Top WordPress Plugins for Site Optimization

If you want your website to run smoothly, then you need to maintain it. The problem is that even simple WordPress sites have a lot of moving parts, so keeping everything in top shape can take up a lot of time.

The good news is that there are plenty of plugins you can use to simplify – and even automate – your WordPress optimization efforts. You just have to configure the tools you want to use, and let them work for you in the background.

In this guide, we’re going to introduce you to 12 of our favorite WordPress optimization plugins. Let’s get right to it!

The Importance of Having a Fast Website

First and foremost, a fast website provides a 5-star user experience. Site visitors are more likely to linger if pages and images load quickly. Plus, the initial page load speed is a user’s first impression of your site, so you’ll want to start their journey on a positive note.

Speed isn’t just about positive UX, either—slow websites lose out on conversions. In the internet age, users expect immediacy. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, you’ve missed a potential sale.

The poor experience of a slow website has lasting effects, too. As fewer people visit your website, your pageviews drop, and so does your Alexa rank. Similarly, Google accounts for speed when ranking search results on desktop (since 2010) and mobile (since 2018).

All this goes to say that having a fast website should be part of your overall strategy. Thankfully, there are ways to optimize your WordPress website to keep speed at an all-time high.

WordPress Optimization Best Practices

If you’re new to WordPress optimization, here are some guidelines to remember:

  • Choose a lightweight theme – A clean and simple WordPress theme will run faster than a bloated, complicated one. When choosing a theme, make sure you can disable any features you won’t be using.
  • Optimize images – Eye-catching images drive traffic, but they can also slow your site down. To decrease load time, PNG works well for graphics, while JPEG is best for photos. We’ll discuss our favorite image optimization plugins later on.
  • Be selective with your plugins – Every WordPress plugin you install adds lines of code to your site, which can slow it down. While plugins are essential (and some can even help speed up your website), use only the ones you need and remove unused features.
  • Work with a WordPress hosting service – A hosting service specifically designed for WordPress has all the tools to optimize your site right from the beginning.

Speed Optimization Plugins

Excellent website performance is essential on all websites. That’s why in this section, we’re going to focus on all-in-one plugins that help you speed up your site.

1. Autoptimize

speed optimization plugin

Even the simplest WordPress website usually has several third-party scripts running in the background, as well as additional CSS. Those scripts can add up, slowing down your site speed or loading times.

Minification, the process of removing unnecessary characters from source code (like whitespace and newline characters), is one way to improve page load times. Autoptimize helps with WordPress site optimization by minifying certain assets of your site, like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.

Simply install the WordPress plugin and then checkmark the boxes for the code you want to be minified. You can even add scripts for the code you don’t want to be compressed, as well as control whether or not you want the compressed files in the HTML code header or footer.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

2. Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization

hummingbrid page speed optimization

Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization offers a ton of functionality, helping you tackle script minification, file compression, and browser caching. That means Hummingbird can help visitors speed up lazy loading times.

Overall, Hummingbird is an excellent all-in-one database optimization tool. However, be careful not to set up any other browser caching or minification plugins, since that might cause conflicts.

Average Rating: 5/5

3. WP-Optimize

wp-optimize plugin

All the information you upload to your WordPress website goes into a unique database. Over time, that database can become bloated, which may slow down your site. WP-Optimize is a WordPress site optimization plugin built to help clean up your WordPress database for maximized efficiency. The WordPress plugin works to de-fragment MySQL tables as well as remove data like pingbacks, trashed comments, expired transient options, post revisions, and so on.

The optimization plugin offers great control over which areas of your site you want to optimize. You also have the option to run automatic, scheduled cleanups of your site’s database.

It’s worth noting that in our experience, WP-Optimize only has a significant impact on sites with large libraries of content. If you just set up your website, it may not make a huge difference.

Average Rating: 5/5

4. Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions

If you’d rather clean up your database in a single click, then the Optimize Database after Cleaning Revisions plugin might be for you. In just one-click, the optimization plugin will work to delete a number of unnecessary data, like trashed posts, spammed comments, unused tags, expired transients, and more. Additionally, the plugin keeps a log of everything it does, is available in multiple languages, and also works with WordPress Multisite.

Average Rating: 5/5

Search Engine Optimization Plugins

Your website speed isn’t the only factor that requires optimization. If you want your website to grow, you also need to optimize its content to attract attention from search engines.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin

Yoast SEO is by far the most popular WordPress SEO plugin. It provides you with an overview of how well optimized your content is, both when it comes to SEO and readability.

