Do you feel your WordPress site is loading slow? Have you measured your WordPress website performance using GTmetrix? I did and was shocked to see slow performance. I then worked hard to reduce page load time using WordPress speed optimization plugins. And that’s what I am going to show you in this article – how I got gtmetrix 100% score on my website. I run fivestepguide.com with more than 20 useful plugins and 1 CPU + 2GB RAM in shared WordPress hosting but still get GTmetrix 100% score.
In this article, I’m going to show you how I used the best WordPress speed plugin to speed up my website and get GTmetrix 100% score. As you can see, fivestepguide.com is an image heavy website, but my website still loads really fast – under 0.8 sec using the best WordPress speed plugin.
Best WordPress speed optimization plugins to get GTmetrix 100
- My A-grade GTmetrix 100% score using 5 plugins
- Archivarix External Images Importer – reduce page loading times
- WPS Hide Login – secure your WordPress admin login
- Really Simple SSL plugin – wordpress security SSL plugin
- Conclusion – top wordpress speed optimization plugins that I personally use
- Frequently Asked Questions
You can look at my GTmetrix 100% score by clicking here or the first image above. I took my site score from 65% to 100% with only the top 3 WordPress speed optimization plugins described in the post – WP Rocket, Asset Cleanup, and Robin image optimizer with my site running on the fastest WordPress theme – GeneratePress WordPress theme.
The plugins and tricks shown here will also help you on how to score 100/100 in google pagespeed insights with WordPress.
Agreed! Speed is not the only criteria to measure website performance. There are primarily three criteria that should be kept in mind when creating a high performance website: speed, security and content (images & videos). In my other posts where I list down Top CDN providers, you can look at various criteria that you should keep in mind to create a high performance WordPress website.
Like you, I do a little bit of evaluation and research on all things before starting or purchasing. I did the same recently before creating FiveStepGuide.com (blog). I researched several cheap WordPress hosting providers for 2021 on their offerings, reviews by other websites and users, promotions, and real-time support.
After downloading and trying almost 40 different WordPress speed Optimization plugins for my website, I finally selected 5 wordpress speed plugins to reduce page load times and get GTmetrix 100% score as well as 100 Google Pagespeed score. I got from 65% to 100% while having installed more than 20 extra plugins and 1 CPU + 2 GB RAM shared WordPress hosting.
WordPress speed Optimization Plugins for 100% GTmetrix score
In this article, I will take you through 5 powerful WordPress speed optimization plugins I used too reduce page load time. Along with reviewing the best WordPress speed plugin, I will also show you the tools and techniques to get gtmetrix 100% score.
My chosen speed optimization plugins fall under the following categories:
- WordPress Caching plugins and WordPress minify
- Image compression and lazy load
- Database cleanup
- Firewall and website security
- Backup and bloat removal
These best wordpress plugins for speed improvement will give an exponential boost to your website performance and raise GTmetrix and Pingdom scores. Moreover, they will help you stop losing traffic, subscribers, and customers and optimize your slow website for fast loading.
No matter whichever WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins you use, the most important factor is your Hosting server performance.Tweet
The most awesome thing is that I got this A-grade GTmetrix 100 score while hosting Fivestepguide.com on HostGoi WordPress hosting plan (Drive) for just around $1 PER montH. Read my Hostgoi review in my other article on 10 best WordPress hosting services for under $3 and click the screenshot below to buy website hosting plan (preferably buy the Turbo plan for 3GB RAM).
You should choose the best hosting provider given your budget. Look at the best infrastructure resources like CPU, RAM, backups and a host of other points. In my other article I have listed the top 10 hosting providers focusing on all these points for new bloggers and small websites. Several are listed and compared there.
However, for just $4.5 monthly, you can get the the best CPU & RAM configuration (6CPU + 6GB RAM) by HostArmada, a 4.9/5 Trustpilot and 9.9/10 Hostadvice hosting service.
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WP Rocket, along with WP Fastest cache, is the best WordPress speed optimization plugin to speed up my website for 100% gtmetrix score. There are several others WordPress caching plugins like WP Super cache, W3 Total Cache. I’m not denying that they are good. I tried them all but the best one I liked to reduce page load times were free version of WP Fastest Cache and premium version of WP Rocket.
Features of WP Rocket:
- WordPress Caching – possible to enable caching for mobile users and logged-in users.
- Set cache lifespan as per your requirement
- Cache preload. You can also preload links, fonts, DNS requests
- Other advanced caching rules like other best wordpress plugins for speed
- Image lazy load. Iframe and videos lazy load.
