Are you looking for easy ways to speed up your website?

Whether you’re looking for solutions to a frustratingly slow website, or you just want to up your game a bit, we’ve got some great suggestions for tools and plugins to improve your site speed.

After all, having a website that loads quickly is essential, as it affects everything from your SEO rankings to the experience users have while visiting your website. In this article, we’ll guide you through the 6 best WordPress plugins for site speed, plus we have 2 additional recommendations to help speed up your site. Let’s dive in!

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The Importance of Site Speed in the Digital World

In the era of high-speed internet, patience is limited. A slow-loading website is likely to increase your bounce rate as visitors tend to abandon pages that take more than a few seconds to load. 

Furthermore, search engines like Google include site speed in their ranking algorithms, making it a crucial factor for SEO. Thus, optimizing site speed is absolutely essential for website owners. 

It makes sense!

After all, we all want a great user experience when we visit a website. When a page takes an eternity to load though, we feel like throwing our computer out the window. 

That's not a good way to start your relationship with visitors, so we've put together a list of the best paid and free plugins to boost speed on your website. 

Whether you're a beginner or seasoned pro, these WordPress plugins can be hugely valuable. 

The Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins and Tools

There are numerous WordPress plugins and tools available that can assist you in improving your site speed. Let's dive into the top six recommendations.

1. Use Speed Optimized Plugins: Thrive Suite

Optimizing your website for speed starts with the tools you use to build your website. Speed-optimized plugins can drastically improve your site's loading times and overall performance. If you’re looking for the best WordPress plugins built for speed, we recommend Thrive Suite.

Thrive Suite is a collection of plugins and tools from Thrive Themes, designed to be efficient and lightweight – perfect if you’re looking to build a fast website.

Thrive Suite includes nine conversion-boosting WordPress plugins for building gorgeous landing pages, high converting lead generation forms, engaging quizzes, professional-quality courses, and more. It also includes Thrive Theme Builder, a WordPress theme for building custom-designed WordPress websites with ease. 

One of Thrive Suite's most innovative features, Project Lightspeed – a game-changer for speed optimization – has placed all of the Thrive plugins ahead of the rest. Project Lightspeed was built to make Thrive Suite's plugins as light and as fast as possible, significantly trimming down load times, and thus speeding up your website. (Check out an actual case study here.)

This optimization feature comes with every Thrive Themes product, which means that when you use a tool from the Thrive Suite, you're not only getting a feature-rich solution, you're also getting a plugin that helps keep your website running fast

Interested in what Thrive Suite has to offer? Here’s a list of the tools included and how they can help you build your website:

  • Thrive Theme Builder - An easy-to-use WordPress theme that lets you build the custom layout you’ve always wanted
  • Thrive Architect - A page-builder for building landing pages, sales pages, opt-in pages, webinar signup pages, and more
  • Thrive Leads - A lead generation tool for creating email opt-in popups, ribbons, welcome mats, slide-ins, and more
  • Thrive Apprentice - A tool for creating online courses and memberships on your WordPress website
  • Thrive Quiz Builder - A tool for creating engaging quizzes and inserting them anywhere on your website
  • Thrive Ultimatum - A scarcity marketing tool for placing countdown timers on your website
  • Thrive Automator - An automation tool for integrating your favorite tools and plugins
  • Thrive Optimize - A split testing tool for A/B testing landing pages
  • Thrive Ovation - A testimonial management tool for capturing and displaying testimonials and reviews
  • Thrive Comments - A comment management tool that encourages engagement

This bundle of WordPress plugins comes at an amazing value for the price. Check out pricing for Thrive Suite and start optimizing your website!

2. Utilize Caching Plugins: WP Rocket

When a user visits your website, the process of displaying your website’s content involves multiple steps. One of these steps is asking your database for the content and then presenting it to the user. If many users are accessing the same content, these queries can slow down your website. 

So, instead of asking the database for content every time a user visits a page on your website, the browser caching process will store a static version of your content. A caching plugin will serve a stored version, which reduces load time because the content doesn’t have to be generated over and over again for new users.

Handy, right?

If you’re looking for a great caching plugin for WordPress, we recommend WP Rocket.

WP Rocket is a WordPress plugin specifically for getting you incredible speed results. Take a look at its key features:

  • Page caching functionality
  • HTML, JavaScript, and CSS minification to reduce the weight of files
  • LazyLoad images, so images are loaded as the user scrolls down the page
  • Google fonts optimization
  • Database optimization to remove bloat

WP Rocket has several pricing plans to choose from. Check out WP Rocket’s pricing plans here.

