Speed up WordPress using the Best Plugins for Page Performance Optimization

Our top 3 choices for best WordPress performance plugins

  • W3 Total Cache

    Best for: Caching WordPress Pages
  • Robin image optimizer

    Best for: Image optimization
  • Autoptimize

    Best for: Multi-performance optimization

Performance optimization on WordPress is often a subject delayed or completely ignored by the users of the platform. I see so many people struggling to improve their SEO and they do everything in their power, but they forget about this critical matter: performance.

SEO means a flawless user experience and a lightning fast web page definitely does a great deal to enhance that experience we're talking about. The great part about WordPress is that it doesn't come with any clutter whatsoever and the code is lightweight and well optimized.

Here at PluginWave we are passionate about web performance and making websites load faster. As means to underline this, we give you a hint of what you should always take into consideration when you want to speed up your WordPress website.

1. Always use a caching plugin

Caching is an essential page speed tool. Having a good WordPress caching plugin on your website can save you a lot of bandwidth consumption and will drastically reduce the loading time of your website. The reason why that's happening is because a caching plugin will save local copies of the files requested for loading that certain page.

This means way less resources exhausted for every time a user visits pages that need those resources (CSS files, JavaScript files, images etc).

2. Optimize the images you serve to your visitors

Photos and images usually contain more than what you actually see. Most of the time these are data bits left there by the camera that took that photo, data like location, the date of the photo, editing info etc.

When you publish images on your website you don't require all this data that takes space. For that we recommend image optimization plugins. These will strip all the unnecessary data and make your photo files way smaller.

3. Use a CDN to deliver images

Depending on the region of your visitors and the location of your website's server, there may be times when too long of a distance means a slower page loading time. As a means to solve these we recommend using a CDN (content delivery network). This CDN can drastically improve the page load times by serving your content from servers closer to the visitor.

4. Reduce the number of HTTP requests

Each time a browser has to render an image or a CSS script, the browser sends an HTTP request to the server to ask for that certain file. These HTTP requests mean more time. That means if you have more files, your website will load slower. In order to reduce the number of files we recommend you to:

  • use font icons instead of image icons
  • concatenate multiple CSS and JavaScript files into one (combine them)
  • delete unnecessary images
  • use CSS image sprites (combine images into one and display them using CSS)

5. Minify CSS & JavaScript

The minification process means reducing unnecessary spacing from your CSS and JavaScript files. This process can drastically reduce the .js and .css file sizes making the web pages load way faster.

Now that you know what we look for when optimizing page performance, let's present you the best choices to fix these issues, the best WordPress performance plugins.

  • W3 Total Cache

    Best plugin for: Caching WordPress Pages

    W3 Total Cache Plugin

    The number one caching plugin with over 1 million active installations on WordPress websites. W3 Total Cache is a complete suite of caching solutions build for speeding up your website using the visitor's browser power.

    W3 Total Cache has an average rating score of 4.5 stars out of 5 and got quite popular for speeding up WordPress websites using browser caching and database caching.

    The plugin is also capable of connecting to a CDN (StackPath - MaxCDN) and cache pages, database or minify CSS and JavaScript resources.

    In W3 Total Cache you can modify the expiration date for cached files and you can also create Cookie Groups.

      Pros

    • Advanced page and browser caching
    • Free solution with over 1 million downloads

    check out W3 Total Cache

  • Robin image optimizer

    Best plugin for: Image optimization

    Starting price: $19 / life

    Robin is a highly capable image optimization plugin that was released quite recently compared to other plugins in this list. However, the plugin managed to impress us by providing one of the best lossless and lossy image compression tools for free!

    It is not as popular as the alternatives but offers much better services, with a much powerful compression engine without requiring any upgrades.

    The plugin can help you compress or scale images without removing the current images. (it backups the old images)

    You can manually batch optimize all the files and the pro version also offers support for .webp image conversion.

    The plugin will take care of properly displaying the images when the browser supports this.

      Pros

    • No limits or restrictions for the free plan
    • Automatic image optimization using Cron
    • Supports .webp image conversion and image scalling

    check out Robin image optimizer

  • Autoptimize

    Best plugin for: Multi-performance optimization

    Starting price: $150

    Autoptimize Plugin

    As I said earlier, reducing HTTP requests is crucial for page speed optimization. Autoptimize does this by inlining critical parts of CSS in the header of your website.

    The plugin is quite popular, it has over 1 million active installations and supports various page optimization and speed enhancement tools like: minifying CSS and Javascript, .webp image conversion and lazy load for images.

    On top of these, Autoptimize concatenates all scripts on your website, it adds expires headers and caches them automatically.

      Pros

    • Minifies large .js and .css files
    • Adds expires headers and caches them

    check out Autoptimize

  • perfmatters

    Starting price: $24.95 / year

    perfmatters performance speed plugin

    perfmatters is an out of the box optimization tool designed for WordPress. This easy to use plugin does wonders for speeding up your blog, no matter what theme you use or how many plugins you have.

    The way perfmatters works is using the less-is-more principle transforming your WordPress site into a lightweight solution.

    First of all, perfmatters ensures that no unneeded resource is loaded into your website. This includes (emojis, embeds, XML-rpc, wlwmanifest, rest api etc) the list goes on and on.

