14 Ways To Fix A Slow WordPress Admin Panel (Dashboard) With Bloat Removal, PHP 7.4, Page Rules, And Avoiding 65 Slow Plugins

Have a slow WordPress admin panel?

A slow WordPress dashboard can be fixed by cleaning junk from your database, admin panel, and disabling the WordPress Heartbeat API. Configuring a solid cache plugin with a CDN can help, but it’s also likely you’re running resource-intensive plugins and tasks on shared hosting.

This guide should speed up your admin panel while also making your website load faster in GTmetrix by lightening the load on your server. And if your WordPress dashboard is still slow after this tutorial, drop me a comment with your GTmetrix report and I can have a quick look.

Slow WordPress Admin Panel

 

1. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins

Plugins are notorious for slowing down the WordPress admin.

The best way to find your slowest plugins are by using Query Monitor, New Relic, or compare my list of 65+ slow plugins with your own. GTmetrix Waterfall also shows you which plugins create the longest requests. Delete your slow plugins or replace them with lightweight plugins. Thank you to Ivica from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group for contributing to the list.

*Most slow plugins are page builders, ultimate addons, social sharing, statistic, portfolio, slider, backup, chat, calendar, contact form, related post, or those running ongoing scans/processes. WooCommerce sites can be especially resource-hungry.

  1. Anything using Google AdSense
  2. Backup Buddy
  3. Beaver Builder
  4. Broken Link Checker
  5. Contact Form 7
  6. Disqus Comment System
  7. Divi Builder
  8. Elementor
  9. Jetpack
  10. Query Monitor
  11. Ultimate Addons For Elementor + Beaver Builder
  12. WooCommerce
  13. Wordfence
  14. WPML
  15. View full list of 65+ slow plugins

You can use Query Monitor to find your slowest plugins (but delete it when you’re done).

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

Or New Relic:

Slow WordPress Plugins All

Or GTmetrix Waterfall:

Slow WordPress Plugin

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

Upgrading PHP versions can easily make your site 2-3x faster.

According to WordPress stats, most users run outdated PHP versions since your hosting company won’t upgrade PHP versions automatically. The Display PHP Version plugin tells you which PHP version you’re currently running, otherwise you can find it in your hosting account.

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

Upgrade to the latest PHP version in your hosting account:

PHP-7.4

*Check your website for errors (if you see them, revert back to an earlier PHP version, or analyze your plugins to see which ones are not compatible and causing the errors).

 

3. Check For Slow TTFBs

Check your TTFB in the GTmetrix Timings tab. This should ideally be under 200ms, but anything over 500ms is definitely considered slow. TTFB is a key indicator of hosting speed.

Time To First Byte

 

4. Move Away From Poor Hosting

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in many Facebook Groups. Either way, switching from shared hosting to faster cloud hosting should definitely fix your slow dashboard.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

5. Disable WordPress Heartbeat

The WordPress Heartbeat API can slow down your WordPress dashboard since it consumes resources by notifying you when other users are editing a post, real-time plugin notifications, etc. You have a few options: copy and paste this code into your functions.php file, use the Heartbeat Control plugin, Perfmatters, or WP Rocket also has an option to disable Heartbeat.

add_action( 'init', 'stop_heartbeat', 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script('heartbeat');
}

 

6. Remove Bloat From Your Dashboard

90% of WordPress bloat can be removed using the Perfmatters plugin by Kinsta.

Perfmatters lets you disable pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat, XML-RPC, jQuery migrate, limit post revisions, increase the autosave interval, and includes plenty of other features that can fix a slow WordPress admin panel. It can also help optimize WooCommerce sites, host Google Analytics locally, prefetch/preconnect external scripts, and even has a script manager for selectively disabling plugins. It basically takes care of speed optimizations WP Rocket doesn’t.

perfmatters-features

Delete Unused Plugins + Themes – all unused plugins and themes should be deleted if you’re not using them (don’t forget to check WP-Optimize for database tables they may leave behind).

Delete-Unused-WordPress-Themes

Use Script Managers To Selectively Disable Plugins/Scripts – Perfmatters includes a script manager for disabling plugins/scripts on specific pages/posts (you can also do this with the Asset CleanUp plugin). For example, contact forms can usually only be loaded on the contact page. Social sharing buttons can only be loaded on the blog. Schema plugins can often be disabled on pages not using schema, and so on. View which plugins and scripts are being loaded on your pages/posts, then disable the ones you don’t need. This can greatly improve load times.

perfmatters-script-manager

Pro Tip For Yoast – install the Hide SEO Bloat plugin. This blocks all Yoast’s advertisements.

 

7. Remove Junk From Your Database

A bloated database can slow down your WordPress dashboard which you can use WP Rocket or WP-Optimize to clean.

This deletes your spam folder, trash folder, transients, and the potentially thousands of post revisions stored in your database. You usually don’t need these, so delete them and schedule a cleanup to run every week (or at least every month) which can be scheduled in either plugin.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

Delete Tables Left Behind By Old Plugins – when you delete a plugin, it can leave behind old tables containing pre-configured settings and other information. That’s why you see it’s tables are still in your database, but the plugin is “not installed.” If you deleted a plugin and don’t plan on using it again, go through the “not installed” tables and delete them. You will need to use WP-Optimize or Advanced DB Cleaner since WP Rocket doesn’t support going through tables.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

8. Offload Resources To CDNs

CDNs help speed up the WordPress admin by offloading resources, which lightens the load on your server. I recommend either Cloudflare or RocketCDN (if using WP Rocket). Cloudflare can be set up by changing nameservers, RocketCDN can be bought from your WP Rocket settings.

Once set up, check your analytics in your CDN’s dashboard and make sure it’s working. Offloading 58GB of bandwidth last month? Yeah, that will definitely improve your server.

Some hosts have an option to activate Cloudflare in the cPanel, otherwise you’ll need to add your website and change nameservers in your domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy or Namecheap).

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

 

9. Add Cloudflare Page Rules

Free Cloudflare accounts come with 3 free page rules.

Here are 3 page rules I recommend setting up for WordPress sites.

Page Rule 1: Cache Everything And Force HTTPS – ensures your site is cached aggressively.

http://*yourwebsite.com/*

Always-Use-HTTPS-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Secure The WordPress Admin And Bypass Cache – sets the security level of the WordPress admin to high and bypasses Cloudflare’s cache inside the admin, since you don’t want your CDN (or apps + performance features like Rocket Loader) running inside the admin.

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin*

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Decrease Bandwidth Of WP Uploads – since the content in your WP Uploads folder does not change frequently, you can increase the Edge Cache TTL to a month. This can potentially save on your bandwidth since the WP Uploads folder cache won’t refresh as often.

yourwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads*

WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

You should also enable hotlink protection in Cloudflare’s scrape shield settings which prevents people from pasting your images on their website when the image is still hosted by you, which means you’re consuming the bandwidth. Enabling Cloudflare’s hotlink protection prevents this.

 

10. Clean WooCommerce Junk

If you’re running WooCommerce, transients and customer sessions can cause bloat and slow down the WordPress admin. You can clear them under WooCommerce Status Settings → Tools.

Clear-WooCommerce-Junk

 

11. Increase Memory Limit To 256MB

WooCommerce sites, Elementor, WPML, and other systems require a 256MB memory limit, but you should really increase this either way since most hosts will set the default as 128MB.

Step 1: Edit your wp-config.php file.

Step 2: Add the code before the line that says, “Happy Blogging”.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Your host may have an option to increase memory limits (below is for Cloudways).

Memory-Limit

 

12. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

I recommend WP Rocket and that you check my WP Rocket settings.

It’s usually the #1 cache plugin in polls primarily because it comes with more features than any other cache plugin (resulting in faster load times and less plugins needed on your site). If you’re not using WP Rocket, I recommend WP Fastest Cache, however try using WP Rocket if you can.

Correctly configuring a solid cache plugin has a huge impact on your GTmetrix scores, load times, and speed of your admin panel. If your WordPress admin is slow, recheck your settings.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them all built-in, reducing the number of plugins on your site. If you’re like me, you only want to use 1 plugin, otherwise you will need to research which features your cache plugin comes with, then install these plugins if it doesn’t support them.

WP-Rocket-Features

Most people have a cache plugin installed, but the settings aren’t configured optimally. Review my guides to make sure your cache plugin is configured for optimal load times.

 

13. Disable “Object Cache” In W3 Total Cache

If you’re using W3 Total Cache, go to the General Settings and disable object cache. See my W3 Total Cache settings to make sure everything is configured properly since Cloudflare and StackPath may also be the culprit – plus most people don’t have the ‘performance tabs’ setup correctly. That tutorial has been used by over a million people with like… a million comments. However, W3 Total Cache is buggy and the plugin developer doesn’t go a great job updating it.

W3 Total Cache Object Cache

 

14. Block Spam Bots From Hitting Your Server

You would never know it unless you looked, but spam bots can constantly hit your server and consume resources. It’s a waste of bandwidth and can slow down your WordPress dashboard. In this step, we’ll find bad bots in Wordfence’s live traffic report and make sure they’re blocked.

Step 1: Install Wordfence.

Step 2: View your live traffic report (under Wordfence’s Tools settings) which shows you all bots hitting your site in real-time. Googlebot is obviously OK, but when I did this, I saw compute.amazonaws.com making a ridiculous amount of requests every couple seconds. I Googled it and sure enough, this was a bot known for sucking up bandwidth. View your report for a minute or two and see if bots with sketchy names are constantly hitting your site. If you have doubts, Google their hostnames and see if other people are having issues with that bot.

Live-Traffic-Report-Wordfence

Step 3: Block the bots. There are 3 options: Wordfence blocking (however, the plugin itself consumes resources), Cloudflare firewall rules (comes with 5 free rules which means you can block 5 bots), or the Blackhole For Bad Bots. I have a tutorial for blocking bad bots using all 3 methods. It depends on how many you want to block; if it’s only a few, I’d use Firewall Rules.

Login to your Cloudflare Dashboard and go to Firewall → Firewall Rules → Create A Firewall Rule. Copy the bad bot’s hostnames (from Wordfence) and add it here in the “Value” field. Since you can create 5 rules, you would repeat this step for your 5 worst bad bots from Wordfence.

  • Field = Hostname
  • Operator = Contains
  • Value = hostname of the bad bot you found in Wordfence

Cloudflare Firewall Rule To Block Bad Bots

Step 4: Go to your Blocking log and enjoy watching those spam bots get blocked.

Cloudflare-Firewall-Events

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the most common remedies for a slow WordPress admin?

The most common remedies for a slow WordPress admin are using a better cache plugin, configuring it with optimal settings, upgrading to faster hosting, and avoiding high CPU plugins. If using W3 Total Cache, try disabling the object cache option.

🚀 Will changing hosts fix a slow admin panel?

If your server response time is high in Google PageSpeed Insights, this can put stress on your server and slow down the admin panel. Changing hosts can fix a slow admin especially if you're using a low quality host like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or an EIG brand.

🚀 Will a CDN speed up the admin panel?

Using a CDN offloads resources and puts less stress on your server, therefore speeding up both your website and admin panel. Cloudflare is a great free CDN, and using multiple CDNs can help even more since more data centers means more offloading.

🚀 Do spammy bots slow down the admin?

Yes, spammy bots that constantly hit your site are a waste of server resources. You can use Wordfence to find all bots hitting your site in real-time, then use Wordfence, Block Bad Queries, Blackhole for Bad Bots, or Cloudflare firewall rules to block spammy bots.

🚀 Which plugins slow down the admin panel?

Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact forms, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. Always make sure you're using lightweight plugins that are maintained and coded well.

🚀 Do cache plugins affect the speed of the admin panel?

Yes. Which cache plugin you're using and whether it is configured optimally has a huge impact on your website's overall performance. Make sure you're using a top-rated cache plugin and that you're taking advantage of all it's features.

See Also: How I Got 100% Scores In GTmetrix

Did it work? Let me know in the comments :)

Still have a slow WordPress admin? Send me your GTmetrix report and I’ll have a quick look.

Cheers,
Tom

How I Optimized My Slow WordPress Site For 100% GTmetrix Scores — 28 Tips For Speeding Up WordPress Sites (2020 Guide)

Have a slow WordPress site?

A slow WordPress website is usually caused by your infrastructure (hosting, page builder, theme, plugins). But it can also be from unoptimized images, fonts, and third party scripts. That’s why you should use tools like GTmetrix to pinpoint the exact reason your site is slow.

This post you’re reading has over 70 images, 480 comments (while showing Gravatars), uses third party fonts from Font Awesome, Elementor page builder, and Google Analytics. Yet, it can still load in about 1.3s with a 2.56MB page size, 89 requests, and 100% + 97% GTmetrix scores.

I’ll show you how to take your GTmetrix + PageSpeed Insights report and make WordPress-specific optimizations that improve grades/load times. I’ve already written popular guides on WP Rocket, slow plugins to avoid, and a list of 24+ speed plugins. This combines everything.

When in doubt, look at the WordPress optimization guide to see the most important factors. The most common fixes for a slow WordPress site are usually related to your infrastructure (theme, hosting, page builder, cache plugin, CDN, and plugins you’re using). While optimizing images and third party scripts can definitely speed up WordPress, most factors are site-wide.

For this, I recommend Cloudways or Kinsta (hosting), Astra or Oxygen Builder (theme + page builder), and WP Rocket (main optimization plugin). You will avoid 90% of speed issues and they’re all rated highly in Facebook polls. Comment with your GTmetrix report if you need help.

Slow-WordPress

GTmetrix (load times) should be your primary metric while PageSpeed Insights doesn’t even measure load times. Getting 100% in every single tool is not realistic unless you have a bare bones, static HTML site. Don’t obsess over scores – obsess over your actual load times instead.

2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

1. Use Faster WordPress Hosting

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

2. Rethink Your Theme + Page Builder

Most people are using Astra Themes.

The only problem with Astra is that most of their themes use page builders. Even Elementor adds a lot of scripts that can mildly slow down your WordPress site (you can check these in Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters). That was my biggest complaint when I had my site redesigned in Astra (I even went themeless). My StudioPress theme was slightly faster with 0 extra scripts.

It really depends on what you want; if you like Astra + Elementor for designing your site and don’t mind a slight decrease in speed, that’s what I would recommend. If you’re a speed freak like me and only want the fastest stuff, I wish I would have stuck with StudioPress and Genesis.

studiopress-themes

Here were my extra CSS and JavaScript files added by Elementor:

Elementor-Scripts

I recommend either Astra or Oxygen Builder.

Astra-Themes-Facebook-Poll

 

3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

As far as GTmetrix scores go, your cache plugin has the biggest impact.

WP Rocket is the most popular cache plugin (it’s also what I use) mainly because it comes with more speed optimization features than any other cache plugin. This not only results in better GTmetrix scores, but also means you don’t have to install a bunch of extra plugins on your site.

Get 10% off WP Rocket by signing up for their email list on their coupons page. Then check my recommended WP Rocket settings for optimal GTmetrix scores/load times.

With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 7 extra plugins to get these features when WP Rocket has them all built-in. Otherwise you will need to research which features your cache plugin comes with, then install these plugins if it doesn’t support them.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

What About SG Optimizer? If you’re on SiteGround, use their SG Optimizer plugin (instead of WP Rocket) with these SG Optimizer settings. It’s free and comparable to WP Rocket (you will still need heartbeat control and database cleanup). This plugin is only for SiteGround’s hosting.

WP Engine + GoDaddy – these hosts have their own built-in caching system and blacklist you from using cache plugins. In this case, use Autoptimize to optimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I also have configuration tutorials for WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and Swift Performance, but I definitely recommend WP Rocket as your one and only caching plugin.

 

4. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

Login to your hosting account (or use the Display PHP Version plugin) to see which PHP version you’re currently running. WordPress stats show most users are running outdated PHP versions when PHP 7.4 is available on many hosting accounts. Upgrading is as simple as finding the PHP Version Manager (or similar) in your hosting account, then upgrading the latest version of PHP.

PHP-7.4

Some hosts are quick to release new versions (SiteGround, Cloudways, Kinsta), while others don’t make an effort to stay current in technology. Another reason to avoid EIG and GoDaddy.

*Check your website for visible errors since non-maintained plugins may not be compatible. If you do see errors, you can always revert back to an earlier PHP version.

 

5. Enable Varnish + Memcached

Many cloud hosting providers support Varnish + Memcached. Login to your hosting account and activate them. If you’re using Varnish, be sure to enable the Varnish addon in WP Rocket.

Hosting-Application-Services

 

6. Use A CDN

Most people use Cloudflare or RocketCDN (from WP Rocket).

RocketCDN uses StackPath’s data centers and offers it at a lower price than if you buy directly from StackPath. Both are great CDNs, but there are a few major differences between the two.

