Passing core web vitals is an almost never-ending battle but with a few tips and tricks, the right combination of some elements on your website, you can get your scores green even before you know it.
You just have to take care of a couple of things, this involves removing bad or excess codes, adding good codes to take care of other loose ends and so much more. Already we’ve discussed how the theme you use on your WordPress can helping your score and listed the best themes, your hosting server is also important, these are the options we recommend too.
Now it’s time to take care of things on-site and really fix those bottlenecks wreaking havoc on your site speed.
WordPress Optimization Plugins to Use
So we’ve divided this guide into three different sections as the plugins we’re recommending to you in this guide are all working on different aspects of your site and also recommended three options you can look at to find the right fit for you.
The sections are:
- Caching plugins
- Asset management plugins
- Image optimization plugins.
Let’s dive into these now.
Best Caching Plugins For WordPress
For starters, having a proper caching setup for your site is the first step to having a faster site. In WordPress, setting up caching is very easy to do, just find a plugin to take care of the job and you’re good to go but you should know, these plugins are not built equal.
Some are way powerful than others while others are doing next to nothing on your site.
If you’re not sure what caching is, This definition from Cloudflare sums it up:
You want your site caching set up properly if you want to handle a huge chunk of passing the core web vital metrics and here are the plugins we recommend to help you get there.
1. WP Rocket
Since its launch in 2013, WP Rocket has been the number one plugin for most WordPress website owners looking easily to speed up their website. So what makes this plugin unique from others?
Well, upon activation your website gets equipped with all the tools it needs to load up quickly give your website visitors the best experience and all of this is possible with the help of these WP Rocket features like:
- Page Caching
- GZIP Compression
- Cache Preloading
- eCommerce Optimization
- Browser Caching
WP Rocket is also compatible with the most popular plugins and themes, it’s also one of the top plugins recommended by top Managed WordPress hosting providers so be rest assured you’re putting your money where your mouth is.
The starting price for this WordPress plugin is $36.75 for a single website and $186.75 for unlimited websites, this will come in handy if you handle websites for your clients and all the plans give you access to a year of support and updates.
2. LiteSpeed Cache
LiteSpeed Cache doesn’t just help cache your website contents, it does so much more than that and some might call it the All in one Accelerated solution for your WordPress website.
LiteSpeed Cache, unlike WP Rocket we mentioned above, can be installed for free and works very well with websites using cPanel or are on a shared web hosting. So what are the interesting features that this plugin offers?
Find out below:
- Server-Level Full-Page Cache
- Image Optimization
- HTTP/2 Push
- Content Delivery Network Support
Breeze is the product of Cloudways Hosting and the recommended caching plugin if you’re hosting your site at Cloudways, which you should. It’s one of the fastest web hosting solutions we recommended to help improve your site’s core web vitals.
Breeze is a very simple plugin and it’s very easy to use. Simply tick the right options and you’re good to go.
Since it’s built especially for Cloudways hosting users, it communicates well with the already existing server-level caching, Varnish -available on the platform and helps create another form of caching with more features on site-level such as Gzip optimization, browser caching that add expires headers to static files, Minification and more.
Via this plugin too, you can easily set up Cloudways CDN and even activate Lazy loading for images if your theme already does not have this feature bundled. In your quest to defeat core web vitals and improve your site speed, Breeze is certainly one tool to try whether you’re using Cloudways hosting or not.
Best Asset Management Plugins For WordPress
One way or the other these codes show up in unneeded areas and end up slowing down your site. These asset management plugins are here to help you identify these issues and fix them where need be whether it’s moving them to the footer where they’re loaded last or even removed completely.
As mentioned above, here are the three options we recommend to check out.
1. Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster
Asset CleanUp WordPress plugin comes in very handy if you need to stop plugin or theme files from loading on all pages. This plugin helps you select where you want the assets to run or not. With Asset CleanUp, you can easily reduce the HTML size of any page on your website, and with Gzip compression, it’s even better!
All of these features are available on the free version of this plugin. Below are some of the features you get when you get the PRO version of Asset CleanUp WordPress plugin:
- Unload CSS/JS files on all WordPress pages including Categories, Tags, Custom Taxonomy
- Unload plugins in the frontend view (for guest visitors)
- Unload plugins within the Dashboard /wp-admin/ – This is very helpful if you have pages that loads very slowly in the Admin dashboard
- Apply “font-display:” CSS property to @font-face from existing local files to improve the PageSpeed score for “Ensure text remains visible during webfont load”
- Priority in releasing new features & other improvements
- Premium support and updates within the Dashboard
The pricing starts at $49 for a single website and $79 while the unlimited website plan goes for $149.
So what does NitroPack do exactly? This all-in-one performance WordPress plugin provides you with website optimization features from image optimization to code modification and other amazing features to give your website the advantage it needs to be fast!
Wondering how it works? Well, all the optimization happens via the cloud which is a very lightweight solution. With NitroPack’s incredible simple setup, you do not need any coding or technical skills to get this plugin working perfectly.
Below are some features you’re getting when you install this plugin:
- Cache Invalidation: With this feature helps you keep serving your visitors a cached version of your site while you work in the background.
