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10 Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins

Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins, featured image

If you want to speed up your WordPress site, your journey always needs to start with fast WordPress hosting.

But once you’ve nailed the hosting part, there are a number of useful WordPress speed optimization plugins that can help you improve the front-end optimization of your site.

When I say “WordPress speed optimization plugins”, your mind might instantly jump to caching plugins. And yes, there are several caching plugins on this list, because implementing solid page caching is an important part of speeding up your site.

However, there’s more to performance than just caching, so we didn’t limit this collection to caching plugins. We’ve also included other plugins to help you optimize certain parts of your site, such as how your scripts load, image compression, lazy loading, and more.

Keep reading for a look at the 10 best WordPress performance plugins.

1. WP Rocket

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is one of the best all-purpose WordPress performance plugins. It can help you implement page caching, as well as a ton of other performance optimization tactics.

As soon as you activate WP Rocket, it automatically implements a number of performance optimization techniques, including:

  • Page caching
  • Browser caching
  • Gzip compression

Then, WP Rocket includes a user-friendly interface where you can configure other optimization techniques such as:

  • Minification
  • Combine files
  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript
  • Heartbeat API control
  • Lazy loading
  • CDN integrations
  • Option to host tracking scripts locally (such as Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel)
  • Database optimization
  • Cloudflare integration

I think WP Rocket is the best WordPress performance plugin for beginners because it does a great job of simplifying everything. For example, the interface has really convenient explanations for what each setting does. Additionally, the fact that it’s all in a single plugin minimizes compatibility issues.

Those same factors also just generally make it good for people looking to save time and streamline things.

However, the “downside” is that WP Rocket is a premium plugin — it starts at $49.

In the end, you’re kind of paying for convenience and simplicity. You can accomplish pretty much everything that WP Rocket does with free plugins — it’s just going to be more complicated and you’ll probably need to use multiple plugins.

You can learn more in our full WP Rocket review.

More Info / Download

2. Perfmatters

Perfmatters

Perfmatters helps you optimize lots of smaller parts of your WordPress site. It doesn’t do page caching, but it’s a great option to pair with a caching plugin.

First off, Perfmatters can help you disable lots of small settings in WordPress that most sites don’t need. For example, the emoji font, the WordPress version number, Dashicons, and others.

These are all small tweaks by themselves, but they can collectively remove a number of unnecessary HTTP requests.

It also has a powerful scripts manager tool that lets you conditionally load JavaScript/CSS on certain pages. For example, if your contact form plugin loads its scripts sitewide, you can use Perfmatters to change that so that it only loads its scripts on your contact page. This is another great way to cut down on unnecessary sitewide HTTP requests.

Other useful performance tweaks include:

  • DNS prefetching
  • Disable Heartbeat API
  • Lazy load images
  • Host analytics locally
  • Preconnect

It can also help you connect to a CDN.

Overall, if you’re already using a caching plugin (or your host does caching for you), this is a great one to add on to optimize lots of smaller parts of WordPress performance.

Perfmatters costs just $24.95 for use on a single site.

More Info / Download

3. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache

With a near-perfect 4.9-star rating on over 3,000 reviews, WP Fastest Cache is one of the best-rated and most popular free caching plugins at WordPress.org.

With the check of a box, you can enable page caching, which makes it pretty easy to get started.

Beyond that, the free version also supports:

  • Gzip compression
  • Browser caching
  • Basic minification for HTML and CSS (but not JavaScript)
  • Option to disable WordPress emojis
  • Exclude rules to exclude certain users/content from caching
  • A tool to help you integrate with CDNs

If you want even more optimization features, there’s also a premium version that adds:

  • Image optimization
  • Database optimization
  • More advanced minification, including support for JavaScript minification
  • A tool to eliminate render-blocking JavaScript resources
  • Option to load Google Fonts async
  • Lazy loading

The premium version starts at $59.

More Info / Download

4. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is another popular free caching plugin. It comes from Automattic, the same company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack.