- Database optimization and Database / Transients cleanup
- CDN integration
- Direct Cloudflare integration
- Google Analytics integration to host Google Analytics code on your own site.
WP-rocket is like a powerful combination of several WordPress speed optimization plugins acting together. Its a beast having 3+ WordPress caching plugins performance.
However, WP-rocket alone acts as a one-stop-shop best WordPress speed optimizer for all the Features mentioned above.
Image optimization is a PAID in-built feature for image optimization in WP-rocket through integration with IMAGIFY. The same company has created IMAGIFY for best-in-class image optimization. You can compress images to speed up your website for 100% gtmetrix score while maintaining high image quality.
WP Fastest cache is also amongst the best wordpress plugins for speed. It also has the same offerings. I personally tried it and consider it as an awesome WordPress speed optimization plugin. But its free offerings are a bit limited when compared to WP Rocket. WP Fastest cache has Paid services for CDN integration, database cleanup, image optimization.
Following is a brilliant article (external to FiveStepGuide.com) on comparison of the two best wordpress speed optimization plugins: WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache.
I tried WP Rocket & WP Fastest cache as well as WP Super cache & WP Total Cache. I finally decided to stay with WP Rocket premium version + Cloudflare FREE CDN + Robin Image optimizer FREE version.
You may evaluate other WordPress caching plugins and choose what suits you best or just count on my experience and download WP Rocket by clicking at the banner below.
Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster
Asset CleanUp Features
- Eliminate render-blocking resources by unloading useless CSS/JS
- Site-wide removal for Emojis, Dashicons for guest users and Comment Reply if they are not used
- Reduce HTML code, GZIP compression
- Combine all Google Font requests and save round trips to the server
- Preload Google Font Files
- Preload local font files – no need for other best wordpress plugins for speed
- remove meta tags, unused links, HTML comments from the head, body and footer tags of the website
Especially for fixing page slowness issues as reported by Google PageSpeed or GTMetrix, you can choose from 3 types of script delivery:
- Asynchronous via Web Font Loader (webfont.js),
- Asynchronous by preloading the CSS stylesheet
Here is a wonderful & detailed article on setup of Asset CleanUp WordPress speed plugin from a well-known and reputed fast WordPress web hosting provider – GreenGeeks
GreenGeeks offers a really fast, secure and scalable hosting with options like Shared hosting, Reseller, VPS. It has data centers located in Chicago, Phoenix, Toronto, Montreal and Amsterdam. The expert 24/7/365 support and the 99.9% uptime guarantee with an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee is what I think are the key selling points of GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks believes in giving back to the environment. Its is an eco-friendly green web hosting provider putting back 3 times the power consumed into the grid in the form of renewable energy.
Use Asset clean up Pro with Greengeeks and see its power as the best plugin to optimize wordpress. Click below to get started with GreenGeeks.
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Robin image optimizer
Robin image optimizer is a fantastic image optimizer and compression WordPress plugin. It can optimize / compress with almost no loss in quality. In the company’s own words it is exactly 80% without any loss of quality. You should always use the best image compression wordpress plugins for speed improvement, unless you optimize all images before upload.
I will undoubtedly put Robin image optimizer in my arsenal of best WordPress speed plugins. It uses an intelligent optimization mode to reduce the size of JPG and PNG images in both free and paid versions. If your website is full of images, your website will become 50% faster.
For FREE version, the only restriction is the image size – it shouldn’t be greater than 5 MB.
It can resize your images on demand through the media library or by the click of a button. It also optimizes on the fly as soon as some image is uploaded to the media library.
The paid version has 3 more features.
- Optimization at Google PageSpeed level
- Optimization in folders other than upload folder
- Conversion to WebP
The settings are extremely user-friendly and shown in just 1 page unlike other plugins where settings are distributed over several pages.
I have personally generated and compared the image quality of Lossless and Lossy images from Smush, Imagify, Robin optimizer, HighCompress AI, reSmush.it, ShortPixel and an image from Image Regenerate & Select Crop plugin at 65-level quality.
You can yourself evaluate compressed images from top image optimization and image compression plugins using the 2 sliders shown below.
All following images are optimized to Lossless quality from Smush, Robin, and Image Regenerate & Select Crop. They are around 150 Kb each. I have generated an 82-level quality image (equivalent to lossless) from Image Regenerate & Select Crop plugin
FiveStepGuide.com is a blog where images play an important role, but the text content is where visitors really focus. Any popular information blog contains 70% to 80% text and 10% to 20% images, unless the blog is on art, media or some portfolio. It’s generally difficult for the blog reader’s eyes to compare between the image quality of popular image optimization plugins.
