With all the hard work that you put into building your website, do you know the one thing that can kill it before it even has a chance?
Loading speed is essential to your site’s success.
Think about it. How long are you willing to wait for a site to load before you decide to just move onto the next one?
Not long, right?
Most visitors to your site are only willing to wait a matter of seconds for your site to load before they decide it isn’t worth the effort and escape out, back to Google, where they will eventually make their way to your competition.
Speaking of Google, the search engine includes your loading speed in its search algorithms. The faster your site, the better your ranking.
Caching: W3 Total Cache
If you’re looking for a free web caching option, W3 Total Cache is the most advanced plugin for web performance optimization to date.
This plugin is one of the most respected and recommended WPO frameworks by major web developers and web host. Plus, it has gained the trust of big business names like AT&T and Mashable.
Impressive. But, is W3 Total Cache the right plugin for your needs?
This plugin will do a lot for you. The website boasts perks such as
- At least 10x improvement in overall site performance.
- Improvements in conversion rates.
- Improvements in search engine rankings.
- Up to 80 percent bandwidth savings.
And, that is just the tip of the cache iceberg.
W3 Total Cache is a big-time plugin with a monstrous number of features. For high volume, high traffic sites, a plugin with these capabilities is essential.
On the other hand, the complexity of this plugin doesn’t make it = user-friendly to the uninitiated and its intended audience is experts in the field. The features can be overwhelming and, honestly, too complicated for the small-time user.
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache comes with a great set of features, balanced with ease of use.
Some plugins are too basic, others are too advanced – the developer of this plugin has definitely found the middle ground.
Just install, activate and run through the settings. Then hit save and you’re ready to go.
I especially like how easy it is to set cache expiration times for certain URL strings.
And it gets better, because this plugin is used by over 200,000 people and receives great reviews on WordPress.org.
- Easy setup
- 1-click to clear cache and/or minified CSS etc
- Minify CSS and HTML
- Set posts/pages to exclude (some like admin area excluded by default)
- Set expiration times for all posts/pages or certain URL strings
- CDN integration
- Premium version available with extra features
The three-step process for installing this plugin include downloading the plugin, uploading it to the directory and activating it through the plugins menu.
The process really couldn’t be any simpler or foolproof.
WP Super Minify won’t increase Google page speed as much as some of the more technical plugins, however, many users can expect an increase of 2-4 percent.
Not too bad for an easy and intuitive plugin.
WP Super Cache
This is one of the most widely used caching plugins available for WordPress. At the time of writing this post it has had over 5.5 million downloads.
WP Super Cache is straight-forward to set up but has some settings for advanced users which can be used to get more out of the plugin.
- Support for multiple caching types (Mod_Rewrite, PHP and Legacy)
- Serve static HTML files
- CDN support
WP Super Minify
The idea of minifying is to combine JS, HTML and CSS files so that they can be compressed and served to visitors in a way that reduces website loading times.
It’s worth noting that you should be very careful when setting up these types of plugins, in the
- Extremely straight-forward and easy to use.
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 Yoast & AMP plugin to customize text color, link color, hover color, and other elements of your mobile pages.
This is a must-have speed plugin. It helps removes query strings, loads fonts asynchronously, hosts your Google Analytics tracking code locally, limits the number of post revisions, disables autosaves (among many other unnecessary features in WordPress core), plus a lot more.
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
Reducing Image Size: WP Smush
WP Smush is an award-winning, image compression plugin.
Every image on your site can increase page load time. In the past, the only real way around this was by compromising image quality. With WP Smush, every image is compressed so that the overall size is decreased, yet the integrity and quality of the image remain intact.
What are some of the perks of WP Smush?
- It supports all common image formats including JPEG, GIF, and PNG.
- Removes unused colors from images.
- It is compatible with other plugins.
- Compresses any image in your directory.
- Removes metadata from JPEG images.
- Multiple images to compress? No problem. W3 Smush handles up to 50 at a time.
WP Smush is the go-to plugin for image optimization.
Lazy Load For Videos
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 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.
Optimizing the Database: WP-Optimize
Running a WordPress site and/or blog can lead to a highly inefficient database.
Every time a new page or post is saved, WordPress creates a revision of that post or page. So, if you edit a post 6 times (as I’ve done so far with this post) there might be 5 copies of this post as revisions.
As you can imagine, this quickly adds data to the database table resulting in unnecessarily bloat and slower access.
In other cases, a large blog might have thousands of spam or un-approved comments saved in their tables, causing further inefficiencies.
In short, WP-Optimize allows you to clean up and optimize your database to make it run better. You can also remove all those post revisions and comments automatically to ensure your database is running neat, fast, and efficient.
Once enabled, you can define a schedule which will automatically clean-up your database by removing all unnecessary data like spam comments, trashed content, etc., compact/de-fragment your MySQL tables, show database statistics and potential savings and more.
BJ Lazy Load
Usually when a visitor hits your website and tries to load a page it will load the entire page.
If it’s a long page with lots of images this can cause your loading times to skyrocket.
The truth is that you don’t actually need the entire page to load at the same time, especially images which usually take the most time to load.
The idea of ‘lazy loading’ is that specific elements are only loaded when they are needed.
- Replaces post images, Gravatar images and post thumbnails
- Replaces content iframes with a placeholder until content needs to load
- Plugin uses jQuery to operate
- Serves scaled down images with responsive designs
Tools to test the speed of your website
Here are 5 tools to get you started: