15 Top WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins To Make Your Website Run Very Fast
Need a solid list of WordPress speed optimization plugins to make your site load faster?
Boy, do I have the list for YOU? Cache plugins, image compression, lazy load and more. I use at least 1/2 these on my own site and have used them to make other websites load 400% faster. Yes, I do WordPress speed optimization and SEO for a living so I’m pretty much a nerd about it.
I recommend running your WordPress site through GTmetrix (check the Page Speed and YSlow tabs) or another speed testing tool to use as a benchmark. Once you’ve installed each plugin, retest your GTmetrix scores to see how it affects your page load time and scores. Most plugins have at least a 4.5-star rating so rest assured, I have done my research and testing.
Ps. if you join the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group they have a list of 60+ recommended WordPress Speed Up Tools and useful links. But I did try to include the important ones here 🙂
Here’s the list…
1. WP Rocket
WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in this Facebook poll and is what I use on my site. It’s a $39 premium plugin but is well worth it if site speed important. I even did my own test on WP Rocket vs. WP Fastest Cache. vs. W3 Total Cache, and WP Rocket gave me the best load times. Note you should only be using 1 cache plugin at a time, however, it’s best to try out at least 2-3 (the ones I listed) to see which one gives you the best results/scores in Pingdom/GTmetrix.
My WP Rocket tutorial shows you how to configure the settings with Cloudflare + MaxCDN. I keep it updated with the latest versions and reference WP Rocket’s documentation. This can fix a TON of items in GTmetrix and is probably the 2nd biggest speed factor outside of hosting.
View My WP Rocket Configuration Guide (With Cloudflare + MaxCDN)
This is the highest rated FREE cache plugin and is super easy to configure. My WP Fastest Cache tutorial shows you how to configure the tabs and integrate it with Cloudflare + MaxCDN but here is the first tab (below). Unlike WP Rocket, this plugin doesn’t have an option for lazyloading images/videos, database cleanup, and other options… so you will need to use WP-Optimize and the Lazy Load For Videos plugins if you want those features too (recommended).
W3 Total Cache can work extremely well on some websites, not so good on others. The W3 Total Cache settings are difficult to configure but my tutorial (below) includes a zip file of my pre-configured settings which you can upload directly to the plugin (in the General settings).
Removes trash, spam, post revisions, transients, and other junk files stored in your database which after accumulating, can slow down both your WordPress site and admin panel. I would run this every couple weeks (both WP-Optimize and WP Rocket have an option to schedule).
- Install the plugin
- Go to the WWP-Optimize tab
- Run the plugin as the default settings but uncheck “unapproved comments”
If you’re using WP Rocket they have this feature in the “database” settings…
This plugin replaces embedded Youtube and Vimeo videos with a clickable preview image that when clicked, will load the video. Videos take the longest time to load by FAR. Just to give you an idea, my W3 Total Cache tutorial only has 2 embedded videos, but when I used the lazy load that post’s load time went from 5s to 1.5s. However, an alternative (and more effective method) is to lightly embed videos by adding some code to your WordPress theme.
If you’re using WP Rocket they have this feature in the “basic” settings…
Imagify fixes the “optimize images” items in GTmetrix (lossless compression). See my full image optimization instructions if you also want to learn how to serve scaled images (resizing them to the correct dimensions) and specify image dimensions (setting a width/height in the images’ HTML or CSS). Imagify gives you 25MB/month free then you need to buy a plan or wait until next month for it to reset. There are free plugins with no limits (Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer) but you run the risk of broken images, quality loss, or the plugin won’t work.
- Sign up for Imagify
- Install the Imagify Plugin
- You will be prompted with the instructions below:
- Enter your API key from your Imagify account
- Set your compression level (normal, aggressive, ultra)
- Imagif’em all (photo below) with bulk optimizes all images on your site
- Once you’ve reached your limit, pay $4.99 or wait next month to reset your limit
You’ve probably heard of accelerated mobile pages which is a recent Google project that makes mobile pages load faster and adds an “AMP” stamp next to your mobile snippets. This will change the layout/design of your mobile pages so test this plugin out and if you don’t like it, you can delete it to revert to your old design. You can also use the Glue For Yoa/st & AMP plugin to customize text color, link color, hover color, and other elements of your mobile pages.
- Install the AMP plugin by Automattic (adds the AMP pages)
- Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP plugin if using Yoast (customizes the design)
- Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
- Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
- Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results
- Visit the accelerated mobile pages section in Google Search Console to see errors
If you commonly leave your WordPress admin up for long periods of time, especially while writing or editing a post, the repeated POST requests can cause high resource usage and slow down your site. Heartbeat Control allows you to manage the frequency of the WordPress heartbeat API and you can change the frequency to 15-60 seconds, or disable it completely.
- Install the plugin
- Go to Settings > Heartbeat Control, then change ‘override heartbeat frequency’ to 60s if you have multiple contributors, or disable it completely if you’re the only contributor
9. WP Disable
Disables many features that consume CPU and make your site slow…
Allows you to disable:
- Google Maps
- RSD (Really Simple Discovery) tag
- Shortlink Tag
- WordPress API from header
- Windows Live Writer tag
- WordPress Generator Tag
- Pingbacks + trackbacks
- WooCommerce scripts
- WooCommerce reviews
- Woocommerce Cart Fragments
It can also paginate comments after 20 comments or disable them after 28 days.
