What is a WordPress Plugin
A WordPress plugin, to put it simply, is essentially a piece of software that you can “plug into” your WordPress website. Plugins are used to add certain functions to websites, enhance security, boost performance, etc. They are particularly useful tools for users who are not developers and do not have a lot of experience in coding. For example, you can add a booking feature to allow users to make booking appointments by simply adding the appropriate plugin.
Using plugins is incredibly easy as well, all you need to do is download one from a reliable source and simply add it to your WordPress website. This article will explain how you can do that in detail. We will also go through the most important types of WordPress plugins all users should be using, as well as why they’re essential. At the very end of this article, you will find detailed instructions for how to update, deactivate, or fully remove plugins that you no longer wish to use.
Why WordPress Plugins are important
WordPress plugins come with many features and serve different purposes. While they are optional, they are exceptionally useful. They can not only help secure a website from malicious attacks but also serve as tools for optimizing your website, adding features, as well as improving its performance.
Types of WordPress Plugins
There are many different types of WordPress plugins. They serve different purposes, and some are essential while others are more optional. Depending on the website and its purpose, users will need different plugins with different features. But here are some of the essential types of WordPress plugins and their functions.
Security plugins are essential in order to have a secure website. When a website is not secure, it’s more likely that the site will become a target for malicious attacks, including data and money theft. Malicious attacks targeting WordPress websites are incredibly common, so having certain security plugins is essential to preventing such attacks.
Best WordPress Security Plugins
- Wordfence Security.
- iThemes Security.
- All In One WP Security and Firewall.
- BulletProof Security.
- Security Ninja.
There are different security WordPress plugins that provide different features. Activity monitoring, malicious IP blacklisting, and firewalls are some of the features provided by WordPress security plugins.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) WordPress plugins are designed to help a website and the content on it rank higher in search results. Optimizing search engines is essential to increase organic traffic to a website, and WordPress plugins can help with this. For example, an SEO WordPress plugin can give suggestions that would make certain content rank higher in search results.
Best SEO Plugins for WordPress
- All in One SEO.
- Yoast SEO.
- Rank Math.
- Premium SEO Pack.
- WP Meta SEO.
- W3 Total Cache.
Adding a caching plugin to a WordPress site can quite substantially improve a site’s speed and boost its performance. What caching plugins do is create a static version of your web page to show your visitors. So instead of WordPress having to fetch information from the database each time a user visits your website, they will get a cached version, greatly reducing the time it takes for the site to fully load. And loading time is incredibly important because research has shown that a significant amount of users exit a site if it does not load within 3 seconds.
The 5 Best WordPress Caching Plugins
- W3 Total Cache.
- WP Fastest Cache.
- WP Rocket.
- WP Super Cache.
- Cache Enabler.
Image Optimization plugins
Images make content much more attractive to many users, no matter the topic of the content. When images are optimized incorrectly, it can harm a website and its content’s user engagement, as well as search result rank. Image optimization WordPress plugins can be very helpful. For example, a plugin can help compress an image to the necessary file size without decreasing its quality.
Best Image Optimization Plugins for WordPress
- EWWW Image Optimizer.
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
- Compress JPEG and PNG Images.
- Kraken Image Optimizer.
- WP Compress.
Google Analytics plugins
Google Analytics is a very helpful tool that allows you to track your website’s performance. The Google Analytics plugin can provide helpful information about how you can improve your site’s performance and fix issues.
The 8 Best Google Analytics WordPress Plugins (2022)
- Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin.
- Google Analytics by 10Web.
- GA Google Analytics.
- WP Statistics.
- WP Google Analytics Events.
How to add/update a WordPress Plugin
You can install WordPress plugins in a couple of ways, and it’s not difficult. Here’s how you can install plugins via the WordPress admin screen:
- Plugins -> Add New.
- Using the gallery of plugins or the search function, find the plugin(s) you want to use and click Install Now.
- Once the plugin is installed, you need to press Activate to turn it on.
It’s also possible to install WordPress plugins that you obtained from third-party sources. However, you need to be very careful about which plugins you install and where you download them from because malicious actors often try to use plugins to upload malicious code to websites. Only download trusted plugins from reliable sources. To add a plugin you downloaded from a third-party source, use the below instructions:
- Download the plugin’s ZIP file from a reliable source.
- Plugins -> Add New -> Upload Plugin.
- Either drag the ZIP file or upload it.
- Click Install Now.
- Click Activate Plugin.
You should also make sure to keep all your plugins updated. Not only is it important because new features are added regularly, updating plugins means known vulnerabilities and security issues get patched. Here’s how you can manually update your plugin(s):
- Go to your WordPress admin area, Plugins -> Installed Plugins.
- If an update is available, you will see a notification below the plugin. Click Update now.
To update multiple plugins at the same time, check their boxes, select Update from the Bulk actions drop-down menu, and click Apply.
You can also enable automatic updates by clicking Enable auto-updates on the right side of a plugin. It’s recommended to enable automatic updates for plugins developed by trusted developers with whom you never had issues before. You can turn on automatic updates for all plugins but some updates can make plugins buggy so it’s best to manually install updates for plugins that you think may cause issues.
How to remove/deactivate a WordPress Plugin
For one reason or another, you will eventually want to remove or deactivate a WordPress plugin. It’s not difficult to do this, and you can use the below instructions.
- Navigate to Plugins -> Installed Plugins.
- In the list of plugins activate on your site, find the plugins you want to deactivate/delete.
- Click Deactivate on the plugin. This will only deactivate the plugin.
- If you want to delete a plugin entirely, click Delete.