43 WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins To Improve Core Web Vitals (Compiled From Facebook Groups And Extensive Research)

Need a legit list of WordPress speed optimization plugins?

I compiled this from Facebook Groups along with many years of writing speed optimization guides. Some are cache plugins (but not all) while others fix specific items in core web vitals.

Core web vitals punished heavy page builders for adding heavy CSS + JS, and shared hosting for slow TTFBs. Ditching makes a big difference. I suggest Oxygen, Gutenberg, or GeneratePress for your theme/page builder. And Cloudways hosting is many people use in Facebook Groups.

No, you don’t need every plugin in this list. It depends on your current setup and which items you want to fix (look at both your GTmetrix Waterfall report as well as your core web vitals). Other helpful resources are Gijo Varghese’s plugins and Facebook Groups (WP Speed Matters, WP Hosting, and WP Speed Up). WP Johnny also has a guide on WordPress speed optimization.

WordPress-Speed-Plugins

If you want to know to exact WordPress speed plugins I use, it’s WP Rocket, Perfmatters, Autoptimize, Async JavaScript, RapidLoad, ShortPixel, WP-Optimize, and WP User Avatar.

OMM GTmetrix 2021

 

1. WP Rocket

WP Rocket is 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 one plugin (WP Rocket) for everything.

  • Preload links (or using Flying Pages)
  • Database cleanup (or use WP-Optimize)
  • Delay JavaScript loading (or use Flying Scripts)
  • Lazy load images/videos (or use WP YouTube Lyte)
  • Host Google Analytics locally (or use Flying Analytics)
  • Prefetch/preconnect (or use Perfmatters or Pre* Party)
  • CDN integration (or use CDN Enabler or BunnyCDN’s plugin)
  • Heartbeat control (or use Heartbeat Control plugin, or manual)
  • Add Font-display:swap to your fonts which “ensures text remains visible during webfont load” in Google PageSpeed Insights (or use Swap Google Fonts Display, or do it manually)

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.

2. LiteSpeed Cache

If you’re using a LiteSpeed server, use this as your cache plugin.

It’s one of the most popular cache plugin setups in Facebook Groups. Probably the largest benefit of this plugin is that it uses server-level caching which is faster than the file-based caching done by most cache plugins. It also includes other optimizations that are similar to WP Rocket. LiteSpeed server, LiteSpeed Cache, and QUIC.cloud CDN is an excellent combination.

LiteSpeed Cache Plugin

 

3. Perfmatters

Perfmatters removes bloat and unloads unused assets. It was developed by Kinsta and is definitely more user-friendly than Asset CleanUp.

A few notable features include decreasing the autosave interval, limiting post revisions, disabling heartbeat and pingbacks, prefetching + preconnecting fonts and third-party code, and optimizing WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments. It basically does the last 10% of WordPress speed optimization with features WP Rocket and other cache plugins 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 scripts, 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 unused CSS + JS in page builders
  • 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)

Disable-Elementor-Scripts

 

4. Asset CleanUp

Similar to Perfmatters but isn’t as user-friendly (too many tabs and not great UI/UX). But it’s free and has a test mode which lets only you see the changes without risking breaking your site. The pro version of Asset CleanUp lets you unload custom CSS while the free version of Asset CleanUp (and Perfmatters) do not. I would personally use Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp Pro.

Asset CleanUp Check All

 

5. Autoptimize

Autoptimize can often fix most render-blocking resources in Lighthouse.

You can use it to minify, aggregate, and cache scripts and styles. Also includes inline and defer settings. Cache plugins usually don’t give you full control of how CSS/JS files are optimized. Autoptimize also does a better job in combining CSS and JavaScript files than cache plugins.

Autoptimize Eliminate Render-Blocking

I use Autoptimize on top of WP Rocket which reduced render-blocking resources from 7 to 1.

Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources WordPress - Passed Audit

 

6. Async JavaScript

Async JavaScript eliminates render-blocking JavaScript in above-the-fold content. Simply install the plugin and click “apply defer.” I also use this on my site to prevent render-blocking.

Async JavaScript Apply Defer

 

7. RapidLoad

RapidLoad removes unused CSS from your site (a recommendation in Lighthouse).

It does not have great reviews because I believe the plugin author (Frank from Autoptimize) forgot to mention it’s a premium plugin in the description. As of writing this, the only 1-star reviews are because people expected a free plugin. On the plugin page, it now says premium.

I decided to take a chance with it and found it worked very well. I’m not CSS wizard, but I can tell you that I never see the “remove unused CSS” recommendation in PSI anymore. It’s also automatic – just install the plugin, head to the RapidLoad tab in Autoptimize settings, and you can see the file size reduction of each page/post. My site worked great after – nothing broke.

RapidLoad Power-Up for Autoptimize

 

8. Oxygen Builder

Oxygen Builder has blown up – join their Facebook Group!

