Search engine optimization is an ever changing field and you have to cope with the latest trends to keep your site on track. Earlier days, it was sufficient to have few WordPress plugins for adding meta data, caching and boosting the performance. Nowadays, things have been changed to focus on speed and user experience instead of simple meta description or title. Performance optimization is an umbrella term covering every single aspect of improving your site’s ranking. In this article, we will provide a complete list of 20 WordPress optimization plugins to boost your site’s performance.
Why Multiple WordPress Performance Optimization Plugins Needed?
As mentioned, WordPress performance optimization plugins covers the following major areas:
- Content optimization – writing unique content optimized for keywords, published consistently with high quality and receive backlinks from popular sites.
- Search engine optimization – verifying ownership with Google, Bing and other webmaster tools account, generating XML Sitemap, adding meta descriptions, beautiful titles, etc.
- Social optimizations – adding social icons to make sharing easier and insert Open Graph and Twitter Card meta tags in header to enable beautiful content sharing.
- Speed optimization – having fast hosting server, enable different types of caching, image optimization and content delivery network to distribute content to all over the world without impact of network latency.
- User experience – remove render blocking resources on above the fold, avoid layout shifts and provide content recommendations to retain users on your site.
- Security – disable unnecessary default items in WordPress and protect your site with other security measures like brute force attack.
The above list covers pretty much all optimization areas. Assuming you have good content writers or you write unique content for your blog, you need plenty of plugins to achieve other factors. The objective of this article is to provide a list, so that you can choose the best plugins that works for your site. However, keep the following two points in mind:
- It is unavoidable to have few features available in multiple plugins you choose. However, do not install too many plugins for exactly similar purpose like caching and reduce the overlapping features by wisely choosing the plugins.
- It is a fact that plugins working well for others may not work for you at all. Or you may want to migrate to different plugin for better features.
WordPress Performance Optimization Plugins
Therefore, it is essential to try out different options and find the best plugins for your site instead of going with rating and number of installations in WordPress repository.
- Yoast SEO
- Rank Math SEO
- WP Rocket
- W3 Total Cache
- SG Optimizer
- Asset Cleanup
- Query Monitor
- Swap Google Fonts Display
- Pre* Party Resource Hints
- WebP Converter for Media
- WP Optimize
- Flying Scripts
- CDN Enabler
- Bunny.net WordPress CDN Plugin
- Regenerate Thumbnails
- All In One WP Security & Firewall
Let us discuss the purpose of each plugin in detail.
1. Yoast SEO
This is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. Earlier, you can basic things like adding meta description, XML Sitemap generation, exclude content from search engines with meta robots tag, customize titles, verify webmaster tools accounts and integrate social sharing with the free version of this plugin. Later Yoast SEO introduced many features like readability, keywords and internal linking analysis. In addition, they have added schema support for popular schema types like FAQ and How-to.
Yoast premium version offers features like redirection setup, breadcrumb block, table of content block, internal linking block and orphaned content check. You can customize the settings for each post using the meta box available in post editor.
2. Rank Math SEO
Yoast SEO was recently acquired by Newfold Digital, which is also the parent company of popular hosting providers like Bluehost and HostGator. Newfold spun off these hosting companies from unpopular EIG (Endurance International Group) hosting. Now, you can expect annoying stuffs like pre-installation of Yoast SEO with the sites hosted on these platforms and many more changes. If you like to migrate from Yoast SEO, Rank Math is one of the best options available for you.
Rank Math is basically a copycat product of Yoast SEO from mythemeshop guys. However, it comes with redirect manager, 404 monitoring and few other stuffs that are not available with free Yoast SEO version. The plugin offers decent dashboard and meta box on post editor to customize the SEO settings. You can also go for the premium version to get powerful schema generator and keywords tracking.
3. WP Rocket
Earlier days, caching of WordPress sites was a pain with hundreds of settings. You need to learn many things in order to complete the settings without breaking your site. WP Rocket introduced user friendly interface and became the most popular caching plugin for WordPress. This is a premium only plugin and you have to purchase it from the developer’s website and manually install on your site. it offers all caching features like browser caching, GZIP compression, preloading, remove unused CSS, generate critical CSS, heartbeat API control and lazy loading of images/videos/iframes.
4. W3 Total Cache
If you are looking for a free caching plugin then W3 Total Cache is a best bet. It offers a complete package that covers caching for page level, browser, objects and database. It also offers minification and combine features to load files asynchronously and avoid render blocking script issue in Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The only problem with this plugin is that there are so many options available and you need to be patiently setup the plugin without making mistakes.
This is another caching plugin that helps to minify and combine HTML, CSS and JS files. There are also other features like remove Google Fonts that you can use for boosting the performance of your WordPress site. The only problem with Autoptimize is that you need to manually delete the cache when the size grow in size.
6. SG Optimizer
SG Optimizer is a dedicated plugin for SiteGround hosting users. You have to use this plugin along with SuperCacher setup in your hosting account to boost the speed. SiteGround guys literally copied all features of WP Rocket plugin to make SG Optimizer an unavoidable plugin. Note that it comes pre-installed with all SiteGround hosting accounts.
Perfmatters is another premium only plugin from Brain Jackson who was the former Chief Marketing Officer of Kinsta. It does not offer any caching features. What it does is to remove unnecessary items available in your WordPress site. It disables feeds, XMPRPC, heartbeat API and many other meta tags in the WordPress header. In addition, you can simply disable WooCommerce scripts and styles with single click. There is also a complex script manager that you can use to disable scripts on per post basis.
