WordPress Performance Plugins – 10 Proven Optimization Tools

Website speed is crucial. Slow loading times can drive visitors away and negatively impact user experience. That’s why we compiled this list of the best WordPress performance plugins.

WordPress performance plugins offer a quick-win approach to improving your website’s speed and performance. It’s not just website visitors who hate slow-loading pages. Search engines and Google Core Web Vitals aren’t fans either. 

So, if you notice the time ticking by (even just a few seconds!) while waiting for your WordPress site to load, you’ll probably start looking for WordPress performance plugins. 

Note: If you’re looking for a more comprehensive plugins overview, check out our list of recommended plugins.

What Are WordPress Performance Plugins?

A WordPress performance plugin works in the background of your WordPress site to optimize your processes, improving page loading times and streamlining your website’s overall performance. They’ll optimize your images and cache, tidy up your database, and reduce HTTP requests, ramping up your website’s speed. 

Plugins can be powerful tools for enhancing the performance of your WordPress website. However, these plugins are enhancements rather than solutions, and it’s important to remember that no plugin can replace the fundamental need for clean and efficient code

The plugins we’ll discuss can significantly boost your site’s speed and functionality, but they work best when built on a solid foundation of well-written code. They are designed to optimize an already well-constructed website, not act as a band-aid to crumbling foundations. 

Before Plugins, Consider Your Web Host

So your website’s performance is going downhill, visitor rates are at an all-time low, and your Google Core Web Vitals are all “Poor.” Before you jump into the WordPress plugin directory for a solution, take a fresh look at your web hosting provider to decide if moving web hosts will be a better first step than bolting on additional plugin code.

Quick Tip: If your Time-To-First-Byte (TTFB) takes longer than 500ms, that’s a clue that your web host isn’t providing enough resources for your website.

You can quickly measure TTFB with a tool like GTMetrix. Test several pages of your website to get a more complete picture of your TTFB.

If your website is hosted on a shoestring plan that offers low bandwidth and minimal features, all the WordPress performance plugins in the repository won’t improve your page-load times. 

As with the clean and efficient code, if you want your website to succeed, you first need to give it a solid hosting foundation. Find a web host with excellent uptime that can handle higher levels of website traffic and support your website growth. 

Our list of the best hosting providers probably has exactly what you need (we know; we tested them all ourselves). If you sign on to a SiteCare plan, you’ll get enterprise-grade hosting bundled with best-in-industry WordPress support and optimization. We’re a bit biased, but our clients agree that going with SiteCare for support and hosting is a good business decision.

Once you’ve migrated to a first-class web host, circle back to our list of performance-enhancing plugins as you need them. 

Stop Stacking WordPress Performance Plugins

One tactic we see website owners using is what we’ll call Performance Plugin Stacking. If one performance plugin is great, then 5 performance plugins must be wonderful, right? Wrong.

Do not stack your performance plugins.

As you’ll learn later in this article, WordPress performance plugins have very specialized roles and combining them will very likely create more grief than joy. The team at SiteCare is constantly fighting performance plugin conflicts.

Make sure that when installing more than one performance plugin that they have distinct purposes and don’t boast similar features.

Now, with all of these disclaimers out of the way, let’s dive into the best WordPress performance plugins so we can start speeding up your website.

Page Caching Plugins

Page caching plugins make it quicker and easier for visitors to access your website’s content. Instead of the several steps it takes to send and process data and generate a webpage, caching plugins save HTML versions that allow dynamic content to load faster for returning visitors. 

Dynamic content changes over time according to particular data sets. It allows several versions of a website to appear differently to different users. It’s easily imagined as an online store, travel agent, or airline booking platform adapting its content based on the visitor’s buying habits, location, or other characteristics. 

Typically, dynamic content relies on WordPress PHP scripts, which require real-time processing and significantly drain resources. Instead of PHP, WP caching plugins serve static HTML files to visitors, considerably reducing the server load and improving page load times. 

WP Super Cache

Banner image of the WP Super Cache WordPress plugin.

WP Super Cache is the classic page caching plugin generating static HTML files from dynamic WordPress content. In other words, it creates a quick mirrored copy of a website’s content and put it in a format that a browser can parse really quickly.

WP Super Cache is excellent for sites with high traffic. Content will be delivered faster, user experience will improve overall, and with a majority of 5-star ratings and over a million downloads, most website owners will get what they need.

WP Super Cache is free, and with your download, pretty much what you see is what you get. If you’re an advanced user looking for more features aside from caching down the line, you might be disappointed with this limitation, but if you’re happy with the existing model, it does what it says on the box and does it well. 

Key Feature Overview: 

  • Static HTML File Generation
  • Caching Modes
  • Garbage Collection
  • Cache Preloading and Scheduled Preloading
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) Support
  • File Compression
  • Browser Caching
  • Mobile Device Support
  • Cache Management
  • Security and HTTPS Support
  • Debugging and Logging

Breeze

Banner image of the Breeze WordPress plugin.