Cloudflare vs. RocketCDN

  • Cloudflare is free, RocketCDN is $6.99/month
  • Cloudflare cannot serve images from their CDN, StackPath can
  • Cloudflare has 200+ data centers, StackPath has 45 data centers
  • Cloudlare’s data centers are likely not as high-performance as StackPath
  • Cloudflare has a dashboard you can login to and tweak, RocketCDN does not
  • Cloudflare’s dashboard has extra features like page rules, Rocket Loader, Railgun
  • Cloudflare requires changing nameservers (some hosts also have an option to activate Cloudflare directly from your account), StackPath’s set up is automatic with WP Rocket

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

Ensure Cloudflare Compatibility With WP Rocket – WP Rocket and most other cache plugins ask for your Cloudflare Zone ID, Global API Key, and your Cloudflare account email. Add them.

WP-Rocket-Cloudflare-Add-On

Configuring The Cloudflare Dashboard – if you’re using Cloudflare, login to your dashboard. There are a few things in here that aren’t available if you set up Cloudflare through your host.

Page Rule 1: Cache Everything And Force HTTPS – cache your website aggressively.

http://*yourwebsite.com/*

Always-Use-HTTPS-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Secure The WordPress Admin And Bypass Cache – sets security level of the admin to high and bypasses Cloudflare’s cache in the admin, since you don’t want CDNs (or apps + performance features like Rocket Loader) running inside the admin.

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin*

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Decrease Bandwidth Of WP Uploads – since the content in your WP Uploads folder does not change frequently, increasing Edge Cache TTL to a month can save on bandwidth, since the WP Uploads folder cache won’t be refreshed as often.

yourwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads*

WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

Setting Up RocketCDN Or StackPath – the easiest way to set up RocketCDN is with WP Rocket. If not using WP Rocket, you will need to sign up for a StackPath account through their website then follow instructions for creating a CDN site. They will assign you a CDN URL which most cache plugins (including Autoptimize) have a field for. Or use the CDN Enabler plugin.

Make Sure Your CDN Is Working – every CDN should show 100% in GTmetrix YSlow except Cloudflare’s CDN. To make GTmetrix detects Cloudflare, you’ll need to sign up for a GTmetrix account → User settings → “add your hostname to YSlow CDN Hostnames.” You can also use Cloudflare’s Claire Chrome Extension to see if it’s working. GTmetrix always detects StackPath.

CDN GTmetrix YSlow

 

7. Avoid 65+ Slow Plugins

You can find your slowest plugins in the GTmetrix Waterfall tab or Query Monitor.

Slow WordPress Plugin

Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact forms, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. These can be identified using Query Monitor or GTmetrix Waterfall.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

 

8. Optimize Third Party Scripts

Third party scripts are anything that create requests from external websites.

These include Google Fonts, Analytics, Maps, AdSense, Tag Manager, embedded videos, social media widgets, Facebook Pixel, Gravatars, or even like buttons from your social sharing plugin. Some can be optimized to have no impact on GTmetrix while AdSense/Tag Manager are harder.

The next sections (7-16) show you how to optimize specific third party scripts that may be giving you errors in your GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights reports.

Step 1: Learn Which Third Party Scripts Are Slowing Down Your Site
Look at reduce DNS lookups in GTmetrix YSlow or third party usage in PageSpeed Insights.

External-Scripts

Common third party domains taken from Github:


//maps.googleapis.com
//maps.gstatic.com
//fonts.googleapis.com
//fonts.gstatic.com
//use.fontawesome.com
//ajax.googleapis.com
//apis.google.com
//google-analytics.com
//www.google-analytics.com
//ssl.google-analytics.com
//www.googletagmanager.com
//www.googletagservices.com
//googleads.g.doubleclick.net
//adservice.google.com
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com
//tpc.googlesyndication.com
//youtube.com
//i.ytimg.com
//player.vimeo.com
//api.pinterest.com
//assets.pinterest.com
//connect.facebook.net
//platform.twitter.com
//syndication.twitter.com
//platform.instagram.com
//referrer.disqus.com
//c.disquscdn.com
//cdnjs.cloudflare.com
//cdn.ampproject.org
//pixel.wp.com
//disqus.com
//s.gravatar.com
//0.gravatar.com
//2.gravatar.com
//1.gravatar.com
//sitename.disqus.com
//s7.addthis.com
//platform.linkedin.com
//w.sharethis.com
//s0.wp.com
//s1.wp.com
//s2.wp.com
//stats.wp.com
//ajax.microsoft.com
//ajax.aspnetcdn.com
//s3.amazonaws.com
//code.jquery.com
//stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com
//github.githubassets.com
//ad.doubleclick.net
//stats.g.doubleclick.net
//cm.g.doubleclick.net
//stats.buysellads.com
//s3.buysellads.com

Step 2: Add Domains To Prefetching
Take the external scripts from your GTmetrix report and add them to WP Rocket (Preload → Prefetch DNS Requests). Prefetching and other browser resource hints makes them load faster. If you don’t have WP Rocket, you can do this with Perfmatters or Pre* Party Resources Hints.

Prefetch-DNS-Requests

Step 3: Use Flying Scripts To Delay Loading Them
The Flying Scripts plugin delays loading JavaScript until the timeout period you set in the plugin. It’s the only plugin that let me show Gravatars without them impacting my GTmetrix report, but this can also be done with other third party scripts. Just enter the keyword of the script into the plugin (eg. discuz) and set a timeout period. I also recommend checking out Gijo’s speed plugins.

Flying-Scripts

Don’t forget to see the next few sections which will help you better optimize external scripts.

 

9. Google Fonts

Here are 4 steps for optimizing Google Fonts and Font Awesome.

Optimize Fonts With WP Rocket Or SG Optimizer – both WP Rocket and SG Optimizer have an option to optimize Google Fonts. This combines your fonts to create fewer HTTP requests.

Optimize-Google-Fonts

Host Google Fonts Locally – use the OMGF plugin to host fonts locally. The plugin will automatically download your fonts, create a stylesheet for them, then include it in the header.

Preload Fonts – grab the URLs of your font files in the GTmetrix Waterfall report and add them to WP Rocket’s “preload fonts” option, or in OMGF. This helps browsers download fonts faster.

Preload-Fonts

Be Minimal With Fonts + Weights – be minimal with the number of fonts and weights.

 

10. Google Analytics

Hosting Google Analytics locally will fix the leverage browser caching issue for Google Analytics in GTmetrix. For this, I use the Flying Analytics plugin since WP Rocket’s Google Tracking add-on still showed errors. Insert your Google Analytics Tracking ID (the UA code) into the plugin, then use the “Minimal Analytics Inlined” method which only adds a measly 1.4KB.

Flying-Analytics

Plugins to host Analytics locally: WP Rocket, Perfmatters, Flying Analytics, CAOS.

 

11. Google AdSense

Google Adsense is one of the most difficult scripts to optimize and you shouldn’t expect a good GTmetrix report with it. You can try enabling Cloudflare’s Rocket Loader which defers loading of JavaScript until after rendering, but affiliate links are way faster and usually more profitable.

 

12. Google Tag Manager

GTM should usually only be used for large, unoptimized sites.

If you absolutely need it, use a good Google Tag Manager plugin and be minimal with tags, but that’s about all you can do. I don’t use GTM on my website (my load times are more important).

Google Tag Manager Speed

 

13. Comments + Gravatars

I use 3 plugins for comments which you’ll see zero errors for in GTmetrix.

  • wpDiscuz: commenting plugin.
  • Flying Scripts: delays loading of Gravatars.
  • WP User Avatar: use a custom, optimized photo as the default avatar.

Step 1: Configure wpDiscuz to load faster.

Comment thread displaying → initiate AJAX loading after page and lazy load comment.

Disqus-Comment-Thread-Displaying

General → disable “use WordPress native AJAX functions” and enable combine/minify JS/CSS.

Disqus-General-Settings

Styles and colors → disable “load font awesome CSS lib.”

Disqus-Load-Font-Awesome-CSS-Lib

Step 2: Delay Gravatar loading with the Flying Scripts plugin.

Speed-Up-Comments

Step 3: Upload a custom, optimized photo using WP User Avatar.

WP-User-Avatar

Retest your GTmetrix report and your comments should load much faster with no errors.

 

14. Facebook Pixel

Use the Pixel Caffeine plugin and host Facebook Pixel locally in WP Rocket.

Facebook-Pixel-Browser-Caching

 

15. Use A Fast Social Sharing Plugin

WP Rocket did a test on the fastest social sharing plugins.

The Grow by Mediavine plugin (Social Pug) was rated the #1 fastest social sharing plugin. It’s also what I use and saw no difference in my GTmetrix report. You can see a preview near my comments section; the buttons look nice, can be loaded before and after the content, and has options for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, email, print. You can also do a floating bar.

 

16. Optimize Images + Videos

There are several ways to optimize images. The first 3 items are in GTmetrix, the last 2 are from PageSpeed Insights. Speed testing tools only show you unoptimized images for the single page you test (keep that in mind when fixing serve scaled image or specify image dimension errors).

  • Serve scaled images – resize large images to be smaller.
  • Specify image dimensions – add a width/height to the image’s HTML.
  • Lossless compress – use an image optimization plugin to compress images.
  • Lazy load images + videos – delays load of images/videos until they’re visibly seen.
  • Serve images using next-gen formats – use WebP/SVG format instead of JPEG/PNG.

image-optimization

Serve Scaled Images – resize large images to be smaller. GTmetrix tells you the correct dimensions. Just click the image in GTmetrix, resize it to the new dimensions, and replace it. Never use the ‘drag to resize’ feature in the visual editor since this only resizes the displayed image (not the actual image). It’s best to resize to the correct dimensions before uploading it.

Serve-Scaled-Images-GTmetrix

Create a cheat sheet so you can use the correct dimensions before uploading images:

  • Slider images: 1903(w) x 400(h)
  • Carousel images: 115(h)
  • Widget images: 414(w)
  • Full width blog post images: 680(w)
  • Featured images: 250(w) x 250(h)

Specify Image Dimensions – means you need to add a width + height in the image’s HTML or CSS. This usually only happens for hand-coded HTML and plugins that don’t take care of this for you. Get the image dimensions from GTmetrix, locate the image, then add the width and height.

Specify-Image-Dimensions-WordPress

Optimize Images – losslessly compress images (also known as “optimize images” in GTmetrix). The best way to compress images is when you’re editing them (eg. in Photoshop or GIMP) since you will likely see a loss in quality with image optimization plugins, even if you select “lossless compression” in the settings. Otherwise, ShortPixel or Imagify are decent options. These plugins can also be resource-intensive and slow down your WordPress website temporarily.

Lazy Load Images + Videos – in your WP Rocket Media settings, enable lazy loading of images, videos, and replace the YouTube iframe with a preview image. These will make images and embedded videos load significantly faster, as they’re often the heaviest element on a page. If you’re not using WP Rocket, try A3 Lazy Load (for images) and WP YouTube Lyte (for videos).

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

Serve Images In Next-Gen Formats – most image optimization plugins have an option to convert images to WebP format, or the WebP Converter For Media plugin has great ratings.

Serve-Images-In-Next-Gen-Formats

 

17. Reduce Server Response Times

I want to clarify a few things about server response times.

Most hosting providers let you monitor CPU and RAM (memory usage). If you notice these are very close to exceeding your limits, this will put stress on your server. The whole goal is to make your server “relaxed” by giving it enough server resources to accommodate your site’s resource consumption (from high CPU plugins, traffic, WooCommerce, etc). If you notice you’re almost hitting your limits or exceeding them and getting 503 errors, it means your server is stressed.

Cloud-Memory-Increase

That’s why it’s so important to look at how many server resources come with your hosting plan. Any host that says “unlimited bandwidth” is lying (just check their terms and conditions page and they will mention their CPU limits). Especially if you anticipate high resource consumption, make sure your hosting plan includes enough resources to properly accommodate your site.

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

 

18. Clean Your Database

Use WP Rocket or WP Optimize to clean your database.

Ongoing cleanups keep your database optimized and removes transients, spam + trash comments, and potentially hundreds of post revisions which WordPress stores automatically every time you update content. Unless you need post revisions to restore backups of old content, you should be able to delete everything. I recommend scheduling weekly cleanups.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

Delete Old Plugin Tables – one thing I like about WP-Optimize is the option to delete database tables left behind by old plugins that aren’t installed anymore (these are often pre-configured settings). If you don’t plan on using these plugins again, delete the tables that say “not installed.”

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

19. Remove Bloat

Perfmatters (by Kinsta) is the ultimate bloat removal plugin.

The features page includes descriptions of what each item does, but it removes unnecessary WordPress features which you probably don’t need. It even has options for optimizing your Google Analytics tracking code, WooCommerce, prefetch + preconnect, and heartbeat control. Remember to selectively disable plugins in the Perfmatters script manager or Asset CleanUp!

perfmatters-features

Limit Post Revisions – use Perfmatters or add the code to your wp-config file.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 5);

Increase Autosave Interval – use Perfmatters or add the code to your wp-config.php file.

define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 60);

Disable Trackbacks + Pingbacks – use Perfmatters or disable in Settings → Discussion.

Disable-Trackbacks-Pingbacks

Disable Unused Addons + Modules – if you’re using a plugin containing a bunch of addons or modules (Elementor, Ultimate/Premium Addons, JetPack), delete the ones you’re not using.

Disable-Addons

Delete Unused Plugins + Themes – any plugins/themes you’re not using should be deleted.

Delete Unused WordPress Themes

 

20. Disable Plugin Usage Tracking

Any time you have an option to disable usage tracking, do it. Sorry plugin developers.

I also don’t recommend Yoast’s speed indexing (the comments have horrible reviews).

Yoast-Speed-Indexing

 

21. Disable Plugins On Specific Pages + Posts

The Perfmatters script manager (premium) and Asset CleanUp (free) both let you disable plugins/scripts from running on specific pages/posts. Some plugins load across your entire site (even on content they’re not being used on), so it’s best to disable them when that’s the case.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use aff links
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)

perfmatters-script-manager

Perfmatters and Asset CleanUp (the premium version) have a Regex option that allows you disable plugins/scripts based on specific URL patterns and categories. For example, you may want to only enable your schema plugin on posts containing the word “review” in the URL.

 

22. Minimize Redirects

If you have URL redirect errors in GTmetrix, it usually means you changed the WWW or HTTP(S) version of your website but didn’t change all your links and images to reflect the new version. In this case, try using the Better Search & Replace plugin to fix these errors in bulk.

minimize redirects

Third party scripts and poorly coded plugins can also cause redirect errors in GTmetrix. The solution completely depends on which plugins and third party scripts you’re using on the site.

 

23. Don’t Enable Yoast Indexables

Yoast 14.0 came out with indexables which they claim “can provide a speed boost of 5-10%.”

However, if you look at the comments, it’s clear they have not thoroughly tested this (many complaints about CPU spikes, crashed websites, errors, etc). None of the feedback looks positive, so I would at least hold off of clicking that button until they do more thorough testing.

Yoast-Speed-Indexing

 

24. Utilize Plugins By Gijo Varghese

Gijo Varghese has create quite a few plugins for speeding up WordPress.

These plugins help you host Google Analytics locally, optimize images and serve them from a CDN, preload pages, delay loading scripts by creating a timeout, and ensure text remains visible while loading fonts. All have great ratings. Check out his WP Speed Matters Facebook Group.

Gijo-Varghese-plugins

 

25. Increase Memory Limit To 256MB

WooCommerce and WPML require a 256MB memory limit, but you should really be using 256MB no matter which type of WordPress site you’re running. Some hosts have an option to increase it in their dashboard, otherwise edit your wp-config.php file and add the code below.

Cloudways-Memory-Limit

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

 

26. Make WooCommerce Load Faster

WooCommerce sites run extra scripts, styles, cart fragments, and they usually require more plugins. That’s why when choosing a hosting plan, you should usually buy one tier up of what you actually need to accomodate for the extra resources often required for WooCommerce.

WooCommerce Cart Fragments

Optimize WooCommerce Scripts, Styles, Cart Fragments
To optimize these, use Perfmatters or there are quite a few solutions on Github and WooCommerce. Disabling scripts will disable WooCommerce scripts and styles everywhere except on product, cart, and checkout pages. There’s also an option to disable cart fragments.

perfmatters woocommerce optimization

Clear WooCommerce Transients
If you feel like your WooCommerce website is getting sluggish, go to WooCommerce Status settings → delete all transients. Transients temporarily store cached data in your database.

Delete WooCommerce Transients

 

27. Block Bad Bots From Using Resources

You would never know if spam bots are hitting your site unless you checked your Wordfence live traffic report. By blocking them, you will save resources and put less stress on your server.

Step 1: Install Wordfence (you’ll want to uninstall it when you’re done).

Step 2: View your live traffic report (under Wordfence’s Tools settings) which shows you all bots hitting your website in real-time. Googlebot is obviously OK, but when I did this, I saw compute.amazonaws.com making a ridiculous amount of requests every couple seconds. I Googled it and sure enough, this was a bot known for sucking up bandwidth. View your report for a minute or two and see if bots with sketchy names are constantly hitting your site. If you have doubts, Google their hostnames and see if other people are having issues with that bot.

