July 15, 2020 Last updated July 15th, 2020 1,699 Reads share

Understanding Plugins in WordPress: What You Need to Know

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Plugins are highly specialized extensions that automate the management of WordPress website functionality. With their help, you can ease the content management on your website, booking operations, and increase SEO rates. Let’s discover more interesting facts about WordPress plugins.

What are WordPress Plugins?

The WordPress plugin is a software add-on designed to add additional functionality to the site. With their help, you can implement almost any task. Add a questionnaire to the site, create a photo gallery, turn your blog into an electronic store with the ability to configure the product, and make an online order – all this with the help of additional plugins. In general, WordPress plugins can perform completely different functions – from solving simple problems to complex solutions (forums, e-commerce modules, and so on).

Plugin extension can be developed not only by a professional but also by any user. On the technical side, the plugin, such as WordPress theme, consists of a set of PHP files, which contain program code that adds new features. The plugin looks like a script that is added either to the control files or mounted in the header or footer of the site. When loading a resource, the script sends a command to the system to perform certain functions for which it is responsible. The difference is that without a plugin, you would have to manually register or make the necessary changes to the site. The plugin automates the routine work with the resource, thereby saving time and resources. 

Since WordPress itself is an open-source project, the choice of plugins remains the responsibility of the users. This means that anyone can write their own plugin and add it to the WordPress.org repository. It is for security reasons that the choice remains with the user, and the WordPress team does not force you to use all the plugins at once.

Interesting fact: up to version WordPress 1.2, the possibility of changing its functionality “to fit your needs” or expanding its capabilities was achieved by editing the source code of the WordPress platform kernel (roughly speaking, “hacking” the kernel). But this created various inconveniences (for example, when updating versions), and such practice was soon abandoned. Then, developers have implemented a fairly convenient, understandable, and easy-to-use system to expand the functionality with the help of “plugins”. The main idea of ​​using the new system of expanding capabilities was to keep the kernel integral and unchanged and at the same time give PHP programmers the ability to change its behavior using special plugin scripts. 

How Do WordPress Plugins Work?

Experienced web developers who have been working with WordPress for a long time are well aware that plugins are indispensable tools for administering a blog or site. The procedure for determining and selecting only the necessary plug-ins requires considerable effort and time. In addition, an unreasonably large number of WP-plugins on your site will adversely affect its performance, reducing its speed, which can unfavorably affect the attendance of the resource. It is best to install one plugin that is responsible for many functions. Some plugins add only a setting page to your WP backend, while more elaborated, like Booknetic, add a full-scale backend, which you may use for contact, sales, or team management. 

At the moment, WordPress involves the use of thousands of plugins that expand its capabilities. The terms of extension development for the WordPress platform allow the participation of developers from different parts of the world. Under such circumstances, there may be several plugins that perform one function but implemented in various ways. That is, there are no specific, clear rules and standards when creating plugins. 

SEO-Optimization Plugins

The correct SEO-optimization of a web resource in practice is the filling of keywords with text on pages, meta tags, the generation of human-readable page addresses (URLs), structure optimization, and internal linking settings. Plugins allow you to optimize and prioritize all the parameters to be optimized. This speeds up the work of an SEO specialist. In addition, most plugins have automatic tooltips. Following their advice, even without being a specialist, you can configure the site for search engines and even display it in the top search results. 

Universal SEO Plugins

These are the best extensions for WordPress SEO sites. The secret to the popularity of such solutions is their versatility. With their help, you can optimize your blog, online store, or a selling-services website. However, the use of universal plugins makes sense only on a large site, where all their functionality will be involved. After all, such extensions are rather cumbersome and cause slow downloading if you use them on a small site (remember that the plugin adds its own script, which also requires processing). 

Data Caching

This group of plugins partially takes care of loading pages and website data. Extensions compress and optimize CSS, JS scripts, integrate with technical server add-ons to speed up loading a site when a user opens it in a browser. 

Content Analysis

These are plugins that work directly with the text. They are assistants to content managers working on text readability. Text plugins calculate the readability index, some may check the content for plagiarism. More serious extensions may pick up key phrases for publication. Publication specialist can then add them to the meta tags, or paste them into the anchor links to the page, into the ALT or TITLE SEO tags for the images. Individual plugins can analyze the frequency of words in a text. This feature will already help the content editor to check how much the resulting publication will correspond to the topic of the page. 

Plugins for text optimization can be either separate extensions or be part of universal SEO packages. Within universal packages, there are the most popular functions for checking texts for readability, keywords. With their help, you can get recommendations for linking or generating meta tags.

Final Word

In conclusion, it is worth paying special attention to the basic rule related to the installation of plugins: install on your resource only those extensions that you really need. Although this rule is obvious and simple at first glance, many owners of blogs and sites on WordPress often neglect it.

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Sophie Zoria

Sophie Zoria

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