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All about WordPress plugins List the most important ones for your site

WordPress plugins are one of the very important factors in the success of every WordPress site, as they represent a key player in the efficiency of your website, improving its performance and having essential features and characteristics. It is an easy way to add specialized and important functionality to your site at the lowest possible cost.

In this article, we will talk about WordPress plugins in detail and comprehensively, here we will not be satisfied with a list of the most important and best WordPress plugins, but we will put you a comprehensive guide that will enable you to understand these plugins and how they work, and will enable you to be able to choose the best plugins for your site according to your own needs, and also for every beginner We will provide an easy and simple explanation of how to install, activate, disable and delete WordPress plugins, this of course, along with a list of 18 essential plugins for every WordPress site.

You will learn all this and more today in this comprehensive guide to working with WordPress plugins.
This article was written in collaboration with WordPress specialist Walaa Abdel Basset.

What are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are the third essential component of creating a WordPress website. In order to understand this component, we must quickly pass through the other two components, namely:

WordPress core files: This is the basic package of files that represent the infrastructure of any WordPress site, and it gives you the control panel to manage your site's content and everything in it, and this includes templates and plugins.
For a detailed and comprehensive understanding of WordPress, head to the article link below:

What is wordpress

WordPress Themes: A WordPress theme is a bundle of files that work together to configure the interface of your site, and control the look and feel of the site for users.
To understand WordPress templates, how to choose a professional one, how to install and activate them, and a list of the best ones, head to the article link below:

So what are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugin: It is a small package of interconnected files, which you can combine with your WordPress site files in order to get a specific feature, function or feature on your site.
In fact, WordPress itself comes with a lot of important features and features for every website. However, there are some missing functions, which are not found in the WordPress version itself. From here comes the role of plugins, as each of them performs a specific function for your site, which cannot be achieved through the basic version of WordPress, or even through the template.

In fact, WordPress (the core files) has been developed in a programmatic way so that it allows the installation of special groups of program files (which are plugins), through which a lot of improvements can be made and add a lot of features and features to WordPress sites.
In short, WordPress plugins are very similar to car accessories such as music player, air conditioner, shock balloon…etc. According to this description, we can liken the basic WordPress files to the motor of the car, and the WordPress theme to the external structure of the car.

The WordPress plugin package comes in a compressed form as a single file that can be uploaded directly from your computer, and you can also install and activate plugins directly from the WordPress store.
It is worth noting that the WordPress plugin consists mostly of three types of files, namely PHP, JS, CSS.

How to choose a WordPress plugin for your site

Here we first explain how to get WordPress plugins.
In general, there are three sources for getting WordPress plugins:

WordPress Official Website (Free Plugins)

The official WordPress website contains tens of thousands of free plugins, which you can install and activate directly through your WordPress dashboard (we will explain this in detail and with pictures at the end of the article).

Add-on developer sites (paid add-ons)

There are a lot of companies and individuals that specialize in developing plugins, which they make available for purchase on their own sites. It is worth noting here that there are many free WordPress plugins that have a paid version (which is more distinctive, contains more advanced features, and is available for purchase through their developers’ websites).

Popular Specialized Stores (Paid Add-ons)

There are shops that specialize in mediating between WordPress plugin developers, who want to buy it. Through these stores, you can buy whatever add-ons you want and upload them to your site.
One of the most famous of these is Envato Market's codecanyon.

Here we have to point out in general that paid WordPress plugins are the best option in many cases, because they contain features that may not be found in free plugins, and they also come with support service from the owner of the plugin, besides that they are often more quality.

But anyway, here are a lot of great free WordPress plugins that can do the job perfectly. And in the section below, we will put for you a set of criteria and points that will enable you to be able to distinguish between good and bad plugins, and by applying them, you can get great WordPress plugins for your site.

When choosing a WordPress plugin for your site, pay attention to these points:

1- First ask yourself “Do I really need this WordPress plugin?”

The point here is not to install the WordPress plugin because you think it is great, but you should install the plugins that your site actually needs. Here you don't have to burden your site with more files that might make it slower to load.