3. Improve Server Response Time: GTmetrix for WordPress

Every time a user visits your website, their web browser sends a request to your website’s server for information. The speed at which your server processes this request and returns data is called server response time. If this process is slow, it can impact your website's loading speed.

A variety of factors can affect server response time, including:

  • Your web hosting service (WordPress hosting)
  • Server hardware (processor, RAM, and type of hard drive)
  • The way your server software is configured
  • The amount of traffic your site receives

In order to keep tabs on your server response time, you’ll need a tool like GTmetrix for WordPress.

GTmetrix is mainly known for its online tool that allows users to analyze their site’s performance. By contrast, GTmetrix for WordPress is a WordPress plugin that actively keeps track of your WordPress installation and notifies you if anything goes awry. 

Here are the key features of GTmetrix for WordPress:

  • Analyze speed using Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow
  • Offers a performance score and actionable recommendations
  • Results presented in a handy waterfall chart
  • Test your site from different regions
  • Schedule regular, automated tests with performance alerts

To get started with GTmetrix for WordPress, you'll need to sign up for an account and connect an API. GTmetrix offers a variety of plans, including a free plan. Check out pricing for GTmetrix here.  

4. Use a CDN: Cloudflare

The further away a user is from your website’s server, the longer it takes for your webpage to load on their device. To alleviate this problem, some website owners use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). 

A CDN is a network of servers distributed around the globe. When a user visits your website, a CDN ensures that the content is served from the geographically closest server, ultimately resulting in faster load times.  

One of the leading CDN providers is Cloudflare. Cloudflare is a standalone service known for its performance and security features. To ensure your website is running smoothly on the Cloudflare platform, download the Cloudflare WordPress plugin, which allows you to make changes from your WordPress dashboard. 

Key features of Cloudflare include:

  • CDN powered by data centers in 200+ cities around the world
  • Protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) to protect against SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and more
  • Free SSL encryption
  • Fast and secure DNS service

Cloudflare offers a variety of plans, including a free one. Check out Cloudflare pricing here.

5. Optimize Images: Smush

One of the easiest ways to speed up your website is to optimize images. Images are often the most data-heavy elements on your site, and unoptimized images can cause your website to load slowly. 

The solution? Use a WordPress plugin that will compress and reduce image files sizes without sacrificing quality. The one we recommend is Smush

Smush lets you optimize, resize, and compress images in just a few clicks. With over 1 million active installs is one of the most popular image optimization plugins available. 

Key features include:

  • Lossless compression reduces the size of your images without sacrificing quality
  • Bulk smushing allows you to compress multiple images at once
  • Incorrect image size detection will quickly locate images that are slowing down your site
  • Image resizing lets you set a max height and width for images as they are compressed
  • Lazy loading feature loads images only when they come into the viewport, trimming down load time

Smush is available for free on the WordPress plugin directory; upgrade to the Pro version to unlock advanced features. Check out pricing for Smush Pro here..

6. Use code snippets: WP Code 

If you’re looking for an easy and safe way to add custom features to your WordPress website, then code snippets may be the answer. The tool we recommend for this is WP Code.

WP Code is a plugin for adding functionality to your site without adding weight or bloat. By replacing plugins with the ready-made code library that comes with WP Code, you can significantly improve site speed while future-proofing your website. 

WP Code also comes with:

  • Custom code snippets that support PHP, CSS, HTML and more
  • Smart conditional logic that lets you load snippets only under specific conditions
  • A custom code generator for creating advanced WordPress features

WP Code offers a variety of plans; check out their pricing here.

Bonus: Two Can't-Miss Speed Optimization Tools

In addition to plugins, we have two more recommendations for achieving a perfect speed optimization score. 

1. Use a Speed Optimized Theme: Thrive Theme Builder

Your WordPress theme choice can influence not just the appearance of your website, but also its performance. A poorly coded, bloated theme can drastically slow down your website, while an optimized theme can make your website feel snappy and easy to use. One of the best speed-optimized WordPress themes available is Thrive Theme Builder, specifically the companion theme, Kwik

Kwik is a WordPress theme that has been built from the ground up with performance in mind. It uses a lean structure that helps to improve your site speed significantly, without compromising on aesthetics. The designers of Kwik eliminated unnecessary features and codes that can bog down your site.

