6 Must-Have WordPress Speed Plugins (+1 You Should Never Use)

WordPress Speed Plugins

A slow WordPress site is a common problem. There is a lot of misinformation spread around the Internet regarding what plugins you should use to speed up your WordPress site and improve load time. Many users end up installing a whole bunch of random plugins or the come with WordPress themes that ultimately work to slow down their website even more. At WPspeedfix.com, we have worked with over 2000 businesses on speed optimization for their website so we know the best plugins to install. In this article, we give you the six must-have WordPress speed plugins, as well as one that you most certainly should avoid as it will actuallyreduce load time.

Clock

A slow website will cut into your business’ bottom line by deterring prospective customers and visitors from interacting on-page and decrease your sites conversion rate. The plugins that we recommend will work together to optimize your site’s resource efficiency. Each of the six must-have WordPress speed plugins will enable unique functions to enhance your site’s front and backend performance. Instead of playing “hit-or-miss” with random plugins that actively slow your website’s loading speed, install these reputable, must-have speed-boosting plugins or WordPress caching plugins, which will truly speed up your website.

6 Must-Have WordPress Speed Plugins

When Google ranks any individual website, one of the metrics considered is the website’s page loading speed. However, your SEO score is not directly affected by your speed metrics so you might think it doesn’t matter for SEO. Wrong! The page loading speed is directly related to your website’s bounce rate, which indicates the rate of visitors that leave before page content has loaded. Therefore, if you want your website to show up on the first page of Google, the operational speed of your website is vitally important.

The following plugins work to enhance your website’s functionality through caching, image compression, database optimization, “disable” control, and content delivery. With these tools, your WordPress site will run faster, more smoothly, and be more attractive to Google’s result ranking algorithm.

1. Caching:

Caching

A caching plugin is the first and most crucial plugin to speed up your site. If you have a slow WordPress site, you have to use a caching plugin. What caching does is to pre-build your website’s pages before they are requested by a visitor. So, when a server request comes through for access to your website, the cache is served up to the visitor immediately—without building your pages from scratch. The site’s data is processed into HTML before a visitor comes to the website, which is then served up directly upon request.

There are a lot of caching plugins out there—and we have tested nearly all of them—but there are two caching plugins that we determine to be the best and that we trust enough to use at WPspeedfix.com. We are confident enough in the quality of these plugins to use them on the websites of customers and we can confidently recommend these two caching plugins…

W3 Total Cache

By far and away, W3 Total Cache is the best and fastest WordPress caching plugin that is available on the market. And, it’s free! However, it is quite technical to set up, which makes it difficult to use without breaking things—unless you are a particularly tech-savvy individual. The benefits of W3 total cache are that it is free, very fast, and particularly reliable for high traffic and resource heavy sites. W3 Total Cache is well designed for professional developers. For the average user, we recommend the WP Rocket plugin.

WP Rocket

Like W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket provides page caching, sitemap preloading, GZIP compression, browser caching, and very fast speeds. WP Rocket is a premium plugin, costs around $40, and includes a bunch of features that W3 Total Cache doesn’t include, like database optimization, lazyload, cache preloading, DNS prefetching, and lots more. Best of all, WP Rocket is easy to use, no matter if you are an experienced site developer or a beginner. WP Rocket is also coded to be developer-friendly so you can enhance the plugin’s functions further for those with the know-how. Follow the links below to learn more and see a full features list for WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.

WP Rocket| W3 Total Cache

NOTE: For CSS and JavaScript compression, we recommend another plugin to use in combination with one of the two caching plugins that are listed above…

Autoptimize

Autoptimize is the best plugin for caching and compression of scripts. Autoptimize is easy to use and very functional for aggregating, caching and minifying CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in order to free up processing power for your sites CPU. The plugin is free to download and is designed for beginners and developers alike.

Begin with CSS compression and make sure that all of your site’s pages are still displayed correctly. Once it is functioning correctly, move on to JavaScript compression. Compressing your sites JavaScript can cause many little problems so meticulously check your site’s functionality after every compression. To learn more about Autoptimize, follow the link below.

