You put so much work into making your WordPress website, it’d be a shame if one little thing could be its entire undoing.
What’s that thing?
If your website takes longer to load than it took you to read this paragraph, then you’re in trouble.
Luckily, there are WordPress plugins that’ll make your website load so quickly your visitors won’t even notice they’re already using it.
Why Should Your WordPress Load Quickly?
Here are a few reasons why you want your website to load in under 3 seconds.
- 53% of mobile users bounce if the website takes more than three seconds to load.
- Upwards of 87% of carts are abandoned if the load time is two seconds or more.
- 79% of users who have a negative experience with a website are less likely to buy again.
How to Test Your WordPress Load Speed
Here are some popular options for testing your website load speed.
What Can I Do to Make My WordPress Load Faster?
There are several things you can do to make your website load faster.
When choosing hosting, make sure it :
- Fits size of your site.
- Can support traffic levels.
- Can handle increased traffic levels.
- Is configured properly.
- Runs the top-of-the-line hardware and software.
The size of your site can affect loading speed, so make sure you have suitable hosting and proper optimization to get the size down to as low as possible without compromising on user experience or quality.
Number of Posts
Your website’s homepage is the first impression you make.
So, it’s important that it be optimized and load as quickly as possible.
It helps to show only excerpts of content and reduce the total number of posts.
Keep Your WordPress Simple
Remove everything you don’t need and focus on content and functionality.
Even something as small as a widget should only exist because of its use for visitors.
WordPress Theme Quality
A poorly coded WordPress theme will affect:
- Load time
- The number of plugins necessary to get the most granular level of control over your theme.
Plugins should only be installed when they’re used because they only slow down your website if they’re:
- Not current
How Can Plugins Optimize Your WordPress?
WordPress optimization plugins tend to focus on several key features:
- WordPress HeartBeat API
- Reducing or disabling Ajax
- Deferring Scripts
- Lazy Loading
What Is Cache?
Caching is one of the most frequently employed methods of getting your website to load faster.
Caching is a practice that results in a faster WordPress website and improved performance.
In and of itself, cache is data that’s temporarily stored for fast access upon request.
Most often, computers need to run several processes to retrieve information before it’s made available.
Cache speeds this process up by storing the most commonly accessed data in temporary storage. WordPress websites can do the same thing.
WordPress is a dynamic content management system (CMS), which means that every visit to a WordPress website requires getting data from a database and performing several functions before WordPress gets to your browser.
Thanks to caching, WordPress can forgo many of these steps by making a copy of the page after the first visit and then use that page for every visit thereafter.
This can significantly optimize your website.
That’s why so many plugins for WordPress deal with cache.
What Is Ajax?
Simply put, Ajax updates part of a web page without reloading the entire page. Ajax can be very helpful, but it can also be a drain on your central processing unit (CPU)
What Is HeartBeat API?
Heartbeat API is WordPress’s built-in simple server polling API.
It allows for almost real-time frontend updates. Controlling it saves you CPU usage and keeps your AJAX at a reasonable amount.
What Does It Mean to Defer Scripts?
What Is a CDN?
A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a network of servers spread out across a particular geographic location for the purpose of delivering faster content delivery based on which server is closest to you).
What Is Lazy Loading?
Instead of loading an entire page at once, which may take too long, this plugin seamlessly loads only the parts being viewed by the visitor at that moment.
What Is Minification?
Minification reduces website load time by eliminating redundancies and superfluous content in:
- HTML files
- CSS files
What Is Concatenation?
This is the process of combining separate files into one file to reduce how many requests are on your site.
What Plugins Can Make My WordPress Load Faster?
Here are some well-reviewed WordPress plugins to optimize your website.
1. WP Super Cache: Faster Rendering
2+ million active installations and 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 1,254 reviews.
- Made by Automattic, the company responsible for WordPress, WooCommerce, and Jetpack.
- Easy to use.
- Advanced settings let you choose:
- Gzip compression
- Browser caching
- How content is cached
- How often cache should be updated
- You can preload content into the cache.
- Can help you set up a CDN.
2. W3 Total Cache: Faster Rendering
1+ million active installations and 4.4 out of 5-star rating based on 4,602 reviews
- At least 10x improvement in overall site performance.
- Improvements in conversion rates.
- Improvements in search engine rankings.
- Up to 80 percent bandwidth savings.
- For small-time or new users, the complexity and all the features may undermine user-friendliness.
10,000 + active installations and 4 out of 5 stars based on 50 reviews.
- Simple, three-step installation:
- Download the plugin.
- Upload it to the directory.
- Activate it through the plugins menu.
- Many users get a 2 to 4% increase in Google page speed.
- More technical plugins increase Google page speed more.
4. WP Smush: Reducing Image Size
1+ million active installations and 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 5,251 reviews
- Reduces overall size of every image without compromising integrity or quality.
- Supports all common image formats including:
- Removes unused colors from images.
- Compatible with other plugins.
- Compresses any image in your directory.
- Removes metadata from JPEG images.
- Can handle upwards of 50 images at once.
- Find and prioritize images that are slowing down your site.
