The loading time of your sites is one of the most important aspects of a website. Finding ways to speed up WordPress is a legitimate concern for website owners.
Google has indicated that website speed is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. Their April Mobilegeddon update and the April 2015 AMP project were designed to help websites optimize their speed and structure for mobile browsers with a focus on portability. Online customer satisfaction matters to Google, and this is how they build and manage their algorithm.
At the same time, visitors expect that it will take less than 2 seconds for a web page to load, and after more than 3 seconds, they close that website’s tab faster than it takes to load the entire page. Achieving this speed is nearly impossible if your WordPress website has countless plugins for every feature, or if your WordPress hosting provider is making your website overall slow.
Google has been using site speed as a search ranking factor since 2010. Their internal research even found that when a website is slow to respond, visitors are more likely to spend less time browsing. For this reason, even if site speed is just one of the many signals that Google’s algorithm takes into account for ranking, you should still take action as your visitors care about loading speed. Research shows that longer load times negatively impact conversions.
A glance from the SEO blog, Search Engine Land, noticed that Google was testing the big red ugly tag “SLOW” in mobile search results.
The reason visitors care so much about loading times is because attention intervals are getting shorter. Eight seconds seems average, Microsoft Corp. found, and is shorter than nine seconds of a goldfish. This is especially true for younger audiences who switch to another task when nothing is taking their attention during their allotted time.
There are hundreds of reasons your site might be lagging. You just need to know how to tackle and solve them.
Here are the top ways to speed up WordPress. Your visitors should enjoy their time on your site and all that it has to offer, instead of leaving before it even loads.
When talking about website speed, many publishers – WordPress users or not – will argue that this is a really important factor that needs to be constantly maintained for the reason that it can directly affect user experience. Its effect is so great that in fact 40% of internet users said they would leave a website that took more than 3 seconds to load.
In today’s world where people’s attention span is shrinking, all website owners need to understand the importance of speed as a key factor in overall user experience and therefore an important signal for ranking on search engine result pages.
I recently presented at WordCamp Sydney my best 99 ways you can reduce your website load time and improve WordPress server side, server side and server side performance.
Here are the 25 best methods you need to speed up your WordPress site and make your site load faster as a slideshow.
Test your website speed first
Before you start speeding up your WordPress site, it is important to have an idea of how fast your site’s initial speed is. The data you collect will be used as a reference when applying the tips below.
Here are some of the online tools that can help you identify the parts of your site that might be causing bottlenecks:
Google PageSpeed Insights – Just enter your website URL and get a speed score for mobile and desktop, and some suggestions for fixing problem areas.
Pingdom Website Speed Test – Evaluates all parts of your web page and provides a performance plan along with the score and recommendations.
GTmetrix – Ranks your site by giving you both PageSpeed and YSlow, informing you about page load time, page size and number of requests made, and solutions to improve your site.
WTF is this an HTTP request? – in this article, I’m talking about reducing the number of HTTP requests your WordPress site makes. Without getting too technical, an HTTP request is made every time an image, style sheet, or script is uploaded to your WordPress site. A general top tip for improving your WordPress website load time is to reduce the number of individual HTTP requests your WordPress website has to make to display.
3. Use proper WordPress hosting
Every building should be built on a solid foundation. Fast, reliable, and secure dedicated WordPress web hosting providers like WP Engine or Pagely are the solid foundation to build your WordPress websites. Quality and reliability are far more important factors than cheap shared hosting because it will slow your WordPress website down.
Invest in a proper WordPress web host from the beginning and lay the foundations for a high-performance, fast loading WordPress website.
If you’re running an e-commerce website or your website uses a lot of different content such as videos or infographics, then make it a priority to find a reliable hosting provider. If you’re really serious about your website, ditch those free or shared hosting services and opt for quality managed hosting instead.
If you’re just starting out, it’s often ok to use less reliable shared hosting providers like siteground since they’re cheaper. But if you are growing or running a business then it is imperative you take advantage of dedicated hosting since it will allow more bandwidth allocation and other extra perks that shared hosting services don’t have.