2- Understand exactly what the addition provides

Read the section describing what this add-on provides carefully, in order to understand well whether this add-on provides what you actually need or not. Read the FAQ and see the screenshots on the extension page.

3- Find out the date of the last update of the add-on

The rule of thumb is to always check for recently updated plugins that are compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

4- Know the number of active installations

Of course, the more active installations there are, the more trusted the extension will be, and this means that it is a good addition.

5- Check the “Tested to” part.

It refers to the plugin's compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress, of course the more compatible the plugin is with the latest version of WordPress, the better.

6- Check reviews

Every WordPress plugin is rated by its users, and the rating is from 1 to 5 stars. Of course, the high rating of the add-on means the satisfaction of its users, and this is an indication of its quality and good performance. You can also click on the rating level you want to see users' comments (for example, click on the one star link to find out the reasons why users who rate them with only one star).

Now we will review together a set of essential WordPress plugins for every WordPress website. Here we have selected for you a set of excellent and reliable add-ons that you can use safely

18 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Website (Free Plugins)

1- Yoast SEO

This plugin is considered the most important and most popular in the field of optimizing websites for search engines or SEO.
It has many features, the most important of which are:
  • It gives you a tool to create a map of your site and update it automatically to improve crawling from search engine spiders.
  • Through it, you can measure the quality of your article in terms of improving the visitor’s experience in reading the article, as it gives you instructions to formulate your article in an easy-to-read manner (such as writing short sentences and short paragraphs)
  • Through it, you can measure the most important factors of SEO within the page in terms of title, description, link, image….etc.
It has a free and a paid version with more features, and there are more than 5 million sites that use it, and its users' rating is more than excellent.

The link for the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress is here

You can get a guide to the most important SEO practices for WordPress, in which you will find a detailed explanation of how to configure Yoast through the link below.

2- Contact Form 7

This add-on gives you in simple steps the possession of a contact us form on your site, through which any visitor to your site can send a message to the mail address you specify during the settings.
In fact, the Contact Us page is one of the most important pages in any website. It represents a professional channel of communication between you and your site visitors, and through it you receive your visitors' complaints and suggestions.

Link to add Contact Form 7 on WordPress from here

3- Autoptimize

Improving your site's performance and loading speed is one of the most important factors for your site's success. Site speed is a very important element, whether for the visitor or search engines. This plugin improves the speed and performance of your site by integrating js, css and html files as well.

Link to the plugin Autoptimize on WordPress from here

4- Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Another one of the WordPress plugins that helps improve the speed of your site, but in another way, it compresses the image files of your site, which helps to speed up the loading of the site. The great thing about this plugin is that it will compress your site images without affecting their quality. It is used by over a million websites, and has a good rating and positive reviews.

Link to Smush Image Compression and Optimization on WordPress from here

5- WP-Optimize

This is also another add-on to improve the speed of your site, as it allows you to improve your site's database, delete annoying comments from the database, and delete reviews of posts stored on the database.
This of course will improve the performance and speed of your site.
It should be noted here to deal carefully with this add-on, and to take a backup copy of your site before cleaning and improving the database.

WP-Optimize WordPress Plugin Link: From here 

6- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

Who among us wants to waste his work in vain?
Through this add-on, your work will not be wasted as a result of any error, because this add-on will allow you to make a backup of your site, and store it on one of the storage platforms of your choice such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, and when needed, you can restore the backup with the click of a button . There are over 2 million active websites using it, and it has an excellent rating.

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin Link to WordPress from here 

7- Google XML Sitemaps

This is a hosting that specializes in creating a professional sitemap for search engines (especially Google) to get the best archiving of your site. This extension will notify the search engines every time you make a new post, it is also guaranteed and has a good reputation for 9 years, and there are more than 2 million active sites using it.

Link to the extension Google XML Sitemaps on WordPress from here 

9- TinyMCE Advanced

Through this plugin, you will get more possibilities to modify the texts on your site, such as the size and type of fonts, and many other features that the WordPress platform does not provide primarily.
It is trusted by 2 million users and has an excellent rating.

