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Save the Internet from WordPress speed abuse.

Updated: October 2017

6 minute read

Often blogs posted by other authors recommend “the best” plugins. We ignore these Disneyland fantasies fabricated by errant or evil bloggers.

Other times, the blatant ignorance and bad judgment overwhelms us. In a fit, we’re compelled to fight for speed truth.

Sounds dramatic, huh. But PagePipe’s credo – as you know – is: Save the Internet from WordPress abuse. PagePipe is the little David slinging stones at Goliaths. We rebel against web dogma. Sounds fierce (shiver).

Author Sam Hollis wrote a blog article over at Aweber titled, 17 WordPress Plugins Email Marketers Should Know About. Aweber is a company creating email marketing and autoresponder tools. Below are Hollis’ plugin recommendations. You’ll realize why we rebuttal his article. Reading it made our blood boil.


First up, Hollis claims you can increase traffic using an SEO optimization plugin. And he recommends none other than our favorite archenemy, Yoast SEO. Read our article about why Yoast SEO plugin is a waste of your time.

Google XML Sitemaps. THE CLAIM: Using Google XML Sitemaps helps search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo find your site. We say, Google finds and crawls every little thing fine without any sitemap. We do believe in sitemaps for content findability by users – not machines. We don’t mind helping Google do their job. We recommend an alternative lightweight plugin that does both HTML and XML sitemaps:

★★★★★
Simple WP Sitemap

Active Installs: 30,000+, compressed download: 75k

Smush Image Compression and Optimization. THE CLAIM: WP Smush plugin optimizes images for better page load times. Then author, Sam Hollis, blasphemes by stating, “Site speed is super important for SEO and general usability.” Speed doesn’t improve SEO. It improves UX. So he got it half right. But a half-truth is still wrong. He’s perpetuating the Google myth.

WP Smush plugin is the worst compression plugin in the WordPress directory. WP Smush compresses JPEGs by only 10 percent. That’s insignificant. Optimized JPEGs compress images by 10X and are visually lossless.  Read our article: WP Smush plugin doesn’t really help with speed.

The alternative we recommend instead:

★★★★★
Imsanity
200,000+ active installs, compressed download 152k

Read more about why here on PagePipe

Sam Hollis then recommends growing your email list with an Aweber account (naturally) using a signup form plugin: Sumo – 1.6MB download. We’re sorry. But there are other signup forms and services. We’re using alternative MailChimp API services with:

★★★★★
Easy Forms for MailChimp
60,000+ active installs, compressed download 3.7 MB

We’ve written about why here.

HelloBar plugin is Hollis’ next recommendation. It’s light package size of 105k is deceptive. It’s a SAAS plugin – meaning it makes calls to an offsite database and server. Third-party services load down websites. We explain in our article: Hello Bar plugin slows down your page speed


Contact Form 7.
Not again!
This is the oldest and slowest contact form. Read our review of faster form plugins. We recommend as a faster plugin alternative:

★★★★★
Simple Basic Contact Form
Active installs: 8,000+, compressed download 88k

AWeber Webform Widget. A blatant promotion for their services. Does anyone else care about these embedded advertisements eroding blog content credibility? Seriously. This conflict-of-interest recommendation is one of the BEST plugins? No bias there.

WooCommerce can process payments through your WordPress site. THE CLAIM: And it’s easy with a direct AWeber integration. What a coincidence! Another advertisement. They’re recommending selling eBooks. Doesn’t anyone write about how heavy WooCommerce is? There is actually a plugin called: WooCommerce Speed Drain Repair. We’ve never tested it. This plugin instructs WordPress to not load the huge variety of WooCommerce scripts unless the user is on a WooCommerce page. That’s selective activation of plugin loading. But the fact this “reduction” plugin exists indicates something foul, doesn’t it? How about substituting an alternative free plugin like:

★★★★★
Easy Digital Downloads
Active Installs: 60,000+, compressed download 4.2M

BuddyPress plugin. Why? THE CLAIM: To create a sense of belonging and exclusivity. To build a core group of customers as influencers who’ll speak about your brand on your behalf. Sorry. Excuse us while we barf. Does this touchy-feelie baggage help small-to-medium size web businesses? We’re thinking it’s a waste of time and plugin space. We don’t think this plugin is necessary.

AddThis plugin THE CLAIM: Generate social sharing buttons so your readers can  promote your content to their networks. AddThis inserts their tool next to each blog post. Is this plugin necessary? PagePipe doesn’t advocate social media as an effective marketing strategy for small to medium size web businesses. If you’re a celebrity, that’s different. Stick with email signups.

Leadin (HubSpot Marketing Free) THE CLAIM: This plugin is so you can track your leads and create more interest in content. This plugin allows you to set up analytics that capture information about your audience and what they are doing. You can track the content they read to find out and what works best. We’re suspicious. Is this an affliate link? Maybe not. But we don’t agree this third-party service is necessary. Remember: Third-party APIs cause speed deterioration. Repurpose WordPress Popular Posts plugin to determine what visitors view:

★★★★★
WordPress Popular Posts
Active installs: 200,000+, compressed download 122k

PDF Embedder THE CLAIM: Add an incentive to your sign up forms by offering a content upgrade or lead magnet. Host that document on your website. What’s a lead magnet? An irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information (email). Sounds disgusting. We sanitize the definition as, “The offer of valued proprietary intellectual property (downloadable PDF).”

We recommend instead combining two alternative plugins:

★★★★★
Beacon Plugin
Active Installs: 3,000+, compressed download 1.5M

and

★★★★★
SS Downloads
Active Installs: 1,000+, compressed download 177k

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) THE CLAIM: Cross promotion from within your site increases higher conversion. We have a speed article reviewing 38 related-post plugins. Read it here. We recommend:

★★★★★
WordPress Related Posts plugin
100,000+ active installs, compressed download 1.7M

Revive Old Post THE CLAIM: Automatically share posts to social media. It lets you set the interval and number to share based on what is performing the best. Our PagePipe philosophy is one of recycling Evergreen content and freshing it up. Do this judiciously and use your human brain. Not plugin automation.

Insert Headers and Footers THE CLAIM: It’s easy to embed a Facebook tracking pixel, Google Analytics script, or custom code that you create. We say, think real hard before you add these things. The only thing slowing down your site worse is GoogleAds. For faster Google Analytics, read our speed article, “How does Google Analytics affect mobile speed?”

Akismet THE CLAIM: This plugin helps combat spam and keep your comments and contact form submissions safe, clean and professional. PagePipe’s recommendation, “Disable comments.” Read our article about: “Should you use Aksimet anti-spam plugin?”

Wordfence Security THE CLAIM: A secure and protected site keeps your reputation in check. It makes your readers feel safer too. Read our PagePipe article with alternative, lightweight plugin suggestions: Do security plugins slow down WordPress?

Not a single one of Sam Hollis’ 17 wonderful plugins satisfies mobile speed strategy. No surprise we’re so hopping upset.

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


"Your site is the only one I've found that seems to take a serious approach to making a WordPress site fast. Everyone talks about the Yoast plugin, fast hosting, CloudFlare, but I haven't read about time to first byte, image compression or similar subjects elsewhere." medium.com/@nathanpen Texas, USA

by - Nathan Pennington