The Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins & Tools

The best speed optimization plugins and tools
The best speed optimization plugins and tools

Site optimization is a key factor when it comes to the possible speeds your site visitors will receive when they open your page. The level of optimization depends on factors such as proximity between the visitor and the nearest server, the number of visitors currently on the site, the CPU capacity of the servers, and so on.

In order to better optimize your site and significantly boost the loading times, your best bet is to use a few select plugins that can really improve your numbers. The problem is that you can only install so many plugins before your site starts to suffer under the strain of unnecessary add-ons and features.

This exact reason is why we’ve compiled a list of the most essential plugins that you can choose from in order to minimize your added features as much as possible while maximizing the benefits that you get from them.

Table of Contents

    1. Caching

    A lot of web hosts and themes provide caching as an in-built feature that their clients can access at any time, given that the caching feature can really improve your site speeds by a wide margin. Regardless if your particular host provides this feature or not, there are a number of plugins that can easily accomplish the same job.

    The caching plugins speed up the loading times your visitors experience by presenting a certain amount of content before the rest of the page is rendered. In simpler terms, these plugins load the page ahead of time on a separate layer on the site and retrieve the data as soon as it’s needed.

    This entire process drastically reduces the interval between the time when the visitor sends in a request, that request is processed, and the necessary site data is sent back and displayed.

    WP Rocket

    WP Rocket's landing page

    WP Rocket is an incredibly effective plugin that’s very easy to use. The parameters that can be set and cached are clearly displayed and can be adjusted to the requirements of the user, plus the entire process takes very little time. Additionally, the ease of use makes it the most accessible caching plugin for administrators who might be working on their first site and haven’t really gotten the hang of how plugins work yet.

    On the other hand, there are going to be certain sites, like eCommerce focused ones, which are going to require a lot more specific inputs when it comes to which data should and should not be cached. As we mentioned earlier, WP Rocket does allow you to adjust certain settings, but these adjustments only extend to page and browser caching options, so this is something you should keep in mind.

    W3 Total Cache

    W#'s landing page

    In sharp contrast to the previous entry, W3 is a much more technical caching plugin that specializes in data caching for sites that have a large number of daily visitors, or which require the caching to be done on a page-by-page basis.

    This page-by-page method allows you to adjust the data which will be cached on any part of your site. This is particularly crucial for product-focused sites because a mistake in the caching of the product or the customer data can lead to potentially dangerous situations like the data getting corrupted or accidentally revealed.

    However, we should mention that due to the highly specific nature of the capabilities of this plugin, it does require some previous knowledge in order to be used effectively. Of course, someone who isn’t very knowledgeable about the inner workings of plugins and websites can still use it, but they might have a hard time in the beginning until getting the hang of it.

    Redis Object Cache

    Redis' landing page

    Redis is our choice for the best technical plugin for WordPress sites with a high daily visitor count and site administrators with some experience in how caching works. Just as a reminder, if you have no prior knowledge on the subject, your best bet would be the WP Rocket plugin we mentioned first.

    As the name suggests, object caching is what Redis specializes in, but don’t let that fool you. Regis can provide you with a plethora of diverse features like replication, sharding, and clustering, as well as cache prefetching and analytics options. On top of that, this plugin is also WordPress API compliant and supports the latest version of PHP.

    However, keep in mind that much like with W3, this plugin requires a bit more knowledge on the subject of caching and which methods should be used where in order to guarantee the best results.

    2. Uptime Monitoring

    Ensuring your website is online at all times is very important, especially if you have a business site where you sell products or services, as this will result in a loss of sales and potential customers. With various factors that can take your site offline, like server problems, network routers, broken plugins, etc, monitoring your website performance and uptime is crucial. Moreover, there are a few other factors to worry about like the occasional speed drops or unreliable connections to worry about as well. These factors aren’t so easy to notice because they might simply happen at intervals that are too infrequent to track, by a human at least, which is why you need a plugin to do the job.

    This is where UptimeRobot comes in. This plugin can help you keep an eye on everything that’s happening on your site in terms of generated speeds, any frequent occurrences of site lag, the standard amount of downtime that can be expected, and so on.

    UptimeRobot is also quite considerate to its customers. The service comes with a password protected private status page, and it notifies the customer if there is ever any issue or if the service will be down for maintenance for a while.

    Moreover, UptimeRobot comes with a few very useful additional monitoring options. Aside from website monitoring, you also have SSL monitoring (which keeps an eye on the expiry date of your certificate), heartbeat monitoring (which sends requests and checks if they arrive on time), ping and port monitoring (which keeps an eye on specific port or ping services), and much more.