Breeze is a WordPress caching plugin designed by Cloudways to make WordPress performance optimizations a “breeze.” 

This multi-featured plugin wants to simplify everything for the user: simple installation and configuration, simple integration with your preferred CDN, and simple settings management. Its focus is on user-friendly performance enhancements. 

The plugin works well with WooCommerce sites and WordPress Multisite, plus it has built-in support for Varnish

While Breeze doesn’t have the million user-plus download numbers of WP Super Cache and lacks a dedicated support team and a long list of features, it’s a good choice for those looking for a straightforward caching plugin with a wide set of tools. 

Key Feature Overview:

  • Caching
  • Minification
  • Gzip Compression
  • Database Optimization
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) Integration
  • Browser Caching

Code Optimization

Code optimization plugins are like your website’s clean-up crew. They cut away the excess from your code, streamlining scripts and help to make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently. 

Code optimization plugins help your site shed unnecessary data, consolidate code that’s cumbersome for browsers to process, and optimize load order of CSS and JS to make visitor experiences exceptional.

PerfMatters

Banner image of the Perfmatters homepage.

Like SiteCare, PerfMatters likes code to be clean and efficient. It disables unnecessary scripts on your website, cuts out the noise, and reduces code bloat. Script disabling is achieved in one click, and that’s before we get to the quick toggle options, which allow you to disable everything from emojis and dashicons to Google Maps in seconds. 

We’re all about time-saving and performance-enhancing, and PerfMatters meets the mark. The plugin cleans up your database, which gets littered with performance-draining spam comments, auto-drafts, and more over time. 

Every element of PerfMatters is designed to optimize your website, and if something goes wrong, their support and dev teams will get you sorted. And, it doesn’t put a massive dent in the budget at $124.95 a year for the top-rung plan (unlimited sites and Multisite support). 

Key Feature Overview:

  • Script manager
  • Database optimization
  • Lazy loading
  • Change your WordPress login URL
  • Locally hosted Google Analytics
  • CDN rewrite
  • Defer and Delay JavaScript
  • Remove unused CSS
  • Support and ongoing development

Autoptimize

Banner image of the Autoptimize WordPress plugin.

Autoptimize is designed to help optimize your website’s performance by aggregating, minifying, and caching scripts and styles and optimizing images. 

It’s also great for optimizing Google fonts and employing a JavaScript execution delay until after a web page has loaded, significantly reducing load times.

It has a lot of the same goals as PerfMatters. Our clients have found it more difficult to use than PerfMatters and we’ve encountered more conflicts with Autoptimze as well.

That said, it is a free tool that has a team that responds quickly to inquiries and bugs, so we want to make sure it got a mention.

Key Feature Overview:

  • Minification
  • Concatenation
  • Critical CSS
  • Lazy Loading
  • JavaScript Optimization

Image Optimization

Images put a lot of strain on a website. If you have time to pour your morning coffee while your page loads (we’re exaggerating, but you understand our point), then your images might have something to do with it. Lighter images don’t simply improve page-loading speeds. They also impact your Google Core Web Vitals, so image optimization is essential. 

These are our top choices for image optimization plugins.

Imagify

Banner image of the Imagify WordPress plugin.

Imagify aims to increase your page-loading times by optimizing your images without compromising their quality. 

The plugin will compress your images and convert them to WebP and Avif formats, the next generation of images, which get even higher website speeds. Your whole library can be optimized quickly seconds and restored to its original state anytime you want. The last piece is critical. We see many image optimization plugins that don’t keep backups of the original images, meaning that if the compression results are poor or grainy, there’s no way to undo that action.

Imagify is free for optimizing up to 200 images per month. However, if you choose the Infinite plan, which gives you unlimited websites, images, and upload sizes, you’ll pay up to $9.99 a month. 

Key Feature Overview:

  • Image Compression
  • Bulk Optimization
  • Automatic Optimization
  • WebP Conversion
  • Image Resizing
  • Backup and Restore

Optimole

Banner image of the Optimole WordPress plugin.

Optimole automatically compresses and resizes images, serves them through a global content delivery network (CDN), and offers lazy loading functionality to ensure fast loading times and reduced bandwidth usage.

It optimizes images for all devices and requires little involvement beyond the initial basic setup.

While Optimole’s basic features are free, the price might be a turnoff for those looking for more in their plan; the Starter plan is $19.08 a month, and the Business jumps up to $39.08 a month.

  • Key Features Overview:
  • Image Compression
  • Dynamic Image Resizing on the Fly
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Lazy Loading
  • WebP Supported
  • Image Optimization Statistics
  • Compatibility and Integration

Hybrid Caching plugins

Hybrid caching plugins aim to provide the best of both worlds: fast response times for repeat visitors due to browser caching, and reduced server load, and improved performance through code optimization. 

With hybrid caching plugins, you get a two-for-one that optimizes website performance and enhances user experience.

Cloudflare

Banner image of the Cloudflare WordPress plugin.