Why do I need website Backups? Why do they fall under essential WordPress speed optimization plugins? These 2 questions might pop-up on your mind if you plan to start a small blogging or hobby website.
Backups are the first level of security for any WordPress site. According to research, data loss and downtime cost global economic losses of $1.7 trillion each year. All websites are vulnerable to WordPress corruption, data loss and security threats.
- Hackers may steal and destroy your data if your website is hacked.
- Due to wrong plugin installation or code tampering, your WordPress installation might get corrupt and become irrecoverable or very expensive to recover.
- Your hosting provider can lose your data unintentionally or due to shut-down
- Your host might terminate your account and delete all your data for any reason. However, this will almost never happen if you choose popular hosting providers with good standing.
Apart from these, there are many other scenarios where you could end up losing valuable data or your entire website. So, its always in your best interest to protect your website against these threats. Regular backing up of your WordPress website is the only answer!
Sadly, WordPress does not give you a built-in backup solution. However, you can find several WordPress backup plugins on WordPress plugin manager. Almost all of them allow you to automatically backup and restore your WordPress site.
As per my experience, UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress backup plugins. It not only backs up your data and your entire website on your hosting space but also exports the backups to cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive. Even in the FREE version, it allows you to back up manually on-demand as well as set up automatic backup schedules. Moreover, in case something bad happens, you can use it to restore your WordPress site from BackUp.
I suggest you use this backup plugin along with the best wordpress plugins for speed improvement to see your website load fast and rank higher.
Updraft Premium features
The free version of UpdraftPlus is already really powerful. However, if you need more features and options you can purchase the Premium version. Few of the features of UpdraftPlus Premium (click to get a trial) are as follows:
- Incremental backups
- Duplicate or migrate websites
- Multisite/multi-network compatible
- Backs up non WP files and databases to multiple remote destinations
- More cloud storage destinations (e.g. OneDrive, BackBlaze, Azure, SFTP)
- Database encryption
- Advanced reporting
- Supports WP-CLI
- Free dedicated expert support
Considering that UpdraftPlus premium version has so many extra features, you may like to try the premium version of Updraftplus.
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Wordfence security and firewall
Over last year itself, data breaches have exposed more than 4.1 billion records. As per recent IBM research, the average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million. Therefore, every website, large or small, needs to ensure high security, not just high performance.
Wordfence is one of the most popular security plugins for WordPress websites. It has a long list of features like:
- Full-fledged firewall – you can rate-limit or block IP addresses, Bots and Google crawlers.
- Brute-force (login) attack protection. A premium account holder gets real-time IP address blacklist feature as well.
- Login security – secure your login to WordPress admin section. It has 2FA and QR code scan built-in.
- Wordfence alerts – Another useful benefit is the daily scans feature. You get an email about any suspicious activity or any notification about other possible security threats like required plugin updates.
- Malware scanning – you can set your own customized scan or use a standard scan
Security plugins are not directly termed as WordPress speed optimization plugins for that matter. However, they help you in keeping your site secure and in preventing bad bots touching your site and consuming your server resources, especially if you are on shared hosting. Even the best wordpress plugins for speed improvement will not be able to speed up your website in case of a hacked website.
I tried using a few security plugins. I found Wordfence to be simple, easy to set up and secure enough. The FREE version has all basic features needed for a secure website. The premium upgrade has several other features, but you generally don’t need those extra to secure a small website or blog.
As a free Wordfence user, you will be using the Community version of the Threat Defense Feed. Premium users however are protected by additional firewall rules and malware signatures.
You may like to read similar articles
A few extra Best WordPress plugins for fast website loading times
Archivarix External Images Importer
Archivarix External Images Importer plugin imports images from external web sources. It is useful when you have your images posted on an external website and want to download all your images from that external source to your hosting. This plugin will scan your posts and pages for images from external URLs. On a click of a button, if you desire it will import all the images from there to your new hosting provider. It’s quite possible that the images you are referring to you in your posts are from an external slow website. This plugin functions as the best WordPress speed plugin useful in this clear way.
If the image is not available or deleted from the original source, this plugin downloads a copy of it from the Web Archive.