    Uptime Robot's landing page

    3. High Quality, High-Performance Hosting

    A good plugin can enhance not only your website performance, but also the user experience and the time visitors spend on your site. However, there are limits to what plugins can compensate for. Regardless of how many add-ons and features you get for your site, nothing can make up for the faults of a bad hosting service.

    The faults in question can range from inadequate CPU capacity, limited bandwidth, not enough storage space, and so on. We should mention that these issues don’t necessarily have to be the fault of the web hosting service itself. If the plan that you picked out came with certain limitations and you received as much power and speed as advertised, then the service provided everything that they promised.

    However, this doesn’t mean that you need to stay with the web hosting service that you needed when you started out. If your company has grown, if your requirements have changed, or even if you simply think that it’s time for a change, then you might want to consider switching over to a new web host.


    Siteground's landing page

    With so many names in the web hosting industry, making the right choice can be a difficult task. This is where Siteground comes in, a hosting service that’s suitable for various types of websites as well as both experienced and inexperienced site administrators.

    The service comes with a lot of free perks, such as email, SSL certificates, as well as daily backups and updates. More importantly, it also comes with a free CDN service that can help you reroute your site signal through servers all over the world, free migration options if you decide to change your site location, and even unrestricted bandwidth, which is great for small sites and crucial for large ones.


    Cloudway's landing page

    Cloudways is essentially your one-stop-shop when it comes to web hosting services. It can provide you with plans that range from $10 a month to just under $300. The plan you choose will naturally depend on the size and requirements of your company and site, the data centers that you’re closest to and would prefer to use, and the amount of RAM, storage, bandwidth, and processing power you’d like to have at your disposal.

    Regardless of which plan you choose, all of them come with some pretty useful features. These features include the same SSL certificates, CDN services, and free migration options that every good hosting service comes with. In addition, you’ll also get access to around the clock support, an unlimited number of apps, multiple databases, and so on.

    WPX Hosting

    WPX's landing page

    WPX has servers that are located both in the UK and the US. This would usually mean that only visitors from these two locations would be able to be provided with a stable connection to your site. However, WPX also provides a complimentary CDN service that will send your data from server locations all around the world in order to ensure that site visitors from just about every country are covered.

    The service is known for providing top-tier speed at affordable prices, as well as some pretty sturdy security measures. The service comes with DDoS protection, as well as daily scans and malware removal features.


    Kinsta's landing page

    As we mentioned before, all good web hosting services come with free CDN services and SSL certificates, so it’s only natural that Kinsta offers this as well. Depending on the plan that you choose, the service also comes with between 10 and 200 plus GB of disc space, 25,000 to 3 million visits, and either 1 or more than 150 WordPress installs.

    The service also comes with no fixed-term contract, which is very rare considering that a lot of other web hosts insist on signing you up for a year-long agreement. However, if you do decide to go for a yearly deal, you’ll receive 2 months free, and you also have a 30-day money-back guarantee and the option to upgrade or downgrade, regardless if you have a contract for a set time or not.

    4. CDN

    Because all of our entries for hosting services contained free CDN capabilities, you might assume that this feature comes as standard in almost every or at least a lot of hosting services. This is not the case, and this is exactly why we specifically mentioned that only good hosting services provide this particular feature.

    The purpose of a CDN is to host your site data on a number of servers around the world. This gets rid of the limitation of having to have all of the data located solely on the web host’s servers. This, in turn, allows you to remove the limit on the speed at which the data can be delivered to visitors who aren’t in the countries where the physical host servers are located.

    If you aren’t prepared to switch to any of the hosting services that we mentioned, but would still like to take advantage of a top-notch CDN, we’d recommend that you simply subscribe to Cloudflare.

    Cloudflare is recognized as one of the best CDN services. This is in no small part thanks to its wide array of server locations all over the globe that can provide high-speed connections to all of your site visitors. Because of this, we’d recommend that you consider getting the service even if your host comes with an already present CDN, since it’s most likely inferior to Cloudflare in terms of both scope and performance.

    Cloudflare's landing page

    5. Backup

    A plugin that can provide you with backups of your site isn’t exactly the first thing that you’d think of if you were making a list of the best speed optimization plugins, but it deserves its place on this list regardless.

    A backup feature can save you a lot of time in the long run by ensuring that most of your important data is filed away in case of emergencies. This doesn’t protect your site from malware or hacker attacks and general data loss, but it ensures that the damage from any such unforeseen problems is minimized.