Cloudflare is a security and web performance company that provides services to improve site speed, security, and reliability. It’s a content delivery network (CDN) with excellent optimization capabilities. 

Choosing Cloudflare means you reduce your plugin list. We’ll say it again: Clean and efficient websites are the key to success. Cloudflare will help you with your caching needs and claims to speed up your website by 300% when you include the add-on Automatic Platform Optimization (APO).

Cloudflare will improve your website’s performance and caching, but many of the cooler features are included under the $5-a-month APO price tag. APO stands for Automatic Platform Optimization, and it’s designed from the ground up to make WordPress websites perform as quickly as possible. It does this specifically by offloading a lot of the optimization tasks to the Cloudflare service, so optimization doesn’t require any additional resources from your web server.

The free plugin, though, comes with a warning: It hasn’t been updated with the last three WordPress updates. The plugin is actively maintained, with the most recent updating happening 2 months ago, but we’d like the Cloudflare team to do a better job of signaling compatibility with recent WordPress core updates.

Key Feature Overview:

  • One-Click Optimizations
  • Cache Management
  • Security Settings
  • DNS Management
  • Analytics and Insights

Nitropack

Banner image of the Nitropack WordPress plugin.

Nitropack has been downloaded by a modest 100,000 users, but its comprehensive list of features should drive that number higher. They also integrate behind-the-scenes with several hosting companies such as WP Engine as a paid add-on.

This is a full-suite plugin that aims to deliver Good Google Core Web Vitals status for your website. Nitropack targets Core Web Vitals, ensuring your site is fully optimized across the board, including code optimization, image optimization, and advanced caching. So, if you want to succeed in the search engines, this plugin is a pretty good bet. 

Nitropack’s pricing might lose some customers, though. The starting point is $17.50 a month for websites with 50,000 views a month. You move up to $42.50 for the Growth plan (200,000 page views) and $146.67 monthly for the Scale plan (1,000,000 page views). 

We understand why they use a pageview model for pricing, but we’re always at odds with solutions that penalize success. From a technology standpoint, what they’re doing with Nitropack is impressive.

Key Features Overview:

  • Automatic Optimizations
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) Integration
  • Lazy Loading
  • Browser Caching
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Performance Analytics

Database Optimization

Database optimization plugins help improve your website’s performance by cleaning and optimizing the database. 

Over time, your database can become cluttered with comments, trashed posts, and post revisions, which can slow down your website’s performance. These are our top database optimization plugins.

Database optimization plugins also ensure that every aspect, including new features and updates, performs optimally. 

Important Note: Always back up your website before performing any kind of database optimization operation to prevent data loss.

Check out our comprehensive guide for backing up WordPress for full details.

Performance Lab

Banner image of the Performance Lab WordPress plugin.

The Performance Lab plugin is a preview for features that will eventually come to WordPress core. It’s developed and created by WordPress Core Contributors and you can get access to those benefits now with this plugin. 

The plugin allows users to test features that will eventually be included in WordPress core. Test drive an ever-changing list of features, reap their benefits, and provide the WordPress team with your feedback. Performance Lab is working on a feature optimize the options table in your database to help improve overall performance and reduce the TTFB response times.

Performance Lab should be treated as a beta plugin. Use it to preview coming features from WordPress.

Key Features Overview:

  • Built by WordPress Core Contributors
  • Will likely be included in WordPress core in future versions
  • Performance Enhancements
  • Experimental Features
  • Easy Activation

AAA Option Optimizer

Dashboard screenshot of the AAA Option Optimizer WordPress plugin.

This new plugin from the team that originally built Yoast SEO is plugin optimizes your WordPress site’s database options table to improve overall performance. The AAA Option Optimizer tracks autoloaded options on a page and stores the data. By managing autoloaded options, which are loaded on every page request, the plugin ensures only essential data is autoloaded, ultimately improving loading times.

The AAA Option Optimizer is very new, so we’ll have to hang around a while before we get a fuller picture of its performance, but it’s off to a great start and should be a valuable addition to the performance-enhancing plugin landscape. We love that it’s trying to tackle options table bloat head on.

Key Features Overview:

  • Cleanup Options Table
  • Autoload Options Management
  • Performance Monitoring

SiteCare Will Help Enhance Your Website’s Performance

If you need more help deciding which WordPress performance plugins your site needs, our team is happy to help

We’re all about next-level website performance, so we can guide you towards achieving a Good Core Web Vitals score and acing page performance tests. And, if you’re unsure about your website’s health, answer a few quick questions to discover your SiteCare score and the next steps toward guaranteed website success. 

Darah Aldridge Avatar
Account Manager

13 min read

One response to “WordPress Performance Plugins – 10 Proven Optimization Tools”

  1. Kelly Duckham Avatar

    This article was exactly what I needed! My WordPress site has been running slow lately, and your list of performance plugins has given me several great options to consider. I particularly appreciate the tips on how to configure each plugin for optimal performance. Thanks for sharing.

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