WordPress has undoubtedly captured a huge market as a CMS platform for websites. There are millions of websites built using WordPress which is great. The question is how many of these websites actually perform and rank well in search engines?

You may have a great design and functionality built using WordPress as a backend but a slow loading website can have devastating impact especially in search rankings.

Website page loading speed is one of the crucial factors that search engines like Google consider in their search results.

In addition, several research’s claim that a user engagement drops sharply if a website page takes longer than 2 to 3 seconds to load which means that the bounce rate increases. This ultimately affects conversion and rakings both.

So, it’s quite important to have a website that loads fast considering latest user engagement patterns which seem to be changing all the time. People like easy to use, fast and elegant websites. There is no margin for error if you wish to survive and prosper.

Improving the loading speed of your website is really about ensuring that your website visitors get best possible experience.

At N23, we love WordPress and have worked on number of WordPress websites with healthy loading speed. We have used quite a few WordPress plugins for website speed improvement and they’ve really boosted site performances. There is a great collection available out there.

Let’s have a look:

Speed optimization WordPress plugins

Below is the list of WordPress plugins that can potentially improve WordPress website speed significantly. Many of them are free.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a single WordPress plugin for speed optimization that rules them all.
It includes all the caching functions that you’d want, plus the ones that you’d probably have not thought of.
WP Rocket has one of the most user-friendly and well-presentedinterfaces compared to other similar speed optimization WordPress plugins.
Several other WordPress plugins for caching will require you to understand their manual first but WP Rocket has a simple and easy setup process comparatively.
We like the fact that it contains features for which you’d otherwise have to use other additional plugins. Here you’ll get database optimization, lazy loading for images and also you can host code for Google Analytics on your WordPress website.
This is definitely a worth having plugin if you are seriously looking out for speed improvement WordPress plugin that includes all important features.

Key features:

  • Minify JS, CSS and HTML
  • User-friendly interface
  • Page caching
  • Least effort needed for improving speed
  • CDN integration
  • Image lazy loading
  • Cloudflare integration
  • Advanced rules for caching
  • Cache pre-load
  • Version rollback
  • Import and export settings
  • Optmization of Database
  • Direct Cloudflare setup

Hummingbird

Hummingbird is a strong WP caching contender in this competitive market. Its user-friendly features to manage each function with ease and reports with detailed performance statistics makes it a superb WP speed improvement plugin.

It’s very simple to use without much technical knowledge required and helps to enhance your WordPress website speed in several ways.

Key features:

  • Advance minifying features
  • Detailed performance report
  • Compatible with CDN and Cloudflare
  • Works along other WP solutions for caching
  • WooCommerce supported
  • Image Optimization
  • Monitor website’s uptime
  • Monitor updates, backups and security issues.

 

WP Fastest Cache

The WordPress plugin for speed optimization includes some great features that are easy to use.

Unlike other plugins which are either too advanced or too basic, this WordPress plugin developers have definitely created WP Fastest Cache that seems to be well in the middle.

It’s very simple to install, activate and set. Just save the settings and you are prepared to go.

One thing we like in particular is that it’s so easy to set it’s cache expiration schedule for specific URL strings.

The plugin is getting even better now. There are over 200,000 users and has excellent reviews on WordPress.org.

Key features:

  • Easy and quick setup
  • CSS and HTML minify
  • Single click action to clear cache
  • CDN Integration
  • Schedule expiration times for all pages/posts or specific URL strings
  • Set pages/posts
  • Advance premium version available with additional features

 

WP Super Cache

This is another popular and widely used WordPress speed optimization plugin with over 5 million downloads which is a huge number.

It has pretty straight forward and easy setup and also includes few advanced settings which can be efficiently used for even better performance.

Key features:

  • Preload cache
  • Multiple caching types like Legacy and PHP, Mod_Rewrite etc. supported
  • CDN integration
  • HTML static files served

 

W3 Total Cache

This is another highly popular WordPress website speed optimization plugin that gives more than simple caching feature. It’s actually a total framework.

It has advance level support for several CDN and Cloudflare services.

It supports several caching methods and has a large array of options

However due to the presence of too many options, it’s not straight forward to setup. An expert WordPress developer needs to handle it because if you are not sure about the settings, you could potentially break the website.

Further it’s also important to note that uninstalling W3 Total Cache is tricky too. Simple deactivation process or removing the files won’t be sufficient in this case.

Key features

  • Browser caching
  • CDN integration
  • Minify JS/CSS/HTML
  • Object caching
  • Database caching

Perfmatters

This WordPress plugin approaches differently for enhancing website page loading time compared to the others listed above.

There are several options enabled in WordPress default set up that may not be required for most websites and contributes in slow page loading. With Perfmatters you can easily disable these options by simply clicking few buttons.

Due to unnecessary HTTP requests several WordPress websites face slow page loading issue.

Perfmatters provides facility to disable these unwanted scripts for each page. Which also means that you can control plugins and prevent unwanted code loading.

This is worth having even though you are using another cache plugin

Key features:

  • Disable default WordPress options that effect speed
  • Works along with other caching plugin
  • Disable HTTP scripts for each page
  • Support for DNS prefetch
  • Lightweight WordPress Speed Optimization plugin

Cache Enabler

This is another great WordPress plugin from KeyCDN for speed improvement.

It gets set up in just few minutes and is a light weight plugin.

Minification setup, time setting for cache expiry and several other options make lot of improvement in loading speed.

There is also useful plugin from the same developers called CDN Enabler which too is light in weight and easy to install/set up.

Key features:

  • Single click for cache clearance
  • Minify JS/CSS/HTML code
  • Set cache clearance behavior
  • Expiration time setup
  • Feature to exclude post ID’s from cache

BJ Lazy Load

Generally, when your website page is opened by a visitor, it will try to load all the elements of that page.

This process causes high increase of page loading time especially if it’s a lengthy page with many images.

The fact is that the entire page doesn’t need to load when you open it, especially the image content which tends to consume maximum loading time.

The concept of ‘lazy loading’ helps to load particular elements of the page as they are needed.

Key features:

  • It uses jQuery to function
  • Content iframes get replaced with placeholders until it is needed during further loading
  • Replaces Thumbnail, Post and Gravatar images
  • Serves resized images for responsive layout.

WP Smush.it

This plugin works like Yahoo Smush.it which optimizes images and removes unwanted extra bytes from image files without much affecting the quality.

In its latest version, Smush.it has added an exciting new feature that helps in compressing a whole bunch of images present in WP image folder and significantly improving the loading time for old posts in particular.

Key features:

  • Removes un-wanted colour from images
  • Removes meta data from jpeg files
  • Smush.it API integration
  • JPEG compression optimization
  • Option to use this plugin for existing images.

 

Summing up

So, if you have a WordPress website that’s struggling with page loading speed, using a few of the above listed plugins can significantly enhance page load times and ultimately help in improving performance.
It’s safe to have expert WordPress developers getting involved and you shouldn’t attempt to use all of these at the same time as it could be disastrous too.