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8 Plugins to Improve Your Site Core Web Vitals

If you don’t know how to do it, you can use plugins to improve your site core web vitals.

If you are not aware of what core web vitals are, and why they are important today, you better halt here and read this article instead. You can always come back later to read this blurb.

I am not going to touch over the core web vitals all over again. I am going to tell you about 8 plugins that will help you to improve your core web vitals.

The 8 plugins that you will read about in this writeup are:

  • WP-Rocket
  • LiteSpeed Cache
  • Jetpack Boost
  • Autoptimize
  • WP-Optimize
  • ShortPixel Image Optimizer
  • Smush
  • Hummingbird

If you are not new to WordPress, you must have noticed that WP-Rocket, LiteSpeed Cache, WP-Optimize, Autoptimize, and Hummingbird are all caching plugins.

If so, why didn’t I include the famous W3TC?

Well, W3 Total Cache or W3TC is a very powerful caching plugin, but it is equally difficult to set up.

That’s the reason why I don’t usually recommend W3TC to anyone. If you wish, you can always read my W3 Total Cache review. I made an effort to explain the setup you should use. You might find it helpful.

Now, getting back to the list, let’s start learning how the listed plugins can help to improve your site core web vitals.

Ready?

WP-Rocket

WP-Rocket is often touted as the best caching plugin available today. It is a premium plugin, but definitely, you cannot call it THE BEST plugin. It is one of the best.

Indeed, it is extremely powerful, and it does much more than just caching. It is surprisingly easy to use, and helps to optimize your site for speed. Of course, for best performance, you should combine it with a CDN of your choice.

While caching is the core function of WP-Rocket, it helps with multiple things like:

  • CSS, JS, and HTML minification.
  • CSS and JS deferring.
  • CCSS or Critical CSS regeneration.
  • Prefetching DNS for third-party scripts.
  • WebP conversion for popular image formats.
  • Localizing web fonts.
  • Localizing Google Analytics.
  • Lazy loading images.

All these are important for improving core web vitals. Yes, when implemented properly, they can help you to minimize LCP or the largest contentful paint, FID or first input delay, and CLS or cumulative layout shift.

The good thing about WP-Rocket is that it is noob-friendly, and it makes implementation of those optimizations very simple with proper guidance.

The plugin will automatically optimize 80% of the best practices for optimization, and so, you have to perform only a few things.

LiteSpeed Cache

Just as powerful as WP-Rocket, LiteSpeed Cache is a product of LiteSpeed Technologies that gave the famous LiteSpeed web server.

It works best with a LiteSpeed or OpenLiteSpeed web server, but you can make it work on Apache or Nginx web server, as well. The only requirement is that you need to have QUIC.cloud CDN (also a product of LiteSpeed Technologies) for caching and image optimization using LQIP or Low Quality Image Placeholder.

The core features of LiteSpeed Cache are pretty much the same as that of WP-Rocket.

However, noobs will find it a little difficult to configure it, because it doesn’t automatically apply the recommended settings. It gives complete control into the hands of a user.

Just to repeat, here are the primary things you can do using LiteSpeed Cache to improve your core web vitals:

  • Minify CSS, JS, and HTML and even combine those files (not cross combination though).
  • Defer loading of CSS and JS files.
  • Regenerate CCSS.
  • Prefetch external DNS for third-party resources.
  • Localize and Google Analytics.
  • Create WebP versions of images.
  • Load Google fonts asynchronously, or completely remove Google fonts.

There is much more that LiteSpeed Cache can do for you. The only thing – you need to implement all the settings. If you are not sure of what to do and how to do, you will feel lost.

In case you want to give it a try (it is a free plugin with all the power of WP-Rocket), I have a full review and setup guide with proof showing the capabilities of LiteSpeed Cache.

If you are bold enough, and if you are not shy of trying out technical things, take it for a spin and see your core web vitals improving.

Jetpack Boost

Jetpack Boost is a very new plugin. It comes from the developers of Jetpack. So, if you want to use it, you have to make sure that you have the main Jetpack plugin installed and configured.

While Jetpack Boost is designed to improve your site core web vitals, it does only three things:

  • Optimize CSS loading and generate CCSS, leading to faster page load, especially on mobile devices.
  • Defer the loading of JavaScript files that are non-essential.
  • Lazy load images.

The thing is, while these three are very crucial, core web vitals is much more than those three.

You will have third-party scripts to deal with. There may be web fonts or Google fonts available on your site. Also, you may not have WebP versions of the images.

These are all vital things. You have to find different ways to fix those issues as well. Prefetching DNS, localizing Google Analytics, using WebP versions of images are all responsible for improving core web vitals.

So, while you can always use Jetpack Boost, make sure that you have other plugins for performing the left out tasks.

Autoptimize

Autoptimize is a caching plugin that can help you achieve a fast site with good core web vitals.

What I like about the plugin is its simplicity that highly contrasts its power. The free version is good enough, but if you need more advanced options, you need to upgrade.