- No monthly limits.
5. BJ Lazy Load: Decreasing Pageload
80,000+ active installations and 4.2 out of 5 stars based on 88 reviews.
- Lazy loading
- Last update was 3 years ago.
- No tech support.
6. WP-Optimize: Optimizing the Database
900,000+ active installations and 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 1,199 reviews.
- WP-Optimize cleans up and optimizes databases so they run better.
- Schedule automatic clean-ups of:
- Spam comments
- Trashed content
- And more.
- Compact and defragment MySQL tables.
- See database statistics and potential savings.
- Compress images.
- Cache pages for faster load times.
- Granular control over optimizations.
- Configure a predetermined number of weeks’ worth of backup data during clean-ups.
- Set automatic pre-optimization backups.
7. Autoptimize: Script Optimization
1+ million active installations and 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 1,145 reviews.
- Defers some scripts
- Lazy load images
- Toggle some basic scripts on and off.
- Can be buggy, but tech support can be responsive enough to incorporate fixes into future versions.
8. ShortPixel: Image Compression
200,000+ active installations and 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 562 reviews.
- When uploading images to WordPress, ShortPixel can automatically:
- Resize them to the max dimensions of your choice.
- Compress them with lossy or lossless compression algorithms.
- For browsers that support it, WebP conversion is available.
- PNG to JPG conversion.
- Optional: ShortPixel Adaptive Images plugin optimizes your images and delivers them using a CDN.
- Both plugins give you 100 credits per month to start, but after that, you have to pay $4.99 for more credits.
9. Lazy Load by WP Rocket: Lazy Loading
100,000+ active installations and 4.2 out of 5 stars based on 110 reviews.
- Like other plugins, Lazy Load only loads the part of the page you see. However, Lazy Load by WP Rocket works with more than just images. It also works with:
- Youtube Videos
- You also get the option of embedding a thumbnail of a video that doesn’t play until it’s activated.
- (And, of course) Images
10. Cache Enabler: Faster Rendering
90,000+ active users and 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 92 reviews
- Easy to set up.
- Clear cache with a click of a button.
- Programmatic cache clearing (example: clear cache after new posts)
- The option to exclude posts from clearing.
- Schedule cache clearing
11. Asset CleanUp: Granular Optimization Dashboard
90,000+ active installations and 4.9 out of 5 stars based on 803 reviews.
- Toggle scripts and plugins on and off.
- Doesn’t offer bloat removal.
- Yearly updates, support, and additional features come at a premium starting $47.
12. Compress JPEG & PNG Images: Image Compression
200,000+ active installations and 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 134 reviews.
- Integrates TinyJPG and TinyPNG.
- Bulk optimize JPEGs and PNGs.
- Compress animated PNGs.
- See usage settings in the settings and during bulk optimization.
- 100 images free. A small fee is needed for more.
13. WP YouTube Lyte: Lazy Loading
20,000+ active installations and 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 140 reviews.
- Inserts a thumbnail of a YouTube that only activates when clicked.
- Works on YouTube playlists as well.
- Doesn’t lazy load photos or iFrames, which Lazy Load by WP Rocket does in addition to YouTubes.
14. Heartbeat Control by WP Rocket: Heartbeat Control
100,000+ active installations and 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 50 reviews.
- Limit or stop WordPress Heartbeat API.
- Add HeartBeat rules for:
- Post Editor
15. OMGF: Host Google Fonts Locally
20,000+ active installations and 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 94 reviews.
- Generates a stylesheet of all your Google Fonts.
- Sends fonts from a CDN for faster load times.
- Requires a few extra steps but nothing too demanding.
16. WP User Avatar: Optimize Gravatars
400,000+ active installations and 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 201 reviews.
- You can either host the default Gravatar locally or create your own (a 50 by 50 pixel compressed image is recommended).
17. AMP For WP: Accelerated Mobile Pages
100,000+ active installations and 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 981 reviews.
- Get accelerated mobile pages (AMP) using WordPress.
- Highly customizable.
- One of the most highly rated and downloaded AMP PlugIns.
- More features are available for a fee.
- Strips some design elements, so give your mobile pages a thorough once over.
18. EWWW Image Optimizer: Image Compression
800,000+ active installations and 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 882 reviews.
- Compress JPEGs PNGs and PDFs.
- Free image backups stored for up to 30 days.
- To get access for premium compression (80%) you need the compress API key ($.002) and you can get faster results and more control for $5 – $15 per month.
With so many plugins for WordPress optimization to choose from, it can be helpful to read user reviews and take note of the number of active installations.
But even then there’s an abundance of riches because so many of the PlugIns enjoy 100,000+ if not 1,000,000+ active users and great reviews.
At that point, it’s simply a matter of experimenting to figure out which plugins work best for you.
At the end of the day, though, the real winners are the visitors to your website, who’ll enjoy a fast load time and get the most out of your hard work.
- 9 Best AMP WordPress Plugins for Speed, Search & Tracking
- 7 Crucial WordPress Plugins for Blogs & Businesses
- Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide
All screenshots taken by author, October 2020