Learning how to speed up WordPress is an essential skill for any website owner.
Because page loading speed influences everything from traffic to bounce rate to conversions, user satisfaction and, ultimately, profits.
For that reason, we have put together a detailed guide on how to speed up WordPress. We will talk about why page loading speed matters, which factors influence the speed of your WordPress site and how to measure it. After that, we have compiled the best techniques to make your site as fast as possible. They range from basic all the way to advanced measures so that the users of advanced skill levels will find something they can implement.
Why Website Speed Matters?
The first question when talking about website speed is: Why should I care about it in the first place? I mean, as long as your site loads within a few seconds, it should be fine, right? People can’t really be that strapped for time, can they? Well, the answer might surprise you.
Slow Speed Leads to Lost Visitors
Have you ever been to a website that takes forever to load? What do you do?
We’ve taken some past research and developed a way to determine how many visitors you could potentially be losing based on your webpage load time ranging from 0-30 seconds. This was not easy – only a couple of studies have actually been done, and not only are they “aging”, but they have also been controversial and only up to around the first 4 seconds of load time data. Obviously, there are many factors involved in determining how long you are willing to wait for a page to load, but with tabbed browsing, faster connections speeds, and more, maybe this is why a real study has not been done since 2006.
Here are some key takeaway points from the research we were able to come up with:
– Zona research said in 1999 that you could lose up to 33% of your visitors if you page took more than 8 seconds to load.
– Akamai said in 2006 that you could lose up to 33% of your visitors if your page took more than 4 seconds to load on a broadband connection.
– Tests done at Amazon in 2007 revealed that for every 100ms increase in load time, sales would decrease 1%.
– Tests done at Google in 2006 revealed that going from 10 to 30 results per page increased load time by a mere 0.5 seconds, but resulted in a 20% drop in traffic.
– 47% of consumers expect a web page to load within two seconds or less.
– 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
– 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with a website’s performance are less likely to return.
One second delay reduces conversions by 7%, page views by 11% and customer satisfaction by 16%.
So how long does your webpage take to load? Check out Pingdom.com/Tools, and then come back here and approximate your potential visitor loss:
Speed is a Ranking Factor on Google/Bing/Yahoo
Obviously, this fact doesn’t get past search engines. After all – their goal is to present their users the best possible search results. A site that exasperates visitors with slow loading time is anything but.
While speed is not (yet) officially a ranking factor, it definitely factors into your search position.
Speed Up WordPress Site/Blog
1. Choose a better web hosting provider
The major factor that influences the speed of a website is the hosting of your WordPress website. It might seem like a good idea to host your new website on a shared hosting provider that offers “unlimited” bandwidth, space, emails, domains and more. However, the point that we usually miss out on regarding this offer is that shared hosting environments fail to deliver good loading times on peak traffic hours, and most fail to provide 99 percent uptime in any given month.
Shared hosting tends to deliver a poorer performance because you are sharing the same server space with countless other websites, and there is no telling how much resources others are using. Plus, you don’t know exactly how well the servers are optimized.
Thankfully, the web-hosting industry has advanced with technology, and the prices of cloud hosting providers have decreased with the passage of time. In the present times, you can buy dedicated cloud servers from SiteGround, DigitalOcean, Amazon Web Services, and even Google Compute Engine at a nominal price. However, setting those servers up can be a daunting task as you are required to set servers up from scratch. There are web hosting providers like Cloudways (where I work) who make the task of setting up optimized cloud servers as easy as click and launch.
2. Keep Your Web Technology Up to Date
The second item on our list of measures to speed up WordPress is keeping your core technology up to date. New versions of HTML, PHP and other web technologies come out for a reason. They contain improvements, new features, and often improved speed. For that reason, it’s important to stay up to date.
All websites should be running at least PHP 7.2 now since it is the oldest version which still receives security updates. You can check for currently supported PHP versions here.
A quality host will take care of this by themselves and notify you if your PHP version is out of date. However, that doesn’t free you from the responsibility of checking. When you log into your hosting backend, make sure to look for PHP configuration or a similar menu item. Here, you can often control which version of PHP you are using.
Just a quick note: some old code (and older versions of WordPress) are not compatible with, for example, the latest version of PHP. For that reason, when updating, make sure you test on a staging site first and take a backup. This way you do not inadvertently break your live site and you have an easy way to revert your changes if something goes wrong.
3. Use the Latest Versions of WordPress and Its Components
What’s valid for the software on your server, also holds true for WordPress. Each version of the CMS comes with new features, bugfixes and more. They make your website run more efficiently and prevent it from slowing down too much.