Many people have posted great GTmetrixs reports after switching to Oxygen (usually from Elementor or Divi). These pages builders add extra CSS and JavaScript which lowers core web vital scores. Unlike Divi and Elementor, Oxygen is bloat-free and doesn’t add countless div wrappers. Oxygen has about 15 pre-built websites you can choose from. If you’re sick of bloat, use a lightweight alternative like Oxygen, Gutenberg, GeneratePress, or the Kadence theme.

Page Builder Speed

 

9. OMGF | Host Google Fonts Locally

Don’t serve fonts from fonts.gstatic.com! Host them locally to prevent third-party requests.

OMGF can fix 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 (kind of) optimize fonts, they don’t host them locally. Self-Hosted Google Fonts is similar. Remember to limit number of font families, weights, and font icons loaded on your site.

GTmetrix Font Files

What the settings look like:

OMGF-Settings

 

10. ShortPixel

ShortPixel compresses images, serves them from a CDN, and converts them to WebP which should fix serve images in next-gen formats and efficiently encode images items in Lighthouse.

A popular image optimization plugin in Facebook Groups. Can convert PNG to JPG and is compatible with WP Retina 2x, NextGEN Gallery, and optimizes thumbnails + features images.

 

11. ShortPixel Adaptive Images

Serves smaller images to mobile devices which can improve mobile scores and load times. Images can be served from ShortPixel’s CDN in next-gen WebP format if a browser supports it.

ShortPixel Adaptive Images

 

12. Optimole

Image optimization plugin for lazy loading (without jQuery), adaptive images, compressing, and serving them from a CDN (AWS CloudFront CDN with edge locations in over 200 global cities). A feature I like is the option to serve lower quality images when users are on a slow connection.

Optimole

 

13. Redis Object Cache

Connect Redis to your site which can significantly speed up sites especially eCommerce.

Redis Object Cache

Before using this plugin, you will need to activate Redis in your hosting account (below is for Cloudways). Redis is available on most cloud hosting accounts (not available on shared hosts).

Install Redis Cloudways

 

14. WP-Optimize

A big difference between WP-Optimize and other plugin’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.

 

15. 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

 

16. Swap Google Fonts Display

Adds font-display to fix the ensure text remains visible during webfont load Lighthouse item when using Google Fonts. Otherwise you may see a FOIT (flash of invisible text) when loading.

Swap Google Fonts Display

Ensure text remains visible during webfont load

 

17. Flying Pages

Flying Pages is similar to the “preload links” option in WP Rocket.

When a user hovers over a link, that page will be preloaded so that when they actually click the link, the page loads almost instantly. Another great WordPress speed plugin by Gijo Varghese.

 

18. Flying Scripts

Flying Scripts helps you optimize third-party code found in Lighthouse and is similar to the “delay JavaScript execution” option in WP Rocket.

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

 

19. 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.

Leverage Browser Caching GTmetrix

 

20. Swift Performance

Swift Performance is a popular cache plugin in Facebook Groups.

Some have gotten amazing results with Swift since it tends to be more aggressive, but there are many negative reviews on their plugins page about it breaking sites, unethical billing, and .htaccess issues. Just based off so many poor reviews, I wouldn’t recommend using this plugin.

I included it here because quite a few people swear by it.

Swift Performance Lite

 

21. SG Optimizer

SG Optimizer only works if you’re on SiteGround’s hosting which I don’t recommend since SiteGround has a very slow TTFB (as reported by Backlinko as well as in my own speed tests).

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.

But, I definitely would not use SiteGround.

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.

 

22. Breeze By Cloudways

Breeze is only if you’re using Cloudways hosting who I use and highly recommend.

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

 

23. 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

 

24. NitroPack

Another cache plugin where some people swear by it, but breaks sites for others and claims it cheats scores in PageSpeed Insights, which looks to be true.

NitroPack uses advanced caching including smart cache invalidation, warmups, as well as awareness caching based on device, cookie, browser, and sessions. Advanced image optimizations include lazy loading background images in CSS, WebP conversion, and adaptive images. It has other optimizations like prefetch/preconnect, minification, critical CSS, and CDN.

NitroPack

 

25. 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

 

26. 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

 

27. Rank Math

Rank Math is on here because it’s much less bloated than Yoast (resulting in a faster site).

In fact, it has almost half the lines of code as Yoast. I could fill up an entire blog post on why I switched from Yoast to Rank Math, but I’ll just let you know that many people are switching.

Rank-Math-vs-Yoast-Speed

 

28. 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');
}

 

29. Pre* Party Resource Hints

Adds browser resources hints to your site.

WP Rocket already supports prefetch and preloading fonts, but not preconnect and preloading other files (e.g. CSS + JavaScript) in which case you can use the Pre* Party Resource Hints plugin. But if you’re in this deep, you likely know how to preconnect/preload without a plugin.

Browser resource hints are often used to optimize third-party code.

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 try preloading them (test the results).

