WordPress has successfully built an empire that reaches all the way across cyberspace. It’s estimated that 30% of the entirety of the internet is built on WordPress websites, so it’s fair to say that the digital behemoths know a thing or two about delivering responsive pages.
However, just because you’ve set a website up on WordPress, it doesn’t mean that its performance is guaranteed to be seamlessly smooth. There are countless factors that can contribute to the slowing of your pages, from unresponsive servers to excessive levels of traffic, to high-quality embedded images and even code density.
(Slower page loading times can lead to significant levels of bouncebacks among visitors – potentially harming your website’s SEO. Image: Section.io)
The importance of running a swift and responsive website can’t be underestimated. If your loading time drops from around two seconds to five seconds, it raises your bounceback rate by a seismic 22.7% – equating to almost one-quarter of your visitors.
Bounce rates are significant because it will undermine your Search Engine Optimisation efforts, leaving your content lower down on Google’s results pages, losing you valuable traffic and potentially conversions.
Luckily, there’s plenty of solutions available for website owners looking to run a slick operation that’s both speedy and reliable, so let’s take a moment to explore five of the best performing plugins designed to boost the speed of your WordPress websites online:
1. WP Rocket
There are few more effective plugins out there than WP Rocket’s widely reputable effort. Acknowledged by many WordPress-themed websites as the very best of its kind, WP Rocket works wonders in caching your pages before they load for visitors.
Caching is the name given to the process of boosting the speed in which your computer pulls bits and bytes from memory, all of which contribute to shortening the time it takes for a homepage to load.
WP Rocket’s user-friendly interface helps to make complex processes seem simple, and really caters towards the fully computer-literate among us as well as less experienced website owners.
The beauty of WP Rocket’s plugin is that it enables users to cache their website with just one click. Its crawler has the power to automatically locate your WordPress pages in order to build up the cache before turning to the platform’s recommended settings using features like gzip compression, page cache and cache pre-loading.
This intuitive plugin also boasts a range of added features like ‘lazy loading images’, CDN support, DNS pre-fetching and minification among other handy functions.
You’ll be hard-pushed to come across a more comprehensive plugin online, however, the level of high-performance offered by WP Rocket comes at a price, and WP Rocket’s plugin costs range from around $49 per year at the time of writing.
PageCDN is a relatively new player on the plugin scene, but the power of its Private CDN solutions has already begun to cause a stir in the world of website optimisation.
Content Delivery Networks act as a system of servers that allow visitors from around the world to access a website’s pages in as efficient a manner as possible.
PageCDN’s Easy Speedup plugin offers a wide range of features that extend from HTTP/2 Server Push and Brotli-11 compression all the way through to host consolidation.
There’s also an array of free features within Easy Speedup, Included as standard within the plugin is a function that reduces the number of DNS lookups to help speed your pages up as well as access to a public CDN that hosts over 200 libraries, 2,000 WordPress themes and 10,000 plugins.
While most Content Delivery Networks simply focus on delivery optimisation while leaving the technical parts of the process to users, PageCDN takes the extra step of providing numerous different approaches to content optimisation along with its delivery. The plugin’s user interface is designed to be simple to use and entirely practical for non-developers to get to grips with.
Another appealing facet of PageCDN is its cost-effectiveness when it comes to fighting off the threat of slow loading times. Plugins are available for single websites from just $5 per month.
Perfmatters’ unique approach to WordPress performance deserves plenty of recognition. Instead of focusing on caching, this plugin aims to de-clutter your pages by offering the chance to disable irrelevant built-in functions.
When you run a website via WordPress, the platform features lots of options that can contribute to the slowing of your pages. While these options can be valuable to some website owners, for others they are an unnecessary distraction. Perfmatters makes it possible to simply switch the options that you don’t need off.
Interestingly, one of the biggest contributors to slow page performance stems from HTTP requests that aren’t strictly needed. This plugin enables its users to cherry-pick the scripts they need and don’t need on a page-by-page basis, allowing you to fine-tune your website in forensic detail.
Even if you’ve invested in a leading caching plugin, it’s entirely possible for you to utilise Perfmatters to help to optimise page speed in a different way that will only boost the loading times of your website.
Prices for Perfmatters remain fairly competitive too, as far as page optimisation plugins are concerned, and a simple annual one-website pricing plan starts at around $24.95 per year.
LazyLoad is a free plugin driven by WP Rocket that’s available for WordPress websites. WP Rocket is never far from innovation, and LazyLoad must be regarded as a resounding success for the page optimisation specialists.
Typically, when your page is visited, your website will attempt to load the entire page in one fell swoop. If the page has a wealth of information or a collection of high-quality images within its content, this can lead to hefty loading times and a higher chance of page abandonment for visitors.
WP Rocket realised that pages don’t necessarily need to load all in one go and that it would be much more reasonable for data-rich pages to arrive on screen as and when they’re needed.
With LazyLoad, it’s possible for certain elements on your pages to only load as and when they become visible to the visitor – allowing a significant amount of loading time to be spread out in a bitesize way that avoids causing any disturbances to the flow of content delivery.
Another useful feature is that it’s possible to replace YouTube iFrames with much more practical preview thumbnails. What’s more is that the plugin is free to download, meaning that you can try it for yourself without the risk of falling into costly annual contracts for a service that may not suit your needs.
Sucuri is a leading WordPress firewall plugin that focuses primarily on safeguarding your website. However, because it’s a firewall, this plugin has a key advantage when it comes to delivering content efficiently to visitors.
Fundamentally, as a website firewall, Sucuri’s advantages are clear. It’s possible to cache content without hassle and users can call upon gzip compression with a simple click of a button.
The reason that Sucuri’s security-based solution is so effective stems from the fact that firewalls have the potential to serve cached content to users before their requests even reach your website.
This paves the way for an unparalleled performance boost to your website’s loading times and offers a higher level of user satisfaction to browsers.
Advanced security comes at a price, however, and the Sucuri WP Plugin enters our list as the highest priced service, with costs ranging from $199 per year. But it’s worth remembering that for your money you’ll be accessing a leading caching system that comes well equipped to keep your pages safe from any intruders.
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