Perfmatters has a simple interface to turn on or off the features. You can use this plugin with WP Rocket or Autoptimize to get best performance optimization for your site.
8. Asset Cleanup
9. Query Monitor
Query Monitor is an advanced WordPress performance optimization plugin to find what makes your site loads slower. When you have multiple plugins and bloated theme, this plugin can help to find out the item that causes delay in page loading speed. This is like a developer console for WordPress admin panel and will show you the details of number of SQL queries, time taken for the queries, page loading time and memory usage. You can find these details grouped for each plugin and theme installed on your site.
After finding the items causing issue, you can work on to remove them or use alternatives to speed up your site.
10. Swap Google Fonts Display
Gone are the days to beautify your site with multiple Google Fonts. Now the concept is to avoid using third-party files, especially in the header section. Google Fonts, as they are loaded from Google servers, can easily slow down your site and delay loading the visible text until the font CSS files are downloaded. Swap Google Fonts Display plugin insert a display=swap query Google Fonts CSS files. This helps to use browser’s default font till the time Google Fonts are loaded and swap the fonts after that.
In this manner, you can avoid “Ensure text remains visible during web fonts load” warning message in Google PageSpeed Insights tool. This plugin does not have any settings page and once activated it will work out of the box.
11. Pre* Party Resource Hints
Pre-connect, preload, prefetch and DNS prefetch are all used to speed up the loading of connected pages. Good part is that you can do all these things with a single Pre* Party Resource Hints plugin. If your caching plugin does not offer these features, then this plugin is a must for your site.
12. WebP Converter for Media
Serve images in next-gen format is one of the issues you will notice in Google PageSpeed Insights tool. You can fix that problem by using WebP Converter for Media plugin and serve images in WebP format. Remember, many hosting servers like SiteGround offers in-built way to generate WebP images on the fly using SG Optimizer plugin. Therefore, you do not need additional plugin for this purpose. In contrast, few other shared hosting companies like Bluehost does not support WebP generation for shared hosting plans. You need to purchase VPS hosting in order to host WebP images. Therefore, first confirm with your host whether they support WebP or not before installing the plugin. Otherwise, you will see “libs_without_webp_support” error in the plugin’s configuration screen showing the option is not supported on your hosting server.
13. WP Optimize
WP Optimize is one of the popular WordPress performance optimization plugins for cleaning up your database. Most WordPress sites use MySQL database and cluttered with overheads in the tables. WP Optimize can help you to delete unnecessary entries in the database like revisions, autosave and spam comments. You can also schedule the activity to regularly cleanup the database.
In addition to database optimization, you can use page caching, image compression, GZIP compression, browser caching, minify files, combine files and defer scripts to eliminate render blocking issues.
14. Flying Scripts
15. CDN Enabler
There are twos to setup CDN in WordPress sites. One is to change the nameservers and route the entire traffic through CDN network like Cloudflare setup. However, the majority of users follow the other setup to create hostname in DNS and redirect static file URLs through CDN network. CDN Enabler plugin helps to connect the CDN hostname to your site and rewrites URLs of included files like images, CSS and JS. Since this plugin is from KeyCDN, you can also connect the KeyCDN API and zone ID to get additional features.
16. Bunny.net – WordPress CDN Plugin
BunnyCDN is one of the most popular CDN networks for WordPress sites. This plugin helps you to connect your bunny.net CDN account to your WordPress installation. It works similar to CDN Enabler to connect the pull zone and CDN hostname with your site.
17. Regenerate Thumbnails
Your theme and plugins use different sizes of thumbnails to resize the original images and show in the frontend. For example, your theme or plugin will show related posts using smaller thumbnail size of the uploaded featured images. When you change the theme or plugin, all previously generated thumbnail images will still be stored in the server as redundant. While this is a simple storage problem that you can resolve by deleting images manually using FTP, the bigger problem is to generate correct thumbnails for your new theme or plugin.
Serving bigger images where smaller images are needed like related posts, will slow down your site. Here comes the use Regenerate Thumbnails plugin to delete all unused thumbnails and regenerate newly registered image sizes. You can regenerate single image or bulk resize them depending upon the need.
One of our favorite plugins to setup and manage 301 redirects in WordPress. It also offers features to enable IP logging, monitor 404 and track number of hits to your redirects. You can also use regex to setup complex redirects and setup redirects from subdirectory, subdomains and other domains.
20. All In One WP Security & Firewall
WordPress performance optimization plugins list will not be complete if we do not include a security plugin. There are many popular security plugins available for WordPress. However, All In One WP Security & Firewall is one of the popular plugins that offer almost all features for free. You can enable comment spamming, change login page, setup firewall, prevent brute force attack, monitor logged in users, disable files editing, disable XMLRPC and monitor file changes in your WordPress installation.
We recommend testing your site in Google PageSpeed Insights, Gtmetrix or Pingdom and understand the performance related issues. List down all your problems and find relevant plugins from the above-listed WordPress performance optimization plugins list and fix those problems. In this wan you can avoid using multiple plugins with redundant features and find correct plugins you need. On other hand, make sure to use lightweight theme, optimized plugins, powerful hosting server and a security plugin as a base for your site to have fast loading website.