    The plugin gives you option to keep or remove unneeded options from your WordPress dashboard and does exactly the same with the JavaScript files that are embedded in your website.

    On top of that, perfmatters will help you set DNS prefetching for even faster load times. This basically helps the browser recognize certain links and prefetches them before anything else.

      Pros

    • Disable unneeded scripts and files from WordPress to reduce bloat
    • Add code to header or footer
    • DNS Prefetching

    check out perfmatters

  • Hummingbird Pro

    Hummingbird is a all in one performance optimization tool from WPMU Dev. This plugin can do wonders for your site's speed and that with just few clicks.

    People seem to love this plugin because it has an average rating score of 5 out of 5 stars. Among the top features we have a minify and compression tool that also concatenates (combines files into one).

    Besides that, Hummingbird will take care of caching browser, pages, RSS feeds and Gravatar.

    In the package you'll also find Smush Pro, one of the most popular image optimization plugins for WordPress.

      Pros

    • Minify for JavaScript and CSS
    • Lazy loader for images
    • Defer unused CSS files
    • Uptime monitor and Cloudflare Cache-Control
    • File optimization tools
    • Includes file and cache monitoring tools to enhance the optimization process
    • Gzip compression

    check out Hummingbird Pro

  • WP Super Cache

    WP Super Cache

    WP Super Cache is the official caching plugin from the developers of WordPress (Automattic).

    The plugin features a clean, lightweight user interface which keeps the caching process as minimalist as possible.

    To translate the functionality of WP Super Cache in few words, this is the perfect solution to make your dynamic site static. This will reduce the number of server requests, the database queries and overall processes that took a lot to solve.

    The static files will be served to users who are not logged in, users who haven't left a comment on your website or people who haven't viewed a password protected post.

      Pros

    • Supports CDN integration
    • Rest API endpoint support

    check out WP Super Cache

  • Smush Image Compression

    Smush image compression

    Another plugin from WPMUDev, a solution that is integrated in the Hummingbird Pro site performance optimization.

    If you need just a powerful image optimizer and don't want to include all those features, then Smush is the way to go.

    The plugin features a cutting-edge image optimization tool which supports lossless or lossy compression and makes it easy to automate the process.

    You can opt-in for the auto-optimization process which will optimize every image on upload, or you can choose the bulk optimization for optimizing all images on your WordPress site.

    Besides that, Smush comes equipped with a lazy image loader and a image resizing tool that will reduce the image size even more, when possible.

      Pros

    • Lossless or lossy image compression
    • Supports .png, .jpg or .gif files
    • Integrates with the new WP Gutenberg editor
    • Also includes a lazy loader for images

    check out Smush Image Compression

  • WP Rocket

    WP Rocket Cache

    WP Rocket is a premium WordPress caching plugin that powers over 840.000 websites worldwide.

    It is very easy to set up and configure it and does everything out of the box. WP Rocket is a master in page chaching and cache preloading procedures.

    It will reduce de size of HTML, JavaScript and CSS files using a top-notch minification process.

    Besides that it includes a lazy loader for images (images will only be loaded if the user scrolls to them and they are needed).

      Pros

    • GZIP Compression and Sitemap preloading
    • Google Fonts optimization and lazy load for images
    • It concatenates files and minifies them
    • DNS Prefetching
    • Defer the JS loading

    check out WP Rocket

  • WP Fastest Cache

    WP Fastest Cache is another of our favorite caching plugins. This WordPress plugin will make it extremely fast and easy to cache all the pages on your website without having to configure anything.

    Simply install WP Fastest Cache and get rolling. Just like WP Super Cache, this plugin will transform all the pages of your website into static pages. This means they will no longer need to send requests to PHP or execute any database queries in order to be rendered.

    This process will drastically improve the page speed of your website and overall user experience.

    WP Fastest Cache also comes with support for mod_rewrite, detection of page or post change (will update the static file).

    It also includes HTML and CSS minification and GZIP compression. It will concatenate multiple CSS files into one and disable unneeded WordPress features like WP Emoji or WP Embeds.

      Pros

    • GZIP compression
    • Concatenates CSS and JS files and minifies them
    • Already translated in over 15 languages

    check out WP Fastest Cache

  • What's the best performance plugin for my website?

    I don't think there's a one solution for all performance issues. With that being said, I believe that the best way to go is to combine two or multiple plugins to offer the best possible solution. For instance, I would use an image compression tool like Robin or Smush and combine those with a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Fastest Cache.

    With that I will ensure that my images are small enough to be loaded fast on mobile devices and everything is properly cached so that people won't have to overload the server or download the resources each time.

  • Do plugins slow down my WordPress site?

    Yes they do. This doesn't mean that all plugins do. It's about how heavy a plugin is, how many resources it requires and what hosting you have. To ensure that this is not the case, we recommend you not to use a lot of plugins and certainly install only those with good reviews and good recommendations.
  • How many plugins should I have on my WordPress site?

    As I said earlier, there's no optimal plugin number. Some plugins may require more resources while others can have little to no impact on your website performance. Usually the plugins with most impact are those who use scripts and CSS to your website's frontend and the visitors accessible website. For that we recommend you to use a plugin like Autoptimize or Hummingbird, plugins that deal with concatenating files (combining them to reduce HTTP requests) and minifying them (reducing file sizes).
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