What makes Kwik perfect for speed optimization is its efficient use of resources. It keeps requests and assets to a minimum, meaning your website has fewer elements to load, resulting in faster page load times. 

Key features of Kwik, one of the companion themes that comes with Thrive Theme Builder:

  • Speed optimized, keeping resources and requests to a minimum
  • Wide range of customization options so you can create the exact layout you want
  • SEO friendly
  • Built-in responsive design so your website will look great on all devices

Thrive Theme Builder is available on its own, or as part of Thrive Suite. Check out Thrive Theme Builder here.

2. Reduce Redirects: Screaming Frog SEO Spider

A redirect is a way to send users and search engines to a URL that’s different from the one they originally requested. For example, users might type in:

https://staging.thrivethemes.com/category/product-updates

But the actual URL they will be taken to is something different:

https://staging.thrivethemes.com/product-updates

While redirects are often necessary for reasons such as restructuring a website or creating shorter URLs, having too many can negatively impact your site speed. That’s because each redirect adds to your website's loading time.

To reduce redirects, it's important to know what redirects are currently in place on your site. A great tool for managing redirects is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Although this tool is not a WordPress plugin (it is a standalone application that you must install on your computer), we think it’s valuable enough to include in this article. 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a website crawler that provides a detailed audit of your site's SEO, including identifying redirects. The tool generates a list of all your redirects, including the type of redirect (301, 302, etc.) and the URL they're directing to. 

After identifying unnecessary or inefficient redirects, you can begin optimizing your redirects. For example you might remove unnecessary ones or update links to point directly to the new page.

Key features of Screaming Frog SEO Spider:

  • Audit redirects to find temporary and permanent redirects, redirect chains, and redirect loops
  • Find broken links
  • Analyze page titles and meta data
  • Discover duplicate content
  • Generate XML sitemaps 

Check out pricing for Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Note: We've picked out the WordPress speed optimization plugins we think offer the most value, but there are a ton of other options out there: Minify (optimize JavaScript files and CSS files), WP Optimize, WP Fastest Cache and WP Super Cache (all WordPress caching plugins), ShortPixel (image compression for JPEGs, WEBP, PNG, and more), Autoptimize and Perfmatters (all-round WordPress performance plugins), and Google Analytics. 

FAQ about How to Improve Site Speed

1. What is a good site speed?

If you're using Google PageSpeed Insights to monitor your website, a score of 90 or above is considered good. Google recommends a server response time of under 2 seconds. 

2. How do I improve site speed for free?

There are many budget-conscious ways to improve your site speed. You can try:

  • Reducing image sizes with a free tool like Adobe Express
  • Minimizing HTTP requests
  • Utilizing a free caching plugin like W3 Total Cache (also offers a premium version)

3. How do I fix slow website speed?

Identifying the issues slowing down your website is the first step. Tools like GT Metrix or Google PageSpeed Insights can help identify problem areas. Then, implement the suggestions listed above.

4. How do I improve WordPress site speed on mobile?

To improve site speed on mobile, consider implementing a responsive design, using a mobile-optimized theme, enabling Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and optimizing images and content for mobile viewing. A WordPress theme like Thrive Theme Builder uses responsive, mobile optimized templates.

Ready to Speed Up Your WordPress Website?

Hopefully, these 6 WordPress plugins will aid you in your effort to improve the speed of your website or e-commerce store. Remember, optimizing your WordPress site speed isn't just about improving rankings; it's also about providing an enjoyable experience for your visitors. With these powerful WordPress plugins, you'll be on your way to creating a faster and more efficient website. 

Want to learn more? Check out our video:

Next, Optimize Your Website for Mobile Browsing

As important as it is to have a fast-loading site on desktop, it's also important to ensure your website is optimized for mobile browsing and offers a user-friendly interface to all your visitors. More people than ever are browsing the web on their phones and tablets, so it's essential to optimize your site for mobile browsing. Here's a few free resources to help you take this next step: 

Thankfully, Thrive Theme Builder and the tools that come with Thrive Suite are mobile-optimized (and speed-optimized!) right out of the box. Check out Thrive Theme Builder and Thrive Suite today!

About the Author Christine


Christine is a marketer with a background in print graphics, motion graphics, and teaching. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, dancing, and building things.

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