Third-Party-Usage

 

30. BunnyCDN

BunnyCDN typically outperforms Cloudflare, RocketCDN, and other CDNs. It’s also highly recommended in Facebook Groups.

This was recommended to me by WP Johnny and since then, I switched from RocketCDN to BunnyCDN. This plugin helps you setup BunnyCDN and their setup instructions are super easy.

BunnyCDN Plugin

 

31. 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 BunnyCDN) then enter your CDN URL into the CDN Enabler plugin. See instructions below:

Step 1: Sign up for a CDN (I use BunnyCDN who is highly recommended in Facebook Groups).

Step 2: Grab Your CDN URL:

CDN URL

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

CDN-Enabler-Plugin-Settings

 

32. WP Crontrol

View and control WordPress cron jobs which run scheduled tasks on your server.

WP Crontrol

 

33. WP Offload Media

WP Offload Media is great for large websites that need to offload media files.

Most small to mid-traffic sites don’t need this kind of offloading (Cloudflare or BunnyCDN is usually fine) but larger websites might benefit from using this service. It offloads media to Amazon S3, DigitalOcean Spaces, or Google Cloud Storage and integrates with Cloudfront.

WP Offload Media

 

34. Blackhole For Bad Bots

Stop bad bots from hitting your site and consuming resources (common with WordPress).

You will need to add the Robots Rules to your site’s robots.txt file (as explained on the plugin’s installation page). Great alternative to Wordfence blocking since Wordfence itself can also consume resources, and Cloudflare Firewall rules only allow up to 5 rules/bots being blocked.

Blackhole for Bad Bots

 

35. WP Cloudflare Super Page Cache

Lets you take advantage of Cloudflare’s cache everything page rule on eCommerce and dynamic websites without running into errors. They also have a setup tutorial on YouTube.

 

36. Disqus Conditional Load

Speeds up Disqus comments by lazy loading them.

wpDiscuz also has a few other tweaks you can do to make them load faster. Configuring the settings below, then delay their JavaScript (both wpDiscuz and Gravatar) using WP Rocket or Flying Scripts. Host Gravatars locally using WP User Avatar and your comments should fly.

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

 

37. 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

 

38. 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.

This plugin has tons of settings for customizing mobile pages:

Accelerated-Mobile-Pages-Plugin-Settings

 

39. Widget Disable

Disables sidebar and dashboard widgets in the admin which can slightly speed up the admin.

Widget Disable Plugin

 

40. 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

 

41. 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

 

42. 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

 

43. 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

 

Cloudways: Who I Recommend For Hosting

Most hosting recommendations are garbage and I suggest joining the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters group to get unbiased feedback because let’s be honest, we’re all affiliates.

  • SiteGround has a slow TTFB, CPU limits, support went downhill, among other issues. Unethical considering their community manager (Hristo) is an admin for this Facebook Group, and the TOS (sec. #9) prevents affiliates from using ‘SiteGround’ in bad reviews.
  • Hostinger writes fake reviews, votes for themselves in polls, also unethical.
  • GoDaddy is like my ex-girlfriend: lots of promises, but absolutely no delivery.
  • WP Engine used to be good, but most people left them and speed/support are awful.
  • EIG brands (Bluehost + HostGator) cram too many websites on slow, shared servers.

Regardless if you use my aff links, please don’t support unethical companies.

I use Cloudways (Vultr HF) who has always given me a fast TTFB and great GTmetrix results even on huge posts. You can click through my posts (most of them are very long) and they will load instantly. LiteSpeed is also popular which you can get through NameHero or A2 Hosting. I like NameHero’s Turbo Cloud plan which includes more RAM, NVME storage, and is still cheap.

Both have different setups. On Cloudways, I use WP Rocket + BunnyCDN. On NameHero or A2, you would use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin + QUIC.cloud CDN. They’re both great setups and should give you a fast TTFB, especially if you use my WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache guide.

You can read my Cloudways review or NameHero review. NameHero is easier (cPanel, A+ support, email hosting) while Cloudways is a little “techier” but gives you better control of your server and has way more data centers in the US, India, UK, etc. Cloudways has monthly pricing with a free migration while NameHero has a 30-day refund policy and also does free migrations.

I switched from SiteGround to Cloudways in 2019. My response times were 2x faster, I was paying 1/2 the price of what I was on SiteGround, and had no CPU issues or high renewal prices.

Cloudways Shoutout

When in doubt, check recent Facebook polls and migration results (view more here).

Cloudways Black Friday Sale 2021
Get 40% off your first 4 months of Cloudways with code OMM40

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 most important speed plugins?

Oxygen Builder, WP Rocket, Perfmatters, OMGF, and Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp are 5 top speed optimization plugins.

What is the best cache plugin?

WP Rocket, LiteSpeed Cache, and SG Optimizer are generally the top rated cache plugins since they come with more features than more other caching plugins, yield better Lighthouse results and usually, load times too.

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 500 comments and has helped many people improve both their load times and scores.

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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