12 Proven Tips that Can Speed Up Your WordPress Website Performance

speed-up-wordpress

Did you know that every month the amount of new content publishes on WordPress-hosted websites tops 64.3 million which by calculation is more than 2 million daily! Huge numbers, right? Well, it’s not the only thing that can amaze you today, as posted on WordPress website – a total number of pages views surpassed 22.7 billion which accounts a large share in the CMS market. If we talk about the market share, WordPress is undoubtedly the leader and attracts more bloggers, businesses, and almost everyone on the Internet.

With such a great success of WordPress, there are some issues that people reported for WordPress sites. Among all, WordPress speed issues list on top. Website speed is always a big concern for netizens and site owners, and no one likes to wait for a long time (milliseconds), right?

There could be several reasons leading to WordPress slow loading websites; we will cover in this article the reasons why WordPress speed issues occur and how to speed up your WordPress website to increase your readers and revenue.

Does WordPress Speed Matters?

Of course, yes! Everyone loves to browse websites that load quickly.

Suppose you’re running website and you want users to take action. How will they take action if your website eats time? Will they trust you? Will they return to your website again? BOOM – they will bounce! According to the studies, 40 percent of the website visitors abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load a page.

Even Google, the Search engine giant, takes into account load time in its ranking algorithm. So definitely, if your WordPress website is slow, you are going to lose serious business and potential customers/readers.

For website owners, it is absolutely mandatory to have a fast and running website for a better user experience. Remember, you only have few seconds to convince someone in the digital world. And if your website fails to do this, it will be become hard to get those unhappy visitors back.

Before Speeding Up your WordPress site, Test it!

Several reasons lead to the downtime of your WordPress website and turn it into a slowpoke. We recommend you to check your website current speed by using recommended tools and then take necessary actions to speed up your WordPress website. Below are some of the main reasons of the slowness of your WP website:

  1. The size of your page/pages
  2. Number of request on each page
  3. If your website is cached, or not
  4. Type of pages you’re using – Static or Dynamic

Please keep in mind that the speed of the page varies from page-to-page, but in an ideal situation it is recommended to benchmark your ‘Homepage’ as a testing method. Here are few recommended tools that you can use for testing your WordPress site:

  1. PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
  2. Tools.Pingdom.com (http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/)
  3. WebPageTest.org (http://www.webpagetest.org/)

Now, let’s jump to the tips that can quickly improve the performance of your WordPress website and can bring you good results.

How to Speed up your WordPress Site

As a WordPress developer, we have experienced such an issue with many clients. After compiling all the issues clients and webmasters reported, we have run trial and error and found the following tips useful to speed up your WordPress site performance. Note that any criteria or importance do not order these tips. It entirely depends on the level of optimization required to surmount WordPress slow loading issues. Let’s begin.

1. Choose good and reliable host

Sharing is always caring, but not in the case of web hosting. The reason we are emphasizing on this point in the first is that if your web host is not good, then everything else you to do speed up your WordPress website would be simply a waste of effort.

Shared hosting may sound a good choice when you start your website or blog, but in the long run, they are not good at all. Shared hosting providers do offer ‘Unlimited page views,’ ‘data storage’ etc, but their servers are fully crowded with other ‘shared hosting’ subscribers like you. The common problems we have seen with the shared option is the slow speed and server downtime during high-traffic periods. You’re putting all your efforts to boost your traffic and sales, and when you are close to your goals you find this:

Our engineers recommend site owners not to go with shared hosting plans but to choose a reliable web hosting for your WordPress website. A trusted host should offer you scalable plans where the server size should scale with the traffic volume. We recommend you to investigate each hosting options you have in mind and check if they everything your site would demand.