1. Deploy to CDN – use StackPath or Cloudflare
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are affordable and relatively easy ways to speed up your WordPress site. If your WordPress site serves a global audience, then deploying your WordPress site on a CDN should be a breeze.
In addition to speeding up the delivery of your content to your visitors, it also reduces your latency as it reduces the distance between the server and endpoint computer compared to shared hosting or managed hosting services that only use one server.
KeyCDN’s website latency test found that a website using a CDN can instantly reduce latency by 73%.
Some of the best free CDN providers are CloudFare and Jetpack. StackPath (formerly MaxCDN) is a paid service and is built into leading hosting providers like WP Engine.
2. Cache your site – use W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
According to the WordPress Codex, one of the safest ways to speed up WordPress is by setting a cache. Installing a caching plugin on your WordPress site is a fast, easy, and free way to dramatically speed up your WordPress site.
This can dramatically improve your website’s loading speed, even if you are using shared hosting. It works by displaying a static copy of your website, rather than executing every bit of PHP and making database queries for every visit, which saves tons of traffic.
If you enjoy playing with a lot of settings to get the best performance out of your WordPress site, use W3 Total Cache. If you want an easy install and forget solution, use WP Super Cache.
3.Use the right WordPress hosting
Every building must be built on a solid foundation. Fast, reliable, and secure WordPress web hosting providers like WP Engine or Pagely are a solid foundation for building your WordPress websites. Quality and reliability are much more important factors than cheap shared hosting because it will slow down your WordPress site.
Invest in the right WordPress web hosting from the get-go and lay the foundations for a high-performance, fast-loading WordPress site.
If you use an e-commerce website or your website uses a lot of different content such as videos or infographics, then prioritize finding a reliable hosting provider. If you’re really serious about your website, ditch these free or shared hosting services and opt for quality managed hosting instead.
If you’re just starting out, it is often possible to use less reliable shared hosting providers like siteground as they are cheaper. But if you are developing or running a business, you should definitely go for Dedicated Hosting, as it will allow you to allocate more bandwidth and other additional perks that shared hosting services do not have.
4. Compress images using the 70/35 image compression rule
Visuals often convert better than textual ones, especially if you’re selling a product/service that has visual appeal. Optimizing your images is one of the best ways to speed up WordPress as it helps reduce your website’s load time.
Most of the time, the only big element on a web page that slows down loading times is the media. You can reduce the file size of an uncompressed image to a tenth of its original size using standard quality compression.
Generally, try reducing the uncompressed image quality to 35% in a graphics editor such as Photoshop. If the quality is too low, try progresivley, increasing the quality by no more than 70% until you reach the point between quality / file size.
Other ways to optimize your images are as follows:
Choose the correct file format for images. JPG Images are best for photographs.
You can use the plugin if you prefer not to do the manual work in Photoshop. Ewww Image Optimizer is a good WordPress plugin.
5. Compress your images (Pt1) – Use PNGGauntlet
A quick, easy and free way to reduce the size of PNG files is to run them through PNGGauntlet. The app optimizes compression settings, removes unnecessary metadata and unnecessary color profiles from your PNGs, reducing the image file size.
6. Compress Your Images (Pt2) – Use ImageOptim
ImageOptim is a PNGauntlet alternative for Mac, but it supports more file formats such as JPEG / JPG.
7. Compress Your Images (Pt3) – Use ImageAlpha
ImageAlpha writes your PNG24 files to lossy PNG8 + alpha format. This allows you to control quality parameters such as JPG by reducing the number of color swatches contained in the PNG.
8. Avoid images for design effects – use CSS3 *
If you want to use a gradient, picture or shadow in your WordPress site design, try creating it in CSS3, not an image. Since all WordPress sites use a CSS stylesheet, your WordPress website does not need to make additional HTTP requests to upload a gradient image file to upload to your web page.
