Site speed is crucial for growth but is often overlooked.
Imagine all that hard work you put into writing content and setting up your site, only to be pushed aside by your competitors. Though there may be a lot of factors behind it, one such factor is site speed. Irrespective of the country or the device your reader is using, your site NEEDS to load as fast as possible to make them stick around.
Not only does it help in gluing the readers, but it also is a ranking factor for search engines. If your site speed isn’t up to the mark, it’s very unlikely you’re going to rank higher.
So, what really is hampering your WordPress site speed?
Well, it could be several factors, and some of the most common ones are discussed below.
Too many plugins installed
While plugins are necessary to some extent, having too many of them makes your site bloated and decreases the speed. It’s easy to be tempted by the functionalities of plugins because they reduce manual work, but if it’s sacrificing your speed, then it’s not a good idea.
Often half of the plugins are just sitting there collecting dust. So, start by identifying what plugins you do not need and remove them.
Images aren’t optimized
It’s a good practice to include a ton of images within articles because the readers and as well as the search engines like it. However, what’s not okay is, adding images to your site without compressing/optimizing them.
No matter how impressive an image is, if it’s anything over 200-300KB, then it needs to be compressed. Compressing images decreases the size while hardly losing any quality.
Compression/optimization can be done quickly with the use of specific plugins mentioned in this article. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Server response time is slow
There are times when you’ve done everything you could, but the problem lies somewhere else. In this case, it might be your hosting provider. Some of the hosting companies out there severely restrict how much speed they can give you, making it impossible for you to improve your site speed.
A possible solution would be to contact them regarding this or simply change your hosting provider.
PHP version is outdated
Keeping things up to date is the best way around fixing problems, so why not start with your PHP version? Since it’s the underlying programming language of all WordPress sites, using its latest version can most probably help in increasing your site’s speed.
Supplementing to the above tips, you need also to use certain plugins to increase the speed of your site further. Let’s have a look at them.
Labeled as the “most powerful” caching plugin by WordPress experts, WP Rocket is really essential to boost your site speed. It’s super easy to install and gets activated instantly, eliminating any unnecessary struggle.
This plugin does a bunch of tasks in the background without you having to do anything, such as:
- Loads images on site only when a user scrolls down
- Clears page cache frequently
- Simulates a visit to preload the cache
The interface is quite simple and their support team is ever-ready to solve any of your problems.
Increase your site’s speed and overall performance by using Perfmatters. It works by reducing unnecessary HTML requests and assets. It has an easy dashboard from which you can enable/disable the requests and do other configurations.
- Lazy load images
- DNS prefetch
- CDN rewrite
- Remove jQuery migrate, version details, RSD link, a short link, RSS feed links, Dashicons, REST API links, query strings
- Disable comments, self pingbacks, heartbeat API, Google fonts, RSS feeds, XML-RPC, emojis, embeds
- Change login URL, autosave interval
and a lot more…
Once you install this plugin, you can enjoy frequent updates and top-notch support.
Remember I told you above about compressing/optimizing your images? Well, Smush does exactly that. The features of this plugin revolve around images, which lets you:
- Put them on “lazy load”
- Detect huge images
The best part is, you can automate all of these tasks and let it run in the background. Smush is compatible with Gutenberg and doesn’t restrict any monthly volume of use, which means you can optimize as many images as you want.
If you want more advanced features, you can also check out Smush PRO.
One of the great features of PRO is CDN. Smush will serve the images from their fast CDN without the complexity of DNS changes.
WP Super Cache
PHP scripts are a lot heavier than HTML, and keeping that in mind, WP Super Cache helps in improving your site speed. It generates static HTML files from your dynamic blog and shows that to your visitors instead of the full-fledged heavy one.
Upon configuration, it also clears the unwanted cache to speed things up. Another very interesting feature is “preloading”. The plugin automatically visits your site’s pages and generates a preloaded version of it to your visitors, so that it doesn’t have to load all over again every time.
Just like that, there are quite a few more features like this that are aimed at achieving a better site speed.
W3 Total Cache
Another great caching plugin, W3 Total Cache. It has over a million installs and does best what it is known for – increasing site speed via caching.
This plugin is totally free and open-source and can be integrated with a CDN to drastically improve things. It works well on mobile as well, which means the visitors would get the same benefits they’d get on a desktop.
WP Fastest Cache
Most of these “cache” plugins have similar names, and WP Fastest Cache is no different in that case. So, it’s easy to get confused between them; however, this plugin does have a bunch of unique features that make it stand out.
- Browser caching
- GZIP tools
- Image optimization
- CDN support
- Cache timeouts
The settings page of this plugin is pretty user-friendly, and each checkbox has a little explanation so that you know what you’re doing. If you wish to access more features, you can upgrade to their premium plan.
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer can help you increase site speed, save storage, and bandwidth all together. Upon installation, this plugin will optimize all your pre-loaded images and as well as the new ones. It has a smart technology that identifies if your image needs to be converted to another file format for better speed, and it does that for you if you wish.
You can be sure your images don’t lose any quality in the process, and the best part is, it doesn’t take forever to optimize a ton of images, thanks to their in-server optimization.
An all-in-one optimization plugin, Hummingbird has everything you need to speed up your site. You can do file compression, asset optimization, integrate Cloudflare, and also monitor your performance. Apart from that, you can:
- Combine and minify code
- Perform entire site caching
- Compress files via GZIP
- Get notified during downtime and slow loading
- Access analytics for page-speed
There’s a lot more to this premium plugin, and you can try them all using their 7-day free trial. If site speed is your main concern (like all of us), then you should definitely check this one out.
Turn your heavy images lighter with Imagify. It can optimize all your existing and new images without sacrificing any quality. The great thing is you do not have to do any of it manually. After installing this plugin, it’ll automatically start optimizing and save you a massive amount of time.
You can get started for free and then upgrade to a premium plan if needed.
Imsanity is another powerful plugin that helps in improving your site speed. The way this works is, it resizes your images to a reasonable size so that it takes minimal space. You can further configure the width and height and even set the quality level.
Another feature that is worth talking about is, it can convert your PNG images to JPG within the system, without leaving your dashboard. Overall, Imsanity is handy and great for getting things done quickly.
Easy to set up, Swift Performance requires no coding knowledge to achieve a much faster WordPress site. It has a bunch of different features, like:
- Caching of pages
- Optimization of images
- Optimization of database
- Enable/disable plugins on certain pages
Apart from all that, it also offers lazy loading and more advanced caching options. Since this plugin isn’t free, you’d have to purchase one of their paid plans, starting at just $39.99/year.
A unique plugin, Quicklink, makes navigation a breeze. Many sites (including the well-known ones) suffer from slow navigation from one page to another. To combat that, this plugin ridiculously reduces the loading time for your visitors by pre-loading the next page.
It has a smart technology that already guesses which link the visitor might be visiting next and preloads that in advance to avoid any waiting time. Quicklink is lightweight and only does what’s required. Nothing less, nothing more.
There you have it – the best WordPress plugins to make your site load a lot quicker than before. I hope this list helps you achieve a better ranking and user experience.