We recommend the following two specialized WordPress hosting provider:

  • Siteground – They are one of the ‘official’ WordPress recommended hosting provider and fairly economical for people with tight budgets. However, they are not a managed WordPress hosting provider, so you may require some technical knowledge to play around with the hosting.
  • WPEngine – We love WPEngine for many reasons. First, that you don’t need to be a tech savvy to work with them as they are a managed WP solution provider. Plus, their customer/technical support is amazing, so if you have queries like ‘how to speed up your WordPress website’, they have answers to everything.
WPEngine

WP Engine

$24.16 per month
Bluehost

Bluehost

$19.99 per month
SiteGround

SiteGround

$3.95 per month

2. Choose a robust framework or theme

By default, WordPress installs Twenty Fifteen theme which apparently is super-fast and light weight. It is because the framework used in the default theme is simple. Everyone wants to beautify their website, and that can be easily done with the help of plugins and custom codes. Thanks to WordPress! However, it is to keep in mind that if you send too many requests to the server, which in the case of plugins and codes will happen, then your server will take time to respond for sure.

Invest some time when you are searching for a theme. You can search on popular marketplaces like ThemeForest and Creative Market. We also recommend you to look for themes built on bootstrap as it helps you to speed up your WordPress website significantly.

3. Use an Effective Caching Plugin

Everyone likes people to visit their website again and again, right? Since WordPress is a PHP-coded internet site, and it sends request to servers to fetch the required information. So every time user clicks to visit your website, it runs the same process; hence this will increase the load time.

Browser side caching will help you out if your WordPress site has got static images, CSS and JavaScript that rarely changes. For this, we recommend the use of ‘Caching plugins’ that will minimize the requests and loads the cached version of the pages to the returning visitors.

We use W3 Total Cache on our website, and the results are pretty impressive. So it is the one we highly recommend to everyone as the same plugin has been used worldwide, and on most popular websites also. Alternatively, you can also check WP Super Cache, which is also a good caching plugin and can speed up your WordPress site’s performance.

Alternatively, you can insert the following line of code in your website’s .htaccess file

#
# associate .js with “text/javascript” type (if not present in mime.conf)
#
AddType text/javascript .js
#
# configure mod_expires
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_expires.html
#
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 600 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/xhtml+xml “access plus 600 seconds”
#
# configure mod_headers
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_headers.html
#
Header set Cache-Control “max-age=2692000, public”
Header set Cache-Control “max-age=600, private, must-revalidate”
Header unset ETag
Header unset Last-Modified

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

We all want global traffic and reach, right? People who visit our website can be from any region; hence the requests are coming from different parts of the world, your load time may affect during certain period. This would result in the slowness of your WordPress website speed, and can also result in bounce rate.

Since the website hosts a combination of images, CSS and JavaScript files – it is highly recommended to install a CDN on your site to quickly deliver the content from the closest servers to the user. Just to give a brief about CDN – when you configure a CDN, it creates a copy of your WP site on available data centers. So whenever someone tries to reach your website, a CDN delivers the static content of your website from and improves the speed of your WordPress website.

We recommend the use of the following CDNs –

  1. MaxCDN
  2. Cloudflare – we use it 🙂
  3. YoastCDN

5. Optimize and Compress Images

Non-compressed and optimized images are good to keep in albums, but not on websites. Images are high-resolution files; hence they take more time to load on a website. It is advisable to optimize all the images on your website. This can be done manually, but for long run, it is not an ideal solution.

For this, we recommend the use of great tools like WP Smush.it, EWWW Image Optimizer and Tiny PNG. These tools are pretty effective to boost the speed of your WordPress website by automatically removing the unused colors from the indexed pages.

6. Optimize your Home Page

Website homepage attracts more traffic than any other page on the website. And by default, WordPress displays full content (dynamically) on the homepage that can increase the load time. Following are some of the tweaks/changes you can apply on your homepage to speed up WordPress website speed.

  • Show excerpts Instead of full post content
  • Show 5-7 posts per page, use navigation
  • Remove sharing widget from the homepage, include it in posts only
  • Remove inactive plugins and widgets

Keep your websites’ homepage clean and less flooded with plugins and widget.