Autoptimize

2. Image Compression:

Image Compression

If your website has a lot of image media, compressing the pictures will significantly reduce your site’s resource requirements. There are lots of image compressor plugins on the market and they all serve the same end-result; however, they do not all go about it the same way. Image compression simply takes your existing image and shrinks the file size. If it is “lossless,” the image’s quality will not be affected. If the compression is “lossy,” your images will lose some of their resolution quality in the process. Our favorite lossless image compression plugin is WP Smush.it.

WP Smush.it – Image Compression and Optimization

WP Smush.it is a free plugin for WordPress, which will resize, optimize, and compress the size of the image media on your website. The plugin identifies and disposes of erroneous bulks of information that lays hidden inside the image’s code. Pictures retain their resolution quality while the plugin shrinks the file size. The plugin developers provide users access to their fast server network, which is dedicated to image compression, so your website doesn’t get slowed down in the meantime and images compress quickly.

Once the plugin is installed, WP Smush.it will automatically reduce the size and scale all image media that is uploaded to your site from the WordPress dashboard. The resulting reduction of data being transferred from images will noticeably speed up your page loading time and on-page navigation. In addition, graphic elements and animated transitions will appear more smoothly—as will parallax images and scrolling navigation. Click the link below to learn more and to download WP Smush.it.

WP Smush.it

NOTE: If your website is unusually heavy on image media, you will want to look into cloud compression. Cloud-based image compression offers more resources to the compression process than that of a plugin. However, it will incur more expense.

3. Disabling:

Disabling

WordPress does not make it particularly easy to disable features from the dashboard. A plugin for disabling features on your site will allow you to reduce the extraneous and unused clutter that is dragging down your site’s resources and processing power. It will give you the option to disable, remove and manage all of the excess resource weight on your website’s server.

WP Disable

WP Disable not only allows you to reduce the overall HTTP requests coming to your site, but also to manage the processing requirements placed on your site while editing, posting, and performing general maintenance. With WP Disable, you can get rid of annoying emojis, gravatars, embeds, and query strings. Set closing time limits on comments and speed up WooCommerce, with additional support to disable trackbacks and pingbacks. Alternatively, you can completely disable WooCommerce CSS on any page that doesn’t feature items or elements from your store.

WordPress Heartbeat control enables you to alter the data request frequency of your website during updates and downtime—as to keep the frontend from lagging. Query strings can bog down the effectiveness of your caching plugin, so WP Disable gives you the ability to remove them. The plugin also gives you the option to disable any of the dashboard sections that are going unused, such as the author’s page, testimonials, portfolio, comments, etc. For more information, check out the link below.

WP Disable

NOTE: Be careful of what you disable on your WordPress website as some elements are essential for functions you might not be aware of. For a free consultation on how to best utilize WP Disable, contactWPspeedfix.com.

4. Optimization:

Optimization

WordPress is incredibly convenient—if you know how to leverage the power of plugins. It is very easy to find yourself with a website overloaded with too much data. Every time you revise an element of your posts or pages from the WordPress dashboard, the system creates and retains a copy of that revision. Unchecked, the WordPress system will retain an indefinite number of revisions, which will eventually slow your site to a crawl.

Revision copies are just one of the many pieces of data that can make for an inefficient database and slow site functionality. It’s easy for the beginner to overlook the importance of database optimization, but the results will speak for themselves. Luckily, with the power of the must-have WordPress plugins, you can create a database that is fully optimized for site speed and that works to automatically keep your database optimized to your specifications. We recommend the WP Optimize plugin…

WP Optimize

WP Optimize is the best WordPress speed plugin for website database optimization and clean-up—and it is free for the basic, single website plan. It operates to fix slow site access by removing unwanted bloat from the website’s database table, according to parameters that are set by the user. If you run a large blog or e-commerce WordPress website, un-approved comments, bots, and spam are major sources of detrimental clutter. Depending on the size of your publication or shop, you could have hundreds to thousands of items like this causing inefficient data usage.

WP Optimize will access your website’s data table to facilitate the removal of these elements and work to automatically optimization your data table atpredefined intervals. The plugin will also actively de-fragment and compress your MySQL tables, which open up more resources for site functionality. The greatest benefit of WP Optimize is that it shows you the areas of potential resource savings and site statistics on your WordPress dashboard. The WP Optimize plugin takes the guesswork out of the process and guides you through the minute and acute optimizations that you would have never thought to perform. Follow the link below to learn more.

