Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the food took way too long to come out? If so, you probably either grew annoyed, left a poor review, or even left to try out a different one altogether.
Well, just like customers at a restaurant, slow site speed can result in poor search engine rankings, lower site traffic, and negative user experiences. Thankfully, these problems can be avoided with the use of WordPress plugins to speed up your site.
In this post, we’ll walk through some of the best WordPress plugins to improve site speed. But before we dive into our favorite plugins, we need to go over factors that contribute to website loading time in the first place.
What Affects Loading Time?
There are tons of factors that can affect the loading speed of your site. Let's take a look at them one by one.
1. Hosting Providers
A hosting provider is a service that hosts your website on a server and makes it accessible to users via the internet. The type of hosting provider you choose can affect the load time due to the distribution of server resources. For example, a slow server delivers content slower, even before your content is rendered on-page.
To choose the right hosting for your needs, consider the type of content that you’re offering and how many users you anticipate, conduct research between providers that can serve these needs, and determine if a shared or VPS hosting provider is more appropriate for your situation.
You can also use a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up the server-side delivery of your files.
2. Page File Size (total amount of content)
Your page file size, or page weight, is the overall size of a particular web page. Typically, the larger the page, the longer it takes to load. One thing that can cause pages to be more bulky than necessary is extraneous code or bulky elements. To speed up the loading time of a page, you can minify code, delay content rendering with lazy load and other features, or reduce bulky elements and files.
To do this, consider that readers come to your site to fulfill a specific purpose. So, make sure to remove anything unnecessary from your pages, and focus on your content. For example, don't place any random widgets that do not create any value for your visitors.
3. Individual Element Size (images)
Individual elements like high-quality image files can add appeal to your site, but high-quality images also come with large file sizes that slow the load time significantly. If your page is full of images, GIFs, videos, and more, then it will slow down your site to a great extent if they’re not optimized for speed.
Compressing images can reduce their file size without compromising the quality too much, allowing your site to deliver the images faster.
4. WordPress Themes and Plugins
A WordPress theme is a group of files (graphics, style sheets, and code) that dictate the appearance of your blog or website. WordPress themes can potentially slow down your site speed if there’s no content delivery network (CDN), if the code is bulky or poorly written, or if it doesn’t match the level of traffic you get.
It’s important to choose WordPress themes and plugins optimized for speed and/or minify the code of your current theme to lower the strain on your server.
Knowing the different factors that affect site speed can help you identify which WordPress plugins you need for your own site. Whether you need to optimize images, disable unused files, or to minify your code — we have an array of plugins chosen for you.
Plugins To Speed Up WordPress
Before we proceed with the list of plugins to improve the loading time of your site, know that you shouldn’t use a huge number of plugins. This can affect your site negatively and may possibly lengthen the loading time of your site. So, make sure to use only the plugins necessary to avoid this complication.
W3 Total Cache is one of the most effective and comprehensive cache plugins for WordPress. It remedies numerous performance-reducing aspects of any web site. It goes farther than the basics, beyond merely reducing CPU usage (load) or bandwidth consumption for HTML pages.
What We Like:
- The W3 Total Cache plugin requires no theme modifications, modifications to your .htaccess (mod_rewrite rules) or programming compromises to get started.
- It’s the only plugin designed to optimize all practical hosting environments small or large.
As you add new plugins to your site, they come with their own files – which will load every time you open your site and thus slowing everything down. For example, if you add a contact form, gallery, or slider plugin, and it has style files that are not required to load on every page, you can stop them on the pages where they are not required with the Gonzales plugin. This ability will help you improve your site speed by pausing certain files when not in use.
What We Like:
- The Gonzales plugin has easy user interface (UI) options to disable specific JS and CSS files on different pages or posts.
- Responsive and timely support for users, answering user inquiries within one to 12 hours.
A very important WordPress plugin and must-have for every WordPress site. It will make your WordPress site load fast and keep it clean. This plugin optimizes your database without doing manual queries; it cleans up all the unnecessary database strings and auto drafts to make your site faster.
What We Like:
- The WP-Optimize plugin is built around the world’s fastest caching system.
- Users can compress and optimize images with the plugin.
Smush is one of the most popular plugins for image optimization — a large factor that affects your site speed. Every image you add to a page or post will automatically run through Smush asynchronously. Not only that, but users don’t have to worry about affecting image quality, as the plugin lowers the pixel size with little visual difference.
What We Like:
- The Smush plugin optimizes all of your images up to 5MB in size for free forever, without monthly limits.
- Features a “Bulk Smush” feature to optimize and compress up to 50 images with one click.
DBManager is another very useful database manager WordPress plugin that can speed up your WordPress site to a great extent. It optimizes the database, repairs the database, backs up the database, restores the database, deletes the backup database, drops/empties tables, and runs selected queries.
What We Like:
- The DBManager plugin automatically backs up your database and logs the files in case of an attack or server problem.
- Admin database information is shown in the DBManager dashboard for you to see what might be going wrong with your database.
EWWW Image Optimizer is another very effective WordPress plugin to speed up your site. It automatically and losslessly optimizes your images as you upload them to your site. It can also optimize images that you have previously uploaded.
What We Like:
- The EWWW Image Optimizer plugin scans for unoptimized images automatically.
- Offers bulk image optimization capabilities.
As the name suggests, this plugin looks into all the parameters that affect site speed, from the server and WordPress setup and fine-tunes them to improve the loading time.
What We Like:
- The Speed Booster Pack can improve largest contentful paint (LCP), total blocking time (TBT), and cumulative layout shift (CLS) metrics — very important core web vitals.
- Offers image optimization capabilities.
Bring Your Website Up to Speed with WordPress Plugins
As a WordPress user, fixing speed issues is worth it for both user experience and audience growth. Page speed is a known SEO ranking factor. For this reason, a faster loading site can help increase your visibility and organic traffic. Therefore, it’s wise to choose plugins and tools that will help you serve and grow your audience.
Originally published Feb 21, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated February 21 2022