WP Rankings Helps Plugin Developers Track Growth and Competitors

Last month, WordPress.org removed the active install growth chart from plugins, upsetting plugin authors and leaving them with very little meaningful data. The Meta team is working on making more accurate and useful data available to plugin developers, but this will take some work. In the meantime, the team behind AyeCode, makers of the GeoDirectory plugin, has created a tool to help plugin developers get an idea of how their plugins are ranking.

“The popular plugin list is still there (and hopefully, it won’t be removed or altered),” AyeCode co-founder Paolo Tajani commented on the ticket that requests the active install growth charts be restored. “As far as I know, active install count is the only ranking factor of the popular plugin list. I know it is not ideal, but it is what it is, and that is all we have.

“Because wp.org only shows 99 pages (the first 1980 plugins), we quickly built a site to provide those basic stats to all plugin authors.”

AyeCode’s WP Rankings website launched one week after the active install growth chart data was pulled. It shows if a plugin is ranking higher or lower than the day before and how many positions it needs to climb to reach the next milestone. The homepage shows the “top 50 ranking climbers” of the day, and these can be filtered by the number of active installs. All the data is refreshed daily.

AyeCode built the site using the GeoDirectory plugin, the Blockstrap theme, and custom code to fetch the data from the WordPress.org API.

“We also wanted to show how easily GeoDirectory can handle +50k listings with a lot of custom fields on a pretty basic hosting plan,” Tajani said. “Most Directory plugins wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Plugins can be searched by tag so visitors can see how their plugins are growing compared to others using the same tag.

For example, Tajani said he keeps his eye on the “business directory” tag every day to see how the GeoDirectory plugin is doing. Tajani said the API offers enough info to know if a plugin is growing, shrinking, or plateaued.

Some of the data in the rankings is taken from the API and some of it is calculated, including the trends, the number of days until the next milestone, the number of five-stars to the next rating, and the number of positions to the next milestone.

Clicking through to the individual plugin pages offers more graphs/charts about their movement on the popular plugin list. The data from the API is remixed in various ways to extrapolate insights. For example, the number of days to the next milestone is based on the plugin’s current growth trend.

The individual plugin pages display a 15-day rank change chart, along with 24-hour and 7-day trends.

A review stats graph estimates how many 5-star ratings are required to reach the next level. Another graph tracks 15 days worth of resolved support threads against the total number of threads logged.

The last section shows a list of the plugin’s competitors and a summary of their rankings and growth trends.

The stats page shows how many plugins there are for each active install range up to 5 million. It’s interesting to see that there are 8,071 plugins with zero active installs and 13,643 with just 10. Another large concentration of plugins falls within the range of 100-400 active installs and another between 1,000 – 2,000 active installs.

Clicking through on the stats page will show the specific plugins in that range.

Tajani said the next thing on their roadmap is allowing plugin owners to customize the list of competitors and adding the specific plugins they want to see compared against their own. AyeCode plans to keep what they have built with WP Rankings free indefinitely.

“What we really wanted to do is show another statistical point of view,” Tajani said. “We know it’s not the same and we will receive criticisms, too, but right now it’s the only way to know if a plugin is growing or not.

“What we will do with it in the future depends on how much plugin developers will like the idea and what kind of feedback we receive. If enough people start asking for features that could be considered premium, we will consider it.”

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8 responses to “WP Rankings Helps Plugin Developers Track Growth and Competitors”

    • This project is neat as a button and I imagine many developers will benefit from it. Many of us already have spreadsheets tracking the data and all I can say your website is roughly on par with our numbers.

      It is a shame this is not part of the w.org, Matt needs to realize not all plugins and themes are made to leech profit from w.com. We might not all contribute to core much or at all, but without those small, obscure but also robust, and flexible additions WP wouldn’t be where is it today.

      Now we are left to fight for scraps, governed mainly by the whims of one person. We can’t even have data, in the FOSS project. Ridiculous.

      Please can anyone tell me, why everybody takes the monopolization of WordPress with a smile…

  1. As I understand it, the .org API only provides active install data on themes: https://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress.org_API

    The only source of active install data for plugins is the endpoint that was feeding their now-removed active install growth charts, and that data has been described as “wrong” and “basically garbage.” (https://wptavern.com/discussion-on-replacing-plugin-active-install-growth-data-continues-behind-closed-doors)

    Unless I’ve misunderstood something, it looks like WP Rankings is based on bad data.

    Other observations:
    * This is purely a popularity-based ranking apart from some potential for a quality signal from ratings and support.

    Daily movement +/- 20 positions out of 60,000+ — as if everyone is competing with everyone else — seems like miscontextualized and trivial stats nobody should bother with.
    The “Competitors” list shown above is a strange mix of unrelated plugins.
    The 10k, 20k, etc. designation of the repo were intended to add obscurity and inhibit ranking, but here they become “milestones” despite being arbitrary and based on bad data. A meaningful milestone might include major releases, higher PHP version compatibility, and time to testing with the latest WP release.

    The leaderboard approach has been explicitly rejected previously, and alternative, forward-thinking was called for instead. Useful, actionable business information based on the data available is stuff like large sudden shifts in ratings, support requests, how a plugin is ranking with its tags, etc. It’s not much, but it tells plugin owners something they can actually respond to directly.

    • Hi Dan,

      thanks for your feedback.

      As far as we know, the data provided by the Active Growth Chart has been described as faulty.

      The active install count, even if rounded up, nobody ever said is wrong or garbage.

      The number of active installs sorts the “Popular” plugin list.

      Let me give you an example: There are approx 950 plugins with 10k active installs. We know it starts at position #2604 and ends at position #1658, passed that a plugin reaches 20k installs.
      Statistically speaking, in this range, for every 95 positions, you are growing by approx 1000 active installs.

      If my plugin yesterday sat at #2604, and today climbed to #2550. I can undoubtedly determine that my plugin has more active installs than yesterday. This is the same information the chart gave us, just under a different form.

      The competitors’ list is based on tags. For some tags, it works very well, and for others much less, but soon we will give the option to select which plugin to show on that list.

      Personally, I don’t really care if other plugins are growing or shrinking. I’m not obsessed with knowing the exact number of sites that are using my plugin.

      All I care about is knowing if I’m doing better than yesterday.

      As a plugin developer, I’m going after marginal improvements and growth, and WP Rankings can definitely tell me whether my plugins are growing or not.

      I hope you see my point here.

  2. The project looks really neat. It’s pretty impressive they built this within the short time since the active install debacle. The data is interesting, but limited by WP.org and the lack of transparency… which is unfortunate.

    I’m hoping that this will further motivate the powers that be to provide something similar, that’s data-rich and more informative, to plugin authors like myself.

    • Thanks Devin!

      being the developers of a directory plugin made everything a lot easier. My business partner Stiofan built the script to fetch the data in a few hours. The day after the chart was removed, we had an MVP.
      So far, he has probably spent 15/20 hours of coding into it.

  3. Thank you for this effort. All the data is clearly laid out, which is really nice.
    As a plugin maintainer I already checked out manually on wp.org in the popular list where some of my plugins were. If they were going closer to the next step or rather to the previous step.

    And yes, I understand it is only one simple datapoint. And no, there is not really competition if there is no money to be made.
    But for Free plugins, open source and gratis, this is still a good form of feedback on things. Am I doing things right or not, is the usecase popular or not. For me it is valuable information on where to spend my time.

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