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23 Tips to Speed up WordPress Site for Better Performance

September 24, 2021

13 Min Read
speed up wordpress

During a technical audit, WordPress speed optimization should be a top priority. Users are quick to move away from pages with poor page loading speeds, but you can make use of numerous online tools that offer detailed insights on your website speed performance.

WordPress speed optimization starts with your WordPress web hosting. The process is not too different from the one used to optimize a website hosted on a shared or a dedicated server. For that reason, you might find some of the tools mentioned below, like Breeze, to be similar to what you’ve been using on your shared website.

Why Should You Speed up Your WordPress Site?

A poorly functioning admin panel will affect your work and your time efficiency when managing the website, especially as your dashboard might become difficult to handle.

Besides that, visitors won’t wait for your website to load either. If something is not working as they want it to, they’ll go away. And worse, many of them won’t ever come back.

A study by Portent in 2019 revealed that the first 5 seconds of the page load time has the highest impact on conversion rates. It also revealed that conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42 percent with every second of load time.

In 2019, Unbounce found out that people would rather have quicker load times than fancy animations and videos on the site. In 2017, Google stated that the probability of a user bouncing off your site increases by 32 percent as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds.

If you’re not convinced yet, check out this research conducted by Think With Google, which revealed how adversely poor page load times can affect bounce rates.

Core Web Vitals

Google uses Core Web Vitals to understand whether a user leaves your page satisfied or not, and page speed is a huge contributor to user experience. For example, Google will use page speed to analyze if your users are getting frustrated with your sluggish load time and bouncing off within seconds.

To improve your Core Web Vitals to speed up your WordPress site, you need to understand how it works. Core Web Vitals is broken into three elements, Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.

LCP is a measure of how long it takes for your page to load from the first click of the link to the majority of the content. It differs from other speed metrics such as TTFB because LCP measures page speed from the user’s point of view. Whether you check your LCP from Google PageSpeed Insights or your Google Search Console, you’ll receive a detailed analysis of the site elements that are affecting your LCP.

Range:

  • 0 to 2 seconds – Good
  • 3 to 4 seconds – Needs improvement
  • 5 to 6 seconds – Poor

The second Core Web Vital is First Input Delay or FID. This measures the time it takes for a user to interact with your page. An interaction could be defined as selecting a menu, filling a form, or searching for their preferred product on the search bar. So if your website is highly interactive, this is an important Core Web Vital that you should be working on.

Range:

  • 0 to 100ms – Good
  • 200ms to 300ms – Needs improvement
  • 400ms to 500ms – Poor

Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS measures how visually stable your page is as it loads. In simpler words, if images on your page move around while your page loads, then you have got a CLS problem that needs resolving. Google considers this a Core Web Vital because it is confusing to have a page element move to a different location once the page is completely loaded.

Range:

  • 0 to 0.1 – Good
  • 0.1 to 0.25 – Needs improvement
  • 0.25 to 0.3 – Poor

Check Your Core Web Vitals Now!

Use Our Free Google Page Experience Checker

How to Speed up WordPress Site?

Speed Up WordPress Site

Source: Techwyse

It is not necessary to try all of these solutions simultaneously for a faster WordPress website. Depending on your requirements, you can choose to use only a few of them.

So here we go!

1. Ask Your Cloud Hosting Provider

Before starting to take any actions, it’s recommended to ask your WordPress managed hosting provider for their product and compatibility with WordPress. They can give you some tips and ideas on how to make your WordPress site faster. This will help you with WordPress Speed Optimization efficiently and save your time.Cloud-Hosting-Provider

How can your web host improve your site speed?

When you are visiting a website, you are basically accessing files from a computer that is probably a hundred or thousands of miles away from you. That server has to complete tasks such as execute code, run database queries, and serve files in order for your web page to load. The quicker that server completes these tasks, the faster your site loads.

What determines the speed of your server? A dedicated server is quicker because the resources are not shared among other websites which means you get optimum performance any time of the day. A dedicated server can speed up your WordPress site because you get the server all to yourself. You never have to worry about bumping up against the limits of your server.

A bigger server is definitely faster than a smaller one. For example, an 8GM RAM, 50GB SSD hard drive with a 2 core processor will complete those tasks much quicker than a server with fewer resources.

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2. Install an Effective Caching Plugin

One of the most popular methods to increase the speed of your site is using a cache plugin. A caching plugin will store the final view of your site for any future visitors. This means that your WordPress won’t have to generate it for every following person viewing the site. This data can include HTML, JS and CSS code, images, fonts, and Flash files.

WordPress Cache Pluginbreeze

Breeze improves the user experience of your site by increasing the performance of a WordPress site, reducing the download times and providing one-click content delivery network integration.

Breeze is a Hassle-Free WordPress cache plugin that takes away the complexities of top-rated caching plugins.

Features:

  • Compatible WordPress, WooCommerce, and WordPress Multisite.
  • Minification
  • Gzip Compression
  • Supports Varnish
  • Browser caching
  • Grouping of static files
  • Database Optimization
  • File Exclusions

Before choosing and installing a plugin by yourself, ask your hosting provider if they prefer a particular caching plugin.