Live-Traffic-Report-Wordfence

Step 3: Block the bots. You have a few options: Wordfence blocking (however the plugin itself consumes resources), Cloudflare firewall rules (comes with 5 free rules which means you can block 5 bots), or the Blackhole For Bad Bots. I have a tutorial for blocking bad bots using all 3 methods. It depends on how many you want to block; if it’s only a few, I’d use Firewall Rules.

Login to your Cloudflare Dashboard and go to Firewall → Firewall Rules → Create A Firewall Rule. Copy the bad bot’s hostnames (from Wordfence) and add it here in the “Value” field. Since you can create 5 rules, you would repeat this step for your 5 worst bad bots from Wordfence.

  • Field = Hostname
  • Operator = Contains
  • Value = hostname of the bad bot you found in Wordfence

Cloudflare Firewall Rule To Block Bad Bots

Step 4: Go to your Blocking log in Cloudflare and watch your spam bots get blocked.

Cloudflare-Firewall-Events

 

28. Identify Bottlenecks In Speed Testing Tools

GTmetrix – my tool of choice since you can find exactly which images, plugins, fonts, and external scripts take longest to load (plus it shows your time to first byte and redirect errors).

2020-GTmetrix-Report

Pingdom – the most accurate tool for measuring your load times according to WP Rocket which is the primary metric you should be measuring (not grades), but there is a correlation.

Google PageSpeed Insights – good for measuring server response times but also has other recommendations like using next-gen format for images (eg. WebP), lazy loading, avoid third party scripts, preconnect, minification, caching recommendations, and serving scaled images.

Query Monitor – great for finding slow plugins, scripts, styles, and other elements slowing down your site. Make sure to delete it when you’re done since the plugin itself can be slow.

Get Help Fixing Your GTmetrix Report

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the most important speed factors?

Your infrastructure (hosting, theme, plugins, page builder, CDNs) have the biggest impact on load times.

🚀 Which cache plugin should you use?

WP Rocket is usually rated the top cache plugin in Facebook polls since it has built-in features most cache plugins don't. These extra optimizations should yield better scores and load times in GTmetrix. The top free cache plugins are usually WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, and Swift Performance.

🚀 Which WordPress hosting should you use?

The best hosting is highly debatable, but Cloudways, SiteGround, and Kinsta generally the top 3 hosts based on 30+ Facebook polls.

🚀 Which speed testing tool should you use?

GTmetrix has the most robust recommendations especially for finding slow plugins, images, external scripts, and measuring TFFB. Pingdom doesn't have as many recommendations, and Google PageSpeed Insights doesn't measure load times.

🚀 How do you optimize images?

You can optimize images using a plugin like ShortPixel or Smush to compress images and strip EXIF data. Make sure you're resizing images to the correct dimensions, and ideally serve them from a CDN. Lazy loading images and videos will also make the page faster.

🚀 Should you use AMP?

Generally, you should avoid AMP (accelerated mobile pages) since the design changes can lower conversions. Kinsta's conversions dropped 59% after adding AMP and they decided to remove them.

🚀 How do you optimize plugins?

Find high CPU plugins using Query Monitor which usually include portfolios, statistics, sliders, and plugins that run ongoing processes. Next, replace them with lightweight plugins that consume minimal resources. Delete all plugins you're not using, and disable unnecessary plugin settings that consume resources. Finally, selectively disable plugins from loading on certain content using a plugin like Asset Manager or Perfmatters.

🚀 How do you optimize external scripts?

It's best to avoid external scripts all together, such as Google AdSense, Facebook widgets, and plugins that create external requests. Some plugins such as Disques let you load it conditionally. If the page contains JavaScript, try the Async JavaScript plugin. Finally, prefetch all external URLs that are loading on the page.

Really hope this helped! Drop your new GTmetrix scores + load times in the comments :-)

Cheers,
Tom

25 WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins For Speeding Up Your Website In 2020 (Same Ones I Used To Get 100% GTmetrix Scores)

Need a solid list of WordPress speed optimization plugins?

These are the same speed plugins I used to get 100% GTmetrix page speed scores and <2s load times on most of my posts. They’re a collection of plugins I use myself and popular ones in Facebook Groups. I do WordPress speed optimization for a living – I geek hard on the plugins!

This is not a typical list of cache plugins: I dive into advanced plugins like selectively plugin disabling, browser resource hints for external scripts, hosting things locally, and bloat removal.

ps. If you join the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group they have a list of 60+ recommended WordPress Speed Up Tools and useful links. But I did try to include the important ones here :)

WordPress-Speed-Plugins

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

1. WP Rocket

WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls.

That’s because it comes with more features than any other cache plugin. This means better GTmetrix results and less plugins needed on your site. Otherwise, with other cache plugins, you would need to research which features it doesn’t include, then install these extra plugins if it doesn’t support them. If you’re like me, you want to use 1 plugin (WP Rocket) for everything.

  • Lazy load images/videos (built-in to WP Rocket, or use WP YouTube Lyte)
  • Host Google Analytics locally (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Analytics)
  • Optimize Google Fonts (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Fonts, or SHGF)
  • Integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CDN Enabler)

Get 10% off WP Rocket by signing up for their email list on their coupons page. Then check my recommended WP Rocket settings for optimal GTmetrix scores/load times.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

WP-Rocket-Features

 

2. SG Optimizer

SG Optimizer only works if you’re on SiteGround’s hosting which I don’t recommend since SiteGround was very slow in my speed tests and have gone completely downhill in recent years.

Since SiteGround’s big update to SG Optimizer, it’s now comparable to WP Rocket. It also uses server-side caching and binaries which is faster and more efficient than the file-based caching by other cache plugins (including WP Rocket). If you’re on SiteGround, I would definitely use it.

SG-Optimizer-Plugin

See my recommended SG Optimizer settings to learn how to configure SG Optimizer.

SG Optimizer Features

  • Caching (static, dynamic, memcached)
  • Minify & combine HTML, CSS, JS
  • Gzip compression
  • Database Cleanup
  • Heartbeat Control
  • Prefetch External Domains
  • PHP version selection
  • Optimize Google Fonts
  • Defer render-blocking JS
  • Compress new + existing images
  • Lazy load images, videos, iframes, Gravatars, thumbnails, widgets, mobile

Features SG Optimizer Lacks – CDN URL, bloat removal, hosting fonts + analytics locally.

 

3. Perfmatters

Perfmatters (by Kinsta) is the ultimate bloat removal plugin.

A few notable features include decreasing the autosave interval, limiting post revisions, disabling heartbeat and pingbacks, prefetching + preconnecting fonts and third party scripts, and optimizing WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments. It basically takes care of the last 10% of WordPress speed optimization with features WP Rocket/SG Optimizer don’t have.

perfmatters features

Perfmatters includes a script manager for selectively disabling scripts/plugins on specific content (same thing as Asset CleanUp). Some plugins load across your entire site even when they’re not being used. By selectively disabling plugins, you will reduce page sizes and make them load faster. There’s also a Regex option to better control where plugins are being loaded.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages not using sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages not using rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages not using contact forms
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages not using aff links
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)

perfmatters-script-manager

 

4. Asset CleanUp

Same thing as the Perfmatters script manager (lets you selectively disable scripts/plugins) only Asset CleanUp doesn’t have bloat removal options, but it is free. Plugin Organizer and Plugin Load Filter are similar, but AssetCleanUp has great reviews and is what most people are using.

Asset CleanUp Check All

 

5. TinyPNG

Compresses images to get 100% for the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix.

I have tried Imagify, ShortPixel, and other image optimization plugins but they all resulted in a loss in quality even when the “lossless” option was selected. Slowly but surely, I am redoing these images in TinyPNG. I see barely any quality loss which I can’t say for the other plugins.

TinyPNG-Plugin

 

6. WP-Optimize

A big difference between WP-Optimize and WP Rocket’s database cleanup feature, is that WP-Optimize lets you delete old plugin tables.

Both plugins let you delete trash (trashed posts, spam posts, post revisions, transients) and optimize your database tables. But WP-Optimize lets you view your individual database tables and delete tables left behind by old (not installed) plugins. If you don’t plan on using these plugins again, you can delete their tables since they often leave behind pre-configured settings.

WP-Optimize-Tables

WP Rocket does the same thing, only it doesn’t let you delete old plugin tables:

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

 

7. WP YouTube Lyte

Lazy loads videos by inserting responsive “Lite YouTube Embeds” which only calls the “fat” YouTube player when the play button is clicked. Videos take the longest time to load by far. Just to give you an idea, my W3 Total Cache tutorial only has 2 videos, but when I lazy load them that post’s load time went from 5s to 1.5s. It has the same function as light video embeds.

If using WP Rocket, you can simply lazy load videos and replace iframes with a preview image.

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

 

8. Heartbeat Control

The WordPress heartbeat API consumes resources by sending you real-time plugin notifications, when other users are editing a post, and so on. 99% of people should disable it.

Heartbeat-Control

WP Rocket and Perfmatters also let you disable it, or add this code to your functions.php file.

add_action( 'init', 'stop_heartbeat', 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script('heartbeat');
}

 

9. Pre* Party Resource Hints

Supports browser resources hints which can make fonts and scripts load faster.

WP Rocket already supports prefetch and preconnect, otherwise you can use Pre* Party Resource Hints. Third party scripts can be found in the “reduce DNS lookups” section of your GTmetrix report or shown as “reduce the impact of third party code” in PageSpeed Insights.

These can be Gravatars, Google Analytics, Maps, Tag Manager, AdSense, embedded videos, or any third party request generated on your website. You’ll want to prefetch these (Luke created a nice list of common domains to prefetch). And if you’re using Google Fonts or Font Awesome, grab your font URLs from the GTmetrix Waterfall tab and add them to the preconnect section.

Third-Party-Usage

 

10. OMGF | Host Google Fonts Locally

OMGF can fix Google Font related errors by downloading all your Google Fonts (using the Google Fonts Helper API) and generating a stylesheet for them. You will need to configure the settings to serve fonts from your CDN and select the folders to save font files to. While some plugins like WP Rocket and SG Optimizer already optimize fonts, OMGF can often yield better load times especially when images are served from a CDN. Self-Hosted Google Fonts is similar.

Google-Fonts-GTmetrix

What it looks like:

OMGF-Settings

Tip: if using external fonts, be minimal with the number of fonts (and font weights) you choose. If for some reason this plugin doesn’t fix errors, I have a guide for hosting Google Fonts locally.

 

11. Flying Analytics

Flying Analytics fixes the leverage browser caching issue in GTmetrix by hosting Google Analytics locally. Install it, enter your Tracking-ID, set the JavaScript method, and it will do the rest. Sometimes WP Rocket and Perfmatters don’t fix it, but I found Flying Analytics does.

Flying Analytics

Leverage Browser Caching GTmetrix

 

12. wpDiscuz

Why is wpDiscuz in my list of WordPress speed plugins?

Because with wpDiscuz, I get an awesome comment plugin on my blog with virtually no expense to my GTmetrix report. This is usually not the case with other commenting plugins. Go to your wpDiscuz settings and use the tweaks below which should make the plugin load faster.

Recommended settings to speed up wpDiscuz:

Comment Thread Displaying → initiate AJAX loading after page and lazy load comment.

Disqus-Comment-Thread-Displaying

General → disable “use WordPress native AJAX functions” and enable combine/minify JS/CSS.

Disqus-General-Settings

Styles And Colors → disable “load font awesome CSS lib.”

Disqus-Load-Font-Awesome-CSS-Lib

 

13. Flying Scripts

Flying_Scripts_by_WP_Speed_Matters

This plugin helps you optimize third party scripts found in GTmetrix (reduce DNS lookups) and PageSpeed Insights (minimize third party scripts).

It delays loading of JavaScript until the timeout period you set in the plugin. For example, you can delay loading your comments plugin and Gravatars for 3 seconds which can significantly speed up initial load times. In fact, Flying Scripts is the only plugin that let me show Gravatars without them affecting GTmetrix. It is definitely one of my favorite WordPress speed plugins.

Flying-Scripts

 

14. WP User Avatar

The blank default Gravatar can still create errors in GTmetrix.

If you don’t want it to, install the WP User Avatar plugin which hosts the default Gravatar locally. Upload your own optimized Gravatar image (ideally a 50×50 pixel compressed image).

WP-User-Avata

 

15. CDN Enabler

CDN Enabler helps you set up a CDN (content delivery network). This does not work with Cloudflare which requires changing nameservers, while CDN enabler is specifically for StackPath, KeyCDN, and other CDNs that provide a CDN URL. First, sign up for a CDN (I use StackPath) then enter your CDN URL into the CDN Enabler plugin. See instructions below:

Step 1: Sign up for a CDN (I use StackPath who has 34 data centers) and create a CDN site.

Step 2: Grab Your CDN URL:

StackPath-CDN-URL

Step 3: Enter your CDN URL into CDN Enabler, then configure the settings:

CDN-Enabler-Plugin-Settings

 

16. Breeze By Cloudways

Breeze is only if you’re using Cloudways who was the fastest WordPress host in multiple tests.

Breeze has a long way to go if they want to catch up to SG Optimizer or WP Rocket. I would personally use WP Rocket instead as it lacks many features (probably why it doesn’t have the best ratings). While I highly recommend Cloudways hosting, I can’t recommend Breeze yet.

Breeze-Cache-Plugin

While Cloudways Breeze plugin isn’t great, their hosting is.

 

17. Autoptimize

Optimizes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You don’t need Autoptimize unless you’re hosted on GoDaddy, WP Engine, or any host who blacklists cache plugins, since WP Rocket and most cache plugins optimize the code for you. But while GoDaddy and WP Engine’s built-in caching might be fine, it doesn’t optimize HTML/CSS/JS. That’s where Autoptimize comes into play.

Autoptimize

 

18. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache is usually rated one of the top free cache plugins and is easy to configure. However, it lacks quite a few features and if you want them, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version, in which case you’ll be better off with WP Rocket. I have a configuration tutorial on the WP Fastest Cache settings as well as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.

WP-Fastest-Cache-Settings

 

19. ToolKit For Elementor

ToolKit does a little bit of everything (minification, combination, font optimization, lazy load, bloat removal, gzip, browser caching, expires headers), but it doesn’t do everything. You’ll be better off using WP Rocket combined with Perfmatters. One thing I like about ToolKit is the option to disable unused widgets in Elementor, WordPress, and in the WordPress dashboard.

ToolKit-for-Elementor

 

20. AMP For WP

I was using AMP, but I ultimately disabled it and now I don’t. But if you want to add AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to WordPress, this is one of the most highly rated AMP plugins since it has lots of customization options. One of the frustrating parts about AMP is that it strips some of your design elements, so you want to make sure the mobile pages still look nice.

Warning: AMP can sometimes decrease mobile conversions. Read Kinsta’s study on how their conversions dropped 59% when using AMP. I ultimately decided against it.

AMP-Pages

This plugin has tons of settings for customizing mobile pages:

Accelerated-Mobile-Pages-Plugin-Settings

 

21. Query Monitor

Find your slow loading plugins, queries, scripts, and other elements that take longest to load. Make sure you delete it when you’re done, since Query Monitor can cause high CPU in itself.

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

You can also use GTmetrix Waterfall to find your slowest plugins:

Slow WordPress Plugin

 

22. Display PHP Version

Display PHP Version simply shows which PHP version you’re running. Faster PHP versions = faster load times, so be sure to login to your hosting account and use the latest PHP version.

Display-PHP

 

23. GTMetrix For WordPress

The GTmetrix WordPress plugin monitors your load times and PageSpeed + YSlow scores, then sends you a report directly in your WordPress dashboard, or through scheduled email reports.

GTmetrix-WordPress-Dashboard-Widget

GTmetrix-Scheduled-WordPress-Reports

GTmetrix-Scheduled-Reports

 

24. WP Hosting Performance Check

Shows overall performance of hosting and whether your technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) is running slow, in which case it should be updated. It also shows your slowest pages.

Hosting-PHP-Server-Response

Browser-Load-Speed

Web-Server-Response-Time

Or simply check your server response time in PageSpeed Insights.

Reduce Server Response Time Under 200ms

 

25. Better Search Replace

If you see minimize redirects in your GTmetrix report, this usually means you changed the WWW or HTTPS version of your site, but didn’t change your links to reflect the new version.

Minimize-Redirects

Instead of fixing all your links manually, use the Better Search And Replace plugin to update them in bulk. It can also be helpful for fixing broken links, or even bulk updating links/images which appear on multiple pages/posts. Better Search Replace can be an enormous time saver.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

 

Other Notable Tools / Resources

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

Cloudflare – free CDN and speed/security service which mirrors your site (and offloads resources) on over 200+ data centers. Integrates with most cache plugins with options to use aggressive minification, Railgun, and hotlinking. All my cache plugin tutorials include Cloudflare setup instructions and don’t forget to set up page rules for your WordPress site.

StackPath – paid CDN which adds 30+ additional data centers around the world (more data centers = faster content delivery), reducing the distance between your website/visitors – a recommendation in the WordPress optimization guide. $10/month with a free 30-day trial.

