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Top 5 Best WordPress Optimization Plugins in 2023

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Read Time: 7 min

One of my tutorials on Tuts+ talks about top 10 WordPress optimization tips. Some of the tips in that post mention the use of caching plugins, compressing CSS and JS, optimizing images and so on.

In this post, I will give you a brief overview of the best plugins that you can use to do all that and more with relative ease.

1. LiteSpeed Cache

LiteSpeed CacheLiteSpeed CacheLiteSpeed Cache

LiteSpeed Cache is one of the best if not the best plugins out there for optimizing your website. Don't get misled by the name of the plugin. It actually does a lot more than just caching of content.

  1. It can minify the CSS, JavaScript and HTML that you are using on your website. You can also use it to minify inline as well as external CSS or JS.
  2. It supports lazy loading of images with the ability to use responsive image placeholders while the images load. You can also lazy load iframes.
  3. You can load CSS asynchronously and defer or delay JavaScript loading. It is also possible to combine the CSS and JS from multiple files into a single file to reduce the number of requests.
  4. You can optimize images with lossy as well as lossless compression.  The plugin also provides support for conversion of images to WebP format.

Some optimization and caching features require tight integration of the server with the plugin. Therefore, they are only available on servers with LiteSpeed installed on the server.

  1. You can set up automatic page caching to loads pages much more quickly. There is even support for private cache for logged-in users.
  2. Caches are bound to get stale after some time. LiteSpeed understands this and allows you to schedule a purge of specific URLs. You can also set up some related pages to get purged automatically based on certain events such as post publication.

The only downside of LiteSpeed cache is that it requires you to spend some time learning what all the options related to website optimization do.

2. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total CacheW3 Total CacheW3 Total Cache

The W3 Total Cache plugin also called W3TC is a web host agnostic WordPress optimization plugin. One huge benefit of using this plugin is that it will work equally well with all type of sharing services such as a shared hosting, dedicated hosting or private hosting.

  1. This plugin comes with support for caching mobile version of pages based on user agents. It also works with AMP or  Accelerated Mobile Pages.
  2. It can compress and minify CSS and JavaScript that is being used on your website. You have complete control over the minification of CSS, HTML or JavaScript.
  3. You can also cache data for categories, tags, comments or search results either in memory or on disk as well as on CDN.
  4. There is support for caching of database objects and fragments in memory or on disk.
  5. It is also possible to minify inline, embedded or 3rd party JavaScript and CSS for optimum performance.
  6. You can defer the loading of non-critical CSS and JavaScript in order to render pages even earlier than usual.

The plugin uses aggressive browser caching to make repeat views much faster. Other optimizations help improve the performance on the backend and you save bandwidth due to minified HTML, CSS and JavaScript files.

3. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest CacheWP Fastest CacheWP Fastest Cache

The WP Fastest Cache plugin is yet another option for people who want optimize their website. It is easy to set up and employs a bunch of techniques to boost website performance.

  1. As you might know, generating a webpage in WordPress requires some PHP processing as well as fetching of data from the MySQL database. Repeating this process for every page visit will consume CPU cycles which could be used elsewhere. The WP Fastest Cache plugin solves this issue by caching a static HTML version of your WordPress posts.
  2. You can also minify the CSS and HTML used on your website to bring down the total page weight. However, you will have to use the premium version to minify JavaScript.
  3. The free version of the plugin also has the option of combining the CSS and JavaScript to reduce total number of requests being made.
  4. Let's say that you don't want to use the emoji functionality offered by WordPress, you can use this plugin to remove the related CSS and JavaScript to speed up the website.

The free version of this plugin is enough for basic optimizations but you will have to use the premium version to get access to more features.

The premium version offers dedicated cache for mobiles and widgets. It also allows you to optimize images by compressing them and converting them to more efficient formats such as WebP. You also get to lazy load your images with the premium version.

While WP Fastest Cache is a good plugin, I feel that its free version is lacking compared to other available options.

4. WP-Optimize Cache

WP Optimize CacheWP Optimize CacheWP Optimize Cache

The WP-Optimize Cache plugin is a feature rich WordPress optimization plugin that uses multiple techniques to make sure your website is performing at its best.

There are three things that can slow down a WordPress website—lack of a proper caching mechanism, a clogged database and unoptimized images. The WP-Optimize Cache plugin solves all these problems for you.

  1. You can set this plugin up to periodically clean the database. This step involves multiple actions such as removal of unnecessary data like trashed comments and posts. You can also de-fragment your MySQL tables to improve querying speed.
  2. This plugin also allows you to minify the CSS and JavaScript used in your website. The page weight goes further down when Gzip compression is enabled. You can also combine multiple CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the total number of requests made.
  3. You can also set up browser cache related options with this plugin so that pages load much faster on repeat views. What if you don't want to cache some specific portions of your website? You can easily exclude them from the cache by using the advanced cache exclusion rules.
  4. WP-Optimize Cache also offers impressive image optimization features. You can apply lossy compression on large images to significantly bring down their size. It is possible to perform bulk compression on multiple images at once and if you don't like the result, there is an option to restore original images. You can also tell the plugin to automatically compresses any new images that are uploaded on the website.

Some features such as lazy loading of images and quick deletion of unused or unwanted images are only available in the premium version of the plugin. The premium version also provides WP-CLI support, multisite support as well as advanced scheduling capabilities among other features.

5. Super Page Cache for Cloudflare

Super Page CacheSuper Page CacheSuper Page Cache

Anyone who knows what a CDN is most probably has also heard about Cloudflare. This Super Page Cache plugin by Cloudflare is incredibly easy to use. All you need to do is provide your Cloudflare account's API key. The default settings that come pre-applied in this plugin work great out-of-box. However, you can also tweak some options if you are not satisfied with the results and want to experiment.

Besides LiteSpeed, the caching and optimization plugins that we have covered so far only offer local server level optimizations. This includes the minification of JavaScript, CSS and HTML, compression of images etc. Those are important things that you need to do if you want any website to run at its best.

However, using the Super Page Cache plugin will help you take things further. You can use this plugin to cache static resources like CSS, JavaScript and images as well as the HTML generated by WordPress for different pages. All your resources are stored on over 200 different CDN edge locations. This makes sure that your website content is served really fast and it also reduces the load on your original website server.

This plugin works great in conjunction with other optimization plugins that I mentioned above. You just need to make sure that the page caching feature is disabled on those plugins while all other optimizations work as usual. All the aspects of page caching will be handled by this plugin.

Final Thoughts

If you are using a web host that has LiteSpeed installed on its servers, you should go ahead and install the LiteSpeed cache plugin without any second thought. This plugin does an excellent job of optimizing your WordPress website. It will take you some time to figure out what all the available options do but the effort is definitely worth it.

If you are using a web host that doesn't have LiteSpeed installed, I would recommend that you use the WP-Optimize Cache plugin along with the Super Page Cache for Cloudflare plugin. Using them both together will really improve your website's performance.

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