    You can have the best speed optimization plugins in the business, and the most expensive web hosting service, but they won’t be able to help you if you need to shut down your site entirely due to repairs or even upgrades.

    BlogVault can help you speed up any such occasions and can ensure that your site is back up  and running as soon as possible.

    Blogvault comes with a real-time backup system, meaning that any changes to your site are logged away as soon as they happen. Additionally, you’ll also be informed if any data wasn’t backed up, as well as the reason for why it was skipped.

    Blogvault's landing page

    6. Image Compression & Optimization

    A big factor in site speed is the amount of data that needs to be processed in order to load the pages at the request of the site visitor. This means that the more data there is on the site, the longer the loading times are going to take.

    Image files are without a doubt the biggest files on any site. This is true for virtually any sort of WordPress site, regardless of the content, but it’s especially true when it comes to eCommerce or any sort of product-focused site. Given that these sites usually need to provide images for all of the products they sell, they are faced with the problem of having to fill their storage space with hundreds or thousands of cumbersome image files.

    This is where image compression tools come in. More precisely, this is where ShortPixel, our image compression tool of choice comes in.

    Shortpixel's landing page

    The basic function of image compression tools is stated in the very name. The only difference between most tools is the type of compression they do. Most plugins will either compress the image file as lossy or lossless.

    Lossy compression will get rid of a large part of the image data at the cost of reducing the image quality once it’s uncompressed. Lossless compression will retain the image quality regardless of the number of times that it’s compressed and uncompressed, but the image won’t shrink in size all that much.

    Jpeg images are considered lossy, while png is considered lossless. The reason why ShortPixel is our plugin of choice is because it can use the webp image format. This format is a great middle-ground between the two compression types as it reduces the image size more than the png format, while maintaining the image quality, unlike the jpeg format.

    7. Site Speed Testing Tools

    The title of this section says everything you need to know about the function of these tools. Before you can determine which would be the best speed optimization plugins for your site, or even if you need to change your web hosting service, you’re going to need to run a full diagnostic on your site.

    We’re going to run through a few of the more popular speed testing tools that are available for this purpose. The important thing that we’d like you to keep in mind when we go through them is that no one tool is all that accurate.

    The findings that you get from one tool may vary from the findings that you get from the other. The best way to get a result that is the closest to your actual site statistics is to use all of the tools that we mention in this section and simply compare the findings.

    Again, this might not result in accurate findings, but if more than one of these tools finds a fault in your site, then it can’t be a coincidence and is probably a potential issue that you need to look into.


    GTMetrix's landing page

    This is one of the original site speed testing tools, and one of the most well-known ones. According to the site itself, this particular tool has been used to test more than 700 million sites. It allows you to track your performance over time and even get a notification when your page is slow. You will, however, find that a  few of the parameters it tests are outdated and no longer relevant when it comes to determining things such as site rankings.


    SiteSpeedBot's landing page

    This is the tool that we personally use when we need to check the capabilities of any site. SiteSpeedBot is simple to use and can provide you with information on everything from the upload and download times of a site, to the speeds at the locations that you choose from the drop-down menu. 

    The site also comes with FCP (render start) and LCP (render mostly finished) timing calculators, as well as a calculator for the number of sent in site requests. If you also add on the calculators for download times on 1.6 MB, 10 MB and even 20 MB internet, and you have a tool that leaves no stone unturned.

    Google Pagespeed Insights

    PageSpeedInsights' landing page

    Speaking of site rankings, there isn’t another tool that’s better equipped to give you a good picture of where your site stands when it comes to the Google ranking system than Pagespeed Insights. The site itself is incredibly easy to use and will provide you with the findings in a pretty short amount of time. The biggest failing of this tool is the fact that it ignores the geographic location of the site, meaning the results may vary by quite a margin depending on where the test was being made from. Additionally, rather than actually testing your site speeds, this tool simply puts your site against a technical checklist.


    Pingdom's landing page

    While most speed testing sites only provide you with the statistics and allow you to figure out a way to improve your site on your own, Pingdom actually comes with a suggestion on how to improve each aspect of your site that is found to be lacking. It grades all of the aspects of your site and even provides information on the content types that you have. The only downside is that the site is very infrequently updated to track any new parameters.

    8. Database Optimization

    WPOptimize's landing page

    Our tool of choice for database optimisation is without a doubt WP-Optimize. This plugin allows you to run a SQL data optimization procedure that runs inside the WordPress backend console and allows you to remove any accumulated data bloat.

