Best Plugins to Speed Up WordPress Websites
Best Plugins to Speed Up WordPress Websites
Of all the digital challenges facing businesses, figuring out how to handle high website traffic is a great one to have. Whether you’ve attracted unique visitors with a brilliant marketing campaign or new product release, increasing your number of site visitors is always good news.
Sometimes a spike in traffic is predictable. Other times it might take you by surprise. Either way, optimising your site to make sure it performs consistently is essential if you’re going to impress each unique visitor and avoid losing sales to slow-down.
A surge in website traffic can cause a digital bottleneck and users are left trying to navigate a poorly performing site. At best, loading times increase and potential customers lose patience. At worst, your whole site could crash. Both can deter visitors from returning and cost you valuable opportunities.
In this article, we review some of the best plugins to speed up WordPress websites. These straight-forward plugin solutions will help your site perform under pressure and keep those visitors coming back.
High-Traffic Websites Need Sophisticated Hosting
Before we take a look at the best plugins to speed up WordPress sites, we’ll start with the fundamentals. How successfully a website functions under high traffic begins with server capability. The server your website is hosted on needs to be able to handle the pressure. A top-quality server will have enough processing power and sufficient memory resources to handle spikes in traffic.
The hosting service you use will determine the type of server that delivers your website. There are several popular types of hosting. Basic websites often start with the cheap, shared hosting, while websites with thousands of visitors require multiple, dedicated servers. If you have a busy site with thousands of monthly visitors, the best option is cloud hosting. This gives you access to multiple load-balancing servers that deliver the most reliable performance and scalability.
Of course, the cost of different hosting options varies as much as the quality. If you use the plugins mentioned in this article and find your site performance hasn’t improved dramatically, it may be time to upgrade to a better host.
Ironically, plugins and themes increase the database usage required to run a site. Therefore, it makes sense to handpick a few of the best plugins to streamline your website’s operations. Save server capacity for website visitors, rather than slowing it down with an unnecessarily complicated design. Our list of the best plugins to speed up WordPress websites is the ideal place to start.
The Best Plugins to Speed Up WordPress Websites
WP Rocket: The Superior Page Loading Plugin
WP Rocket is the leading page caching plugin for WordPress. Caching allows a WordPress site to skip time-consuming steps when loading a page. Instead of going through a complex page generation process for every visitor, a caching plugin generates static HTML pages and saves these to your server. When a user accesses your website, the plugin serves up these lighter, HTML pages. Your site looks and functions exactly as it should, but loading times are dramatically reduced. This not only delivers excellent user experience but also does wonders for your SEO as search engines always favour the fastest loading sites.
There is no complicated set-up with WP Rocket. As soon as it is downloaded, page caching is automatically enabled. WP Rocket goes one step further, though. The plugin also minifies the static files it creates, reducing the memory required to store them and delivering even faster page loading times. Google fonts are optimised and lazy loading is used to prevent all of your images loading at once and slowing down your page. There is also a mobile detection feature so that anyone visiting your site from a handheld device can enjoy the same swift loading times.
WP Rocket is one of the best plugins available to speed up WordPress websites. For just $49/£38 you can use this superior product across one website and receive full support and updates throughout the year. Considering everything you get, we think it’s a bargain.
AWS Rocket: Combining WP Rocket with Load Balancing Servers
While WP Rocket delivers a range of brilliant page loading features, it is not compatible with load balancing servers. As we mentioned previously, cloud hosting uses multiple, load balancing servers to store and deliver your site. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most extensive cloud infrastructure. For any site that experiences high traffic, it’s a smart choice that provides the most reliable performance and scalability.
If you want your site to benefit from cloud based hosting and enjoy the page-loading benefits of WP Rocket, download the AWS Rocket plugin extension. AWS Rocket is the easiest way to combine lightning-fast loading times with the reliability of multiple servers.
When your site is experiencing large volumes of traffic, combining the benefits of both will give you the best chance of delivering a smooth user experience to every visitor. WP Rocket will deliver fast-loading pages. At the same time, AWS load-balancing servers will spread the digital load, efficiently serving up the site to unlimited visitors across the globe. For more information on how it works, check out our best WPX plugins article here.
Imagify: Optimising Images to Reduce Loading Times
All websites, from blog platforms to eCommerce stores, rely on images to deliver beautiful visual design, engage visitors and create SEO opportunities. Fullscreen images and video backgrounds are becoming increasingly common. But the impact they deliver comes at a price; images are the heaviest elements on a page and take the longest time to load.
The Imagify WordPress plugin helps you to strike the ideal balance between image loading speed and visual quality. They achieve this by compressing the images files. Compression removes all of the redundant data in an image file. The result is the same image but using less information, leaving you with a smaller file and quicker loading times.
Imagify has three compression levels from which you can choose: Normal, Aggressive and Ultra. The Normal option simply compresses the file, taking away any redundant data but leaving everything else untouched. Aggressive and Ultra use heavier compression settings to greatly reduce file size but can have some impact on image quality.
As soon as the plugin is enabled, you can select your preferred compression level and your images will automatically be optimised. You can always restore your files to their original size or change your compression level. If you already have many unoptimized images on your site, the ‘Bulk Optimiser’ tool will optimise them all in one go.
WP Super Cache: Free and Easy Caching to Get You Started
To enjoy all the benefits of page caching without spending a penny is a tall order, but one that WP Super Cache delivers. It provides all the usual caching tools and is a free and easy option to get you started.
You can manually alter the advanced features to maximise the performance of the plugin across your site. With over 2 million active installations, there is an abundance of information online detailing how you can optimise these settings to better suit your hosting provider. For example, some setting options help the plugin perform better on shared servers, while other settings are better suited to sites hosted on more sophisticated servers.
Test Whether Plugins Are Improving Site Speed
Once you have installed the plugins you want to speed up your site, you’ll want to measure how much of an impact they’re having, especially if they’re costing you money. Below are a few of the most popular tools for assessing the speed of your WordPress site and the standout features of each.
GTmetrix: Offers the most comprehensive overview of your website’s performance. It can also monitor and alert you when your page is underperforming.
Pingdom: One of the most popular tools for testing WordPress website speed. Pingdom can test your site from different parts of the world and tell you exactly what is taking up space on your site.
Google page speed insights: Once it has measured your website’s speed, Google’s tool offers useful information on how you can improve your score. They have a separate test to measure the speed of websites on mobile devices.
High-Traffic Creates a Need for Speed
To consistently serve up a fault-free site, even during periods of high-traffic, your WordPress website needs to load efficiently. You don’t need to be a developer to implement the necessary changes. Begin by installing some of the plugins we’ve covered here. Tried and tested by millions of WordPress website owners, they deliver immediate improvements to site speed. The testing tools we have provided are an easy way for you to assess what is working and which areas need improvement.
If your site is still underperforming, it may mean that you need to upgrade to a more advanced hosting service. Hosting is a vast and complex topic. Watch this space for more information on the hosting options available and how you can transfer to a better host and boost your website’s performance.