12 Unconventional Speed Tips #9723

WordPress Mobile Speed


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Your site is doing great. We appreciate your proactive stance on speed. Providing the best user experience is web hospitality – especially for mobile users.

The last report page contains real-time browser timer results. Numbers are in milliseconds and compared to what Pingdom reports. The numbers match pretty well. That’s a good sign of a healthy site.

Notice your slowest pages are also your most trafficked pages. You may be shoehorning too much into these pages. Think about it as you move forwards.

We’ve got suggestions to make your site faster. And more speed experiments to do in the staging area. But it’s time to present a little speed strategy. Since your site is doing well, you have the luxury of cherry-picking suggestions you want us to put in place. Feedback is welcome.

No big surprises since we’ve talked about some of these ideas already.

You have 31 active plugins.

The average number is 25. But we’ve found if we install 50 substitutes (double), sites go faster. Speed has nothing to do with the number of plugins. Our goal isn’t to go crazy installing plugins. Every plugin causes at least 1-millisecond delay – often globally. “Site drag” is what we call global plugin activation on all pages and posts. Plugins don’t publish these specs. The biggest culprits for site drag are popular and premium plugins and themes. Go figure. Paying to slow down your site?

This plugin report is a brain dump.
There is no hierarchy of importance or value to my list of suggestions. I’m going down the plugin list alphabetically. You decide the ones you like most.

Akismet Anti-Spam
We’ve discussed this. It’s a paid plugin. $60 per year. In 8 years, you will recapture our site tuning fee. Think about it. One plugin ROI. Nice.

We recommend substituting the free Antispam Bee plugin. It has over a half million active installs. It’s a straight forward no-nonsense plugin. But what we like even better is disabling comments completely. Some site owners don’t realize this is a possibility. It’s a relief when they can offload comments on social media. Or get rid of them completely. https://wordpress.org/plugins/antispam-bee/

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/anti-spam-disable-comments-with-a-plugin-and-get-rid-of-akismet-too/ password: pagepipe

Contact Form 7

This is a heavy plugin causing site drag – even when the shortcode isn’t used on any page of your site. It isn’t the heaviest form plugin but it’s one of them. Instead of making you get rid of it in shame, let’s keep it and use selective activation.

Selective activation limits plugin functions to only relevant pages. Sweet. We don’t have to slow the entire site. We use our fork of an obscure plugin called “Plugin Logic.” The PagePipe branded plugin is SpeedSwitch. We sell it as part of a speed kit. For you, free. How generous. No expiration.

In theory, we should selectively activate the same URLs for the Contact Form 7 Salesforce Pro plugin. But you tell us. Is it used on other pages?


We’ve never seen a chat plugin that doesn’t slow down pages big time. This is our first encounter with Drift. It’s on our list but we’ve never tested it. We do have data from others who have (see link below). Some site owners confess they only put chat on the site to appear cool and trendy. They then dump it when they find out the speed cost. If you’re making money with it, fine. Keep it.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/dumping-livechat-for-speed/


We use Elementor when we have the luxury of server headroom (aka expensive hosting). Kinsta has the headroom because of its good TTFB. Be conscious using the pro version doubles the plugin load time. Some people buy it. Install it. And then never use its features. Paying for it every year. We write about Elementor a lot. People think we’re haters. We don’t hate Elementor. We hate the designers who abuse it.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/how-elementor-page-builder-affects-mobile-page-speed/

Skim it. Or don’t. Are we recommending removing Elementor? Not for a minute.

We’ve removed pagebuilders during speed site rebuilds. Be aware Gutenberg block editor soon will be a pagebuilder – and much faster than Elementor. How much faster? We guess 300 to 500 milliseconds faster depending upon the complexity of the site build. Why faster? Because Gutenberg is part of core.

Enable Media Replace

We like this plugin. We use it on PagePipe. We like the ShortPixel company. Their people are nice. Keep this plugin deactivated until needed for maintenance or media repair work. That’s how we use it. It slows down the site while not doing anything. The same as leaving the light on in the attic.