- Critical CSS tailored to each of your unique layouts: This feature is extremely useful if you have pages with the same post type but different layout. NitroPack will detect and generate critical CSS for each of this layouts.
- Optimize resources linked statically into your theme files: Like Critical CSS tailoring, NitroPack will find and optimize resources linked into your theme, even the hardcoded ones.
NitroPack free plan is perfect for small traffic websites and testing but if you’re looking into getting the full advantage that this plugin gives, we recommend you check out their paid plan and the starting price for that is $21/mo for a single website.
Perfmatters has been tested to work with all WordPress themes and plugins. It also works alongside most caching plugins so, no need to disable any plugin to use Perfmatters.
Here are some features of this plugin that are worth mentioning:
- Quick-toggle options: With this feature, you can easily toggle between turning on and off things like Disable emojis and other embed features, disabling or limiting the number of post revisions, and many more!
- Script Manager: This feature is what we’re most excited about, you get to choose what script to run and the ones you don’t want to run. You can also disable scripts based on different logics like devices or if a visitor is logged in or not.
- Change your WordPress login URL: We love this one too and you can say bye-bye to one more plugin as you can easily change your WP login URL using Perfmatters.
- Add code to header, body, footer: Well isn’t this amazing? You’re saying goodbye to another plugin again because you can also add code to the header, body, or footer area of your website, this just keeps getting interesting.
We’re just going to stop here and let you find out more yourself. Perfmatters plans start at $24.95 with 1-year premium support & updates and also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
BONUS: Use code PERFMATTERS for an extra 10% off!
Best Image Optimization Plugins For WordPress
Last but not least, image optimization. Images play a role in speeding up your site. You can lazy load them, load them in next-gen formats like Google’s WebP and compress them using cutting edge technologies to drastically reduce the size without compromising the quality.
These plugins will help you do just that.
Shortpixel is a lightweight and easy-to-use image optimization plugin for WordPress. There are several ways you can use Shortpixel to optimize images on your website and our favorites are using the WordPress plugin and its Adaptive Images WP plugin.
What the default plugin does is help optimize images on your website while on the other hand, the Adaptive Images plugin helps find and let you know if your website images are properly sized or not and it also helps with properly resizing images you upload on the fly.
Now let’s talk about some features and benefits of Shorpixel:
- Optimize up to 100 images/mo: This is what makes this plugin more interesting and useful. You get to optimize up to 100 images monthly with no limit on the size of the image and all of these for FREE.
- Support for all file types: This mean that you not only get to optimize your JPGS/PNGs but also PDFs on your website.
- Image file type conversion: With this option, you can easily convert your PNGs to JPGs, GIFs too and WebP! You can also change from CMYK to RGB!
- Lazyload support (Adaptive images): This feature allows you to lazyload images with adjustable thresholds. The support for browser native lazy loading is also available when you use Shortpixel Adaptive Images plugin.
Shortpixel free plan is really great and we recommend it when you’re starting out but if you have a large website with images we highly recommend going for the paid plans which are really worth it. The paid plans start at $4.99/mo and the plan goes as high as $9.99/mo.
2. WP Smush
When it comes to optimizing your WordPress images without losing quality WP Smush has been many website owners’ first choice due to its super easy setup and amazing free features. With WP Smush you can also target specific categories and compress the images without any stress.
Another interesting thing is you can smush images upon upload, that way, you don’t have to go through optimizing them again after they are uploaded. Some of the features of this amazing plugin worth mentioning are:
- Lossless Compression – This option allows you to strip images off their unsed meta data to reduce it’s size without loosing any quality.
- Bulk Smush – With bulk smuch you have the ability to optimize up to 50 images in one click but with the Smush PRO you can bulk smush without any limitation.
- Image Resizing – This is very useful if your theme only allowes a specific height and width and this plugin helps you do that with just few clicks.
- Incorrect Size Image Detection – With this feature you don’t have to worry about images that are not properly sized hidden somewhere on your website.
Smush is the ultimate free solution to consider if you’re on a budget and want to serve lighter images to your visitors.
Imagify helps to optimize images you upload on your website without having to worry about the image quality. From JPGs, PNGs to PDFs, this plugin does the trick and the best thing is that you can choose to either use the Imagify web app or install the plugin on your CMS.
Imagify comes with a clean and simple-to-understand user interface and with the free plan, you get to optimize images as large as 2MB files while you get no upload limit when you opt-in for the paid plan.
The paid plan for this plugin starts at $4.99/mo and you get to optimize up to 500MB of images and on the other end, the infinite plan at $9.99/mo lets you optimize as much as you can however the fair usage policy applies to this.
In conclusion, We’ve tried to give you three options for these three areas to look for speed bottlenecks on your site.
If you’re all for solving this problem at all cost then without budget restrictions then we recommend these three:
- WP Rocket
- And Imagify since it works seamlessly with WPRocket.
If you’re on a budget, the other resources like the Asset manager, Breeze, and Smush are great options too. Personally, we use ShortPixel for images on all websites and couldn’t be happier with the work it does.
If you have any feedback or thoughts you’d like to share on this list, please use the comment form, we’d be happy to discuss these things further with you.