Link to the TinyMCE Advanced plugin on WordPress from here

10- WPS Hide Login

This add-on will give you the ability to change the login link to the WordPress control panel for your site, this will protect your site from many viral attacks, and will give your site more security, and keep you away from hacking attempts that you may be exposed to, whether from people or programs.

Link to WPS Hide Login on WordPress from here

11- WooCommerce

This is one of the most important WordPress plugins ever, but it is not suitable for all website owners, as it is intended for e-commerce sites. A great WordPress plugin through which you can create a professional online store, and through which you sell your products. It's a genius solution for every e-commerce WordPress site owner.

Link to the WooCommerce plugin on WordPress from here 

12- WordPress Ad Manager & AdSense Ads - Ad Inserter

An excellent addition to placing Adsense ads on your site, and managing advertising banners on your site in general. Through it, you can place ad codes between the content of your site's articles, and there are many excellent options with it, which will enable you to place ads in the places you want on your site.

Link to add Ad Manage on WordPress from here

13- Classic Editor

The fifth version of WordPress (WordPress 5.0) came with a lot of new features and features, and one of these features is changing the traditional editor with a more advanced editor called “Gutenberg”. In fact, although this new editor is more advanced and has a lot of great features, but everyone He did not feel comfortable dealing with him. That's why the WordPress contributors themselves have developed the Classic Editor plugin, with which you can go back to using the traditional editor.

The Classic Editor plugin link on WordPress from here

14- Akismet Anti-Spam

A great addition developed by Automattic is dedicated to comment management, blocking spam comments with a great comment filtering system and separating legitimate from spam.

Link to add Akismet Anti-Spam on WordPress from here

15- Redirection

Through this plugin, you can convert one of your website links to another in a 301 way. It is very likely that you, as a website owner, will change a link to one of your website pages, in this case when a visitor to your website visits the link, he will reach a 404 error page, but through this plugin You can convert everyone who visits the broken link to another valid alternative link, or to the home page of the site.

Redirection link on WordPress from here

16- W3 Total Cache

A great add-on to improve the speed and performance of your site, and it contains a lot of advanced features. Through this add-on, you can improve the performance of your site wonderfully, but this add-on needs great care in dealing, and you must understand every feature in it before activating it.

Link to plugin W3 Total Cache on WordPress from here

17- AMP

About three and a half years ago, Google announced the start of its “Accelerated Mobile Pages” project, which aims to improve the speed of websites for mobile visitors. Through this add-on, you can get the AMP feature for your site, which will make your site load instantly. Through this extension, Google itself saves a copy of your site's pages, and when one of your AMP-enabled pages appears in the search results, this page will appear immediately when you click on it.

Link to AMP plugin on WordPress from here 

18- Shortcodes Ultimate

This add-on really catches the end, as it will enable you to add a lot of wonderful elements to your site’s content, such as adding a button, adding a column, adding a box, or a slider, and there are many other wonderful elements that you can add to your site’s content through this add-on.

Shortcodes Ultimate WordPress plugin link here

I can make this list extend to dozens of other plugins, but I will limit myself to the eighteen that I included, the important thing here is that you have how you can choose great and safe plugins for your site.

How to install and activate WordPress plugins?

After choosing the type of WordPress plugin you want, it's time to install. The installation process is very simple, but here we should note that you have to deal carefully with add-ons, and here are some points that we recommend to avoid problems:
  • Never install a WordPress plugin for your site unless you really need it. 
  • Never install more than one WordPress plugin to perform the same function, installing more than one plugin for the same function can cause problems for your site.
  • It is recommended to take a copy of your site files back up before you start installing a new extension, in case of any problem you can go back to the old version.
WordPress plugins are constantly updated, and when you go to the installed plugins page, you will find a notification below the plugins that you need to update.
To access the installed add-ons, hover over the Add-ons item in the Tasks column, then click Installed Add-ons.

In front of each installed add-on you will find a small box. When you tick this box, you can activate, disable, update, or delete the add-on that you have marked next to, by pressing the small arrow next to the word Execute the command at the top of the page to the right, choose The command you want then press the Apply button.