Optimizing images on your WordPress site is one of the important task to improve the page loading speed and improve the score on tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom. Since each individual image on a page sends separate HTTP request to the header, optimized images will have the following added advantages.
- Improve page loading speed thus improving user experience.
- Reduce load on server with the reduced size of the images.
- Save storage space on the server thus helping to save storage cost.
- Reduce network bandwidth thus reducing the cost of hosting.
So, it is not only for the users and search engines you need to optimize images. One of the primary purposes for image optimization is to save server cost especially if you have very large site. We have used WP Smush plugin on multiple sites for years and here is a genuine review if you are looking for optimizing images on your WordPress site.
WordPress Image Optimization
Since image optimization is of most important to site owners, there are many free and premium plugins help to achieve the task without the need to Photoshop or any other online tools. These plugins will remove unnecessary data from the images and optimize them automatically when uploaded. We have checked most of the plugins and found WP Smush works better with Google PageSpee Insights tool.
Testing WP Smush with Google PageSpeed Insights Tool
Let us test a webpage having non-optimized images on Google PageSpeed Insights. As you can see in the below picture “Optimize images” issue is shown with high priority under “Should Fix” category.
We have installed WP Smush and activated the plugin. Then went to “Media > Library” and smushed all the images (one by one) on the tested page. Again went back to Google PageSpeed and tested the same page. You can see the results as shown below and the “Optimize images” issue was moved to “Consider Fixing” category with the improved score.
We have done the same exercise using other image optimization plugins with Google continue to insist to improve image optimization without any score change. So, it is clearly evident that WP Smush works better for Google and improve the page speed score. Learn more about SEO for images and optimizing images for WordPress site.
Optimizing Images with WP Smush
Once installed and activate the plugin, you have two options for smushing the images – individual image optimization and bulk image optimization.
Smushing Individual Images
Navigate to “Media > Library” and click on the “Smush Now” button against individual image. You will see the statistics of the optimization as shown below:
Smushing Bulk Images
In order to optimize images on bulk, navigate to “Media > WP Smush” and click on the “Bulk Smush Now” button. The free plugin allows you to smush 50 images with single click and you can continue to smush all images.
You can also smush all images in a directory by going to the “Directory Smush” section and choosing the image directory on your server.
Other Settings and Options
You have the following options available with WP Smush plugin:
- Automatically compress all new uploads.
- Set maximum size for images so that larger images will be automatically resized before uploaded to your server.
- Choose to retain or remove EXIF data like camera settings, focal length, date, time and location details. For bloggers this option can be disabled to reduce the size of the images.
- Enable smushing when uploading new images. This will help to automatically optimize all newly uploaded images.
- You can view the statistic of number of images optimized, size reduction and savings.
- Detect incorrect images that does not fit on the viewport. You can view the incorrect images on the site by logging in as an administrator.
- Enable lazy load to hide the images outside of the viewing area and load them when user scroll to the image position. However, this does not work on our site and we use WP Rocket lazy loading function.
- Integrate with Gutenberg, Visual Composer, Amazon S3 and NextGen Gallery.
In addition, pro version will have features to optimize the original images, smush 2x times more and keep the original copy of the images.
If you are looking for more options with image optimization then try for the premium version. It will cost you $70 per year as part of the WPMU DEV subscription.
- Automatically convert PNG to JPEG to reduce size on possible cases.
- Backup all original images.
- Remove the image size limitation of 5MB on free plugin to 32MB on pro version.
- Integrated CDN with WebP support.
- 2x compressions with no visible loss in quality.
WP Smush is one of the best image optimization plugin for improving the page speed of your WordPress site. Though the free plugin has limitations it is more workable solution for a site owner.
- It works well with Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
- The optimization happens with the server resources from the plugin developer (WPMU DEV) thus not taking more resources from your server. This is good especially for the sites hosted on shared hosting environment.
- You can smush unlimited number of images.
- The plugin will automatically optimize and reduce the size of all new images uploaded on posts.
- It smushes only the resized images on your WordPress installation, hence the original images will be available as it is.
- Bulk smush works with 50 images limitation. If you already have lot images then optimization will take long time.
- Images will not be optimized in case if you have deleted the thumbnails previously. For example, we have Woocommerce plugin and deleted the thumbnails which are not required. Unfortunately we need to regenerate the all the images so that WP Smush will work.
- The plugin will work only for the image size of less than 1MB. This may not be sufficient for all category of users.
- The admin interface is more intrusive with full of advertisements for pro version.