In order to reduce page load times, especially on mobile devices, you want to keep the number of HTTP requests your WordPress website makes on load to be as small as possible.
9. For basic images, convert them to BASE64 code – use Patternify *
A great way to reduce the number of HTTP requests your WordPress website loads is to convert simple small images to BASE64 code. For example, our Web3 icon that appears in the upper left corner when loading the Web3 home page is not an image, but a line of BASE64 code.
Why did we do it? Because that’s one less HTTP request than our website needs to make to display in your browser, as the BASE64 line of code is served from our site’s main stylesheet.
10. Consider using font icons above images for a basic interface
Using the Font Icon family instead of images is another great way to reduce the number of HTTP requests your WordPress site makes.
One well-designed and extensive Font Icon family like Font Awesome can contain most of the basic user interface elements on your site, like arrows, icons, menu icons.
Since your website only needs one HTTP request to download the font icon family versus multiple HTTP requests to download each individual image in your UI, the result is often a more efficient website.
11. Limit font icons – use Iconmoon app *
A common mistake developers make when using a font family like FontAwesome is that all 500+ font icons are included in the font file when the site actually uses only a small handful.
You can use the Iconmoon app to create your own font icon family by selecting only the font icons you intend to use. The result is a much smaller font family file, which results in faster page rendering.
12. Optimize Your CSS – Use Code Beautifier *
A good practice to follow after you’ve finished writing your stylesheets is to run it through the Code Beautifier app. This will remove unnecessary junk from your CSS file and reduce its size.
13. Load prefixes dynamically – use Prefix Free *
If your WordPress website uses many different browser prefixes, you should consider using the Prefix Free script. Prefix Free is a lightweight script that detects which browser your visitor is using and dynamically serves only the prefixes your website needs to display in that visitor’s browser.
Since most modern browsers support a native version of the CSS3 tag, it’s faster to include prefixes only when needed. This results in a smaller style sheet for visitors, which makes your site load faster.
14. Limit your use of Google Font families and fonts.
Google Fonts is a good resource for using custom fonts on your WordPress site. However, it can slow down your site if you go overboard with the number of font families and font weights you choose to use.
It is best to limit your Google font selection to no more than two font families and 2-3 font weights in those font families.
15. Focus on Your Site – Use Mobile First Design Principles
The design philosophy for mobile is made more relevant by Google’s emphasis on mobile usability. In short, the “mobile first” philosophy means conceptualizing, designing and developing a website for a mobile viewport, not a desktop.
For a full analysis on this topic, read my speech from WordCamp Melbourne: “Mobile First Design and Development for WordPress”
16. Host your media queries on mobile devices *
From a development standpoint, making your WordPress site mobile means your style sheet media queries need to be mobile.
As browsers read and execute stylesheets from top to bottom, you can reduce the render times of your website on mobile by placing your mobile CSS first, before your desktop CSS.
Create Ico file using slate icon
18. Consider using inline CSS for a little CSS above the fold to reduce render times above the fold *
This is because your website doesn’t need to load external files to display the initially visible elements on the page, since the code already exists.
You can use Google PageSpeed information to see if this technique can improve your website’s render time beyond render time.
21. Avoid Bloated Plugins – Use P3 Plugin Performance Profiler
If your WordPress site is slow and uses a lot of plugins, you should install and run the P3 Performance profiler plugin. The plugin will analyze how much the performance of each plugin is degraded from your WordPress site.
To do this, you need to consider removing them.
Selects only icons that are needed in IcoMoon
22. Lazy loading images and scripts below the fold – use Unveil.js *
If your WordPress website uses a lot of images / content on every page, then you should consider implementing a lightweight Unveil.js script. Unveil.js lazy loads images and content just before your users scroll down to see them.
23. Host videos and other large files off-site to reduce server load and bandwidth
In most website hosting scenarios, it is best to host the video on a server separate from your own WordPress web server in order to reduce the amount of bandwidth.
Video hosting services like Wistia work very well with WordPress and can help improve your site’s performance by taking the bandwidth requirements off your web server.