3. Content Delivery Network Won’t Disappoint You

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is also another important option for speeding up your WordPress site. WordPress CDN offers better loading times for your website, no matter what kind of site you run.Cloud-Hosting-with-CDN

There are some great options you could try, like CloudwaysCDN, CloudFlare, and jsDelivr.

CloudwaysCDN is an easy-to-use CDN that provides one-click integration with your WordPress site at the cost of only $1/25GB/month.

Features:

  • HTTPs Supported
  • Single-Click Integration
  • Affordable
  • Global Reach

Cloudflare offers a basic free plan that includes fast site performance, stats about your visitors, and security protection. Cloudflare uses a technology called Anycast, which will route your visitors to the nearest data center. It operates in more than 28 data centers around the globe.

Features:

    • Mobile optimization
    • A global network to serve fast DNS
    • Analytics of your website traffic
    • Apps for a faster, safer, and one-click simpler site

jsDelivr is a free product that allows any developer to host their files, such as CSS, JavaScript, jQuery plugins, and fonts. Cloudflare and MaxCDN support it.

4. Look for Inactive Plugins or for Plugins that Don’t Work Properly

Another way to speed up your WordPress site is by verifying if your current plugins are working correctly. Plugins and tools can sometimes cause lag in your website, rendering it slow to load.

To do the tests, you can get another plugin. It’s called the Query Monitor. This plugin is free and once installed, it will report any performance problems with your website.

If you find plugins that slow down your website, remove them or try to find other performance plugins for your WordPress site.

Also, keeping a large number of active plugins will affect your WordPress site speed.

5. Compress Media Files

Uploading very large images and videos will significantly slow your WordPress site down. For that reason, another solution to speed up a WordPress site is to compress your media files.

image compression

There’s a free plugin for WordPress that can reduce all your image dimensions automatically, so there’s no need to do this repeatedly for each picture. Alternatively, you can also try out WP Compress – an excellent image optimization plugin.

In short, smaller files will allow your pages to load better and the compressed media files are good for WordPress speed optimization.

6. Compress Your WordPress site’s Size

The smaller your website size is, the faster it will load.

GZip compression can reduce the size of your website content by about 70 percent. A website, after being compressed, loads faster due to the reduction in bandwidth.

GZip compression can be done by simply installing and activating the Breeze WordPress cache plugin. It would help you to get a good performance grade on website testing tools as well as speed up your WordPress site.

7. Check if the Website and the Database are in the Same Data Center

Check if your WordPress site and the database are located in the same data center. Proximity is always important when talking about hosting and servers. Having the website and its database in the same data center makes the process of fetching posts and working with the database easier and smoother, thus optimizing website performance.

To find out the location of your server, ask your hosting providers. Sometimes, companies show their server locations during the signup process too.

8. Optimize Your WordPress site’s Homepage

Another thing you can do to speed up your WordPress site is to optimize your homepage. Make it look simpler, without clustered content and useless widgets or tools.

Also, don’t show the posts at their full length. You can show only the first paragraph or a specific excerpt from the text. Displaying too many posts on the same page could cause a longer loading time as well.

The cleaner your homepage is, the quicker it will load.

9. Update Update Update

Keep your WordPress updated at all times. Whether it is a plugin or a theme, keep in mind that they stay up to date at all times. If there is a new patch available, try to test each update on a WordPress staging site before applying it on a live site.

10. Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is a term used when one website uses another’s resources. For example, if someone has copied an image from your site, once his website is loaded, it loads the image from your website. This means that it is consuming bandwidth and resources from your server.

In simpler words, you can say that hotlinking is a clunky bandwidth “killer”.

To avoid such hijacking, you just need to put the below lines in your WordPress .htaccess file

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?EXAMPLE.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?feeds2.feedburner.com/EXAMPLE [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

As you can see that we’ve excluded Feedburnerimages so that they can appear correctly in your live feeds.

11. Minify JavaScript and CSS Files

If you test your WordPress website with Google PageSpeed Insights or ySlow, you’ll be prompt up with a warning to minify JavaScript and CSS files. That means you need to reduce JS and CSS calls to reduce server response time and minify file sizes. By reducing them, you’ll observe site-loading speed becomes much faster than before. This will eventually help you to save bandwidth usage.

There are many ways to minify. You can do it manually or by using a WordPress cache plugin “Breeze”. However, there are other plugins too like Autoptimize.

12. Use Light Weight Theme

There are many shiny and beautiful themes in the WordPress market. But don’t forget, themes with a lot of dynamic content, widgets, slider, sidebar, etc., can cause your hosting server to respond slowly.

Always optimize your WordPress theme or use a lightweight WordPress theme. The default WordPress themes can be enough if you want to run a blogging website. For more features, you can use themes that are built on Bootstrap and Foundation.

13. Control Post Revisions

No doubt, post revision is a great feature in WordPress. But, not every feature is feasible for everyone. There are few users with low disk and database space.

In post revisions, every time you change the content, a new copy of the post is saved in the database rather than deleting the previous one. So that you can always have a chance to revert. It increases the database size, and a large size database can cause many problems.