WP Optimize

NOTE: By this point, if you have followed each step, your website will be running faster than ever. You will see a significant increase in your page loading speed and on-site navigation. If you are still experiencing speed problems, contact us at WPspeedfix.com.

5. Content Delivery Network (CDN):

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Once all of the previous steps have been put into place, your website is ready to go global. In order for your website to maintain the functionality and speed it now has, when dealing with international site requests, you have to use a Content Delivery System (CDN). CDNs work to decrease the strain put on your server resources when handling international site requests, without slowing down your website. CDNs operate through a network of hundreds of server hubs, located all over the world. CDN hubs are typically located as close to the Internet backbone servers as possible.

CDN servers all store copies of static SSD files so that content is easily accessible worldwide. When a visitor from another country requests access to your website, the CDN offers up ready-made SSDs from the user’s closest server hub. By stripping down the CSS and JavaScript from your WordPress pages to strict SSD script, CDNs hold prebuilt content caches that appear instantly on the viewer’s browser. A CDN is less crucial for personal blogs and small online boutiques—but it is absolutely essential for any WordPress website that aims to attract a wide audience and customer base. For a reliable, professional quality yet free CDN, we recommend Cloudflare highly.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a free CDN plugin for WordPress websites that offers a global network of server hubs. It is designed for ongoing compatibility with emerging technologies and provides your visitors with content that is easily geographically accessible. It is built to enhance the security of your site’s data while enabling higher performance metrics. It uses SSDs to save on power consumption and enhance readability.

Users can set custom Page Rules, in order to cache Query Strings atop the static files andpredefines a deterministic order of protocol, which is perfect for API servers. Like the Internet itself, Cloudflare CDN can withstand up to a 50% loss of the server network and still retain 100% availability. The system also detects and collects metric data that is accessible by other analytic programs. Click the link to learn more about Cloudflare.

Cloudflare

NOTE: If you run a high traffic website, Cloudflare provides two tiers of premium membership which guarantee a 100% uptime. Cloudflare free is very good at keeping your site’s downtime to a minimum and perfectly suitable for professional websites; however, large e-commerce sites and publications incur more revenue loss when a site is down. For any more questions on whether you should use a free or premium Cloudflare membership, consult us at WPspeedfix.com.

1 You Should Never Use AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project by Google was designed to offer marketers, e-commerce, and online publications a way to offer up content more readily to Internet viewers. AMP is different than normal mobile-friendly pages. The Google AMP Project aimed to create an additional search page interface area for mobile devices to deliver content to viewers before the top Google search results. For mobile devices, the only area that AMP affects is the scrolling carousel above the first sponsored results on your Google search results. On a personal computer, AMP is irrelevant.

In the past few years, Google has made a huge push to incentivize the use and propagation of AMP. The system works very much like a CDN, by stripping down content to static HTML script. The HTML is lightweight and loads near-instantly from smartphones and tablets. From the AMP carousel on Google’s search results page, you can browse content without being redirected to the content’s origin site, which makes for an insulated interface. However, AMP is completely unnecessary for most websites and there is no method of properly canonicalizing the content URLs without the Google prefix.

AMP for WordPress

AMP for WordPress is the most popular AMP plugin on the market and one of the biggest causes of slow running WordPress sites. If you install AMP for WordPress, duplicates are created for every page of your website. These duplicates are the AMP version, which is updated, amended, and edited alongside your normal pages. It works to effectively double the processing requirements of your CPU and server when working with your content. This dramatically slows down the speed of your website. In addition, the plugin does not support your website’s homepage, blog index or archives.

Conclusion

If you are trying to speed up your website, AMP will not help the process. Nor does the plugin automatically display your AMP content to viewers. Google will only display your AMP content on mobile devices if your site’s metrics adhere to Google’s algorithmic requirements. So, if your site is working slowly, AMP will do you no good because will not show it in the AMP carousel. Leave the AMP for WordPress plugin alone for now. It will only slow your website further and hinder your ability to effectively implement fixes with the six must-have WordPress speed plugins listed above.

We hope you found this article helpful in speeding up your WordPress site. Leave us comments on your experience utilizing the plugins discussed above. If you have any other questions regarding how to set up or utilize the six must-have WordPress speed plugins mentioned in this article, we are happy to walk you through the process at WPspeedfix.com. And, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest WordPress news and updates. Thanks for reading!

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