Whether you’re new to WordPress or have been using it for many years, at some point you will need to audit your website for page speed. If you have never checked your page speed before, it is the process of using an external program to test how quickly your web page loads. One of the easiest ways to increase your page speed is by adding WordPress Plugins that will help you optimize your website without having to access your back-end code.
It’s not my intention to get into the nitty gritty details of page speed today, but simply to provide a list of the best plug-ins I have found to increase page speed for my website. I am running a WordPress site on HostUpon which is a Canadian Hosting Provider with Servers in Canada. I chose a Canadian server because I was finding that having a server located outside my country caused some pretty massive issues, and HostUpon was my first choice because of their quick and easy customer service. I am also running the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes because while it is a large framework, it’s made my life easier by allowing me to quickly build pages and then save it as a template to duplicate an entire layout.
Test your page speed first
Before you spend a lot of time figuring out what plugins you’ll need to get, you should start by checking your current load time. You can use any of the following websites to check what your current metrics are:
There are lots of different tools to test your page speed, I prefer GTMetrix because it gives you an overview of several different test results. After running my first test, I had a list of issues to take care of, without much information to go on. Luckily there were many people with the same results before, so I found the plug-in’s I needed by copying each of the items I had a failing score on and pasted them into google.
After installing my plug-ins, I was able to get my page-speed up to 92% with a load time of 2.5 seconds. This load time varies depending on where the program decides to load your site from. Loading it in Europe, etc would take a little more time.
Back up your site before you install any new plug-ins, and always install them one at a time, testing your site in between each new installation.
By doing this, I came up with the following list of plug-ins through a fair bit of trial and error. Before installing anything new, I made sure to back up my site. Installing new WordPress plugins is a quick way to end up breaking your website, so make sure you back up before experimenting, and then install each plug-in one at a time, testing your site in between each for errors.
#1 Above The Fold Optimization Plugin
Above the fold optimization toolkit that enables your website to achieve a Google PageSpeed 100 Score. Supports most optimization, minification and full page cache
Why I use it:
It helps you to optimize your content “above the fold,” which is anything that shows up as soon as you land on your website. This is crucial because if your content above the fold doesn’t load right away, you’ll have more people getting frustrated and leaving your website right away.
#2 Use google Libraries Plugin
Why I use it:
This plug-in does uses libraries of information that are possibly already stored on your visitor’s computer, rather than automatically calling up the same information from your copy of WordPress.
#3 Better WordPress Minify Plugin
BWP Minify allows you to combine and minify your CSS and JS files to improve page load time. This plugin uses the PHP library Minify and relies on WordPress’s enqueueing system rather than the output buffer, which respects the order of CSS and JS files as well as their dependencies. BWP Minify is very customizable and easy to use.
Why I use it:
#4 Remove Query Strings from Static Resources Plugin
Remove query strings from static resources like CSS & JS files. This plugin will improve your scores in services like PageSpeed, YSlow, Pingdom and GTmetrix.
Resources with a “?” or “&” in the URL are not cached by some proxy caching servers, and moving the query string and encode the parameters into the URL will increase your WordPress site performance significant.
Why I use it:
Getting a low score on “Remove query strings from static resources.” This issue typically occurs when you have a WordPress plugin or theme adding symbols to your URL’s that servers don’t understand. This plug-in removes them.
#5 WP Super Cache Plugin
This plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After an HTML file is generated, your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
Why I use it:
Getting low scores on “Leverage browser caching.” There are a couple of other plug-ins that combine the Minify function and the page caching; however, I have found that these WordPress plugins either have no effect or they actually worsen the page speed. WP Super Cache packages a version of your site to show visitors much quicker than waiting for your whole website to load.
Understand that it might just be your Hosting
I have two websites on one server that both run on WordPress and use the Theme Divi. I have hosting like most people on a shared server, which means that the resources for that server are shared with a set amount of other people. Hosting like GoDaddy will cram as many people as they can on each server, so after finding my old website slowing to the point of timeout 80% of the time, I decided to switch to a new Hosting company. I now have my hosting with HostUpon on their Canadian Servers.
Feel like this list is missing your favourite plugin of choice? Leave a comment below so we can check it out!