You can limit the frequency to autosave a post. From the root folder of your WordPress installation, open the wp-config file with any file editor and write any of the below code before the code require_once(ABSPATH . ‘wp-settings.php’);

Limit Post Revision:

define ('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

It will limit the number of revisions to 3. Meaning, your WordPress will confine itself to save only three revisions.

Disable Post Revision:

define ('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false);

It will totally disable post revision for your WordPress site. It’s not the best practice to completely disable.

Increase Autosave Interval

define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 300 ); // seconds

You can also set the frequency to autosave a post. 300 seconds means, your post will be autosaved every 5minutes rather than the default settings.

14. Remove Useless Widgets & Social Sharing Buttons

WordPress users often get carried away when it comes to widgets. Users feel like they should install as many as they can to make their website more functional, not knowing that these widgets come at a cost apart from their price. Widgets tend to bulk up your website, which results in sluggish load times as it generates a significant amount of requests on the front end. Plus, each request means an additional call to the database

The best solution to speed up your WordPress website, in this case, is to keep your widgets to a minimum and use just the ones that your website really needs. For other functionalities, you can also use codes, a much less resource-intensive way of making your site functional.

15. Reduce External Scripts & HTTP Requests

Themes and plugins are often stuffed with external scripts that call various resources including JavaScript, CSS, fonts, and images.

By checking the website’s source code, you will come across some scripts that you are not familiar with. The best way to speed up your WordPress websites is to reduce as many external HTTP requests as possible and host them separately.

16. Optimize the WordPress Database

For WordPress speed optimization, you need to optimize your WordPress database. Just like your computer’s hard drive, your WordPress database gets filled with junk that you don’t need. An unoptimized WordPress database slows down your website over time. The simple solution for that is to clean it up from time to time.

You can either use a database optimization plugin to clean your WordPress database, or you can manually free up your database from garbage that you don’t need to speed up your WordPress website.

17. Reduce Calls to Database & Use Database Cache

Many WordPress themes are poorly coded and there is a high chance that you might be using one that sends unnecessary calls to the database. In this case, it is vital that you replace any unwanted PHP and database calls with simple HTML.

Redis and Memcached are two caching mechanisms that help in speeding up your WordPress site by caching all the requests. This way takes less time to serve the most frequent requests.

18. Use a Better Database or Host It Separately

It is vital that you use a reputable database for your WordPress website. MySQL is most commonly used by hosting providers due to its reliability and performance alongside MariaDB and PostgreSQL.

When switching a host, it is important that you research what database they are providing, since it is a huge determinant of your site’s speed. Also, if your host has support for MariaDB, I would suggest that you move your database there for better speed.

19. Adding Google Fonts

WordPress users often use Google Fonts for their website because of its extensive library and the fact that it is hosted separately on a different server, which significantly reduces the load on the server.

While using Google Fonts is a great way to jazz up your website, you should be aware of how to make the most of it to speed up your WordPress website.

First, you need to ensure that you pre-load the Google Fonts to optimize your website for speed. Second, it is always advised that you host your Google Fonts locally, which means downloading the fonts file onto your local system. Though this method omits the reliance on a third party when using a font, it also prevents auto-updates, so you will need to update the fonts manually. Lastly, use as few font variants as possible because the more font variants you use, the longer it takes for them to download.

20. Paginate Comments

Comments are a common feature, especially for WordPress blogs. If it’s a popular one, chances are that your comment section will comprise hundreds of comments that will require resources in order to load.

Paginating comments is a good practice to speed up your WordPress site. It allows users to load comments on demand, so only those who are interested in the comment section will be able to see it. You can accomplish this by navigating to Settings > Discussions.

21. Paginate Long-Form Content

Aside from paginating comments, you can also paginate long-form content in order to shorten the length of the page to load it quickly. Another benefit of breaking down your content into pages is that it improves readability and makes it easier to consume.

Most themes have the option of paginating content from the backend, but if you can’t find it, just open the single.php file in your editor and add <?php wp_link_pages(); ?> in the WP loop.

22. Lazy Load Images

Lazy loading is an age-old technique for WordPress speed optimization, where the images are loaded as the user scrolls down the page. The idea is to not load all the elements of the page at once as it puts stress on the server resulting in slower load times. Rather it loads images as and when the user reaches the part of the page where the image is placed.

There are a number of lazy load plugins that you can use to implement this technique.

23. Use Third Party Platforms for Visual Content

While videos are a good way to engage your audience, they do tend to take up a significant amount of server resources to load. The best way to speed up your WordPress website in this case is to host your videos separately on video hosting services such as Youtube or Vimeo.

You can upload the videos on YouTube or Vimeo, and use the embed code to add them to your page. This way, your videos won’t use your server to load and will free up resources for other elements.

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Summary

These are a few of the solutions you can try and implement for improving the speed of the WordPress site. If you would like to read more about the capabilities of good web hosting for WordPress, check out this Cloudways review by CollectiveRay.

If there’s something important I have missed, don’t hesitate to speak up in the comments.

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Mustaasam Saleem

Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at [email protected]

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