Pingdom – most accurate tool for measuring load times according to WP Rocket, though GTmetrix has better recommendations for actually optimizing your site, in my humble opinion.

GTmetrix – good for identifying images that need to be optimized using the 3 methods: serving scaled images (resizing them), specifying images dimensions in the HTML/CSS, and optimizing images (lossless compression). GTmetrix recently switched to a fully loaded time metric which shows a longer load time than previously. Their waterfall tab measures individual slow loading elements, and if your time to first byte is long that indicates your hosting is slow.

Google PageSpeed Insights – most recommendations can be ignored but it’s good for measuring server response time which Google recommends <200ms or your hosting is slow.

Pronaya (My WordPress Speed Optimizer) – you can hire my WordPress speed optimizer on freelancer.com who I’ve been working with for 5 years and we’ve optimized multiple sites to load 500% faster. His name is Pronaya, he’s $40/hour and has a perfect 5/5 star review with 19 reviews (just sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDKAMOL). If you think I’m good at speed optimization, Pronaya is way better. I’ve also been working with Usama (his username is I333) who is quite cheaper but is also amazing with 4.9/5 stars and 375+ reviews.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the 5 most important speed plugins?

WP Rocket, SG Optimizer, OMGF, Perfmatters, and Autoptimize are 5 top speed optimization plugins.

🚀 What is the best cache plugin?

WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in numerous Facebook polls because it has more speed features than other cache plugins including database cleanup, heartbeat control, lazy load, and optimizing Google Analytics. WP Fastest Cache is usually rated the top free cache plugin, and SG Optimizer is good if you're on SiteGround.

🚀 What's the best image optimization plugin?

ShortPixel, TinyPNG, Imagify, and Smush are 4 popular image optimization plugins.

🚀 Which plugin is best for optimizing fonts?

OMGF, Perfmatters, WP Rocket, and Autoptimize all have font optimization options. WP Rocket and Perfmatters let you preconnect them which makes them load even faster.

🚀 Should I add AMP?

We chose not to use AMP after reading Kinsta's article about how their conversions dropped by roughly 50% due to AMP.

My WordPress Speed Optimization Tutorial – has 400+ comments with people saying things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.” Tons of people have used it to improve Pingdom/GTmetrix scores.

I hope you find these WordPress speed optimization plugins useful! If you have questions leave me a comment. Or if you simply need to fix your slow WordPress site, see my tutorial above. It has over 400 comments and has helped many people reduce their load time to <1s.

Cheers,
Tom

22 WordPress SEO Plugins For Optimizing Your Site In 2020

2019 WordPress SEO Plugins

Searching for a complete list WordPress SEO plugins?

This goes way beyond Yoast and dives into rich snippets, redirects, alt text, SSL, table of contents, even Google’s Site Kit plugin. The speed optimization plugins include 19 in itself.

I’ve been writing WordPress SEO + speed tutorials since 2011 – I am a complete nerd about this stuff. I only included the best SEO plugins (no duplicates) and I use most on my own site.

You can install as many WordPress SEO plugins as you like, but Google really wants to see organized, in-depth content around long-tail keywords that is better than the top results. That means choosing very specific phrases, adding a TOC, and writing long (3,000+ word) content.

Here’s the list:

 

1. Yoast SEO

Most people have Yoast, but few use it correctly. Here are some lesser-known Yoast tips.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings

4 Key Steps When Using Yoast

  • Configure the settings
  • Setup Webmaster Tools
  • Choose long-tail (3+ word) phrases
  • Optimize content (this goes beyond Yoast’s green lights)

There’s More To On-Page Than Keywords – getting green lights in Yoast is all find and dandy, but it doesn’t make you rank. Selecting long-tail keywords with weak content in the top results then doing real on-page SEO, will. Don’t obsess over Yoast – spend more time on keyword research, add a table of contents, create a video/infographic, aim for 3,000 words, and add practical how-to tips. The most important place to use your keyword is your page title, SEO title, meta description, and permalink (slug). Avoid keyword stuffing which can risk a penalty.

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

I highly recommend reviewing my on-page SEO checklist for better, practical tips.

Don’t Use Snippet Variables – In Yoast’s settings, there’s an option to use snippet variables (templates) for SEO titles + meta descriptions. You should avoid using these since writing custom ones is always better. Make sure you stay within Google’s character limits (the green bar in Yoast) and you’re enticing people to click your link – not just including your keyword.

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Optimize Content For Social – in Yoast there’s a “share” link where you can upload custom graphics for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). This makes your content format nicely when people share it, and you can also customize the title + description text.

yoast-social-media-optimization

facebook-share

Setup Google Search Console And Fix Crawl Errors (Broken Pages) – sign up for Google Search Console, add your site, and select the HTML tag verification method. Copy this code and paste it into Yoast. After a few days, login to Google Search Console and view your crawl errors report. If you see any, setup redirects to redirect the broken pages to the correct pages.

HTML Tag Google Search Console Verification

Use a plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect (or .htaccess) to redirect these to the correct URLs.

301 Redirect WordPress

Similar Plugins

 

2. Structured Content

Google recently added FAQs to search results, and the Structured Content plugin is the easiest want to implement them on your WordPress site. This is the same plugin Neil Patel uses in his video. To add FAQ rich snippets, install the plugin then see the instructions below.

Structured Content JSON-LD wpsc – WordPress plugin

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page or post and click the FAQ icon.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Clear the page’s cache.
  • In Google Search Console, request the URL to be indexed via Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Watch your FAQs appear in search results in just a few minutes!

FAQ Google Snippets

 

3. Republish Old Posts

This plugin resets your post’s publish dates to current day, making your content look fresh:

Publish Date

This is an easy way to increase click-through rates. Of course, people might wonder why your content says it was updated when it actually wasn’t. It’s pretty cheap, so proceed with warning.

Step 1: Find the entry meta section of your blog (the section at the very top of your posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. Now include the post modified date.

Entry Meta

What this looks like on your posts:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 2: Enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 3: Install the Republish Old Posts plugin and configure the settings. You can choose how often the plugin resets your publish dates under “post age before eligible for republishing.” Even if you don’t use this plugin, you should usually enable publish dates in search results then keep the content updated. Any time you edit a post and click the ‘publish’ the date will refresh.

Republish Old Posts

 

4. Automatic Image Alt Attributes

One day, WordPress stopped adding alt text to images automatically.

Thankfully, this plugin will do it for you. Just install it and it will use the image file name as the alt text. That means you can stop wasting your time writing alt text for every single image, like I used to. Just remember to label your image file name before uploading them to WordPress.

 

5. WP Review

WP Review is my favorite plugin for adding rich snippets (here’s a page I use it on). It supports 14 data types, looks great, has 16 pre-styled templates, and is maintained by the developers at MyThemeShop. It’s reliable, lightweight, and includes user reviews. There’s also a free version.

rich-snippets

Why I Use WP Review:

  • Design is much better than All In One Schema
  • Compatible with PHP 7+ (unlike WP Rich Snippets)
  • 16 pre-styled templates which are highly customizable
  • The plugin developer (MyThemeShop) keeps it updated
  • Supports 14 data types including the most common reviews + recipes
  • Multiple rating systems and option to include (moderated) user reviews
  • Free version and pro version are both solid, pro version has more features

Avoid These Rich Snippet Plugins:

 

6. Easy Table Of Contents

Why would a table of contents plugin be on my SEO plugin list?

Because adding a TOC to long pages/posts has HUGE benefits. Google says

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a table of contents which links to individual anchors.

What That Means For You:

  • Better chance of being awarded jump-to links in Google using named anchors
  • People can link to specific sections on your post (not just your single permalink)
  • People can immediately find what they want, and spend more time on your page

Jump To Links

Important: instead of using a plugin, adding a TOC using HTML/CSS lets style it and link to specific sections of the post (good for users and getting links). Here is a TOC GitHub template.

 

7. Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit combines Google’s most people tools (Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights) into 1 WordPress plugin. You really don’t need this plugin (just go to the actual websites), but if you want to see these in your dashboard, this gives you that option.

Site Kit by Google

 

Still the best way to check all broken links on your WordPress site.

Detects broken links in pages, posts, comments, images, and even redirects. Dr. Link Check is good, but Broken Link Checker lets you fix them inside WordPress with 1-click options to edit or unlink each one. Of course, not having broken links on your website can improve your SEO.

Broken Link Checker Plugin

Here’s what it looks like:

Broken Link Checker

Warning: this plugin continuously runs scans and sucks up high amounts of bandwidth. I recommend fixing all broken links then immediately deleting the plugin when you’re done.

 

9. Quick Page/Post Redirect

When you change permalinks, you need to setup a redirect to the new page.

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

How To Setup A Redirect: Install it and go to “Quick Redirects.” Enter the old URL + new URL.

301 Redirect WordPress

Find Crawl Errors: Go to the crawl errors report in Google Search Console section to see all broken pages on your site, then use this plugin to redirect each one to the new, correct URL.

Yoast Search Console Crawl Errors

 

10. ShortPixel

ShortPixel is generally the best WordPress plugin for optimizing images.

It lets you losslessly compress images, strip EXIF data, and optimize them in other ways. Simply install the plugin, test a few images to make sure you’re satisfied with the image quality, then bulk optimize all images on your site. It also lets you optimize images once uploaded.

ShortPixel Settings

 

11. WP Rocket

WordPress says:

The Caching section gives you the biggest benefit for the smallest hassle.

Which cache plugin is best? WP Rocket was #1 in most Facebook polls and is what I use.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

Why WP Rocket Is #1 In Facebook Polls

  • It’s easy to configure.
  • It yields fast load times.
  • It has extensive documentation.
  • It shouldn’t break your site (like some cache plugins).
  • It has tons of features most cache plugins don’t – lazy loading photos/videos/iframes, database cleanup, integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs, local Google Fonts and Analytics, Sucuri integration, etc. With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them built-in.

For how important it is, WP Rocket is worth $49/year. They also let you renew your license at 50% off so it’s really $24.50/year after the 1st year. And you can also get 10% off the initial price if you sign up for their email list. Check out my WP Rocket guide for setup instructions.

 

12. Asset Manager

Asset Manager lets you selectively disable plugins from loading on certain pages. Some plugins load on every single piece of content even if it’s not being used there. Disabling these plugins can reduce the number of requests on the page and make them load faster. Asset Manager is similar to Plugin Organizer (Perfmatters lets you do this too), only it’s free and simple to use.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use affiliate links

 

13. Speed Optimization Plugins

Speed is a ranking factor (duh).

2019-GTmetrix-Report

Here are some great plugins for speeding up WordPress.

I use many of these on my site which contributed to my 100% GTmetrix scores. Migrating from EIG and low quality hosts like GoDaddy to SiteGround and Cloudways was another big reason.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. Comes with heartbeat control, lazy loading, database cleanup, and hosting fonts + analytics locally. This means you don’t need to install these extra plugins if using WP Rocket.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Heartbeat Control – disables the WordPress heartbeat API which consumes resources by sending real-time notifications, when uses are editing a post, etc.
  5. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  6. WP YouTube Lyte – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take a long time to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  7. CDN Enabler – helps set up your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  8. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” issues in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  9. OMGF – hosts fonts locally and fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  10. ShortPixelImagify / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  11. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  12. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results. However, Kinsta’s conversions dropped 59% when using AMP and I have not used them since.
  13. Clearfy / Perfmattersdisables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  14. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  15. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  16. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  17. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.

 

14. Rel Nofollow Checkbox

If you’re using affiliate links, this adds a nofollow option when adding links in WordPress. Otherwise, you would have to go into the link’s HTML and add nofollow manually. Saves time.

 

15. Yoast Premium Plugins

Spoiler: Yoast claims their premium plugins lift heaven and earth when in reality you will probably not see any direct improvements just by purchasing their WordPress SEO plugins.

Conclusion: Yoast’s premium plugins aren’t worth the money.

WordPress SEO plugins by Yoast

Yoast SEO Premium ($89/year) – I wrote a review on it, basically explaining how most features can be done with free plugins or are simply not valuable, especially for $89/year.

  • Redirect manager – use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin.
  • Internal linking suggestions – do you really need a plugin for this?
  • Multiple focus keywords – doesn’t always detect partial match keywords.
  • Content insights – shows 5 top used words (keyword density barely matters).
  • Social preview – as long as you’re uploading social media images, you’re OK.
  • Support – I have heard many stories of them just referring people to tutorials.

Yoast Video SEO Plugin ($69/year) – create a video sitemap and markup pages so video thumbnails appear in Google Videos. Of course, most people go to Google’s regular search engine, so this will likely only pay off if you’re creating lots of videos especially how-to style.

Yoast Local SEO Plugin ($69/year) – adds a KML file, schema.org, and the option to embed a Google Map and store locator. Embedding a Google Map is easy, and most information Yoast “optimizes” for is already pulled from your Google My Business page. Yoast says this plugin “tells Google everything it needs to know to put you on top in local search results” which is not true considering Google’s local ranking factors have little to do with Yoast’s local SEO plugin.

Yoast Google News Plugin ($69/year) – doesn’t actually get you in Google News (see those steps here) but helps format content for Google News by creating an XML News Sitemap.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO Plugin ($49/year) – enables rich pins for Pinterest.

 

16. Schema

There are lots of schema plugins, but it depends on which kind of markup you’re doing. For example, if you’re writing reviews, you would need a plugin for review markup like WP Review. Figure out which kind of markup is applicable to your content, then use the required plugins.

Schema Plugins

 

17. Analytify

See a glimpse of your Google Analytics directly in WordPress.

Analytify Dashboard

 

18. Really Simple SSL

This plugin “automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https.” Of course, you still need an SSL to use it, but Really Simple SSL makes it easy to set it up.

Let’s Encrypt SSL is the most popular free SSL and is what I use. Google cracked down on non-HTTPs sites even harder in July, 2018 when they began showing not secure in Google Chrome.

Really Simple SSL

Features:

  • Mixed content fixer
  • Enable WordPress 301 redirection to SSL
  • Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
  • Enable Javascript redirection to SSL

 

19. Better Search Replace

Why is a search/replace plugin on the list?

Because if you changed www or http(s) versions, you will need to bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. That’s where this plugin comes into play – I suggest HTTPS and non-www. Simply search the old version of your domain and replace it with the new one.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

Cool Trick: if you use the same image on multiple pages, this is an easy to way update them all.

 

20. Anti-Spam

Spam kills blogs. JetPack says

Spammers may leave link or keyword-filled comments on your site in an attempt to direct more traffic to their sites (and boost their own SEO). With enough spam, your rankings could take a hit, through no fault of your own.

The Anti-Spam plugin is captcha-free and does a superb job filtering spam comments, while leaving the good ones. Spam is a huge problem with WordPress. This plugin will save you time.

 

21. WP Google My Business Auto Publish

Posting updates your Google My Business page has becoming increasingly important in Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors. This plugin publishes your WordPress content directly to your Google My Business Page. It’s still in the early stages, but has terrific reviews.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are some of the plugin settings:

WP Google My Business Auto Publish

 

22. StudioPress Plugins

If you’re using a StudioPress theme or Genesis Framework (which I recommend), you need to be using StudioPress plugins. These are on my list because they are lightweight, reliable, and will keep your load time (and chances of errors) to a minimal, making your site run smoothly.

studiopress-genesis-plugins

 

Other SEO Tools You Should Know About

  • Answer The Public – coolest keyword research tool (photo below). Pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual map based on different keyword types (questions, prepositions, comparisons). The greener the circle, the more competitive the keyword is. Question keywords are a great way to make sure your content is comprehensive (it answers the most popular questions people are searching). My favorite keyword research tool.
  • Moz Local – analyzes your top 15 citations (GMB, Yelp, YellowPages, etc) and shows incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Try to get 100% scores!
  • Moz Link Explorer – shows link metrics, as well as your domain authority which is an indicator of how competitive your targeted keywords should be.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Try competing with sites that have similar domain authority.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – basically Google Keyword Planner, only better. Shows organic competition (unlike Keyword Planner which is for AdWords). Shows monthly search volume and has tons of filters for sorting keywords.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see monthly search volume, estimated competition, and CPC directly in search results. Also works for YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, Google Analytics and other programs/search engines.
  • SEMrush – one of the most extensive SEO softwares are the market, literally telling you everything about your keywords, backlinks, content SEO, and analytics. Many metrics can’t be found in Google Analytics or Search Console.
  • Google Autocomplete – my favorite trick is “fill in the blank” where you use the underline character _ to have Google (yes you guessed it) fill in the blank. Try it with Chicago _ Photographer. You must end on the underline character.
  • Google Search Console – See errors with your site (indexing, security, mobile, AMP, sitemap, penalties), SEO titles/meta descriptions that are too short or long, set your preferred domain name (www vs. non-www), international targeting, Search Analytics (my favorite way to measure overall SEO + CTRs), links to your site, and data highlighter for structured data. You need to use it.
  • Google Trends – see keyword trends in specific geographies (and YouTube).
  • Cloudflare – free CDN with 200+ data centers which can be setup with most cache plugins. Has additional features like accelerated mobile links, hotlink protection, Railgun, and Page Rules. Improves both site speed and security.
  • Dr. Link Check – scans entire site for broken links (up to 7,500/month) but does not provide a user-friendly way to fix them directly in your WordPress dashboard (like Broken Link Checker does, but BLC does consume CPU).
  • Copyscape – prevents plagarism (searches the web for copies of your content).
  • HubShout WebGrader – see full list of competitors keywords and a side-by-side comparison of backlinks, domain authority, and highest ranked pages.
  • StackPath – CDN with 30+ data centers (mostly in the US). More data centers = faster content delivery, which is why I use both Cloudflare and StackPath.
  • Siteliner – checks entire site for duplicate content and highlights it.
  • Screaming Frog – extensive (free) SEO audit tool which shows missing alt text, SEO titles, meta descriptions, URLs, AMP, sitemaps, and also integrates with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and many other SEO tools.
  • vidIQ – search any keyword in YouTube and see key metrics that indicate how competitive the keyword is. Based on likes, views, shares, comments, etc.
  • SEOquake – Chrome extension which is great for keyword research. Shows each search result’s links, Alexa rank, domain age, indexed pages, keyword analytics, internal links, external links, and many other (customizable) metrics.
  • Contact Form 7 Google Analytics – adds event tracking to all your CF7 forms.
  • SiteGround – the host I recommend who was rated #1 in 30+ Facebook polls.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🔌 What is the best free WordPress SEO plugin?

