And we all want to rank better and bring floods of traffic to our site right?
The thing is, it’s much more than just for search engines.
Improving your websites loading time should be about your websites visitors and ensuring your user experience is as good as possible.
For example, in 2012 a study by Tagman.com revealed that just one second delay in page-loading time could potentially cause a loss of 7% in conversions.
Just how much of an impact 1 second could have on your site could differ but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
There’s plenty other cases for the importance of increasing your websites load time, there’s another great collection of statistics on Econsultancy.com.
For those of that use WordPress, we are in a unique position because we don’t have to be all too technically savvy to see some great improvements in our websites loading time.
This is all thanks to a great selection WordPress plugins that are designed to help you speed up your websites loading time.
What makes this even better is that all of the plugins included below are free!
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.
It’s straight forward to setup 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
- Cache preload
- CDN support
W3 Total Cache
This is another popular speed enhancing plugin. It goes beyond just being a simple caching plugin. It’s a complete framework.
I use this on several sites and it works great.
There’s advanced support for CloudFlare and various CDN services such as MaxCDN.
You will see some great increases by just enabling the basic settings, but if you’re an advanced user you will be able to get much better performance out of this plugin.
- CDN Support
- Browser caching
- Database caching
- Object caching
- And lots more
There are times when I’ve had issues with the likes of W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, it’s very rare but it does happen.
This is another powerful plugin that you can get up and running very quick. And you’ll be able to make sure that cached versions of pages are not served to logged in users or users that have left comments recently.
- Simple installation
- Support for GZIP compression
- GET Request options
- Set expiration times
- Client-side cache support
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 past I have found that sometimes particular themes and plugins can conflict with this type of plugin.
WP Minify does have debug tools to help resolve these issues and when you find which file is causing the issue you can exclude it so that that file won’t be minified. This usually resolves any conflicts.
- Debug tools to resolve potential issues
- Include extra files for minifying
- Exclude particular files that you don’t want to minify
- And more
Better WordPress Minify
This is a great alternative to WP Minify.
This plugin relies on something called the ‘enqueueing system’ within WordPress, whereas a lot of other plugins use the output buffer which seems to be one of the main reasons why people often have issues setting up minify plugins.
CDN support will be coming in future updates.
- WordPress multi-site compatible
- Complete control over the minification process
- Customise minify strings
- Available in multiple languages
This plugin is based on the Yahoo Smush.it service which is used to optimize images and remove unnecessary bytes from image files.
Most tools use ‘lossy’ formats which degrade quality, but this uses lossless formats so you won’t be able to notice any difference in quality.
I tried this plugin a long time ago and it didn’t work very well due to the fact that there were some bugs in the plugin.
Actually at the time, it broke all of my image thumbnails but thankfully there’s a plugin called ‘Regenerate Thumbnails’ that fixed the issue on my site within 5 minutes, so no harm done.
It’s worth noting that this happened a long time ago and since then the plugins development has been taken over by WPMU DEV’s team.
They have a lot of experience building great plugins so I see this plugin getting some serious improvements.
- Strips un-used colour from images
- Strips meta data from JPEG’s (this isn’t needed anyway)
- Optimizing JPEG compression
- Integrates with the Smush.it API
- Choose to run existing images through the plugin
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
P3 Plugin Profiler
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Go Daddy but creating this plugin was one of the smartest things they have done.
The idea of this plugin is that it will run a scan on your WordPress installation to figure out which plugins are slowing down your site.
You will be able to see a breakdown of exactly how long each plugin takes to load along with the impact your theme has.
- View a full profile of the impact your plugins and theme have on your site
- Option to use your IP address
- Debug mode in case you run into any issues
- Various visualisations and charts
- Detailed timeline view
- Optional feature allows the report to be emailed
Bonus: 4 top tools to test the speed of your website
This post is all about showing you WordPress plugins that you use for caching your website, minifying elements of your site and setting up things like lazy loading – all plugins that will speed up the page loading times of your website.
And I was originally going to keep it that way but I think it’s important to share a few none-WordPress tools that you can use to measure the speed of your site.
These types of tools work by just entering your websites URL into the tool and running the test.
Here are 4 tools to get you started:
- Google Page Speed
- GTmetrix (H/T to Mary Green in the comments)
- Web Page Test
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
Over to you
If you’re struggling to speed up your WordPress installation, just installing a few of these plugins can have a dramatic improvement on your page load times.
It’s important to point out that you shouldn’t go ahead and install all of these. Only install what you need and remember that less is more. It’s definitely true that there are other ways to speed up your site but some of these plugins are a great way to start.
Which plugins have you found to make the biggest difference when speeding up your WordPress installation?
And which have you had problems?
I’d love to know more about your experiences in the comments below.