Speed continues to be one of the most important ingredients of high performing websites. Websites that load fast not only deliver a better overall experience but also tend to rank high in search engines. On the other hand, slow loading websites have a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of customers abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. The need to incorporate speed optimization techniques in your web design efforts is more than ever.
With WordPress having a whopping 60.8% market share and being the most popular CMS, web designers are constantly looking for ways to speed up their WordPress websites. We have shed the tears here and made their search easy by doing the research to find out the top 5 WordPress speed optimization plugins. We have tried to include the most important plugins for caching, minifying, lazy loading, and image compression.
Before you install one of these plugins, you may want to check your website speed so that you can compare the results later.
Let’s dive in.
WP Rocket is hands down THE BEST caching and performance plugin you can get for WordPress. It has been rated #1 by all the “Best WordPress Speed Plugins” compilations.
You will be overwhelmed by the features that it provides. It does everything that a website requires for speed optimization, be it caching, image optimization, lazy loading, or database optimization. Resultantly, this plugin saves you from installing extra plugins. It’s an all in one.
- Page Caching
- Browser Caching
- GZIP Compression
- Database Optimization
- Lazy Loading
- CDN Integrations
- Cloudflare Compatibility
- Host Tracking Scripts Locally
- E-Commerce friendly
Apart from being feature-rich, WP Rocket is extremely easy to configure making it ideal even for beginners. There are no or minimum compatibility issues.
Price: WP Rocket is a premium plugin (maybe considered its only downside) that starts from $49.
Perfmatters is short for performance matters. This plugin is gaining in popularity because it’s simple and helps increase the speed and performance of a WordPress site exponentially.
Perfmatters takes a rather different approach to performance optimization. It disables all the unnecessary WordPress options with a few clicks. These options unnecessarily consume resources and slow down sites. Disabling them significantly improves a site’s performance.
The plugin also enables you to reduce HTTP requests by stopping unnecessary plugins from loading. For example, a contact form plugin does not need to load its scripts on every page of a website. Perfmatters helps you change that so that it only loads its scripts on your contact page.
Other noteworthy features of the plugin include the following.
- DNS prefetch and preconnect
- Disable Heartbeat API
- Lazy load images
- Host Google analytics locally
- Compatible with other caching plugins
Price: Starts from $24.95
The quote “nothing is free in this world” does not apply here. The W3 Super Cache is a free caching plugin from Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack. It is one of the most widely used performance plugins with over 2 million active installations.
Caching is a key speed optimization technique. W3 Super Cache supports all caching features required to speed up a website.
The plugin is pretty simple to configure and start using. It does, however, have some advanced settings which can be configured to use it to its full potential.
- Gzip compression
- Page caching
- Browser caching
- Cache pre-loading
- Serve static html files
- CDN support
Heavy images are the most common reason for slow websites. You can almost double your site’s speed by merely optimizing images.
WP Smush is an award-winning image optimization plugin. It has over 1 million active installations and more than 90 percent 5 start reviews.
The good thing about WP Smush is that it uses lossless formats which do not affect the quality of images. Most other image optimization plugins cause images to degrade after compressing them.
- Lazy loader
- Lossless compression
- Bulk smush (optimize up to 50 images with one click)
- Image resizing
- Incorrect size image detection
- Directory smush
- Automated optimization
- Gutenberg block integration (for smush statistics)
As mentioned above, lazy load is a part of the WP Rocket premium package. So if you are already using WP Rocket, you don’t need to install it separately. Lazy Load is a free plugin by WP Rocket that deals with one aspect of performance optimization i.e. lazy loading.
Users initially need above the fold content (text, images, and videos) so that they have something to read. Loading the entire page is unnecessary. Especially, when the page contains lots of images or videos, it will require a long time to load the entire page.
An efficient approach is to first load the above the fold content only and wait to load below-the-fold assets until a user starts scrolling down. This results in reduced page load time.
Lazy Load by WP Rocket is the best free lazy load plugin on the market. It’s very simple, lightweight yet very powerful.
This plugin allows you to lazy load:
- Replace YouTube iFrames with preview thumbnails
There are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins for every single task. The same is the case with speed optimization. A number of plugins are available for every type of optimization. What’s important to remember here is that too many plugins or widgets will add extra burden on your website and have an adverse effect on your site’s performance. What you can do to avoid this is to choose plugins that do multiple tasks. For example, choose a plugin that does both image compression and lazy loading, instead of having two separate plugins for each function. This way, you will be able to satisfy your site’s needs with minimum resources.