Yoast and Rank Math are the best free SEO plugins to help you optimize your content based on keywords. They also create an XML sitemap automatically, help you set up Google Search Console, and customize which content is indexed in search engines.

🔌 Is Yoast the best SEO plugin?

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins, but that doesn't mean it's the best. Rank Math has everything included in Yoast SEO Premium, but it's free and more lightweight, leading to a faster website.

🔌 Is Yoast or Rank Math better?

Rank Math is arguably better than Yoast since it has more features, yet it's not as code-heavy. Yoast also shows advertisements in the WordPress dashboard, which can be annoying.

Did I Miss Any Good SEO Plugins?
I hope this list was helpful! If you have questions about  any of these WordPress SEO plugins feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be glad to help you out. Remember, I have lots of tutorials on Yoast, WordPress speed optimization, and other SEO-related tutorials. If you have a question about those, please leave a comment on that specific tutorial. Finally, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who might like it too – I’d appreciate that.

Cheers,
Tom

How To Fix Bluehost’s Slow WordPress Hosting (13 Ways)

Have a slow WordPress site on Bluehost?

A slow Bluehost website can be fixed by activating Cloudflare and PHP 7.3 in the cPanel, using a cache plugin with a CDN, and avoiding resource heavy plugins on shared hosting. Optimizing your images, WordPress database, and fonts should also improve page load times on Bluehost.

There’s an easy way to tell if Bluehost is slow: run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report (Google recommends under 200ms). If you have a high server response time or TTFB in GTmetrix, then your server is slow.

Benchmark your scores + load times in GTmetrix and post them in the comments! If you need help, leave your GTmetrix report in the comments and I’ll provide you with some suggestions.

slow Bluehost

Maybe we can get your site faster than this post which has lots of images and comments:

Bluehost GTmetrix

This video should also help (timestamps are in the video description):

Easy Ways To Fix A Slow Website On Bluehost

  • Use Bluehost’s latest PHP version (PHP 7.3)
  • Active Cloudflare’s CDN inside Bluehost
  • Install and set up a top-rated caching plugin
  • Remove junk from your database using WP-Optimize
  • Avoid common slow loading plugins and page builders
  • Find large images in GTmetrix and make them smaller
  • Losslessly compress images using a plugin like TinyPNG
  • Be minimal with fonts + weights and using the OMGF plugin
  • Optimize external scripts using plugins like WP Rocket’s Add-Ons

A warning about Bluehost: Bluehost is not fast and mainly promoted by bloggers who want affiliate commissions. I set up an identical Astra website on blhstserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on Bluehost, one is hosted on Cloudways DigitalOcean who was rated the #1 host in Facebook polls, conversations, or see migration results. Visit the websites and click through their pages – you will see the difference in speed.

 

1. Measure Your Server Response Time

Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. If yes, this means your server (on Bluehost) is slow. A high number of websites on Bluehost have a slow server especially since Google recommends it should be under 200ms.

The only way to fix this is by lowering the amount of CPU consumed by your website (eg. deleting high resource plugins in GTmetrix’s Waterfall tab). Or upgrade your hosting to include more server resources (either with Bluehost or someone else) – but this is the #1 speed factor.

Reduce Server Response Time

Indicators Bluehost Is Slow

  • High server response time in PageSpeed Insights
  • High TTFB (time to first byte) in GTmetrix Timings tab
  • High PageSpeed and YSlow scores in GTmetrix, but a slow load time
  • 503 service unavailable errors which means the server is being overloaded

You may also want to read Bluehost’s resource usage section on their user agreement page. It says “Accounts with a large number of files (inode count in excess of 200,000) can have an adverse effect on server performance.” This means if your site is consuming lots of resources (from more traffic, slow plugins, etc), they throttle your bandwidth and slow down your site. Bluehost customers constantly complain about slow servers on Twitter and Bluehost forums.

Join Facebook Groups and do your research.

Bluehost-Managed-WordPress-Hosting

 

2. Identify Bottlenecks In GTmetrix

Rerun your site through GTmetrix and you should see a significant improvement in scores/load time. If not, this probably means you’re on Bluehost’s cheapest $6.99/month plan and you’re getting what you pay for. Any serious website should not be on such a cheap plan especially if it’s a business website and you rely on it to make a living. Let me know your new page load time in the comments! Or send me your GTmetrix + Pingdom report and I’ll send a few suggestions.

Other Optimizations:

  • For WooCommerce, optimize scripts, styles, and cart fragments in Perfmatters
  • Minimize redirects by using the correct HTTP(S) and WWW version of your site

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

3. Upgrade To PHP 7.3 In Bluehost’s cPanel

Most WordPress users are running outdated PHP versions when upgrading can easily make your site 2-3x faster. Bluehost will not upgrade you automatically (because they don’t want to risk breaking your site) so you need to do this yourself as Bluehost releases new PHP versions.

How To Update PHP Version On Bluehost

  • Login to your Bluehost cPanel
  • Select the PHP Config option
  • Select PHP 7.3 and save changes

Bluehost PHP 7.3 1

 

4. Activate Cloudflare’s CDN

To add Cloudflare, login to Bluehost and go to Domains → Cloudflare → Activate.

Bluehost-Cloudflare

Bluehost Cloudflare

This activates Cloudflare’s CDN (content delivery network) which hosts your website on 200+ data centers around the world, reducing the distance between your server and visitors. It also helps offload resources to their data centers (lightening the load on your server) while improving security. Registering your site on the actual Cloudflare website, logging into your Cloudflare dashboard, and configuring the speed tab and page rules can further improve speed.

 

5. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

WP Rocket was the #1 rated cache plugin, costs $49 and is what I use on my site. WP Fastest Cache was the top rated free cache plugin and is super easy to set up. Both can shave multiple seconds off your load time and I wrote tutorials for both, plus W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Only use 1 caching plugin on your site – I recommend WP Rocket or WP Fastest Cache.

WP Rocket is better because it has more speed optimization features than other cache plugins, otherwise you would need to install the following plugins to get these (different cache plugins have different features, so only install them if your cache plugin doesn’t have a built-in feature).

  • Database cleanup (built-in to WP Rocket, or use WP-Optimize)
  • Heartbeat control (built-in to WP Rocket, or use Heartbeat Control)
  • Lazy load images/videos (built-in to WP Rocket, or use WP YouTube Lyte)
  • Host Google Analytics locally (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Analytics)
  • Optimize Google Fonts (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Fonts, or SHGF)
  • Integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CDN Enabler)

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

A glimpse of the WP Rocket settings (file optimization are the most important settings):

WP-Rocket-File-Optimization-Settings

Here’s a glimpse of the WP Fastest Cache settings:

WP-Fastest-Cache-Settings

 

6. Make Images Load Faster

There are a few primary ways to optimize your images; some are found in GTmetrix, others are found in Google PageSpeed Insights. All of them will contribute to better scores and load times.

Serve Scaled Images – means images are too large and need to be resized. When expanded, GTmetrix tells you which images have errors and their correct dimensions. Your logo, sliders, blog, and any image on your website usually calls for specific dimensions which you should be resizing them too. Start with images that appear on multiple pages (eg. logo + sidebar images). It’s a good idea to create a cheat sheet of your image dimensions so you can resize images accordingly (content body width, widget width, sliders, featured images, carousel images, etc). This way you or your designer can crop/resize images before uploading them to WordPress.

image-optimization

serve-scaled-images

Specify Image Dimensions – means you need to specify a width and height in the image’s HTML or CSS. The WordPress visual editor should take care of this automatically, however you usually need to do this manually with images that are hand-coded in HTML or CSS. Expand the “specify image dimensions” item in your GTmetrix PageSpeed report and they tell you the width/height.

specify-image-dimensions

Specifying Image Dimensions In HTML:
<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/example-image.jpg” alt=”Example Image” width=”360″ height=”180″ />

Specifying Image Dimensions In CSS:
logo width: 180px (retina: 360px;)
logo height: 110px max (retina: 220px;)

Losslessly Compress Images – this is the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix. It means you need to compress images using a plugin like ShortPixel (what I use), Imagify, or Smush. Set your compression level in the plugin settings and test a few images before bulk optimizing them, since you may see a slight reduction in quality. Most are free until you reach the monthly quota.

Imagify-Optimize-Images-On-Upload

Lazy Load Images – can be done using WP Rocket and most image optimization plugins. This delays the loading of images until users scroll down the page and visibly see images. Can also be done for videos, including replacing YouTube iframes with preview images (seen in WP Rocket).

Serve Images In Next-Gen Format – this is an item in PageSpeed Insights. It means you need to use image formats like WebP instead of JPEG and PNG. Most image optimization plugins will convert images to WebP format for you, or if you’re using SVGs, use the SVG Support plugin.

 

7. Find And Fix Slow Loading Plugins

Find Your Slowest Plugins – look through your GTmetrix report (especially the Waterfall tab) to find which plugins are causing issues with your load times. Delete or replace them if possible.

Slow WordPress Plugin

Avoid Slow Plugins – avoid these 65+ infamously slow plugins.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Minimize Plugins – deactivate and delete any plugins you don’t absolutely need.

Consolidate Plugins – use 1 plugin for multiple features, for example, use WP Rocket for nearly all speed optimizations instead of individual plugins like WP-Optimize or Heartbeat Control.

Selectively Disable Plugins From Specific Pages – use Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp to disable plugins from running on specific pages/posts. If you only use your contact form plugin on the contact page, disable everywhere else. Or if you have social sharing buttons on your blog, disable them on pages. Seeing which scripts/plugins are loading on your pages is an eye opener.

perfmatters-script-manager

 

8. Remove Junk From Your WordPress Database

If you’re using WP Rocket for your cache plugin, you can skip this step since there’s an option to do this in the WP Rocket “database” settings. Otherwise WP-Optimize does the same thing… it cleans your database like your spam and trash folder, pingbacks, trackbacks, and potentially thousands of post revisions. Schedule a database cleanup every 2 weeks or so to keep it clean.

WP-Optimize Clean Database

WP-Optimize lets you delete tables left behind by old plugins which aren’t installed anymore.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

9. Avoid Using Slow Page Builders On Shared Hosting

Yes, even Elementor.

Elementor and other page builders load lots of scripts on your entire website which you can check using Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters. It also consumes more resources (when editing) than Gutenberg or alternative faster page builders. In general, I would not recommend using a page builder on shared hosting unless it’s Oxygen. The only thing I regret when designing my new website is not creating it in Oxygen. See how many times Elementor is in the source code?

Elementor Scripts

If you decide to keep Elementor, at least disable all addons, modules, and scripts you’re not using. Most Elementor plugins have an option to toggle modules on or off. Next, view your scripts in Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters and disable the ones you’re not using (I would do this on a staging website since toggling these can break things if they’re in use). It requires testing.

Disable-Addons

 

10. Combine Google Font Files

See font-related errors in your GTmetrix report?

Try installing and configuring the OMGF plugin. It automatically downloads your fonts and creates a stylesheet for them, so that they’re included in your site’s header which makes them easier to optimize. You can also try hosting fonts locally yourself. Elementor Pro also has custom font options for hosting them locally. Especially if you’re using an external font like Google Fonts or Font Awesome, make sure you are minimal with the number of fonts/weights.

Google-Fonts-GTmetrix

OMGF will automatically create the stylesheet for you:

OMGF-Generate-Stylesheet

 

11. Optimize Third Party Scripts

Third Party Scripts are anything “embedded” on your website from an external website.

This is anything from embedded videos to Google Fonts, Analytics, AdSense, Tag Manager, Maps, or even social sharing buttons on your blog. You can usually find these in the “reduce DNS lookups” section of your GTmetrix report. These all generate extra requests from outside websites and will slow down yours. While some can be optimized, others cannot.

  • Embedded Videos – Lazy load videos and replace the YouTube iframe with a preview image (in WP Rocket) or use the WP YouTube Lyte plugin by the Autoptimize team.
  • Embedded Social Media Posts – try taking a picture of the post and using that instead.
  • Google Analytics – try hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally. This should fix the “leverage browser caching” issue for Google Analytics in your GTmetrix report, but don’t worry if you can’t fix this since it shouldn’t even impact your actual load times.
  • Google AdSense – a GTmetrix killer, I highly recommend just doing affiliate marketing.
  • Google Maps – only use a Google Map on the contact or pages optimized for local SEO.
  • Google Tag Manager – usually only benefits load times for large, unoptimized websites.

WordPress External Scripts

 

12. Remove Bloat From WordPress

By default, WordPress consumes resources with autosaves, post revisions, pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat API, jQuery migrate, and many other things you probably don’t need.

I use the Perfmatters plugin by Kinsta to disable these (I was using WP Disable but it has bad reviews and can cause errors on your site). Perfmatters is the only plugin that not only lets you disable the crap, but also has a script manager for selectively disabling plugins (the previous step) as well as hosting Google Analytics locally. It’s what I personally use on my own website.

perfmatters-settings

 

13. Consider Moving To Cloudways

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my website slow on Bluehost?

Bluehost is shared hosting and lacks server resources. These are needed to accomodate high CPU tasks like WooCommerce, AdSense, and even Elementor. Configuring a cache plugin with a CDN is one of the most effective ways to fix a slow website on Bluehost.

How to fix a slow server response time on Bluehost?

You can fix a slow server response time on Bluehost by upgrading to the latest PHP version, configuring a cache plugin with a CDN, and cleaning up your database. If these don't work, consider moving away from shared hosting.

Will upgrading plans improve load times?

Yes, but you should optimize your website first and consider alternative hosts. Bluehost's Optimized WordPress Hosting or VPS plans aren't nearly as fast as semi-dedicated or cloud hosting from other providers. Join some Facebook Groups and do your research.

Which WordPress speed plugins should I use?

WP Rocket, TinyPNG, and Perfmatters are 3 key WordPress speed plugins. If you're not using WP Rocket, you will need to install additional plugins to take care of Heartbeat Control, database cleanup, lazy loading, and hosting Google Fonts and Analytics locally.

Did this tutorial work?
Let me know in the comments and feel free to share your new load time! If you still have a slow WordPress site on Bluehost let me know about that too… I will gladly look into your GTmetrix + Pingdom report and send you a few suggestions (just please do what you can from this guide).

See Also: Cloudways Review

Cheers,
Tom

How To Fix A Slow Website On HostGator’s WordPress Hosting

HostGator Slow

Have a slow WordPress site on HostGator?

If your WordPress site is slow on HostGator, you can speed it up by upgrading to PHP 7.3, configuring a cache plugin, using Cloudflare, and optimizing your images, database, and plugins.

To check if HostGator’s hosting is slow, run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response times is in your report. If yes, your HostGator server is slow. This may be because you’re running resource-hungry plugins like WooCommerce or Elementor, since shared hosting often doesn’t have enough server resources to accommodate high CPU plugins.

HostGator’s shared hosting is infamously slow and there are countless complaints about their slow servers in Facebook Groups. I suggest joining a few (like the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group) to get real, unbiased opinions. There are much better options like DigitalOcean on Cloudways which is who most people recommend and #1 in many Facebook polls. HostGator is owned by EIG (a publicly traded company) who is infamous for overcrowding servers for profits.

Benchmark your scores + load times in GTmetrix and post them in the comments! And if you need help, leave your GTmetrix report in the comments and I’ll provide you with suggestions.

