to Your Settings Page

Inline with the idea above, always link to your plugin’s settings page on the actual plugins page.  This makes it easier and faster for your customers to get to your plugin.  You don’t want your users’ first interaction with your plugin to be a frustrating wild goose chase around their dashboard.

Ask for Reviews

It seems simple because it is.  Add a paragraph with a link somewhere in your plugin encouraging people to write a review or at least score it.

While you’re at it, include a contact email asking for feedback and suggestions.

Conclusion: The Philosophy

You don’t want to spend every day for the rest of your life promoting your plugin.  You want to work hard now, and then have it get downloaded on it’s own every day.  For the most part, the answer is to rank highly in the search engines.

Step 1 to ranking your WordPress plugin in the search engines is to name it properly*link.  If the name and description page aren’t optimized, it’s going to be very hard to rank for any terms, let alone the most profitable terms (in terms of downloads).  All of your promotion efforts are going to be compounded upon by the ease of ranking you create with proper on-page optimization.

WordPress is a hugely authoritative site, so you’re off to a good head start if you publish your plugin there.  The promotion tactics above can be used in order to solidify your search engine rankings for your plugin page.  Once you get some rankings, you can basically call it quits with the promotion, reaping the rewards of daily search traffic and downloads.

I wouldn’t recommended spending a whole lot of time tracking the progress of your rankings for your plugin page.  It’s not your site, so you have to look from the outside in, but if you want a really light and simple solution, then download Free Monitor for Google.  You can input any keywords you want and track the rankings for your specific plugin page.

Marketing as an Accelerant

Some people might think this is all a bit unnecessary.  If you have a popular blog already and a decent twitter following, you can probably stop at social promotion and keep your download count moving upwards.  Those who have a following can get away with just a little bit of promotion because they already have years of hard work behind them that got them a following in the first place.

Others might argue the only thing that matters is that you’ve created a great plugin.  If your plugin is fantastic, it will spread through word of mouth.  Let’s assume that no matter what, you’re destined for 1,000,000 downloads.  Word of mouth alone could get you there, but it’s going to take some time.

Think of marketing as an accelerant.  It might take you further, but it will definitely take you faster.  It’s up to you to decide if your time is better spent developing and waiting for word of mouth to kick in, or if you want to accelerate your download count by promoting your plugin.

The last thing to consider is what you enjoy.  You may really enjoy breaking up your day of programming with some writing and marketing.  In which case, enjoy the guide :)