Keeping your website up to date is not only speed but also a security issue. With the latest version of WordPress, your themes and plugins, you also make sure all known vulnerabilities are fixed. Nothing will slow you down more than a compromised website.
It is a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with your plugins and what they do too, a free Google Sheet is a great starting point for organizing and keeping an overview of your WordPress and WooCommerce plugins.
4. Use a Proper Theme
While we are talking about themes: they can be a decisive factor in website speed. That’s because some themes out there are just bloated messes. They offer so many features that it slows down your site from sheer weight. Bare in mind – those features all consist of code that needs to be loaded – in many cases this code executes even if you are not using those features!
For that reason, try to find a theme that has just what you need and nothing more. Or better yet, get a lightweight theme and add functionality via plugins. That way you can keep things lean and lightweight. Your loading time will thank you. This does sometimes require rebuilding your site with another theme but luckily this is only something you do once!
Some light themes that are good starting points for any WordPress or WooCommerce project are GeneratePress and Astra.
5. Decrease Server Requests
A server request happens every time your browser asks some type of resource from your server. This can be a file like a style sheet, a script or an image.
The more server requests necessary to complete loading your site, the longer it will take. As a consequence, requests should be as few as possible. Here are a few things you can do to reduce them to a minimum:
- Lower the number of posts shown on a page
- Only show post excerpts, no full posts on your archive pages (find the option under Settings > Reading)
- Split longer posts into pages
- Deactivate plugins you are not using permanently
- Enable lazy loading to delay loading images until they are actually visible on the page
- If you get a lot of comments, break them up into several pages (Settings > Discussion)
- Reduce the number of images and other elements on your page
- Uninstall unnecessary plugins, especially slower ones (find them with this plugin)
- Reduce external resources such as fonts if they aren’t necessary
Pingdom and GTmetrix can show you a detailed list of server requests and how long they need to complete. From there, you can take steps to either eliminate requests or make sure they complete as quickly as possible.
6. Minify JS and CSS files
If you run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights tool, you will probably be notified about minimizing the size of your CSS and JS files. What this means is that by reducing the number of CSS and JS calls and the size of those files, you can improve the site-loading speed. Wp Rocket Plugin have the option to minify Js and Css
Also, if you know your way around WordPress themes, you can study the guides provided by Google and do some manual fixing. If not, then there are plugins that will help you achieve this goal; the most popular being the Autoptimize that can help in optimizing CSS, JS and even HTML of your WordPress website.
7. Reduce image sizes
Images are the major contributors to size increment of a given webpage. The trick is to reduce the size of the images without compromising on the quality.
If you manually optimize the images using Chrome PageSpeed Insights extension or Photoshop or any other tools, the process will take a long time. Fortunately, there are plugins available for just about everything you can think of, including image optimization.
resmush.it is the best image optimization plugin free of cost.
8. Avoid Hosting Videos on Your Own Site
Continuing with the topic of media, videos are also an issue. While WordPress is perfectly capable of hosting and playing videos, doing so is not a good idea.
First of all, it costs you bandwidth, which is especially important if you have a limited hosting account. Secondly, it will make your WordPress site considerably larger and thus harder to back up.
Most importantly – there are loads of super fast video hosting sites that can probably do a much better job than your own server ever could. Plus, with auto embeds, literally everything you have to do to include videos in your content is to copy the YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion link and paste it into the WordPress editor.
9. Enable Page Caching
Earlier, we mentioned that WordPress dynamically creates an HTML version of your pages whenever someone requests to see them. Wp Rocket Plugin have caching function.
Since that is one of the things that slows it down, wouldn’t it make sense to have the finished HTML page at hand all the time? After all, that way you could save several steps.
That’s exactly what page caching does and it’s one of the best ways to decrease the page loading time of your WordPress website.
Please bear in mind that page caching is too often used to hide performance issues that are related to low-quality hosting, slow plugins or themes and even a bloated database. It is best to make sure you have all of these taken care of first so your site is fast without having to rely on page caching. WooCommerce store owners will know this all too well!
If you are more technically minded, you can also implement caching yourself via .htaccess. In addition to that, there’s also server-side page caching. To do that, you would have to talk to your host. Many managed WordPress hosting providers now offer their own caching solutions so you don’t have to do anything.
10. Cleanup WordPress database
Deleting unwanted data from your database will keep its size to a minimum and also helps in reducing the size of your backups. It is also necessary to delete spam comments, fake users, old drafts of your content and maybe even unwanted plugins as well as themes. All of this will reduce the size of your databases and web files, and thus speed up WordPress – your WordPress. Wp Rocket Plugin have database cleanup function.
Hope this will help you to speed up your site, if you have any question or suggetion please share it on comment box.