My goal is to make your GTmetrix report look more like this:

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

This video should help (timestamps are in the video description):

Quick Ways To Fix A Slow HostGator Website

  • Upgrade to the latest PHP version in HostGator
  • Install a solid cache plugin with a Cloudflare’s CDN
  • Use a fast page builder like Oxygen instead of Elementor
  • Use fast plugins and avoid commonly known slow plugins
  • Combine Google Fonts and be minimal with fonts and weights
  • Avoid uploading very large images which show errors in GTmetrix
  • Compress images using an image optimization plugin like TinyPNG
  • Remove junk from your database and delete tables left behind by old plugins
  • Lazy load images and videos which are often the heaviest elements on a page

 

1. Check For Slow Server Response Times

Run your WordPress site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time shows in the report (Google recommends 200ms). Servers are controlled by your hosting.

Reduce-Server-Response-Times

Another indicator is if your time to first byte (TTFB) is slow in the GTmetrix Timings tab. Good GTmetrix scores but slow server response times and TTFB indicates your hosting as the issue.

TTFB

A warning about HostGator: HostGator is one of the slowest hosts. I set up an identical Astra website on hstgtrserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on HostGator’s Optimized WordPress Hosting, one is on Cloudways DigitalOcean who was rated the #1 host in Facebook polls, conversations, or see these migration results. Visit the websites and click through their pages – you will see the difference in speed.

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3

Most WordPress users are running outdated PHP versions when upgrading can make your site 2-3x faster. HostGator will not upgrade you automatically (because they don’t want to risk breaking your site) so you need to do this yourself as HostGator releases new PHP versions.

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

HostGator’s Optimized WordPress Hosting does not have cPanel, so you cannot upgrade PHP versions yourself. You will need to contact support to have them do it. You can try these instructions, but I had to have their support team do this for me.

How To Update PHP Versions On HostGator

  • In your HostGator cPanel, go to Software → MultiPHP Manager.
  • Upgrade to PHP 7.3.
  • Check your website for errors. If you see any, revert to an earlier version.
  • Keep it updated to the latest version as HostGator releases new PHP versions.

Supported-PHP-Versions

 

3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache are usually rated highest in Facebook polls.

Many features are built-in to WP Rocket (database cleanup, heartbeat control, lazy load, etc) while WP Fastest Cache and other cache plugins don’t come with these features. In other words, WP Rocket lets you use 1 plugin for everything instead of having to install multiple plugins. That’s also why WP Rocket usually gives you better scores and load times in GTmetrix.

The following features are built-in WP Rocket. But if you’re using another cache plugin that doesn’t come with a specific feature, you’ll need to install these plugins:

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

WP Rocket (406ms)
Pingdom Page Speed Test

WP Fastest Cache (527ms)
WP Fastest Cache Load Times

W3 Total Cache (619ms)
W3 Total Cache Load Times

Here are tutorials for configuring the ideal WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache Settings. I also have configuration tutorials for W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and Autoptimize settings.

A glimpse of the WP Rocket settings (file optimization tab is the most important):

WP-Rocket-File-Optimization-Settings

HostGator does have an option to enable cache in the cPanel which you should leave disabled if you’re using a cache plugin. Cache plugins take care of many other optimizations other than caching (eg. minifying HTML, CSS, JS) and you will get much better results with a cache plugin.

HostGator Cache

 

4. Use Cloudflare’s CDN

Cloudflare’s CDN hosts your website on 200+ centers and reduces the distance between your server and visitors. It also helps offload resources which can reduce your server response time.

1. Sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, add your website, and run the scan.

Add Site To Cloudflare

2. You will eventually come to a page where Cloudflare assigns you 2 nameservers.

Cloudflare-GoDaddy-Nameservers

3. HostGator says you will need to contact them to set up private nameservers.

Unfortunately you need private nameservers on HostGator to do this which is only available on their reseller account, VPS, and dedicated server. I have no idea why they do this. WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache have settings for Cloudflare – you can try setting it up through one of these (let me know if this works in the comments please!)

HostGator Private Nameservers

4. Once they do, find them and enter the nameservers provided by Cloudflare.

HostGator Nameservers

5. Go to your Cloudflare speed settings and use these:

Cloudflare-Speed-Tab

6. Go to Cloudflare’s caching settings and Purge Everything.

Cloudflare Purge

All done! It can take 24 hour for Cloudflare nameservers to propagate so be patient :)

 

5. Rethink Your Page Builder

Elementor and other page builders add lots of scripts to your website.

You can check these using Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp. The only page builder I recommend is Oxygen. I made the mistake of having my website redesigned in Elementor and you can see how many times it shows up in the source code. Add other Elementor plugins like Ultimate Addons and Premium Addons, and you could end up with a very slow website. While you can selectively disable some of these scripts, many of them need to be loaded and so, you’re stuck with them.

Elementor Scripts 1

Elementor Souce Code

 

6. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins

Thank you Ivica from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group for contributing to this list.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Be sure to deactivate/delete all plugins you’re not currently using. If you only use a plugin at certain times, deactivate/delete it – then reinstall the plugin when needed.

Disable Plugins On Specific Pages/PostsPerfmatters and Asset CleanUp let you selectively disable plugins on specific pages/posts. For example, if you’re only using your contact form on the contact page, disable it everywhere else. Or if you only use social sharing buttons on the blog, disable it on all your pages. Going through your scripts/plugins, viewing their size, and disabling plugins where they’re not being used can significantly improve scores and load times.

perfmatters-script-manager

 

7. Optimize Images To Load Faster

There are 5 primary ways to make images load faster:

  • Serve scaled images: resizing large images to be smaller.
  • Losslessly compress images: compress images using a plugin.
  • Lazy load images: delays loading images until you scroll down the page.
  • Specify image dimensions: add a width/height to the image’s HTML or CSS.
  • Serve images in next-gen formats: convert images (eg. to WebP) format using a plugin.

Serve Scaled Images
Serve scaled images are found in GTmetrix where they tell you which images are too large and the dimensions they should be resized to. GTmetrix only shows unoptimized images for a single page. Resize them, reupload them, and replace the old images with the new ones. It’s best to resize images BEFORE uploading them, and to create an “image dimension cheat sheet” listing the dimensions of all your different image sections (logo, sliders, widgets, full width blog images, etc). Start by fixing images that appear on multiple pages (logo, sidebar, and footer images) then run your most important pages through GTmetrix and optimize individual images.

Serve Scaled Images

Losslessly Compress Images
This is the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix. I personally use ShortPixel but Imagify is also good. Install an image optimization plugin, set your compression level, and test a few images to make sure you are happy with their quality. Most plugins are free until you reach their limit.

ShortPixel-Image-Compression-Levels

Lazy Load Images
Lazy load delays the loading of photos, videos, and iframes so they only load once you scroll down the page and see them. Videos are heavy so I suggest at least doing that – I don’t lazy load photos since it can be annoying to load photos as you scroll down. WP Rocket has an option for this in the Media tab, otherwise you can use a plugin like A3 Lazy Load and WP YouTube Lyte.

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

Specify Image Dimensions
Specify image dimensions means you need to locate the image, view it’s HTML, and add a width and height in the HTML (which is provided by GTmetrix). Since the WordPress visual editor and most page builders do this automatically, it only usually happens in hand-coded HTML or CSS.

Specify-Image-Dimensions-WordPress

Serve Images In Next-Gen Formats
Found in PageSpeed Insights, WebP and SVG formats can have better quality and compression than JPEG and PNG. Depending on which format you choose, most image optimization plugins have an option to convert your images to WebP format or for SVG, use the SVG Support plugin.

 

8. Disable Unused Functionality

The Perfmatters plugin lets you disable pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat, and limit autosave intervals and post revisions. It also lets you host Google Analytics locally and selectively disable plugins from specific pages/posts. The only other plugin I know that does this is WP Disable, Clearfy, and Asset CleanUp, but I have tested them and personally use Perfmatters on my site.

perfmatters-settings

 

9. Clean Your WordPress Database

You can do this in WP Rocket’s database tab (below), otherwise use the WP Optimize plugin. Backup your website if this is your first time doing it and schedule this for weekly or monthly.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

One thing I like about WP-Optimize is that it lets you delete old tables left behind by plugins you deleted (shown as “not installed”). If you don’t plan on using the plugin again, delete these.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

10. Minimize Redirects

Usually means you changed the WWW or HTTP(S) version of your site, but your links/images are still using the old version. You need to correct ALL these which can be done in bulk using the Better Search Replace plugin. GTmetrix will only show you errors for that page, so test a few pages out in GTmetrix to make sure you took care of all redirects throughout your website.

minimize redirects

Better-Search-Replace-WWW-Versions

 

11. Avoid External HTTP Requests

Third party scripts can be found in the reduce DNS lookups section of GTmetrix. These are anything that creates HTTP requests from outside websites (Google Fonts, Analytics, Maps, AdSense, embedded YouTube videos, and even social sharing buttons or social media widgets).

Some scripts are easy to optimize:

  • Optimize fonts with the OMGF plugin
  • Host Google Analytics tracking code locally
  • Disable and optimize Gravatars on blog comments
  • Generally, only use a Google Map on the contact page
  • Replace YouTube iframe with preview image (in WP Rocket)

Other scripts like Google AdSense and Google Tag Manager are much more difficult and can absolutely ruin your GTmetrix report, which is why I recommend affiliate marketing instead.

WordPress External Scripts

Preconnect + Prefetch
If you absolutely must use an external resource throughout your site, you should preconnect/prefetch it. This basically lets the browser anticipate external resources to make it load faster. WP Rocket, Perfmatters, and other plugins have options for this, otherwise you can also use the Pre* Party Resources Hints plugin. If using StackPath, you should also add your CDN URL here. Luke (from Bluehost) created a list of common domains to prefetch on GitHub.

 

12. Fix Bottlenecks In GTmetrix

Slow plugins, images, scripts, and individual elements can all be found in your GTmetrix Waterfall tab. Learn which elements take longest to load and focus on those optimizations. Good hosting and correctly configuring a solid cache plugin should fix most errors in GTmetrix.

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

Other Optimizations To Consider

  • Use a lightweight WordPress theme
  • Avoid page builders (or if you do use one, use Oxygen)
  • Optimize WooCommerce scripts, styles, cart fragments in Perfmatters

 

13. Consider Moving To Cloudways

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

Hire My WordPress Speed Optimizer

Still need help with your GTmetrix report?

I’ve been working with Pronaya for 7 years (he’s the one who optimized my GTmetrix report). You can hire him by signing up for freelancer.com and searching for username bdkamol. Here is his full WordPress speed portfolio. He’s $40/hour from Bangladesh (so there is a time change) and you can email him at bdkamol@gmail.com. He also has a perfect 5 star review on his profile. Serious inquiries only, and please don’t expect 100% scores if you’re HostGator’s slow WordPress hosting, a bloated theme, and tons of heavy plugins. Please follow this guide first.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I speed up my site on HostGator?

Upgrade to the highest possible PHP version inside your HostGator account, configure a good cache plugin like WP Rocket, optimize images with ShortPixel, set up Cloudflare's CDN, and avoid common slow plugins. This will be a great start to make your site faster.

How do you upgrade PHP versions?

Login to your HostGator account and find the PHP Selector. Upgrade to the highest version. Test your website for errors. It's a good idea to take a backup beforehand.

Which cache plugin will yields the best results?

WP Rocket is usually rated the best cache plugin in Facebook polls and will typically yield the best results since it has more speed optimization features than other cache plugins.

Which plugins cause slow load times?

The most common slow plugins include social sharing, statistics (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, and live chat plugins. WooCommerce sites are usually slower because they require extra scripts, styles, cart fragments, and usually more plugins as well. See my list of 65+ slow plugins to avoid.

How do you set up a CDN?

Sign up for a free Cloudflare account, copy the 2 nameservers provided by Cloudflare, and change nameservers to Cloudflare's in your domain registrar.

See Also: How I Optimized My WordPress Site To Load In <1s

I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Retest your site in GTmetrix and if your WordPress hosting is still slow on HostGator leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to help. I tried to include everything here but I know it can get technical, so drop me a line if need be. Or if you were able to make your site faster, I would love to hear about your new scores and page load times.

Cheers,
Tom

The Ideal W3 Total Cache Settings With Cloudflare And StackPath CDN Instructions — Last Updated 2020 With Latest Version 0.14.2

Not sure if you have the best W3 Total Cache settings?

I generally don’t recommend W3 Total Cache since it doesn’t support database cleanup, heartbeat control, optimizing Google Fonts video optimization, or NGINX + memcached (only available with the premium version). While W3 Total Cache is free, WP Rocket is better since it has these built-in. That’s why it yields faster load times and is rated the #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. But if you insist on free, use this tutorial to set up your W3 Total Cache settings.

This tutorial shows you how to set up the performance tabs then add Cloudflare’s free CDN or StackPath‘s premium CDN. Many W3 Total Cache settings are preset (shown in the “Install” tab), but not all of them. For hosting, I recommend DigitalOcean on Cloudways especially over SiteGround, EIG, and GoDaddy (TLDR: Cloudways + WP Rocket is a much faster configuration). They’re what I use; see my GTmetrix report or click through my posts to see how fast they load.

W3-Total-Cache-Settings

 

W3 Total Cache Dashboard

 

Download my recommended W3 Total Cache settings here (you’ll need a Dropbox account). Upload the file under Performance → General Settings → Import / Export Settings. Check your site to make sure everything is OK. You will still need to configure a CDN, activate extensions, and add your sitemap URL (under Page Cache). This file was last updated on March, 18, 2019.

 

1. General Settings

Important notes about the W3 Total Cache general settings:

  • Cache method: use disk enhanced for shared hosting, memcached for cloud hosting.
  • Database cache: leave disabled, it overloads the server especially on shared hosting.
  • Object cache: leave disabled, it will usually slow down the website and the dashboard.
  • CDN: enable if you plan on using StackPath’s CDN (though you can just use Cloudflare).
  • Lazy loading: delays loading of images and fixes the lazy load item in PageSpeed Insights.
  • Fragment cache: only available with W3 Total Cache Pro and usually for dynamic sites.
  • Google PageSpeed Widget: I recommend the GTmetrix plugin for monitoring instead.

W3 Total Cache General Settings 1

 

2. Page Cache

Important notes about the W3 Total Cache page cache settings:

  • Don’t cache pages: you don’t want to cache pages for logged in users or user roles.
  • Rest API: the rest API can be disabled if you’re not using (check your website for errors).
  • Compatibility mode: enable, this is recommended in the Install tab by the developer.

W3 Total Cache Page Cache Settings

 

3. Minify Settings

The plugin developer says the recommended settings for minify, database, and object cache are preset. You can find these recommendations in the Install tab. The main things to tweak are the browser cache settings and set up a content delivery network like Cloudflare or StackPath.

minify settings

 

4. Database Cache

  • Leave as is (recommended by the developer).

 

5. Object Cache

  • Leave as is (recommended by the developer).

 

6. Browser Cache

Important notes about the W3 Total Cache browser cache settings:

  • Enable first 6 settings: enable these individually and test the results in GTmetrix.
  • Brotli compression: if using Cloudflare’s CDN, enable this in the Cloudflare dashboard.

W3 Total Cache Browser Cache Settings 1

Leave everything else including ‘expires header lifetime’ which the developer says is preset.

 

7. User Agent Groups

User Agent Groups are used to specify whether a mobile theme is used (if you have a mobile responsive website and are not using a plugin to create a mobile site, there is no need for this).

W3 Total Cache User Agent Groups

 

8. Referrer Groups

Referrer Groups are used to serve a unique cached version for users who come to your site through specific traffic sources (eg. Google or Bing). Most websites should leave this disabled.

W3 Total Cache Referrer Groups

 

Same concept as referrer groups, only it uses cookies instead to create a unique cached version for users who come to your site through specific cookies. Most sites should leave this disabled.

W3 Total Cache Cookie Groups

 

10. CDN

This section is specifically for StackPath’s CDN which they also have a tutorial for.

Cloudflare is set up differently and it has it’s own section. While most people only recommend using 1 CDN (usually Cloudflare since it’s free), I personally use both Cloudflare and StackPath. Both offload a ton of resources to their data centers and save bandwidth (screenshots below).

StackPath-Bandwidth-Savings

Step 1: Go to the W3 Total Cache General Settings and enable StackPath.

W3 Total Cache Enable CDN

Step 2: Sign up for StackPath, select API management from the dropdown menu (top right), then select Generate Credentials. Create a name (eg. W3TC) then StackPath will give you a Client ID and Client Secret. Copy/paste these into StackPath under CDN Settings → Authorize.

StackPath Credentials

Authorize

StackPath Credentials In W3TC

Step 3: In the W3 Total Cache CDN settings, use these:

W3 Total Cache CDN Settings 1

Step 4: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click Purge Everything:

StackPath-Purge-Cache

Step 5: Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow.

CDN GTmetrix YSlow

CDN pointers from the plugin developer (found in Install tab) – if you do not use the Media Library, import your images etc into the default locations. Use the Media Library Import Tool on the “CDN” tab to do this. If you do not have a CDN provider, you can still improve your site’s performance using the “Self-hosted” method. On your own server, create a subdomain and matching DNS Zone record; e.g. static.domain.com and configure FTP options on the “Content Delivery Network” tab. Be sure to FTP upload the appropriate files, using the upload buttons.

