Top 11 Must-Have Speed Optimization Plugins for Your WordPress Site

Top 11 Must-Have Speed Optimization Plugins for Your WordPress Site

Website speed is inevitably a top concern for most web developers and website owners. Not only is a fast website best for visitor conversion rates, but it also influences your website’s Google ranking. For these reasons and more, it is a good idea to add a speed optimization plugin to your WordPress website.

There are a few ways to speed up a WordPress site, such as using a caching plugin, lazy loading images, image optimization, file compression and more.

Among the thousands of WordPress plugins available, there are a few key plugins made just for these reasons – from WordPress clear cache plugins through to image optimization plugins.

In the following blog post, we share a collection of our top recommended plugins that’ll speed up the performance of your WordPress website.

How to choose a WordPress plugin

In general, it is advised to keep the number of plugins on your WordPress website to a minimum. Too many plugins – especially those left installed and not activated, or not updated – can cause conflicts with various software on your site.

The number of plugins installed is less important than the quality of the plugins. With this, it is advised to be selective in your plugin selection and to research the plugin thoroughly before installing it.

When selecting a plugin, look at:

  • The number of active installs
  • When the plugin was last updated
  • Reviews from users
  • Whether there is support for the plugin

Read more about WordPress plugins, free vs premium plugins and how to select the plugins for your site here.

Tip: Run your website through a speed test (like GT Metrix) before and after installing and activating the plugins to monitor the difference.

The Top Ten Speed Optimization Plugins for WordPress

Below are a collection of the best performance plugins for WordPress. The plugins are divided into categories based on the roles they fulfil.

Best WordPress cache plugins

1. Hummingbird

If you’re in the market for a complete caching system for WordPress, Hummingbird Pro is a viable solution that allows for the integration of several caching tools all in one place. It does a fine job all by itself without the need to use extra plugins to do the job, and includes a nice CDN for extra speedup in loading resources. Hummingbird Pro is a plugin we can certainly recommend.

Read the full article about Hummingbird Pro

2. WP Rocket

Along with being an impressive all-round performance plugin, WP Rocket is one of the best WordPress caching plugins available. It includes all the caching functionality that you would need, along with several other features, including lazy loading for images, database optimization, CDN integration as well as the ability to host Google Analytics code on your own site.

This is a great option if you want a speed optimizer plugin that does it all while being super user-friendly. It is a paid plugin with pricing starting at $49 per year.

3. W3 Total Cache

Another high-rated WordPress caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. This comprehensive plugin includes all of the features that you would need to set up effective caching for your WordPress website, including page cache, object cache, GZIP compression, minification and CDN support, among others.

While it is a great caching plugin, it can be a bit intimidating for beginners due to its extensive configuration options.

4. WP Fastest Cache

This performance plugin comes with a great set of features, including 1-click to clear cache, minification of CSS and HTML, CDN integration and the option to set expiration times for all posts/pages or certain URL strings.

Like W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache is a free plugin, though it is much easier to configure and more user-friendly for beginners. Just install, activate and run through the settings for a fast running website.

5. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is a popular free WordPress cache plugin. Features include GZIP compression, page cache, CDN support, and advanced cache preload, among others. While it is a straightforward plugin to set up, it has some more advanced settings to get even more out of the plugin.

6. Perfmatters

The Perfmatters plugin takes a different approach to caching. It can be used in conjunction with one of the above-mentioned caching plugins.

The plugin works by making it possible to disable a collection of unnecessary options that WordPress has enabled by default. This solves the biggest factor that tends to slow down the rendering of a website: HTTP requests that aren’t needed. It stops plugins from loading unnecessary code.

This is a premium plugin, with pricing starting at $24.95 per year.

Best compression plugins

7. WP Super Minify

WP Super Minify combines and compresses HTML, JavaScript and CSS files to reduce the time it takes for your website to load. The installation process is as simple as downloading the plugin, uploading to the back end and activating the plugin.

While this plugin won’t increase Google page speed as much as some of the other more technical plugins mentioned, you can expect a 2-4% increase in performance.

8. WP Smush

WP Smush is an image compression plugin. It compresses images without compromising image quality. When a new image is loaded to the site, the plugin will automatically compress the file and decrease the overall size without impacting the integrity and quality of the image.

It also removes unused colours on the image and metadata from JPEG images. The plugin supports all common image formats (including JPEG, GIF and PNG), is compatible with other plugins and can compress up to 50 images at a time.

Check out our complete breakdown of Smush Pro on the Digital Buddha.

Plugins to clean up your WordPress site

9. WP Optimize

Over time, your website will start to accumulate unnecessary data.

WP Optimize is a great plugin to clean up your WordPress database for maximized efficiency. The plugin de-fragments MySQL tables along with removing data like pingbacks, expired transient options, trashed comments and post revisions. With WP Optimize, you have control over running automatic or scheduled clean-ups of your website’s database.

Additional performance features include compressing your images and caching your site.

Optimize analytics

10. CAOS | Host Google Analytics Locally

CAOS | Host Google Analytics Locally is the plugin to go for when your websites speed test on GTMatrix is telling you to leverage browser cache. By hosting Google Analytics code locally, you can leverage browser caching for analytics.js, ga.js or gtag.js.

It’s relatively easy to set up – just install the plugin, enter your Google Analytics Tracking-ID and CAOS will add the Tracking Code to the header. CAOS is also compatible with Monster Insights for a streamlined experience.

The WP Rocket plugin can also do this, so, if you have that plugin installed, you won’t need to install this one as well.

Lazy load images

11. BJ Lazy Load

One way to speed up WordPress sites that contain a lot of images is to enable lazy loading. BJ Lazy Load is one of the lazy load plugins available on WordPress.

Once this plugin is installed, your page will no longer load all at once, but rather only load images as the user begins to scroll down the page.

Don’t forget about hosting

Hosting is another important factor that will influence your website speed. Installing performance and speed optimization plugins can get you far, but if your website is hosted with a sub-par service provider, you will likely encounter issues.

If in range of your budget, it’s always wise to choose a faster and more reliable hosting provider, rather than basing your choice on pricing. Managed WordPress hosting service providers, including WPEngine and FlyWheel offer a number of performance features within their hosting packages.

Have you used any of the plugins mentioned above? Let us know your experience in the comments below!

Lisa-Robyn Keown

Lisa-Robyn is a qualified copywriter and brand strategist from Cape Town, South Africa.