Does the world need another WordPress speed plugin?
Someone seems to think so, hence the release of WP Optimiser (WP Optimizer if you spell it the other way) and of course, this WP Optimiser review. There are several speed improvement plugins kicking around, some free, some not, and of varying degrees of effectiveness.
First of all, it claims to be a ‘more-in-one’ solution (I won’t say ‘all’ because there’s bound to be something else).
By the time you’ve added plugins that shrink images, cache pages, tidy up databases, it can add up to a fair few. I should know.
This site had 4 plugins that were specifically dedicated to doing varying things that should have done things to help the speed and a couple of others that should have done at least a little, but it still takes between 10 and 15 seconds to load the first page (cleared browser cache first).
So would WP Optimiser make any difference?
Chris Hitman, the ‘sales face’ of WP Optimiser, let me try it out for free, so the best thing to do is to let you know how I got on, rather than me quoting figures from their sales pages. The plugin itself is the usual simple WordPress install and after putting in a registration key, I gained access to a small number of options.
The first 3 are all about images. Lazy Load only loads images as they are about to be seen, so that saves some page load time. The other 2 are about optimizing those images.
The first selection enables new images to be shrunk as they are uploaded. The second, bulk-shrinks existing images already used on the site.
I was told I had 425 unoptimized pictures. Grabbing a TinyPNG API key only takes a few seconds (link provided) and it’s on its way, crunching 30 images at a time (I’m on shared hosting and this is the recommended figure).
Now I already had an image crusher installed so it surprised me that this needed doing at all, but I played by the rules and allowed it to run. This is not a quick task but you can do other things while you’re waiting for each batch, so it’s not a big problem.
The TinyPNG service also lets you do 500 images per month for free, so I won’t be pushing any boundaries there either. If I did have more images, I could pay for an extended license or sign up for another free API with a different email address.
Next down the menu is a database optimizer. Again, I already have one installed but again, I let WP Optimiser do its thing as it all counts towards the end results.
The last two WP Optimizer menu items are a server health check and a speed check. The former warns you of anything that your web server might need updating as well as its memory space and/or processor time. It’s not really fair to run this while you’re crunching images (but this is a review and you need to know).
I tried anyway and got a server error. That’s fair enough as image crunching takes a fair amount of processor time and network resources.
My database was already working pretty much up to scratch and just needed clearing off some old revision data (you know, when you make changes to a post. Some old ‘saves’ needed clearing).
I thought my existing database-cleaner-upper would have done that but it was only a few k of data in a multi-megabyte database, so no panic there.
The health check also didn’t tell me much that I didn’t know. That I use too many plugins and I that was nearing my storage limit. No real actionable recommendations there.
The final speed check also was no great surprise. My excessive number of plugins was the biggest downfall, with the biggest being YARP – Yet Another Related Posts plugin, which is good for internal SEO and worth keeping despite the lag it induces.
I suppose to be fair, I should have used the speed check before I started but I was keen to see how WP Optimizer would get on with this site and I already knew it was slow.
Finally, everything was ready and I cleared the browser cache for a subjective test of loading the front page. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting miracles – the sales page offered tables that showed loading times cut from over 6 seconds to less than 2 seconds, which is very good going.
Would my results be similar? Could I get a sub 5-second load time?
A-bloody mazing (excuse my language). The speed test told me it was down to 4.8 seconds and subjectively it felt much quicker too. I cleared the browser cache and tried again. Matched it!.
Pleased? Damn right I was pleased.
The next thing to do would be to try the speed test again but with the other ‘speed tweaks’ disabled.
Not such a huge gain 4.63 seconds – as could be expected. I was only disabling a few plugins and none of them were particularly big time-hogs. Disabling YARP could have gained me another half a second and finding a faster theme could shave another 10th of a second, but I was happy with the base result.
It works and works very well. I can chuck a couple of plugins away and hold an internal debate about a few more. Halving the load time is a damn good start though. Knowing the stats is interesting and helps you to keep an ongoing eye on things too.
People are impatient and search engines serve people. So a site that loads quickly is given more kudos in search engine eyes.
There are all sorts of quoted figures but it boils down to this: The faster a page loads, the more people who will stay and read the site. People staying longer on a site also help to rank it higher, so it’s all interconnected.
Sites that take longer than 15 seconds to load get very few visitors who stay and let’s face it, that’s what we want – Visitors who stay. Sites that load faster than 5 seconds get a much higher retention rate – over 50% higher.
Also, Google will be rolling out another update soon (July 2018) where slower sites will be penalised even further, especially if it affects mobile users, so getting the speed up is important. With a WP Optimiser agency license, you can offer a service to slow WordPress sites to speed them up.
The good news is that WP Optimiser didn’t clash with any of my existing plugins of which I have a good variety. There’s a few I consider essential and most of the others add some functionality I like to use.
I can’t say this will be the same in your case, but I know I have some odd ones and that WP Optimizer didn’t cause me any problems.
If you do have problems, disable all of your plugins and reintroduce them, one at a time, to see where the problem lies.
Even if there had been no or little overall gain, I would have been tempted to keep using WP Optimizer as it is one plugin and I can lose 4 or more. As I have over 40 active plugins, being able to reduce the number is a good thing.
As it stands, WP Optimiser has been well worth the time it took to install, set up and review. My speed gains may not have been as large as the test site results. However, I feel better for having told you my honest appraisal and the real-life effect that it has had on my site.
I’m sure one or two of my other WordPress sites will also benefit from having this plugin installed.
To see what else WP Optimiser can do for you, please watch the video or go along to the site – WP Optimiser.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via the form on this site or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. I know I keep swapping between the spelling of WP Optimiser and WP Optimizer. I know the former is the correct spelling but I also know that some may search for the other spelling. Speed isn’t the only SEO factor (grin).