The best thing about this plugin is its simplicity. If you’re a total beginner, you can just install it, check a single box, and you’re set to jet.

If you do want a little more control, there’s also an advanced settings area where you can configure:

  • Gzip compression
  • Browser caching
  • How to cache content
  • How often to update the cache

It also includes a feature to let you preload content into the cache, along with a tool to help you connect to a CDN of your choice.

WP Super Cache is 100% free.

More Info / Download

5. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is yet another popular free caching plugin at WordPress.org.

It’s the most feature-rich caching plugin that I’ve ever used…but it’s also the most complicated caching plugin that I’ve ever used. In fact, I’ve written 2,500-word blog posts just on how to set up W3 Total Cache, which is a completely different experience from WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, or WP Super Cache.

All that is to say, if you’re a beginner or casual user, I would recommend staying away from W3 Total Cache and using one of those other plugins.

However, if you’re a developer or power user who wants to control every little aspect of how caching works on your site, this one can be a great option. For example, you have access to:

  • Page caching
  • Browser caching
  • Database caching
  • Object caching
  • Fragment caching

W3 Total Cache can also help you with file minification and connecting to a CDN of your choice.

More Info / Download

6. WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize started as a database optimization plugin before morphing into a more full-service WordPress speed optimization plugin that can:

  • Implement page caching
  • Compress images
  • Enable Gzip compression

It can also still optimize your database, of course.

There’s also a premium version that can:

  • Schedule database cleanups
  • Remove orphaned (unused) images
  • Lazy load images
  • Optimize individual database tables

WP-Optimize comes from the same team as the popular UpdraftPlus backup plugin, so it’s got a good team behind it.

The free version is available at WordPress.org. After that, the paid version starts at $39 per year.

More Info / Download

7. Autoptimize

Autoptimize

Autoptimize is a popular free plugin that helps you optimize your site’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It does not do page caching, though.

First, it helps you implement two popular tactics:

  • Minification – this shrinks the size of your site’s code without changing its functionality by removing unnecessary characters such as line breaks and whitespaces.
  • Concatenation – this shrinks the number of requests on your site by combining separate files into a single file.

Beyond that, it can also help you defer loading certain scripts, async JavaScript, lazy load images, and remove some basic things such as emojis.

Overall, Autoptimize is another good plugin to pair with a caching plugin or your host’s server-level caching.

More Info / Download

8. Asset CleanUp

Asset CleanUp

Asset CleanUp is another useful free plugin for optimizing your site’s scripts.

Like Perfmatters, it enables you to conditionally load or deload scripts as needed. For example, you can limit some scripts to only load on certain pages.

Again, this is useful if you have scripts that unnecessarily load their scripts sitewide. For example, Contact Form 7 loads its scripts on every single page, which is unnecessary. Asset CleanUp would let you restrict it to just your contact page, which would let you lower the number of requests for every other page on your site.

Beyond that feature, Asset CleanUp also offers a number of other features to help you optimize scripts on your site, including:

  • Minification
  • File concatenation (combine files)
  • Remove emojis and Dashicons
  • Preload important files, like fonts
  • Defer parsing of JavaScript
  • Google Fonts optimization

Asset CleanUp does not do caching, though, so you’ll need to pair it with one of the caching plugins on this list (if your WordPress host doesn’t already implement caching for you).

The core Asset CleanUp plugin is free, but there’s also a premium version that gives you even more granular control over your scripts. The Pro version starts at $39 for use on a single site.

More Info / Download

9. ShortPixel

ShortPixel

On average, images account for about 50 percent of the file size of the average website. So if you can shrink the size of your site’s image files, you can take a big chunk out of your file size, which will speed up your site.

There are lots of WordPress image optimization plugins, but my personal favorite is ShortPixel.