 

11. Fragment Cache

Fragment cache is mainly used in dynamic sites. Instead of caching an entire page, individual sections (usually the heavy areas) are cached. You will need to upgrade to W3 Total Cache Pro to use fragment cache. They have recommendations on that page I linked to which makes the plugin aware if you’re grouping transients. However, you may need some coding experience.

W3 Total Cache Fragment Cache

 

12. User Experience

W3 Total Cache comes with basic lazy load settings which fixes the lazy load item in PageSpeed Insights. This delays loading of images until you scroll down and see them. It doesn’t optimize videos, so if you embed YouTube videos on your site, you will need an additional plugin for that.

W3 Total Cache Lazy Loading

 

13. Extensions

Active any extensions you’re using. In my case it would be Cloudflare and Yoast.

W3 Total Cache Extensions

 

14. Cloudflare CDN

Cloudflare is free with over 200+ data centers.

If you’re using Cloudflare, there is usually no need to use StackPath. Unlike StackPath, setting up Cloudflare is different and requires changing nameservers. When you’re done, be sure to login to your Cloudflare dashboard and add Page Rules which can improve speed and security.

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

Step 1: Sign up for a free Cloudflare account, add your site, and run the scan prompted by Cloudflare. You will eventually come to a page where Cloudflare assigns you 2 nameservers.

Cloudflare-GoDaddy-Nameservers

Step 2: Login to your domain registrar, find the area to change nameservers, and paste them here. Once this is done, you can go back to Cloudflare and click “Done, check nameservers.”

SiteGround-DNS-Records

Step 3: In the W3 Total Cache Extensions tab, activate Cloudeflare and click Settings.

Cloudflare Extension

Configure the Cloudflare settings (note: the only thing I changed is enabling hotlink protection).

W3 Total Cache Cloudflare Settings

Step 4: Login to your Cloudflare dashboard and go to Page Rules. Add these 3 page rules:

Page Rule 1: Cache Everything And Force HTTPS – cache your website aggressively.

http://*yourwebsite.com/*

Always-Use-HTTPS-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Secure The WordPress Admin And Bypass Cache – sets security level of the admin to high and bypasses Cloudflare’s cache in the admin, since you don’t want CDNs (or apps + performance features like Rocket Loader) running inside the admin.

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin*

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Decrease Bandwidth Of WP Uploads – since the content in your WP Uploads folder does not change frequently, increasing Edge Cache TTL to a month can save on bandwidth, since the WP Uploads folder cache won’t be refreshed as often.

yourwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads*

WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

Once you’re done configuring your CDN(s), purge all caches in W3 Total Cache. If you don’t see this, there may be an ’empty all caches’ option in the dashboard tab. It can take up to 24 hours for Cloudflare nameservers to propagate, but you will get a confirmation email once complete.

 

15. Cloudways (The Host I Use)

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

35+ WP Speed Tips (My Full Guide)

Watch My Video – it’s a 42 minute video, but I cover pretty much everything (timestamps in video description) and you should learn a ton of great information on WordPress site speed:

 

Hire My WordPress Speed Optimizer

Still need help with your GTmetrix report? I’ve been working with Pronaya since 2011 (he’s the one who helped me get a such nice scores + load times. You can hire him by creating a profile on freelancer.com and searching for username bdkamol (see his portfolio). He’s $40/hour from Bangladesh (so there is a time change) and his email him is bdkamol@gmail.com. He has a perfect 5 star review on his profile. Serious inquiries only, and please don’t expect 100% scores if you’re using slow hosting, plugins, and theme. Please follow my WordPress speed guide first.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 Is W3 Total Cache the best cache plugin?

Most people prefer WP Rocket over W3 Total Cache since it comes with features not included with W3 Total Cache, and therefore yields better results in GTmetix. These features include database cleanup, hosting analytics locally, advanced lazy loading of images + videos, heartbeat control, and DNS prefetching. It's also easier to configure.

🚀 Should I use a CDN with W3 Total Cache?

Yes, Cloudflare's free CDN can make your site faster and more secure which you can set up by changing nameservers in your domain registrar, then configuring the Cloudflare settings in W3 Total Cache. Adding page rules in the Cloudflare dashboard is also recommended.

🚀 What happens if W3 Total Cache breaks my site?

The minification and combination settings in W3 Total Cache are usually the most common culprits of broken elements when using W3 Total Cache. Test each one of these carefully.

🚀 How do I clear cache once I'm done?

Go to the Performance settings, then click Purge Everything.

🚀 Do I need other speed plugins besides W3 Total Cache?

Yes, you should also install plugins for heartbeat control, database cleanup, image optimization, and either Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters to selectively disable plugins.

See Also: How I Got 100% GTmetrix Scores

That’s it! I know it can get a bit technical so if you have any questions just drop me a line in the comments. And if you enjoyed my tutorial, please give it a share. I would really appreciate that!

Cheers,
Tom

How To Fix A Slow Website On GoDaddy’s WordPress Hosting

Have a slow WordPress site on GoDaddy?

To speed up a slow GoDaddy website, activate the CDN and PHP 7.3 inside your GoDaddy account and configure the Autoptimize plugin. Make sure images, database, plugins, and fonts are optimized to load fast. Finally, avoid using high CPU plugins on GoDaddy’s shared hosting.

But GoDaddy is infamously slow. iThemes called them out for overcrowding servers and they are slow to release new PHP versions. Forbes wrote an article titled “5 Reasons You Should Leave GoDaddy.” They also blacklist all cache plugins and force you to use their own built-in caching system which doesn’t hold a candle to top-rated caching plugins such as WP Rocket.

How do you check if GoDaddy’s the problem?

Run your WordPress site through Google PageSpeed Insights to check if reduce server response times is in your report. Google recommends a response time of under 200ms. Anything over is considered slow, and you can identify GoDaddy’s servers as the main problem.

slow GoDaddy

Hopefully we can get yours even faster since this post has lots of images and comments:

GoDaddy GTmetrix

Quick Tips To Fix A Slow GoDaddy Website

  • Upgrade to PHP 7.3 inside GoDaddy
  • Install and configure the Autoptimize plugin
  • Avoid slow page builders and use Oxygen instead
  • Clean your database using a plugin like WP-Optimize
  • Load fonts faster using Autoptimize or the OMGF plugin
  • Use Cloudflare’s CDN to offload resources to their data centers
  • Avoid huge images (shown as serve scaled image errors in GTmetrix)
  • Be careful with third party scripts like Google AdSense, Maps, Fonts, GTM

A warning about GoDaddy: GoDaddy is one of the slowest hosts. I even set up an identical Astra website on gdaddyserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Hosting, one is hosted on Cloudways DigitalOcean who was rated the #1 host in Facebook polls, conversations, or see migration results. Visit the websites and click through their pages – you will see a huge speed difference.

 

1. Check For Slow Server Response Times

Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response times is in your report. Your server is obviously controlled by your hosting. To reduce it, you either need to upgrade plans on GoDaddy (managed/VPS) or of course, switch to a faster hosting company.

Google recommends your server response time should be under 200ms, but this is nearly impossible with shared hosting (GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, even SiteGround).

Reduce Server Response Time

TTFB

Indicators GoDaddy’s Hosting Is Slow

  • High server response time in PageSpeed Insights (over 200ms)
  • High TTFB (time to first byte) in GTmetrix Timings tab (over 200ms)
  • High PageSpeed + YSlow scores in GTmetrix, but load time is still slow
  • 503 service unavailable errors which means the server is being overloaded
  • You’re on cheap, shared hosting with “unlimited bandwidth” but contract says otherwise

What-is-the-reason-that-GoDaddy-is-loading-very-slowly-Quora

Slow Godaddy

Godaddy Server Response Time

Slow Server Response Times on Godaddy

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3 In GoDaddy’s cPanel

Upgrading to PHP 7.3 can make your GoDaddy site 2-3x faster according to Kinsta. Most WordPress users run outdated PHP versions. That’s because most hosting companies won’t upgrade you automatically since it can break your site if you’re using incompatible plugins. That’s why whenever GoDaddy releases a newer version of PHP, you should upgrade ASAP.

How To Upgrade To PHP 7.3 On GoDaddy

  • Login to your GoDaddy account
  • Go to your Products Page → Manage → Settings
  • Upgrade to PHP 7.3
  • Check your website for errors
  • If you still see errors, revert to an earlier PHP version

Upgrade PHP Version GoDaddy

 

3. Configure The Autoptimize Plugin

Your GTmetrix report may show errors for minify, Gzip, fonts, and other errors that can be fixed using the Autoptimize plugin. Below is a screenshot of my recommended Autoptimize settings.

Autoptimize JS CSS HTML Settings

If you’re using Google Fonts, these can also result in GTmetrix errors:

Google-Fonts-GTmetrix

Google Fonts can be optimized in the “Extra” settings, then select “combine and link in head”:

Autoptimize Combine Google Fonts

 

4. Remove Junk From Your WordPress Database

Install the WP-Optimize plugin then click ‘WP-Optimize’ (left in your dashboard). Running it deletes your trash, spam, post revisions, trackbacks, and garbage files. Since these are constantly accumulating, make sure you schedule WP-Optimize to run every 2 weeks or so.

WP-Optimize Clean Database

 

5. Add Cloudflare’s CDN

Cloudflare improves both your website speed and security. It improves speed by hosting your WordPress site on multiple data centers around the world (called a CDN or content delivery network) and reduces the geographic distance between your server and visitors. Sign up for a free plan, change nameservers to Cloudflare’s, then make tweaks in the Cloudflare dashboard.

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

1. Sign up for Cloudflare’s free plan, add your website, and run the scan. Cloudflare will walk you through a set of pages until you reach a page where Cloudflare assigns you 2 nameservers.

Cloudflare-GoDaddy-Nameservers

2. Login to your GoDaddy account and in your product list go to Domain → Manage DNS → Nameservers → Change. Click “custom nameservers” and add the ones Cloudflare gave you:

GoDaddy-Change-Nameservers

3. Go to Cloudflare’s speed settings (inside your Cloudflare dashboard) and copy these:

Cloudflare-Speed-Settings

4. In Cloudflare, go to the caching settingsPurge Everything.

Cloudflare Purge

This is all you need to do. It can take up to 72 hours for Cloudflare nameservers to propagate.

 

6. Optimize Images

We’ll use GTmetrix for this. Run your site through GTmetrix and in your report, you’ll see images can be optimized 3 ways. GTmetrix only shows unoptimized images for a single page so start by optimizing images that appear on multiple pages (logo, sidebar and footer images), then run your most important pages through GTmetrix and fix individual images on those too.

There are 3 ways to optimize images in GTmetrix:

  • Serve scaled images – resize large images to be smaller.
  • Specify image dimensions – specify a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS.
  • Optimize Images – losslessly compress images.

image-optimization

Serve Scaled Images – GTmetrix tells you which images are too large and the dimensions they should be resized to. Find the image, crop or resize it, upload it to WordPress, then replace the old image with the new one. Follow your “image containers” and create a cheat sheet (below). You can manually check for large images by right clicking an image → copy image address then go to that URL where you should see if it’s too large. Never use the drag to resize feature in the visual editor since this only resizes the displayed image (not the actual image).

Sample cheat sheet:

  • Logo: 150(w) x 37(h)
  • Sliders: 1950(w) x 550(h)
  • Sidebar Widgets: 319(w)
  • Blog content body: 600(w)
  • Featured images: 200(w) x 200(h)
  • Carousel images: 225(h)

Specify Image Dimensions – refer to your GTmetrix report and expand these items to see which images need this. Locate each one in WordPress, then specify the dimensions (width/height) which GTmetrix will tell you. The visual editor takes care of this automatically so you usually have to do this with images that are in widgets, page builders, and other places.

specify-image-dimensions

Optimize Images – losslessly compress images using a plugin like TinyPNG (what I use). Some plugins say lossless but still reduce the quality of your images, so be sure to test a few images before bulk optimizing all your images. If you’re satisfied, enable “optimize images upon upload.”

TinyPNG-Plugin

When you’re done, run your pages through GTmetrix and make sure all 3 items are 100%.

 

7. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins

You can use the GTmetrix Waterfall tab to see your slowest plugins:

Slow WordPress Plugin

The following plugins can take a long time to load. Many of these are in GoDaddy’s list of blacklisted plugins because (especially stat and related post plugins) consume a lot of CPU.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

  • Meta Slider – minimal slider plugin with great reviews.
  • Envira Gallery – $29 lightweight gallery plugin. There’s also a free version but it doesn’t come with albums, tags, social integration, gallery templates, deeplinking, pagination, etc.
  • FooGallery – lightweight gallery plugin with great reviews.
  • Soliloquy Slider – fast, lightweight slider plugin.
  • UpdraftPlus – most popular lightweight (1-click) backup plugin.
  • Grow by Mediavine – lightweight social sharing buttons (the ones I use).

Plugin Tips

  • Deactivate and delete ALL plugins you don’t use
  • Diagnose slow loading plugins using GTmetrix Waterfall
  • Replace slow plugins with faster, more lightweight plugins
  • Disable individual plugin settings/modules you’re not using

 

8. Avoid Google Maps And AdSense

These kill your load times. Try to only use Maps on the contact page, or take a screenshot of the map (since a photo is quicker to load than an embedded map) and use an “Open In Maps” link.

Just like Google Maps require your site to pull resources from external websites and requests to your GTmetrix/Pingdom report, advertisements (eg. Google AdSense) are pretty much the worst thing you can do to your load times. Forget about using Google AdSense and start using affiliate links (they’re not only more profitable but they will also keep your load times down).

GTmetrix-Advertisements

 

9. Remove Bloat

The Perfmatters plugin by Kinsta takes care of what I like to call miscellaneous optimizations: disabling trackbacks/pingbacks, limiting post revisions, disabling the WordPress heartbeat API, limiting the autosave interval, and things reduce the load of your server and speed up your site.

Tips On Configuring Perfmatters

  • Disable heartbeat API
  • Disable pingbacks and trackbacks
  • Increase the autosave interval (I have mine a 5 minutes)
  • Change the login URL to improve security and stop spam bots
  • Set post revisions to 3-5 so you have backups, but you don’t need hundreds
  • Disable options in WordPress core which you don’t need (usually all of them)
  • Host Google Analytics tracking code locally (found in the Google Analytics tab)
  • Prefetch/preconnect third party scripts like Google Fonts in the “Extra” tab

perfmatters-settings

Disable Plugins On Specific Pages/Posts – one of the most valuable things about Perfmatters (which can also be done by the free Asset CleanUp plugin), is the Script Manager. This lets you disable plugins on specific pages/posts. A common example is disabling contact forms on all pages but the Contact page. You can do this with other plugins/scripts too (eg. social sharing buttons on your blog). Use Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp to only load plugins when necessary.

perfmatters-script-manager

 

10. Lazy Load Videos

A single video usually adds 2-3 seconds to your page load time. The WP YouTube Lyte plugin makes it so videos are only loaded once readers scroll down the page and click the play button.

 

11. Optimize Third Party Scripts

Third Party Scripts are Google Fonts, AdSense, Tag Manager, embedded YouTube videos, or even social sharing buttons on your blog. You can find all third party scripts loading on your site in your PageSpeed Insights report (and the Reduce DNS Lookups section in GTmetrix YSlow).

Some third party scripts are easier to optimize than others; Google Fonts can be optimized using the OMGF plugin. Google Analytics can be optimized with Flying Analytics. The Flying Scripts plugin can delay loading of Gravatars and comments if you have a lot of those on your blog. AdSense and Tag Manager are GTmetrix killers, and embedded videos can be optimized with WP YouTube Lyte. Be careful with scripts since they can slow down your GoDaddy site.

Third-Party-Usage

 

12. Host Google Analytics Locally

Flying Scripts fixes the “leverage browser caching” issue you’ll often see in GTmetrix and other speed testing tools. Just install the plugin, enter your Tracking-ID and the plugin does the rest.

Leverage-Brower-Caching-Google-Analytics

 

13. Find Your Slowest Loading Pages

Login to Google Analytics and on the left, go to Behavior → Site Speed → Speed Suggestions. Click “Page Speed Suggestions” to see recommendations, however the ones in GTmetrix are usually better. Most WordPress speed issues are related to your infrastructure (hosting, theme, page builder, plugins, etc) and not so much related to individual content (eg. optimizing images).

Speed-Suggestions-Google-Analytics

 

14. Keep WordPress Software Updated

Keep your software updated! WordPress, theme, plugins, etc.

WordPress Updates

 

15. Leave GoDaddy For Cloudways

GoDaddy is not good!

GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Feedback

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

Get Help From My WordPress Speed Optimizer

Pronaya is a WordPress developer I found on freelancer.com who lives in Bangladesh and specializes in WordPress speed (yes, he’s better than me). I have worked with him for over 5 years and he optimized my site including multiple client sites to load 500% faster. He’s $40/hour with a perfect 5 star review on his freelancer profile. I have worked with over 20 overseas freelancers and he’s the one I always turn to for WordPress speed and development.