24. Clean Up Your Site Database – Use WP Optimize
Over time, your WordPress website database collects junk files in the form of comments, page / post revisions, trackbacks, pingbacks, etc. WP Optimize erases all these accumulated junk files in your database to make your WordPress website run better …
Think of it as changing the oil in your car, but for your WordPress site.
25. Consider building your next WordPress website from a lightweight platform *
When building your WordPress site from a lightweight framework, you can only include the CSS, scripts and plugins you need. Building your website from a feature rich premium theme often results in only a quarter of the theme’s built-in functionality being used.
This leaves you with unnecessary and bloated programs that can slow down the performance of your WordPress website. Build using a work-optimized environment like our Tri or Genesis theme, and include only what your website needs to achieve its goal.
Strive for simplicity over features, as you will find that most of the “premium” themes you buy will have 80% of the unused features.
You can test demos of your chosen WordPress theme with the aforementioned online speed tests. The results will give you an idea of how well your chosen topics are coded.
Did you like these tips? Want even more? Then grab your free copy of my book 99 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site and load your site in milliseconds!
Bonus speed tip # 1. Avoid cluttering your site with unnecessary plugins
If you’re asking if too many plugins can slow down your WordPress site, the answer is definitely yes. While one of the key differences that sets WordPress apart from other platforms is its wide range of plugins, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to install all the plugins you see.
To give you some idea, the typical load time for an empty website (no plugins installed) is only 419 milliseconds. However, installing 20 or more plugins can dramatically increase your site’s load time from 1 to over 3 seconds – enough to drive off most of your site visitors.
When choosing plugins, remember to focus on quality over quantity. Here are some tips for managing plugins:
Check your site speed before and after installing the plugin
Use the Performance Profiler plugin
how to speed up-wordpress-image7
Extra Speed Up WordPress Tip # 2: Upgrade PHP Version
For beginners, PHP is a dynamic scripting language for building dynamic interactive websites like WordPress. WordPress uses PHP to execute its code to create web pages. PHP version has a huge impact on the performance of your WordPress site.
In fact, the Kinsta Managed Hosting benchmark showed PHP 7 to be almost 2x faster than its previous version. Many websites that have been hosted on shared hosting for several years will almost certainly not use PHP 7.
An update, however, may result in some older features no longer being supported; although most of the modern themes available today do not encounter occasional errors when using an updated version of PHP. You just need to talk to your hosting provider and ask him how you can upgrade to the new version.
Additional WordPress acceleration. Tip # 3: clean up the database and limit the number of revisions
After you’ve been using your WordPress site for a while, your database will contain unused, orphaned, and duplicated data that you don’t need. Deleting this data can reduce the size of your database, dramatically speed up the backup process, and more importantly, restore the overall performance of your website.
To do this, you can simply install a plugin like WP-Optimize, which will allow you to get the job done with ease.
Subsequent revisions also take up space in your database, so it is recommended that you limit the number of drafts you save to a maximum of 2 or 3 that will serve as your backups.
Just add this line of code to your wp-config.php file: define (‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3);
How to Speed Up WordPress Tip # 4: Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks
WordPress sends and receives pings and trackbacks from other sites by default. This happens when other sites mention your site, which, in turn, notifies you and, upon approval, updates the data in your post.
This can lead to irrelevant links being added to your site, which can cause confusion for your visitors, as well as affect the performance of your site.
To turn off pingback and trackback notifications on your WordPress website, log into your dashboard, then go to Settings> Discussion and uncheck “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)”. You can also use a plugin like Disabler that allows you to disable ping caused by internal communication.
Strong control over your website speed will give your website a significant boost, not only for search engines, but also for your audience and customer experience. Having a speed-optimized website can help you drive more traffic to your site, as well as increase the number of satisfied users, which can ultimately turn into sales.
Did you like these tips? Want even more? Just a reminder: grab yourself a free copy of my 99 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site eBook and load your site in milliseconds!