Want to configure the newest settings for SiteGround Optimizer?
Even though I don’t recommend SiteGround, their SiteGround Optimizer plugin has gotten better over the years. But I hope you’ll reconsider using them. Their TTFB is slow, support declined, CPU limits make you upgrade, and they’re admins of several Facebook Groups and removed hundreds (or even thousands) of negative posts about their brand. Super unethical company which is why I left them for Cloudways Vultr HF and you can see my migration results.
I rewrote this tutorial to be updated for the latest version which includes a completely new design, Cloudflare’s full page caching, among other features. And since the older updates in 5.0 and 5.6, SiteGround Optimizer officially makes WP Rocket obsolete if you’re using SiteGround.
They added lots of features (heartbeat control, database cleanup, prefetch, preload, image optimization, etc). SiteGround Optimizer also uses server level caching which is faster than WP Rocket’s file-based caching. So yes, you can delete your old cache plugin and use SG Optimizer.
The SiteGround Optimizer dashboard is an overview of your settings and notifies you of WordPress updates. You don’t need to achieve a perfect score (3/3, 6/6, 3/3) for everything. Mainly because combining CSS/JS files is not always recommended especially for larger sites. And minification should usually be done by your CDN (Cloudflare) instead of your cache plugin.
2. Caching Settings
Before configuring SiteGround Optimizer’s caching settings, login to your Site Tools account and go to Speed → Caching (enable NGINX direct delivery, dynamic cache, and memcached).
- Dynamic Cache – On – enables dynamic cache which uses full-page caching by NGINX.
- Memcached – On – enables memcached which speeds up database queries. Once it’s activated in Site Tools, this can be also activated in the SiteGround Optimizer settings.
- Automatic Purge – purges cache when SiteGround Optimizer detects changes on your site. A full purge is done when you update WordPress plugins/core or delete a category, while a smart purge is done when a post is modified or after a comment is left. SiteGround recommends that you leave the “purge WordPress API cache too” setting Off “unless you are actively using the REST API at the moment and you’re experiencing problems with it.”
- Manual Dynamic Cache Purge – no need to do this since automatic purge should be on.
- Exclude URLs From Caching – if you need to exclude certain URLs from cache, add them.
- Exclude Post Types From Caching – same thing as the previous setting but for post types.
- Browser-Specific Caching – Off – SiteGround recommends only enabling this if you are having issues with plugins or things like generating the mobile version of your website.
- Cloudflare Full Page Caching – On – enable for most websites, but usually not for WooCommerce or sites with lots of dynamic content. This caches everything instead of only static assets like CSS, JS, and images (can make a big difference). You need to activate Cloudflare in Site Tools, then add your Cloudflare email + Global API key to SG Optimizer. I also suggest using Cloudflare to minify CSS/JS/HTML and disabling this in SG Optimizer.
3. Environment Settings
Environment settings are where you can force SSL, fix mixed content errors, control the WordPress Heartbeat API, prefetch third-party domains, and schedule database cleanups.
- HTTPS Enforce – On – to add SSL, activate a free Let’s Encrypt SSL in your SiteGround account, then turn on HTTPS Enforce in SiteGround Optimizer. Your website will automatically be configured for HTTPS, then your site will have the lock icon in browsers.
- Fix Insecure Content – Off – if you see mixed content warnings in your browser when using SSL, it means you’re loading both HTTPS + HTTP. This can fix it, otherwise leave off.
- WordPress Heartbeat Optimization – the WordPress Heartbeat API consumes CPU by showing you real-time plugin notifications, when other users are editing a post, etc. It’s not always a good idea to disable Heartbeat completely, but you can at least increase the interval to save resources and reduce CPU usage. I suggest 60s, 120s, 120s respectively.
4. Frontend Settings
Minification should ideally be done with Cloudflare, then should be turned off in SiteGround Optimizer. Combining files is only recommended for small websites with <10KB CSS/JS sizes.
- Exclude From Minification – if enabling minify in SiteGround Optimizer causes errors on your site, find problematic files in your source code, then exclude them from minification.
- Combine Files – Off – only combine CSS on very small websites (and always test it). Otherwise, it can result in slower load times. WP Johnny recommends only combing if your total CSS/JS is 10kb or less which you can check in your GTmetrix Waterfall chart.
- Preload Combined CSS – Off – if you combined CSS, this preloads the file to load faster.
- Web Fonts Optimization – On – optimizes Google Fonts by adding preconnect to fonts.gstatic.com. Also optimizes self-hosted fonts by preloading them. You should try to host fonts locally to avoid requests from fonts.gstatic.com (you can try the OMGF plugin).
- Fonts Preloading – run your site through PageSpeed Insights and if Google recommends preloading key requests, they may suggest preloading certain fonts which you’ll add here.
- Remove Query Strings From Static Resources – On – this is an old item in GTmetrix.
- Disable Emojis – On – emojis aren’t good for your load times, so this will disable them.
5. Media Settings
SiteGround Optimizer’s media settings optimizes images through compression, WebP, lazy loading, and setting a maximum width which prevents users from uploading enormous images.
- Image Compression – compression level should ideally be 85% since that’s what Lighthouse tests your website at and will result in the maximum savings. But, it will also result in the highest quality loss, so it really depends on your preference. Before saving, always backup the original images in case you’re not happy with the new image quality.
- Use WebP Images – serve WebP images which fixes the next-gen formats item in PSI.
- Lazy Load Media – lazy loads responsive images, thumbnails, widgets, and Gravatars.
- Exclude CSS Classes From Lazy Load – you shouldn’t have to do anything here.
- Exclude Media Types From Lazy Load – you shouldn’t have to do anything here.
- Maximum Image Width – resizes images over 2560px if you’re uploading huge images.
6. Speed Test
The speed test runs your website through PageSpeed Insights.
If your Google Score is bad, check my guide on core web vitals. If your page load time sucks, check my WordPress speed guide. And if your TTFB is slow, that’s SiteGround for you. Give Cloudways Vultr High Frequency (who I use), Kinsta, or LiteSpeed servers on NameHero a try.
Functionality SG Optimizer Still Lacks
There are still some things SG Optimizer lacks.
Bloat Removal – other than database cleanup, SiteGround Optimizer doesn’t do much bloat removal (limiting post revisions, increasing the autosave interval, disabling WooCommerce admin bloat), and other things can reduce bloat and CPU usage. I also use Perfmatters for this but you can try Widget Disable, Disable WooCommerce Bloat, or doing things manually like increasing your autosave interval. There’s usually lots of junk you should consider removing.
Hosting Google Analytics Locally – fixes the “leverage browser caching” error in GTmetrix PageSpeed for Google Analytics using either Perfmatters, Flying Analytics, or CAOS Analytics.
Can I Delete My Old Cache Plugin?
Yes, you can.
There’s absolutely no reason to use WP Rocket anymore on SiteGround since SiteGround Optimizer has nearly every feature of WP Rocket, plus it uses faster server level caching.
Avoid Duplicate Functionality
If you keep WP Rocket or another cache plugin, disable page caching using the helper plugin since you only want to use 1 plugin for caching (and avoid duplicate functionality in general). If you activated Cloudflare in SiteGround, the default settings should work perfectly, but I would still configure page rules, enable hotlink protection, and test Brotli, Railgun, and Rocket Loader.
SG Optimizer should automatically disable duplicate functionality:
Did I Miss Anything?
I hope this was helpful, but I also hope you consider moving away from SiteGround. If not because their TTFB is slow, then because they’ve become a very unethical hosting company.