6 Free Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

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6 Free Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

Site speed plays a very important role in online business. It can increase or decrease the revenue of your online business, depending on how much time your site takes to load. There is a shocking relation between site speed and conversation rate, which is particularly true for e-commerce sites.

There are a dozen of reasons to improve the site speed, but the two most important ones are search rankings and user experience.

Search Rankings

When Google first announced site speed in web search rankings, it played a miniscule part. But overtime it has become one of the main development factors Google takes into account for ranking websites.

While page speed isn’t the only factor Google takes into account, pages that load faster and follow Google’s best practices for performance tend to rank better in Google.

Google also offers a wide range of tools and resources to help developers build faster websites via Make the Web Faster.

User Experience

KISSMetrics reported that 47 percent of users expect a page to load within two seconds. So, if your site takes more than two seconds to load, there is a good chance users will navigate away.

The Internet is filled with case studies, reports, and surveys on how page speed impacts site rankings and user engagement. People simply don’t want to wait. With that in mind, you should invest some time in improving the site speed – just like you would with any other part of your business.

In this article I want to share six free WordPress plugins that will help you increase your site’s traffic, user engagement, and revenue. Spending just a few minutes and installing these plugins can potentially have a big impact on the speed of your website.

WP Optimize

wp optimize

If you take your site seriously, you might want clean up your database. By default, WordPress stores every post, page, and comment including post revisions, trash data, and information from various plugins. This may not sound like a huge speed booster, but you can easily make substantial speed improvements by optimizing your database.

I rely on WP Optimize plugin for the task. It is great for beginner and intermediate users, because it does not require you to go to PHPmyAdmin or do any technical stuff. You can do everything from your WordPress dashboard.

WP Optimize helps you de-clutter your database by removing stale post revisions, spam comments, trashed items, and removal of transient options. It can also tell you your current database size and gives you an idea on how much space you can save with WP Optimize.

Note: If you are using this plugin for the first time, make sure to back up your database. It is always the best practice to have a backup, just in case anything goes sideways. Though, if you are hosted on a managed WordPress hosting like SEJ, then you can rely on staging feature to restore the previous version.

Digg Digg

It has proven that having social media buttons on your site increases the chances of getting your blog posts shared by 50%. Though, the opposite seems to work for e-commerce websites.

floating social bar

But most social media plugins load too many scripts and are amongst the slowest to load. Digg Digg plugin fixes this problem as it comes with lazy loading option, meaning your site visitors will be shown a fake button until a visitor hovers over the buttons for sharing. You can also add buttons at the top or bottom of your page.

W3 Total Cache

When it comes to improving the site speed, there are a lot of things that you can do. However, installing a cache plugin will have the biggest impact on your site.

The W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the most popular caching plugins available for WordPress. There is a good chance you will be able to increase your site performance by 10 times, as claimed by its plugin developers.

A caching plugin stores the images, CSS, and Javascript files of your website on the server, so it doesn’t have to load the website from scratch and every time you receive a visitor, instead the static version of your site is displayed. This saves a lot of resources and works with any type of website.

The plugin is not easy to configure, but if you have a basic knowledge of WordPress, it will only take five minutes to set up. Additionally, you can integrate it with a CDN service like MaxCDN, which works really well with W3TC plugin.

Other alternatives include: WP Super Cache and WP-Rocket.me. The latter one is a paid product and costs around $39.

WP Smush.it

Today, blogging is not just about high quality content, but is also about visual graphics (infographics, images, and slides). Take a look at any of the SEJ post and you will see every blog post has at least two images.

High quality content with visual graphics is essential to set your site apart from the rest, but you need to ensure the images are properly compressed and uses appropriate format. There are dozens of plugin available (even a desktop based application like Shrink-O-Matric) to help you get the better images, but one plugin that stood above from the rest is WP Smush.it.

The plugin works by reducing image file sizes and improving performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. It also strips the metadata from JPEGs, and removes unused colors from indexed images.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, you can use a premium service like Kraken.io.

P3 Profiler

There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress plugins, most of them are useful, and will help you with one thing or another. If you want to add a new functionality, you can usually find a plugin. But plugins can also be responsible for increasing your site speed. And you never know which plugin is causing the trouble. Fortunately, there is a plugin for that called P3 Profiler.

P3 Profiler plugin

P3 Profiler scans the website to find out which plugins are causing a slow performance. It narrow downs the impact your plugins are having on your site’s load time.

Once you have figured out which plugins are causing are slowing down your website, you can replace them or remove them entirely.

BJ Lazy Load

Another great plugin to optimize the post images is BJ Lazy Load.

It allows you to lazy load post images, thumbnails, Gravatar images, and content iFrames, and replaces it with a placeholder. The images are only loaded as they are about to become visible in a user’s browser. You can also lazy load other images and iFrames in your theme by using a simple function.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the site speed is just one of the 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking a website. So, make sure to also invest some time on other aspects of your business.

By the way, don’t forget to test your site speed before and after installing these plugins to see how effective they really are. You can use Pingdom or GTMetrix, which are great tools for testing site speed.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Vladimir Badaev via Shutterstock

Full Disclosure: I don’t have any relationship with plugins listed in this article.

