Nowadays, loading speed is more critical than ever before. Unlike aesthetics, speed is measurable, and WordPress developers try their best to create fast-loading themes and brag about them. While aesthetics are unquantifiable, loading time is a quantifiable entity. Proving that your theme is fast loading will make people trust you and eventually buy from you.
Why is speed so important? There are a couple of reasons. First, Google likes speed and gives it high importance in the algorithm used to rank sites. The signs are that it has a prominent role in getting the first position in the users’ searches.
Second, mobile users don’t have time to wait for loading your site. A slow-loading site loses a vast number of visitors. Fewer visitors is equal to fewer conversions, which is equal to less profit.
Third, speed indirectly influences the page views and time-on-site ranking factors. Users who landed on your page will most likely visit one or more pages. However, they will quickly quit your site unless pages aren’t loading fast. The output: less time on site and few pages visited – all these make Google and other search engines consider that your copy isn’t relevant.
Luckily, we have tons of tools to improve a site’s speed considerably. Here is a collection of the 10 best tools and plugins to improve your site’s speed. Test each of them and let us know which worked the best for you!
This is the most used speed testing tool, and you should use it as a starting point. Before making any modifications, add your site address in the submit box and check its performance. By doing so, you’ll have an idea about the current situation, and you get a few page stats and optimization suggestions. A plus of this tool is that it gives a rating for both mobile and desktop site rendering.
This is another tool developed by Google, so its recommendations are golden for speeding up your site. Spiders scan your site and you get the loading time and the estimated visitor loss. Also, your site is compared with the competitors from your industry.
Additionally, Google sends you a detailed report by email. It contains useful tips to make your site faster and an estimation of the loading time saved by implementing these.
GT Metrix is a helpful tool to test a site’s speed. Its unique feature is the richness of data provided; it genuinely does a complete analysis. The analysis results fall into two categories: Performances Scores and Page Details.
Performances Scores comprises two indicators: Page Speed Score (see above) and YSlowScore, and you have a complete report for each of them.
Page Details reveals the time to fully load a site, total page size, and the number of requests.
A Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is designed to speed up your site by serving your visitors via servers closer to them. Instead of storing your site in a single location, it’s stored on multiple servers all across the globe. For instance, a visitor from Argentina will have to wait longer than a visitor from Australia if your site is hosted in New Zeeland. By setting up a content delivery network, a server will deliver your site from locations closer to the user; in our case, a server from USA will serve the Argentinian user.
The negative aspect of CDNs is the price that might negatively affect people on tight budgets.
Every hosting company claims that their services are the best. Indeed, you can get good hosting for only a few bucks a month. However, servers that ensure high loading speed come with a price tag. You have to find the sweet spot between affordability and quality, and Bitcatcha is an irreplaceable tool for helping you do this.
It allows you to test your host; you just enter your site address, and get the response time from locations all across the world. Unfortunately, it only works when your site is online; you can’t test in advance.
Sucuri is a leading company in the website security industry. Use its free tool – Load Time Tester – to check the performance of your site in different locations from all continents. It’s a simple and efficient tool, primarily if your target audience is global.
Automattic, the guys who know a thing or two about WordPress, developed this plugin. It caches your site files and delivers them to the user faster. It is one of the most downloaded plugins from the WordPress repository, and it’s massively used on many famous sites.
W3 Total Cache is a top contender for WP Super Cache; it has similar ratings and active installation numbers. This plugin does a bunch of things, including:
- Cache site files for faster loading;
- Progressive rendering – the pages are displayed faster by progressively loading the page files;
- Improve site performance during traffic spikes;
It’s hard to believe that you won’t use images on your site. Sadly, images considerably slow the loading speed. Smush It is a fantastic plugin that performs miracles by compressing all your images.
Its interface is cool and Smush It comes with many useful features such as automatic or bulk smushing, recheck images, or smush images from other folders than Uploads. On top of that, Smush It shows how much you saved by using it.
This is a plugin I use extensively on almost all my sites. The chances are that simply by installing it and keeping the default settings, your site will get a higher rate on Page Speed Insights. However, pay attention when setting up this plugin, as you might not get the most from it if you don’t configure it correctly. This plugin makes a good team with a caching plugin (i.e. W3Total Cache), but sometimes there might be some minor incompatibilities.
Anyway, Autoptimize 100% deserves your attention! Check all its settings, test any change on Page Insights, and you will undoubtedly obtain a fast-loading site.
This is our selection of the best tools and plugins to improve your website speed. Did you use any of them? Let us know which one is your favorite!