How to hire Pronaya – sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDkamol. Make sure the “online users” option is turned off, or email him at bdkamol@gmail.com. Serious inquiries only, and please do not tell him you expect a 100% score when you’re using slow hosting, bloated WordPress themes, and tons of plugins. Please review my WordPress speed guide and make sure you’re on good hosting and minimize plugins at the least (thank you!!!).

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Why is GoDaddy slow?

GoDaddy is slow because they overcrowd their servers and enforce CPU limits on shared hosting. If you exceed these limits, GoDaddy will throttle your bandwidth which results in a slower website. GoDaddy is also slow to release new PHP versions and speed technology.

✅ How do I reduce CPU on GoDaddy?

You can reduce CPu on GoDaddy by finding and eliminating high CPU plugins, disabling WordPress heartbeat, and offloading resources to a CDN.

✅ Why is my server response time slow on GoDaddy?

A slow server response time is common on shared hosting and happens when the server isn't powerful enough to accomodate your website, theme and plugins. You can reduce server response times by upgrading to PHP 7.3 in your GoDaddy account, using Cloudflare, or upgrading servers.

✅ How do you speed up a slow website on GoDaddy?

Upgrade to PHP 7.3 in your GoDaddy account, configure the Autoptimize plugin, use Cloudflare's CDN, clean your database, avoid slow plugins, and use an image optimization plugin to compress images.

✅ Is GoDaddy fast?

No, GoDaddy is not fast and their overcrowded servers are constantly complained about in Facebook Groups.

So…. did it work?
Let me know your new Pingdom/GTmetrix scores in the comments! Or if you need help fixing GoDaddy’s slow WordPress hosting, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help with whatever I can. If it’s related to a plugin/tool I mentioned, keep in mind they also have their own support :)

See Also: How I Optimized My WordPress Site To Load In <1s

Please share if you liked this tutorial – I’d appreciate it!

Cheers,
Tom

The 15 Most Important WordPress Plugins For SEO, Speed Optimization, Backups, Security And Website Optimization

WordPress Plugins

Obsessed with WordPress plugins like me?

Here’s a list of plugins for SEO, speed optimization, design, security, backups, and other plugins for optimizing your site. I use all these on my own WordPress site and they all have a 4+ star rating. I wrote tutorials on many of them including how to configure the Yoast settings, optimizing content with Yoast, and configuring W3 Total Cache to improve load times. Most tutorials have tons of comments as many people have found them helpful – I hope you do too.

All these plugins are lightweight as I’m also obsessed with WordPress speed optimization. I use nearly every plugin in this list and my site still loads in under 1 second in Pingdom. Still, if you don’t use plugins at certain times and only need them once in a while, it’s a good idea to delete it, then only reactivate it when needed. Here’s my list of important WordPress plugins:

  1. Yoast SEO
  2. W3 Total Cache
  3. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
  4. Imagify
  5. iThemes Security
  6. UpdraftPlus
  7. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
  8. Quick Page/Post Redirect
  9. Anti-Spam
  10. Widget Logic
  11. TinyMCE Advanced
  12. Google Analytics
  13. TablePress
  14. Broken Link Checker
  15. Heartbeat Control

 
While there are 15 plugins in this post, the top 10 are listed here:

top-10-wordpress-plugins-infographic

 

1. Yoast SEO

I know most of you already have Yoast, but you probably have not configured the proper settings, researched the best focus keywords, or optimized content to it’s full potential. Use my guides below to sharpen your skills and start ranking pages/posts higher in search engines.

Configure the Yoast Settings – fill out your business information, configure Google Search Console and other Webmaster Tools, set the ideally structure of your SEO titles, prevent duplicate content in your sitemap, fix broken pages (crawl errors), and tweak all your Yoast settings to be optimal for SEO. My Yoast settings tutorial has been used by 50,000+ people.

Yoast General Settings

Researching focus keywords – use Google Autocomplete and Moz Keyword Explorer (the two best keyword research tools in my opinion) to build a list of long-tail keywords and make sure you don’t miss out on ANY phrases. Google each keyword using the MozBar Google Chrome Extension to learn the competition of each keywords. Use that data to filter out competitive phrases, leaving you with high-opportunity keywords you should be able to get on page 1 for.

Google Autocomplete Keywords

moz-keyword-explorer-research

Content / Green Light Optimization – people obsessed with getting green lights in Yoast don’t fully understand the big picture of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so green lights are not always possible, plus there are TONS of ways to optimize content outside of Yoast (videos, rich snippets, adding a table of contents, and more). Use that tutorial to get ideas for optimizing YOUR content instead of obsessing over Yoast green lights.

Yoast Content Analysis SEO

Yoast Extensions

 

2. W3 Total Cache

The most popular tutorial on my site is my recommended W3 Total Cache settings which has helped multiple people reduce their page load time to under 1 second (read the comments). It includes a pre-configured zip file you can upload directly to your own W3 Total Cache plugin.

This is one of the best cache plugins out there and will improve your speed scores in tools like GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. However just like Yoast, many people don’t configure the settings properly. Use my tutorial to configure the difference “performance” tabs on the left of your dashboard W3 Total Cache is installed. This plugin integrates with Cloudflare (free) and MaxCDN ($6.75/month with my 25% off MaxCDN coupon) which you can use the Cloudflare and MaxCDN section in my tutorial to further improve your load times. When you’re done configuring W3 Total Cache (and hopefully read my entire WordPress speed optimization guide), hopefully your GTmetrix scores will look something like this…

GTmetrix WordPress Speed Report

 

3. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Adds rich snippets to your WordPress site which helps you stand out in search engines by adding “extra information” to snippets in the form of review stars, recipe information, events, and other supported data. You can do this using the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets Plugin (free but very minimal and has many limitations) or the WP Rich Snippets Plugin (premium and has way more features). This improves click-through rates and traffic so if you haven’t done this yet, read my guides on those plugins which shows you how to add them.

rich-snippets-markup

 

4. Imagify

Losslessly compress images to load faster (in bulk). Imagify is free until you hit a monthly quota of 25MB per month or it’s $4.99/month for 1GB (which you can usually use one-time for all existing images during the first month, cancel, then just use the free account). This plugin is MUCH better than other completely free plugins since these can often break images, not actually compress them, or they can have bugs. With Imagify you just sign up, install the plugin, enter your API in the settings, go to your “media” section to bulk optimize all your images.

imagify-wordpress-image-optimization

 

5. iThemes Security

You probably heard iThemes, WordFence, and Sucuri are 3 of the top security plugins for WordPress. I like iThemes Security because you can run the 1 click security check and go down a simple checklist of vulnerabilities. Click the “fix it” button and each should be pretty easy.

ithemes-security-plugin

 

6. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus lets you take backups manually or automatically. It has a 5 star review and is very easy to use and configure the settings. Don’t be the person who loses their website because you didn’t take a backup. UpdraftPlus could save you from losing hundreds of hours of work.

UpdraftPlus Backup

 

7. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

Diagnose slow loading WordPress plugins hurting your site speed so you can delete them or find alternative, lightweight plugins. Too many plugins (or just 1 large plugin) can kill your site speed. I also like to run the P3 Plugin whenever I install a new plugin to see how it affects my load time. If you haven’t run P3 before and have a lot of slow plugins, you will need to research alternative plugins that are lightweight but provide the same functionality as the old plugin.

P3 Performence Profiler

 

8. Quick Page/Post Redirect

If you publish a page/post and change it’s URL (permalink), you need to setup a 301 redirect to direct the old URL to the new URL. Otherwise it will become a 404 page and you will lose any links that used to point to that page. You can either do this using Quick Page/Post Redirect (the free method which I will show you) or the premium version of Yoast which is $69/year.

To find these crawl errors on your website, you will first need to setup Google Search Console in the “Webmaster Tools” section in Yoast using the HTML verification option. Then go to Yoast’s “Search Console” and authenticate Yoast with Search Console. You should see all your crawl errors. If you just setup Search Console it will take a few days for the data to populate.

Yoast-Google-Search-Console

To setup a 301 redirect using Quick Page/Post Redirect, install the plugin then go to Quick Redirects –> Quick Redirects in your WordPress dashboard. Enter the old broken URL shown in Yoast, then the new URL of the (most relevant page on your site) you want it redirected to…

301 Redirect Example

 

9. Anti-Spam

I’ve tested numerous anti-spam plugins and this one is the easiest to setup since you just install it. More importantly, it works. Install it and watch your spam comments go away.

anti-spam-plugin

 

10. Widget Logic

Lets you control which widgets show up on different pages, posts, categories, and archived pages. This helps you show the most relevant content in your widgets depending on what type of content your reader is viewing. Once installed, you will see a “widget logic” section at the bottom of each widget where you will enter a conditional tag to control where it appears.

widget-logic

 

11. TinyMCE Advanced

Want more editing options in your visual editor? This nifty WordPress plugin adds additional features to your editor so you can further customize your content and make it look nice.

tinymce-advanced

 

12. Google Analytics

While it’s always best to insert your Google Analytics tracking code manually into your footer, you can use this plugin to verify Google Analytics on your WordPress site. Just copy your UA code from Google Analytics and paste it into the plugin under Settings –> Google Analytics. Wait a couple days for activation, then head over to your Google Analytics account to get data.

You can download these free custom Google Analytics dashboards to segment traffic from SEO, social media, mobile, referral traffic, and other helpful data on your visitors. While there is tons of data in Google Analytics the first thing you should do is look at your low performing pages (pages with low avg. time on page + high bounce rates) and improve content on those.

At Glance - Google Analytics dashboard

 

13. TablePress

Use this 5 star review plugin to create tables on your WordPress site. The CSS and styling can be completely customized to match the colors/branding of your WordPress site. This specific table show you why you shouldn’t remove stop words in Yoast because it can make your permalinks look weird. The plugin adds a “TablePress” option to your main dashboard tab on the left, you would create the table, then you will use a shortcode to add the table anywhere.

tablepress-wordpress-plugin

 

This plugin should ONLY be used every couple months to run a scan of your broken links. Otherwise it will use a ton of server resources and can cause your website to run slow (which is why this plugin is banned from hosts like Godaddy). However if you can run this plugin once every so often, fix your broken links immediately, then delete it, there shouldn’t be an issue. It is the best plugin for this and makes it very easy to fix broken links directly in it’s interface.

Once you installed the plugin it will immediately scan for broken links. Let it run and populate for a few minutes, then head over to Tools –> Broken Links to find a list of broken links on your site. Go through each one and you can choose to fix the link, unlink it, or dismiss it. Like I said you can fix all broken links in this dashboard without having to go through each page/post.

broken-link-checker-plugin

 

15. Heartbeat Control

Leaving the WordPress dashboard up for long periods of time can slow down your website and suck up server resources from your host (potentially causing CPU overages). Heartbeat control lets you to manage the frequency of the WordPress heartbeat API which prevents this. You can change the frequency to 15-60 seconds, or disable it completely. Once installed go to Settings –> Heartbeat Control and change override heartbeat frequency to 60 seconds.

WordPress Heartbeat Control

 

See Also:

Genesis Framework Plugins – if you’re using the Genesis Framework by StudioPress and are looking for Genesis plugins for customizing your site (outside of the non-Genesis ones I just listed) I created a separate list. It includes some StudioPress plugins but also a few others.

These are all important WordPress plugins and I’ve modified this list several times so it continues to serve as a solid resource. If you found it useful, please share it. I appreciate it :)

Cheers,
Tom

10 Essential WordPress Plugins (For SEO, Analytics, Security, Speed Optimization, Backups, And Web Design)

Essential WordPress Plugins

These WordPress plugins will help you design, optimize, and add functionality to your site.

I included links to helpful tutorials and resources for each plugin. All are free but #4 (Gravity Forms) which is $49 but worth it if you want an advanced contact form. I’ve gone through a lot of plugins through my 5 years of WordPress design, SEO, and blogging, and these are the essential WordPress plugins I use most – hopefully they can help you too. Check them out and leave me a comment below if you have any questions or need help with setting them up.

Here they are…

top-10-wordpress-plugins-infographic

 

1. Yoast SEO

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.1/5

Yoast SEO Plugin Settings

Yoast is the most robust SEO Plugin for WordPress. You can break it down into 3 steps – configuring the settings, researching keywords, and optimizing content for green lights. Those links lead to tutorials for each step (leave a comment if you have questions). Yoast constantly updates the plugin so be prepared to update it frequently and learn new features. They also have a plugin for Local SEOVideo SEOWooCommerce SEO, and Google News.

  • Free
  • Extensive SEO Settings
  • Ability to assign focus keywords
  • Content optimization checklist
  • Social media optimization options
  • XML sitemap
  • Google Search Console verification
  • Other Webmaster Tools verification
  • Title tag / meta description structure
  • SEO plugin migration options

 

2. Google Analytics

Category: Analytics
Rating: 4.0/5

General Analytics Dashboard

Use Yoasts’s Google Analytics Plugin to verify the UA code (or just add the tracking code to your footer without a plugin). Google Analytics is a big program and I recommend filtering your IP address so your data doesn’t get polluted when you visit your website (same with employees). I would also download these Google Analytics dashboards to segment data into specific metrics, then use those metrics to make improvements to your website and SEO.

  • Free
  • Use universal or asynchronous tracking
  • Demographic and interest reports
  • Tracks search results + 404 pages
  • See (imited) metrics in WP dashboard
  • Link tracking abilities

 

3. W3 Total Cache

Category: Speed Optimization
Rating: 4.3/5

W3 Total Cache Plugin

If your page load time is bad in GTmetrix (look to see if the caching, minify, and gzip item is not 100%), you need to install a speed optimization plugin. Install it then see my best W3 Total Cache settings to configure the performance tabs on the left menu of your dashboard. Improving load times is one of the best things you can do to improve your site’s performance.

  • Free
  • Caching
  • Minify
  • Gzip
  • CDN integration
  • Cloudflare integration

 

4. Gravity Forms

Category: Form
Rating: N/A

Gravity Forms

Not your average contact form plugin. Gravity Forms can create everything from a simple contact form to a pizza ordering menu with conditional logic (certain fields show up if you select a specific option). Think “if this then that.” There’s a lot of form examples on the Gravity Forms website but my favorite is the pizza demo which shows the advanced add-ons.

  • $49 – $199
  • Highly customizable forms
  • Spam protection (captcha)
  • Adapts to your font/colors/CSS
  • Customizable fonts/colors/CSS
  • Optional autoresponders

 

5. Widget Logic

Category: Widget Control
Rating: 4.9/5

Widget Logic

Free plugin that controls where widgets appear (specific pages, posts, categories, tags, etc). Once installed, go to your widgets and in each one you will see a “widget logic” field. Here you will enter one of the following conditional tags to control where that widget appears.

 

6. iThemes Security

Category: Security
Rating: 4.7/5

iThemes Security Plugin

WordPress is not secure by itself! You need to change the generic Admin username, but I would also install a security plugin – iThemes Security and Wordfence are both very good.

  • Free
  • 30+ features to defend website
  • Brute force protection
  • Password reinforcement
  • Hide login and admin
  • File change detection
  • Lock out bad users
  • Database backups
  • 404 detection
  • Email notifications

 

7. Fancier Author Box

Category: Blog Design
Rating: 4.8/5

Fancier Author Box Plugin

One thing many people forget on their blog is to show the face of the person writing articles. This plugin adds an author profile box below each post. I used this before I switched to the Genesis Framework and now I use the Genesis eNews Extended Plugin instead, which is the first sidebar widget you see on the top right of this article. It combines a newsletter box with an HTML space where I added my photo/bio, but the eNews Extended Plugin is only for Genesis Themes only. Regardless of which theme you’re using, show your face on your blog!

  • $49 – $199
  • High customizable forms
  • Spam protection (captcha)
  • Adapts to your font/colors
  • Customizable fonts/colors
  • Autoresponders

 

8. Quick Page/Post Redirect

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.6/5

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

If you changed your permalink structure, individual permalinks, or a website migration caused your permalinks to change, you need to setup 301 redirects to direct visitors (and search engines) from the old URLs to the new URLs. Install this free plugin then go to “quick redirects” where you can add old URLs and new URLs. The plugin will create the redirects. You can find many broken pages in the crawl section of Google Search Console – do this!

 

9. Broken Link Checker

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.2/5

Broken Link Checker Plugin

This free plugin detects broken links so you can view and correct them. It is blocked by some hosting companies like WP Engine but I’ve never had trouble with it (though I delete it once I’m done using it). Install it, scan for broken links, correct them, then delete this plugin.

 

10. Updraft Plus Backup And Restoration

Category: Backups
Rating: 4.9/5

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

If you’re on a cheap shared hosting plan, chances they won’t take automatic backups – I would check with your hosting to find out. If they don’t, you can use this free plugin to schedule an automatic backup to be taken once a month, once a week, or whatever you choose. Please don’t be the person who lost their website because they didn’t have a backup.

 

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Hope you found my list of essential WordPress plugins helpful in designing/optimizing your WordPress site! Have questions? Leave a comment. Enjoyed my article? Please share it.

Cheers,

Tom Signature