What’s great about the plugin is its ability to minify and combine CSS, JS, and HTML files.

It injects CSS into the page header by default, but you are always free to inline the critical CSS and defer the remaining CSS, thereby ensuring that your website loads quickly.

The plugin also has support for WebP conversion, Google fonts optimization, asynchronous loading JS, emoji removal, and other such things that can speed up your site significantly. Did I mention that it can lazy load images, too!

Of course, while you are on HTTP/2 protocol, you don’t really need CSS and JS minification and combination, you can still use Autoptimize to improve your site speed.

WP-Optimize

Just like WP-Rocket, LiteSpeed Cache, and Autoptimize, WP-Optimize is a powerful caching plugin. The initial purpose of the plugin was to serve as a database optimization plugin, but it evolved.

Now, it has evolved to become a caching and image compression plugin, as well. While database optimization does help to speed up the site to some extent, the true magic unfolds with the remaining optimization.

It is an effective caching plugin with simple settings. Yes, there are not difficult settings to deal with, except when you want to exclude certain things from optimization.

The plugin will help you to compress your images using reSmush.it services. However, if you want lazy loading of your images, you need to purchase the premium version of the plugin.

As far as other optimization features are concerned, it will help you to minify and combine CSS, HTML, and JS files. It will even defer loading of non-essential JavaScript and make them load asynchronously.

What’s interesting is that it will even allow you to preload cache files. But use this feature with caution as it may strain your server resources.

The plugin will also allow you to prevent Google fonts from loading, or you can swap the font display in which the system fonts will load first to improve page load speed. System fonts will later be swapped with Google fonts.

I recommend not using this swapping feature as it will cause CLS issues most of the time.

Barring this font swapping and cache preloading functions, everything else is good enough to speed up your site significantly.

But I will still say that don’t think of WP-Optimize as something as powerful as WP-Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache. Nothing on this list can match those two.

ShortPixel Image Optimizer

I think you are smart enough to understand what this plugin can do. It is meant for optimizing your images. All it does is compresses the images you upload to your site.

In case you don’t know, images are one of the primary culprits for giving you a slow website. So, you should seriously think of image optimization.

Here is a bomb for you – studies show that 21% of a site’s page size comes from images! That’s an awfully large share.

ShortPixel is a lightweight plugin that can compress and optimize both images and PDF files (in case you have PDF files on your server).

You can bulk optimize the existing images, and for any new image upload, the plugin will automatically optimize them.

Interestingly, the plugin can compress images used by any gallery, ecommerce plugin, or slider.

Also, it can convert images into WebP and AVIX formats.

But is that all?

Well, that’s all! There is nothing more to this plugin.

Smush

Smush is yet another image optimization plugin. That’s all you get from this plugin. Developed by the WPMU DEV team, Smush is a lightweight plugin that will compress and optimize all images.

Smush can compress your images into WebP version, but that feature is available only and only for Pro users, that is, you need to purchase the premium version of the plugin.

There are some interesting features of this plugin. For starters, it gives lossless compression, but that’s something not so good, because it will retain the EXIF data. Lossy compression, on the other hand, is a much better compression technique.

The plugin can also lazy load your images and make them load only and only when a user scrolls down to them. Good thing is that the plugin will only defer loading offscreen (or below the fold) images. This will ensure that you are not experiencing CLS issues.

It can also detect incorrect image size so that you can fix them. You can smush entire image directories, and apply bulk smushing. You can set height and width that will allow the plugin to resize any image larger than your defined dimensions.

Hummingbird

Yet another plugin from WPMU DEV team, the Hummingbird plugin is a full-blown caching plugin that can help you to speed up your website. This plugin is quite powerful, to say the least.

It does have some great features that include:

  • Minify JS and CSS by removing any unnecessary characters and whitespaces that are useful only for human readers.
  • Defer CSS and JS that are non essential.
  • Inline essential CSS and JS scripts.
  • Apply effective browser caching and text compression.
  • Enable preload for prioritizing resources based on orders.
  • Enable prefetch or preconnect for external resources (third-party scripts served from different servers).
  • Deliver smaller JS payloads.
  • Lazy load images using Smush.

Though Hummingbird is not as insanely popular as WP-Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache, it is a very powerful tool that you can use with minimal complexity and configuration requirements.

That’s all for the list.

Conclusion

You can always try out other plugins. There is absolutely no shortage of such plugins. One easy thing that you can do for optimizing your website speed for mobile devices is to enable AMP.

The theme you are using may have AMP available. But if that is not available, you can go for any stand alone plugin like AMP. AMP will give a significant speed boost to your site on mobile devices. But there can also be a massive drop in your ad earnings from mobile devices.

At the end of the day, you should be wise and learn about the problems that are giving you bad core web vitals score. There are many things that you can resolve simply by changing your theme, or just by using lightweight SVG images instead of heavy JPG or PNG images.

It is not impossible to get a good score for core web vitals, but if you are not comfortable doing things by yourself, you can always go ahead and use one or some of the plugins mentioned above.

Happy optimizing!

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