    This data bloat is the result of your site picking up and storing unneeded junk data that simply takes up space in your memory but isn’t actually being used for anything. This junk data comes as an unwanted product of the size of your database growing over time, and while it’s cumbersome that this unneeded information is taking up space in your storage, WP-Optimize will take care of it.


    Prefmatters' landing page

    While we’re on the subject of unnecessary data, is another tool that you might need if you’re planning on removing any superfluous items from your site. In essence, this tool has the task of going through the code in your WordPress site and removing any unneeded features.

    These features may have previously been used for a specific purpose, or may have even served a vital role in the site itself, but have since been made obsolete by updates or feature changes. takes out all of these unnecessary lines of code and optimizes your WordPress site, which is why it’s on our best speed optimization plugins list.

    While this might seem like a non-issue, especially considering how little space such code takes up, there’s a second reason for the removal of such features.

    While the site itself no longer uses the features in question, the code can be used by hackers as a back-door into your site. While the rest of the WordPress site is regularly updated in order to combat any cyber-attacks, these sorts of abandoned features are intentionally neglected for updates since they no longer serve a purpose. As a result, they are the weak point for anyone who knows how to use them in order to gain access to your site. removes the possibility of these features being used for any such purpose.

    10. Lazy Loading

    Lazy loading is when the site loads in the image or video file only once the site visitor has scrolled down low enough for most of the image or the video to be visible. This process consists of setting a boundary on the image or video file that needs to then be crossed by the site visitor for the asset to fully load in.

    This entire process saves on CPU usage by allowing the site to focus on fewer assets. The CPU usage remains consistent as certain assets are loaded in and others are loaded out as they are scrolled past.

    The most popular plugin that’s used in order to set this boundary is Lazy Load. As the name might suggest, the plugin is designed to implement the lazy loading process and nothing else.

    LazyLoad's landing page

    11. Speed Oriented Plugins

    It might seem strange to include a section with this title in an article that’s already called “best speed optimization plugins”, however, we do have some reasoning behind this. While the other plugins in this article have a primary function that just happens to help speed up your site, the primary function of the plugins in this section is speeding up your site and nothing else.

    Instant Page's landing page

    This tool uses something that’s called “just-in-time-preloading”. This feature allows the site to anticipate which link the site visitor would like to open by the amount of time that they have been hovering over it with the mouse. In essence, this allows the site to preload the page based on the move that it anticipated from the site visitor.

    Eve Dynamic Prerender

    This plugin has a similar function to the previous entry in that it anticipates the next move by taking advantage of mapped out user navigation paths in order to guess the next page that the user will visit.

    Both of these tools try to anticipate what the visitors want even before they themselves are aware of anything and use that prediction to load in the section of the site that is most likely to be opened next.

    12. Multi-purpose Tools

    In sharp contrast to the previous section, the following plugins are less speed-oriented tools and more jack-of-all-trades. They can without a doubt provide you with a speed boost to your site, but they can also help you do a lot more than just that.


    Autoptimize's landing page

    This plugin can minify HTML, as well as scripts and styles. It can also optimize your Google Fonts and images (providing support for both the AVIF and WebP image formats), minify your site scripts, and even inline CSS.

    Asset Cleanup

    AssetCleanup's landing page

    This plugin can minify CSS and JavaScript files, inline CSS Files, reduce the HTML code of the actual page, defer combined JavaScript files, scan your page and detect all the assets that are loaded, and more.

    Query Monitor

    QueryMonitor's landing page

    This plugin can allow you to uncover which plugins aren’t very well optimized by narrowing down it’s output to specific themes or plugins. Additionally, it’s also capable of blocking editorial blocks, debugging database queries, grouping those same database queries, and more.


    We’ve spent an entire article outlining plugins that can speed up your site and improve the user experience significantly. As we reached the end of the article, we’d like to take a bit of time to point out a plugin that we believe you shouldn’t use on your site. 

    AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP uses Google Edge Caching on their network to faster deliver stripped-down versions of your main website pages to users. This essentially means that you’re relinquishing control of your site to Google.

    The sad part is that you don’t even need to do this since you can accomplish all of this yourself without Google. All you really need to do is to use a fast WordPress theme that doesn’t rely on Jquery. After that, all that’s left is to strip out all the unnecessary Javascript from your pages and you’re good to go.

    In conclusion, we encourage you to check out all of the plugins that we mentioned on our list, at your discretion, of course, aside from AMP, which you should avoid.

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