It helps you host stuff locally instead of on other external websites. You may have blogs on multiple blogging platforms or multiple hosting websites. In every blog it is quite possible to refer to a common image. The problem with this set-up is that if the main website goes down, all your other posts or pages referring to the images on that site will be image-less. Even with the best WordPress speed optimizer plugins, you will feel that it’s best to have all your images on your post’s internal space.
It also helps in helps improve your website load times because the images are sourced from your webspace instead of some external domain.
I don’t know why top reviewers do not classify this plugin under he best wordpress plugins for speed improvement. In my view, this is an utmost important plugin if you have a host of websites using images from different sources, not just your own websites.
WPS Hide Login
WPS Hide Login helps you to easily and safely change the WordPress login page address to a custom address. It will certainly not rename or change files in core and not add or rewrite any rules. It merely intercepts page requests and works on any WordPress website. The wp-admin directory and wp-login.php page become inaccessible, so you need to bookmark or keep in mind the new URL. Deactivating this plugin brings your website back specifically to the state it had been before.
Hiding your WordPress login will only stop amateurs and not robots or hackers. Someone who actively breaks into websites will undoubtedly be able to locate the login page on your website. Therefore, consider this plugin as a supplement to Wordfence or other security elements, but not an alternative to protect your website.
Really Simple SSL – best WordPress plugin to secure your website
Really Simple SSL automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over HTTPS. The insecure content is fixed by replacing all http:// URL’s with https://, except hyperlinks to other domains. This plugin does not provide you an SSL certificate. You have to use the SSL given by your hosting provider, your CDN service or your own Client certificate. The plugin handles most issues that WordPress has with SSL. You can also enable a .htaccess redirect.
SSL plugins are not WordPress caching plugins and don’t fall under the ambit of WordPress speed optimization plugins per say. However, they help you have better performance because of the level of added security, which helps a browser exclude detailed security checks, thereby enabling your website to load faster.
In this way, Really Simple SSL plugin is truly a WordPress speed optimizer after converting your website to an HTTPS one with an SSL certificate. Remember that GTmetrix 100 score considers SSL as a prominent factor as well.
Combining it with the best WordPress speed plugin like WP-Rocket will certainly help reduce page load times of your website and get 100/100 pagespeed scores.
Really Simple SSL has a premium version, but I feel the FREE version is itself full of many useful features. I would recommend your small website or blog to start with the FREE version first. Later you may see if you really need the premium one.
It helps you improve website security by enabling HTTP Strict Transport Security and HSTS preload while protecting your domain against attacks.
The premium version comes with 3 enhanced features as shown in the image below.
If you want to enable HSTS and security headers, then you must take the premium version of Really Simple SSL.
If these features appeal to you or if your website has a special need, then buy Really Simple SSL Pro by clicking at the banner below.
So, which is the best wordpress speed optimization plugin that I use?
I first created my site using premium version of on GeneratePress WordPress theme. And then, I installed the following plugins in my WordPress website.
- WordPress Caching plugins and minifying plugins – WP rocket and Asset cleanup
- Image compression and lazy load – Robin Image Optimizer
- Database cleanup – WP rocket
- Firewall and website security manager – Wordfence
- Backup and bloat removal – UpdraftPlus backup
- Secure your website visitors using Really simple SSL
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use a combination of Asset cleanup and WP rocket?
Certainly. Using Asset Cleanup and WP-rocket together t is the best Option. I myself do and recommend using WP-rocket with Asset cleanup for optimal settings. Both of them are best WordPress speed optimizers. You may also top up your setup with adding some expert configuration and settings from Asset Clean up. You will definitely achieve top-notch A-grade GTmetrix 100 level performance.
What is lossy vs lossless compression?
Most image files are often huge and average global internet speed is not that fast as to load image-heavy websites really fast. So, it is important that all images are somehow compressed to be properly used on a website.
Average internet speeds in different countries all over the world.
There are many algorithms used for image compression. Generally all algorithms are divided into two distinct categories: lossless or lossy compression.
Lossy compression algorithms reduce file size by discarding the less important information. For example, reducing the numbers of colours in an image while keeping the brightness in-tact. This can result in a small loss of quality of an image or sound file. JPEG is an example of lossy compression format. It offers much higher compression rate than PNG with decrease in quality.
Lossless regenerates the image with the lowest possible number of bits without loss of any information. The original data is then perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data. However, no lossless compression algorithm can efficiently compress all data in an image. That’s why lossless compressed images are not much smaller in size. They however are much higher in quality that lossy optimized images.
You can read more on this topic in my article on comparison of the smartest image optimization plugins for WordPress.