Speed Optimization: the WordPress Plugins You Need

I’ve talked a lot about security over the last few weeks. This week, though, I want to talk about another important website attribute: speed.

For anyone who experienced 56k dial-up, you could be forgiven for thinking today’s super-fast broadband connections have solved the problem of website speed. After all, most websites load within a few seconds.

We’ve become accustomed to lightning-quick websites, though, and this has made us more demanding than ever before.

So let’s make this clear: speed matters.

Why is it so important? Because Google loves fast websites.

On more than a few occasions, the search engine giant has confirmed that website speed is an important ranking factor. In other words, making your website faster will improve your website’s ranking in Google.

This raises the important question: how do I make my website faster?

Good news: there’s lots of ways! Today, though, I want to focus on speed optimization plugins.

A quick warning: having too many plugins is a common cause of a sluggish website. You should only install a plugin if you absolutely need it, and you should never, ever have more than one plugin that performs the same functionality.

That said, some plugins really can make your website super-fast, and today I want to show you 14 of the best!

Caching Plugins

Caching plugins serve a static version of your website to your visitors. This is far quicker than loading the dynamic version from scratch every time.

Best caching plugins:

Lazy Loading Plugins

Unfamiliar with lazy loading? Essentially it means that the images above the fold — the ones your visitors will see straight away — are prioritized. Images further down the page are only loaded when the visitor scrolls down, just before they appear on screen.

Best lazy loading plugins:

Content Delivery Network Plugins

Did you know that the physical distance between you and a web server will impact how quickly a website loads? Big distances tend to result in big load times. Content Delivery Networks (CDN) solve this problem by storing a website on servers all over the world. The user then connects to the server geographically closest to them.

Best CDN Plugins:

Image Compression Plugin

The file size of images means they take far longer to load then text. You can trim some of the file size off your images, without losing quality, by using an image compression plugin.

Best image compression plugins:

Database Optimization Plugins

By default, WordPress stores all sorts of unnecessary clutter in your database. A good database optimization plugin can completely clean-up your WordPress database, and this can speed up your website substantially.

Best database optimization plugins:

Final Thoughts

If you take website speed as seriously as you should, these are the plugins you need. Each plugin performs a different speed-enhancing functionality, so consider getting one from each category (most of the plugins I’ve listed are free, so go ahead and experiment).

If you want to track how much faster your website becomes, try running your website through Pingdom before and after installing the speed optimization plugins!

Do you have any speed optimization tips? Share them in the comments section below!

Featured image courtesy of SuperCar-RoadTrip.fr

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