As you upload images to WordPress, ShortPixel will automatically:

  • Resize them to max dimensions that you can choose
  • Compress them using either lossy or lossless compression algorithms (your choice)

It also includes other useful image optimization tactics such as:

  • WebP conversion for browsers that support it
  • PNG to JPG conversion

If you want a slightly different approach, ShortPixel also offers a separate ShortPixel Adaptive Images plugin. This plugin still optimizes your images, but it also serves them from a global CDN and delivers adaptive image sizes based on each visitor’s viewport. For example, someone browsing from a smartphone will get a smaller image than someone browsing from a 4K screen.

This type of real-time image optimization is a newer tactic that’s becoming more and more popular. It’s similar to services such as Cloudinary and imgix.

For both plugins, you get 100 credits per month for free. After that, paid plans start at $4.99 per month.

More Info / Download

10. Lazy Load by WP Rocket

Lazy Load by WP Rocket

Lazy Load is a free plugin from the WP Rocket team that helps with one specific part of performance: lazy loading.

With lazy loading, you can wait to load below-the-fold assets (such as images or videos) until a user starts scrolling down. This speeds up your site’s initial page load times, which improves perceived performance.

In total, Lazy Load by WP Rocket lets you lazy load:

  • Images
  • iframes
  • YouTube videos (including an option to replace video embeds with a thumbnail until a visitor clicks to play the video, which is a great optimization tactic if you embed a lot of videos on your site).

If you’re already using WP Rocket, you don’t need this one, though, as lazy loading is already built-in to the WP Rocket plugin.

More Info / Download

Which Are the Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins?

Many of these plugins do different things, so I can’t recommend a single plugin. Instead, it’s more about choosing the right set of plugins to help you speed up your site.

First off, every WordPress site needs a caching plugin (if your host isn’t already implementing caching at the server level, that is).

We’ve featured several high-quality caching plugins in this list — here’s a quick recap:

  • WP Rocket – this is my overall favorite because it’s easy to use and also implements a lot of other performance optimization techniques beyond caching. However, it only comes in a premium version, so you will need to pay for that convenience.
  • WP Fastest Cache – this one has a free version and does a good job of blending ease of use while still giving you access to some important performance optimization techniques beyond caching.
  • WP Super Cache – this is a great plugin if you want something that’s free and super simple. Great for non-technical users who are on a budget.
  • W3 Total Cache – this one is packed with tons of features and configuration options. I don’t think it’s a good option for casual users because it’s too complicated, but advanced users and developers will probably appreciate the granular control.
  • WP-Optimize – this one has a unique approach with its integrations of database and image optimization.

Overall, if you’re a regular WordPress user, I’d say go with WP Rocket if you’re willing to pay $39 for convenience. If you want a free solution, then I’d recommend WP Fastest Cache or WP Super Cache.

Once you have quality caching in place, you’ll also want some other plugins to optimize the front-end of your site.

First, I’d say that you should pick one of either Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp. Both give you full control over your site’s scripts and when/where they load. While managing scripts is a little complex, it’s a great way to reduce the number of HTTP requests on your site.

Both can also help with a number of other smaller performance optimizations such as disabling the emoji font.

Autoptimize is also a good option for optimizing scripts, though it doesn’t give you the option to enable/disable scripts like Perfmatters and Asset CleanUp.

Then, you also need some plugins to optimize your site’s images. There, I’d recommend ShortPixel for compression/automatic resizing. If you didn’t pick a plugin that implements lazy loading (e.g. WP Rocket or Perfmatters), you can also use the free Lazy Load by WP Rocket plugin to lazy load your images.

Finally, remember that these plugins are mostly focused on optimizing the front-end of your site. However, there are still other important parts of WordPress performance.

First, you need fast hosting. To find the most performance-optimized hosting for your budget, check out our collection of the fastest WordPress hosting (with real performance data).

Second, you need a fast theme — check out our collection of the fastest WordPress themes (also with real performance data).

Do you have any questions about choosing between these speed optimization plugins? Ask away in the comments section!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click on one of the links and purchase an item, we may receive a commission. All opinions however are our own and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

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