Too many plugins (or just 1 large plugin) can significantly slow down your site. I once logged into a client’s site and helped them delete 1/2 their plugins which made their site load 200% faster. P3 finds your slowest loading plugins and organizes them in a nice pie chart. You need to do a little research but you should replace these with lightweight plugins. For example, Revolution Slider takes a long time to load while Soliloquy Slider is way faster and lightweight.
- Install the plugin
- Go to your plugins menu
- Under P3 click Scan Now > Auto Scan
- Wait for P3 to analyze your slowest plugins
- Replace slow plugins with lightweight plugins
- Deactivate and delete all plugins you don’t use
- Delete plugins you only need at certain times, then reinstall when needed
P3 Profiler hasn’t been updated for years and may not work. An alternative is to run your site through GTmetrix and use the Waterfall tab. You can also check this list of plugins that consume high resources from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group.
11. Plugin Organizer
Selectively disable plugins on certain pages/posts and change the order in which they load. Contact form and social sharing plugins don’t need to be on every page/post so only use the plugins you need. You’ll want to configure the settings, global plugins, and edit specific pages/posts to selectively disable plugins. You can read their documentation if you need help.
- Install the plugin
- Go to Plugin Organizer > Global Plugins to configure
- Edit any page/post and selectively disable plugins using the sidebar
If you have a LOT of comments on posts, each person’s avatar will slow down that post (it’s a problem with WordPress). You can use this plugin to cache Gravatar images or disable Gravatars completely (though this will prevent pics from showing up) and make your comments section look boring. But it’s a tradeoff between Gravatars or your load times.
If you see “minimize redirects” in GTmetrix this probably means you changed the www or HTTP version of your site but didn’t change your links/image to correspond with the new version…
You can either fix these manually or use the Better Search And Replace plugin if you need to change these in bulk. It can also be helpful for fixing broken links, just be sure you read their instructions or else improper use can affect your database. But overall it’s pretty easy to use.
14. Lazy Load
This is the same as the Lazy Load For Videos plugin only for images. I prefer to only use the Lazy Load For Videos plugin since the load time of 1 video can be equivalent to 50 images.
I have never used this speed plugin, but it has great reviews. Autoptimize takes care of items found in your GTmetrix report: add expires header, minification, others. Using a cache plugin (eg. W3 Total Cache) to complement Auto-optimize is recommended by the plugin developer.
Other Notable Tools / Resources
SiteGround – they were the #1 rated host in a Facebook poll taken by the WP Hosting Facebook Group where over 200 knowledgeable people voted. They’re also the only host listed on all 3 WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal official hosting pages. Fast hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide, SiteGround will migrate you for free, and this can cut load times by multiple seconds. This is because their speed technology is super fast and they have great uptimes, support, and security. My SiteGround review is loaded with evidence on why they’re the best (and a StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek comparison chart) but I’ll even PayPal you $50 if you’re not happy… just show me a receipt. And if you sign up using my affiliate link you’ll be helping me donate $3,000 to a good cause on GoFundMe which will go to children, cancer, veterans… something along those lines. But if your hosting is slow and “reduce server response time” is in your Page Speed Insights report, this should fix both these.
Cloudflare – free CDN and speed/security service which mirrors your site (and offloads resources) on over 115 data centers. Integrates with most cache plugins with the option to use aggressive minification, Railgun, and hotlinking. All my cache plugin tutorials include Cloudflare setup instructions and don’t forget to setup page rules for your WordPress admin.
MaxCDN – hosts your files on multiple servers around the world (as opposed to 1 origin server), reducing the geographic distance between your website and visitors – a recommendation in the WordPress optimization guide. Paid service ($90/year) or sign up for a free test account.
Pingdom – the most accurate tool for measuring load times according to WP Rocket, though GTmetrix has better recommendations for actually optimizing your site, in my humble opinion.
GTmetrix – good for identifying images that need to be optimized using the 3 methods: serving scaled images (resizing them), specifying images dimensions in the HTML/CSS, and optimizing images (lossless compression). GTmetrix recently switched to a fully loaded time metric which shows a longer load time than previously. Their waterfall tab measures individual slow loading elements, and if your time to the first byte is long that indicates your hosting is slow.
Google Page Speed Insights – most recommendations can be ignored but it’s good for measuring server response time which Google recommends >200ms or your hosting is slow.
Bad Bots .htaccess List – extensive list of spammy bots which when blocked by uploading to .htaccess may significantly reduce CPU usage. You can find out if spammy bots are crawling your site using AWStats (listed in the Analytics tools section). Configuring Wordfence’s crawl limiting rules will also help block fake Google crawlers, spammy bots, excessive crawling, etc.
Pronaya (My WordPress Speed Optimizer) – you can hire my WordPress speed optimizer on freelancer.com who I’ve been working with for 5 years and we’ve optimized multiples sites to load 500% faster. His name is Pronaya, he’s $40/hour and has a perfect 5/5 star review with 19 reviews (just sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDKAMOL). If you think I’m good at speed optimization, Pronaya is way better. I’ve also been working with Usama (his username is I333) who is quite cheaper but is also amazing with 4.9/5 stars and 375+ reviews.
My WordPress Speed Optimization Tutorial – has 175+ comments with people saying things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.” Tons of people have used it to improve Pingdom/GTmetrix scores.
I hope you find these WordPress speed optimization plugins useful! If you have questions leave me a comment. Or if you simply need to fix your slow WordPress site, see my tutorial above. It has over 175 comments and has helped many people reduce their load time to >1s.