The same goes for disabling the following 5 other maintenance-related plugins: Health Check & Troubleshooting, Media Cleaner, ShortPixel Image Optimizer (yes!), WordPress importer, and WP-Sweep. Turn them on only when you need them.

ShortPixel Image Optimizer

We have no complaints here but I’ve attached a PDF (CRUSH.ME) about image optimization. We prefer Imsanity free plugin. But only because it never costs anything. And is local-server compression instead of a remote API.

Essential Addons for Elementor

Any plugin labeled “essential” immediately arouses contempt. We know what that word means – a multi-function boat anchor. So check you’re leveraging it. If not, find workarounds. We’ve experimented with it. We don’t recommend it. Is it worth trying to get rid of? Usually.

Wordfence Security

We already talked about this plugin. And why it’s already deactivated.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/is-there-any-lightweight-firewall-plugin-substitute-for-wordfence-security-plugin/

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/free-discrete-plugins-replace-bloated-security-plugins/

The plugins in these articles are the ones we can install for you. Fast plugins we use on all our sites.

WP Rocket

We love their blog about speed. They speak the truth – except about specsmanship of their products. We always remove their plugin and install freebies instead. Why? To save money. Lower annual overhead. The results are the same. And believe it or not, WP Rocket adds a small amount 40-milliseconds globally to site drag. What? Does a speed plugin do that? We could install 40 discreet plugins. OK. We’re showing off now.


WP SEO Structured Data Schema
Schema is great for the Library of Congress and universities with massive databases. For normal websites, there is no proven SEO benefit. So why waste a plugin slot. Your call.

Yoast SEO Premium

We can’t talk about Yoast SEO without foaming at the mouth.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/autodescription-seo-plugin-and-mobile-speed/

Plugin Changes

1. Removed 4 plugins

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • AMP
  • Wordfence Security
  • WP SEO Structured Data Schema

2. Deactivated plugins: use only for maintenance

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/dont-slow-down-your-site-with-a-broken-link-checker-plugin/

    • Broken Link Checker
    • Enable Media Replace
    • Health Check & Troubleshooting
    • Media Cleaner
    • Salient Core
    • WordPress Importer
    • WP-Sweep
    • Yoast Duplicate Post

3. Installed security plugins

    • Limit Login Attempts Reloaded

setting: Maximum 9 allowed retries

    • Block Bad Queries (BBQ)

No settings needed.

    • Email Address Encoder

Selected: Hide notices and promotions for all users

NOTE: Your page designers can now safely publish:

info [at] domainname [dot] com

as clickable email address and make it a link. It will be automatically encoded on the fly and hidden from SPAM BOTS.

(located in footer and on contact and download pages)

4. Installed, tested and removed SpeedSwitch plugin

  • Selectively activated Contact Form 7 plugins
  • Contact Form 7 Salesforce Pro
  • Contact Form 7
  • Contact Form Entries
  • Redirection for Contact Form 7

That caused form failure. Removed the SpeedSwitch plugin. Restored.

Tested the form. And received download.
Then unsubscribed from MailChimp list.

5. Cleared WP Rocket Cache and server cache.

6. Removed phantom plugin Worker by GoDaddy with Kinsta help.

Change in TTFB

Kinsta TTFB (server overhead) was slower in the final test by 154 milliseconds average. Peaking at 748 milliseconds TTFB. A unencumbered TTFB test was done with an HTML file (no core, no theme, no plugins). The result was a weightless TTFB of 497 milliseconds. We consider this average to mediocre.

On average anything with a TTFB under 100 ms is fantastic. Anything between 200 – 500 ms is standard and anything between 500 ms and 1 s is less than ideal. Anything greater than 1 s should likely be investigated further. Jan 28, 2020” – KeyCDN


Steve Teare
performance engineer


More Unconventional Speed Tips from PagePipe

Instead of band-aid approaches, we drill down to the root cause of your slow site. This is origin optimization. Also known as site tuning. To do this, we analyze site components:

  • Hosting
  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Scripts and third-party services.
  • Images and media library.
  • We minimize globally loading plugin effects.

Find out more details about Site TuningGet Speed!


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