7. Minify the Code – CSS & JavaScript Files

When you run your website on PageSpeed Insight tool, the very first recommendation you’ll see is Minification of the code. With this tweak, you can significantly optimize the load time of your website, hence can improve the speed of your WP site. In a layman term, minifying the code means to remove unnecessary and unwanted codes from your website, that servers & browsers don’t really care about.

For this, we recommend to sit with your tech team and ask them to review their code and clean it. Alternatively, if you want to automate the process – just install WP Minify or W3 Total Cache, and let them do the cleanup for you.

8. Optimize or Cleanup Database Tables

Data is important, but it should be filtered or cleaned, right? The same chemistry is with WordPress database. After a period, you will find your database with lots of data, and that can overload and slow down your WordPress website. It is ideal to clean up unwanted files and data and keep the database optimized at all times. Cleaning and optimizing WordPress database not only improves the performance of your website but also reduces the size of your backs.

By optimizing your database table is like that you are changing the oil of your car. The optimizing will surely help you to free up space and will help your database to run smoothly. How can you optimize your DB?

To automate the process, we recommend the following plugins that can help in boosting the speed of your WordPress website:

  1. WP DBManager
  2. WP-Sweep
  3. WP-Optimize

Also, you can also play with the code and apply the following codes in wp-config.php file.

To disable WordPress revisions –

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

To limit the number of revisions –

define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 300); // seconds define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

9. Cutting down the HTTP requests

Whenever a visitor visits your site, some of the corresponding files are sent to that visitor’s browser, which includes the images, CSS and JavaScript files and library references. Let say if your HTML file has three CSS files, six JavaScript files and ten images the total will be twenty files that are needed to be loaded. It’s pretty clear that if you clear the number of objects exponentially you are minimizing the number of HTTP calls that are required to render a page, means you are speeding up the site.

Also, there is one thing you can do to combine the files such as scripts and CSS hence simplify the design of your site. You can do it using W3 Total Cache by using the minify section of this plugin you can add your CSS and JavaScript file and combine them as one!

10. Limit the number of Plugins – Deactivate or Uninstall them

Installing a bunch of plugins to beautify your website is a good idea, but we have to understand the fact that it can kill the bandwidth and can overload the servers. Therefore, it is highly advisable to review the plugins installed on your website and limit the numbers. We know that many webmasters install plugins, and then deactivate them, but apparently, they forget to remove them. Even if they are deactivated, still the files are uploaded to the servers, and it will occupy space and bandwidth.

For a short time, you can install the following plugins to find out which plugin is eating more bandwidth and space:

  1. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
  2. WP performance profiler

Once you analyze the performance, quickly take action as this could speed up your WordPress website performance in quick time.

11. Make most of the CSS Sprites

We have discussed already about the images and how you can optimize it. Ideally, we also recommend site owners to use CSS sprites, where required. Instead of loading each image individually, a Sprite loads one large image and position/control different set of images with the help of CSS.

We have experienced that CSS sprites significantly increase the performance of the site and speed up WordPress-hosted websites. Though we recommend performing the task with the help of a developer. But if you are good with the automation, then you can use SpriteMe plugin that turns all image files into CSS.

12. Turn off Pings and Trackbacks

Sending pingbacks and trackbacks are useful methods used by marketers to alert other blogs about mentions. However, they can be a draining task, and it affects the performance of the website. It is recommended to turn it off if it drains too much of your bandwidth.

To do so, navigate to WP-Admin, then go to Settings. In the option you will find ‘Discussion’ option – uncheck the option that says ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).’

Summing Up

This was our quick take on the WordPress speed optimization tips. We hope that all the essential tips are covered in our article. There are several other techniques and tips that you can employ to speed up your WordPress website, but the ones listed in our articles is tested on many websites.

We would love to know how you have optimized the speed of your WordPress website, and which of the technique brought good results to you. Drop a line below if you have other useful tips to share, we would love to test and incorporate anything that can boost the performance.

  • Alain Gaston

    Do plugins slow down the performance of WordPress website?