With Yoast, you get a clear idea of how well you’re using keywords, and what your content will look like in search engines. If you’re new to SEO, Yoast is a great option, since it provides you with a lot of tips for improving your content.

Average Rating: 5/5

2. All in One SEO Pack

all in one seo pack plugin

As the name implies, All in One SEO Pack is a one-stop shop for all your WordPress SEO needs. It offers much of the same functionality as Yoast, and is a popular alternative.

What sets this plugin apart is its module system. It includes multiple modules, which enable you to disable functionality you don’t need. If you like flexibility in your plugins, then you might prefer this one over Yoast.

Average Rating: 5/5

3. The SEO Framework

The SEO framework plugin

The SEO Framework is less popular, but provides you with all the SEO functionality you’ll need. It’s also remarkably lightweight, which makes it well worth considering.

On top of that, this plugin uses a similar module system to All in One SEO Pack, which means you get to micromanage its features. If you want to try out an alternative to Yoast, this is a top pick.

Average Rating: 5/5

Image Optimization Plugins

One of the factors that most affects your website performance is its media. High-quality images tend to weigh a lot, which can slow things down. The following plugins come in handy for optimizing your images.

1. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Smush Image Compression and Optimization

According to Soasta.com, images account for 62 percent of a page’s total weight. Therefore, using a plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimization can make a huge impact on page load times. This plugin takes the image files you upload, and compresses them so they don’t take as long to transmit and display. It can also enable you to optimize images outside your media library, and resize graphics.

What’s more, Smush offers the most user-friendly interface of all the WordPress image optimization plugins we’ve tried. If you want a hassle-free experience, then it’s worth checking out.

Average Rating: 5/5

2. EWWW Image Optimizer

EWWW Image Optimizer

Most image optimization plugins include very similar functionality, so let’s focus on what sets this one apart. Along with compressing your images, EWWW Image Optimizer can also convert them into other file types. Plus, it enables you to choose from multiple compression methods.

In other words, this WordPress caching plugin gives you more control over the way you handle images on your website. It also provides plenty of time-saving automation features.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

3. ShortPixel Image Optimizer

ShortPixel Image Optimizer

Like our previous picks, ShortPixel Image Optimizer can reduce your image file sizes. However, it supports more file types than the competition, including JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, and even PDFs.

That last one isn’t an image format, of course. However, the feature can come in handy if you share a lot of PDF content through your site.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

Conversion Optimization Plugins

Finally, it’s also vital to optimize conversions. This can include encouraging purchases, email sign-ups, and so on. Each of the following plugins can help you maximize the number of conversions on your site.

1. Hustle

hustle optimization plugin

Collecting as many emails as possible is one of the most important things you can do to boost conversions. If you’re not yet using a plugin to help you do that, it’s best to get started right away.

Hustle focuses on helping you generate leads by creating sign-up forms, exit popups, and social sharing icons. This is one of our top choices because it integrates with all the major email marketing platforms, including AWeber and MailChimp.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

2. Popups by OptinMonster

Popups by OptinMonster

As you might expect, Popups by OptinMonster is all about popups. It enables you to use a drag-and-drop builder to create popups of various types, as well as forms.

Popups can be highly effective when it comes to collecting emails and driving other types of conversions. If you want to try a more aggressive marketing strategy, this plugin might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

3. Nelio AB Testing

Nelio AB Testing

One of the best ways to improve conversions on your website is to test new designs and content, until you land on a winning combination. Nelio AB Testing enables you to set up ‘split testing’ experiments, so you can determine which variations users prefer.

To do this, Nelio uses heat maps, which you can analyze to determine what elements your visitors are drawn to. If you want to use hard data to drive conversions, A/B testing tools like Nelio are well worth your time.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

Don’t Just Drive Traffic, Provide the Optimal Digital Experience to Drive Conversions

If you’re running a website, one of your main goals will always be to get more traffic. However, you also must strive to provide an excellent experience for your users. If you have a poorly-optimized website, you’ll likely struggle to transform its traffic into actual conversions.

WP Engine enables you to easily test your website’s speed at any time. Plus, all of our WordPress hosting plans provide excellent performance and optimization right out of the box!

Get started.

Build faster, protect your brand, and grow your business with a WordPress platform built to power remarkable online experiences.

Chat with us!