Dev Sharma

Dev Sharma

Founder at WPKube
Devesh Sharma is a WordPress enthusiast and founder of WPKube.com, a WordPress blog which focuses on WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tutorials and Modifications.
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  • rajni

    Thank you Dev for sharing your knowledge… As a newbie into internet marketing and blogging i started a WordPress blog but struggling to speed it up as it is taking a hell lot time to load… After reading your article i started using W3 Total Cache and now results are good so far .. Surely gonna try other plugins also… Keep sharing your knowledge.. I m blessed as a newbie to learn new things from people like you…

    • Dev Sharma

      Rajni, glad I could help :). Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  • Jeff @ Murnan Creative

    Great post! I can’t wait to try WP Smush.it and BJ Lazy Load for images. Site speed is so important but we often overlook it.

    • Dev Sharma

      Glad you found this post useful, Jeff. Thanks for the comment.

  • Jane

    Thanks for compiling this list Devesh! W3 Total Cache and WP Smush.it are my favorites. I too use the P3 plugin to get to know which plugins take up lots of resources. It has helped me identify (with shock) many plugins I were using that were taking up too much resources.

    One has to be very careful in choosing the plugins! Even though plugins have become a necessity, it is a must to keep the numbers as less as possible.

    Thanks once again Devesh ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Dev Sharma

      Good to see you here, Jane.

      P3 is a fantastic solution for finding out which plugins are causing the slow performance.

      You should also check out WP Rocket plugin, it provides an efficiency cache solution for WordPress.

  • Nirmala

    Hi Devesh,

    Jane shared your post on G+ and I immediately landed over here. I use P3 profiler to find the culprits which makes my blog to load slower. I also use W3 total cache and compress my images with Smush.yahoo.it (not in plugin form). I unaware of other plugins, will check their details now. Thanks for sharing this helpful post for the bloggers to have a fast loading blog.

    • Dev Sharma

      Nirmala, awesome! Thanks so much for sharing the post on G+ and FB :).

  • Daniel

    I actually used all of these plugins and most of them work just great. We had our problems though with smush.it and I had to remove the plugin again since it was causing http errors when uploading images to the server on. This happened on several sites, with different servers and with different infrastructure. So we quit that for our sites (or just enable it if needed).

    • Dev Sharma

      Have you tried contacting their support, they should be able to help you.

  • Nikhil ganotra

    Great List Indeed!

    I am already using all the plugins leaving P3 Profiler. It’s an essential plugin which I was unaware of. Generally, there are some plugins that keeps creating problems in one form or another but we never know about it.

    BTW is it a free plugin?

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Dev Sharma

      Yes, P3 profiler is a free plugin.

  • Muhammad Tahir

    Can you please guide me about W3 Total Cache plugin? I installed but unable to reduce site load time. If you have a complete tutorial to setup W3 Total Cache plugin then please share a link with me.

    • Dev Sharma

      Hi Tahir,

      Sure, here you go – http://www.wpkube.com/setup-w3-total-cache-plugin/

  • Satish kumar ithamsetty

    Dear Dev Sharma,
    blog loading speed is very major factor. The list of plugins are very good. But w3 total cache is giving problem in my shared hosting. so i am using Super cache plugin. working simple and good.

    Satish Kumar Ithamsetty

  • Chandan kumar

    Great article Dev !! Free WordPress plugins services, No one preferences watching out for a site to load. Most studies have affirmed that you have a brief time to load your site before individuals click away, particularly in the event that they’ve been interfaced there from an alternate site that they visit.

    So what would you be able to do to make your site faster?A few simple ways approaches to keep your page load times low and your Users happy. P3 Profiler- See which plugins are slowing speed of your site, W3 Total Cache – Most popular caching plugins available for WordPress.

    Thanks Dev.

  • Yzenith

    P3 Profiler is what i need now, I was using W3 Total Cache, that one is pretty awesome, but after i active https, it always show up blank page, do you know how to fix that?

    • Dev Sharma

      W3 Total Cache gave me those white blank page errors a few times, and there is no easy way to fix them. You should contact their support staff (https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/w3-total-cache), they may be able to help you.

  • Reginald Chan

    Hey man,

    Great write and thanks for sharing. I use W3TC and it’s awesome.

    Oh yes, Great to see you here and keep it up! Definitely back for more man.

    • Dev Sharma

      Good to see you here, Reginald.

      W3TC is also my favorite choice of plugin when it comes to improving the site speed, but I think there’s a new (better) plugin in market – WP Rocket.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Saviour Sanders

    Thanks. I think I’ve found a perfect plugin for my images now, though I’m yet to try it out.

    What I need now is a plugin that can remove bad code formats from my theme.

  • Yaniv

    Great post! those plugins made a HUGE diffrence on my site.

  • Dio

    Thank you so much for this! Amazing list! Stupid question… installing all these modules won’t decrease total website’s performance, as more db tables are created ?

    For instance the wp-optimize plugin, would it be a good idea to install it, improve performance and then delete it again?

    Many thanks for this contribution and best regards!

  • HR

    ALL are free and must plugins but sometimes BJ Lazy Load doesnot work in some blogs that i noticed. ๐Ÿ™

  • gsjha

    Thank You Dev. It is really a good post for me as my site speed is just ok.
    I was using just W3 Total Cache and speed is good. But now I’ll try other also.
    Dev I have a doubt about wp smush.it.
    I used wp smush.it also but that doesn’t seems compatible with w3 total cache?
    It may be because I used bulk options
    Is it so ?