Wondering how to speed up a WordPress site? Then, you’ve come to the right place. This article lists some useful tips for you to improve the speed of your WordPress site.
It’s normal to prioritize how a website looks when you’re creating one. After all, that’s the first thing a visitor sees before anything else when clicking on your website. But, what if it loads so slow that people will exit leave your page even before they get to see the first piece of content on it?
Bottom line is that along with the design, you should also think of optimizing the site for speed. Already have a fully functional website that’s starting to perform very poorly? Don’t worry, it’s possible to optimize an existing site for speed as well.
This article has tips for both scenarios. So, read ahead to learn what they are and apply them immediately to your website as well.
Why Improve the Speed of Your WordPress Site?
Would you rather use a fast website to read, download, or buy whatever you’re looking for? Or wait for a slow website to load no matter how long it takes? It’s obvious most people would choose the first option.
So, wouldn’t it be the same for your visitors? Yes, a fast website is important to keep visitors on your site. But, what does that entail for you as a website owner? Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Good user experience: A good user experience encourages visitors to stay and explore your site longer and return for more resources.
- Low bounce rate and high conversion rate: In simple terms, visitors are less likely to exit your website before it fully loads and more likely to download or buy something.
- More traffic and revenue: A low bounce rate because of a pleasant user experience means an increase in traffic. You may also see an improvement in revenue from conversions.
- Better search engine rankings: Speed has a major role on Google search rankings. So, a fast website will rank higher on search engine page results (SERPs) than a slower one. So, optimizing speed is also improving your WordPress SEO.
That’s why it’s in your best interest to improve the speed of your WordPress site. With that said, here are the actionable tips you can use to do that.
27+ Actionable Tips to Improve Speed of WordPress Site
1. Use a Speed-optimized WordPress Theme
A WordPress theme is a website’s foundation. So, it naturally affects how your website performs in the long run. That’s why it’s wise to choose a theme that is optimized for speed.
This means that the theme has a small file size and sends fewer server requests while loading the theme, decreasing the load time significantly. It isn’t bloated with unnecessary code responsible for slow-loading pages either.
2. Choose a Good Hosting Provider
Similar to a WordPress theme, picking a hosting provider should come before anything else. These providers store all your website data on their web server and make it available for online viewing.
But with so many options available, which one do you choose?
First of all, determine what type of website you’re going to build and what amount of resources you need from your hosting provider. If you’re starting a completely new website from scratch, then you may not need much storage space, bandwidth, etc. for some time in the beginning.
So, for starting a simple blog or portfolio, you can start with a basic hosting plan from one of the best WordPress hosting companies.
But if your site is a high-traffic website, then it’s a good idea to avoid shared hosting since you have to share server resources with other websites. This can degrade your site’s performance whenever those sites experience an increase in traffic.
3. Use a WordPress Caching Plugin
For every visitor who clicks on a site’s link, they’re served its content only after retrieving and assembling all the data stored in the database. The back and forth of requests and data until the page is fully loaded slows down your site drastically.
This problem can be solved by storing a static version of your web pages and serving them to visitors. And WordPress cache plugins do exactly that to improve the speed of your WordPress site. It reduces the requests to the database and consequently, the load time by serving a cached version of your site to visitors.
4. Optimize Your Images
Using high-resolution pictures for an attractive website sounds tempting. But they have large file sizes which take a long time to load. The page load time also depends on the format of the images you’re using.
For example, PNG and JPEG files are the most common types of images used on the web. But WordPress has just introduced support for WebP images from WordPress 5.8 update. The WebP images are smaller in size than PNG and JPEG images, hence better for your site speed.
So first of all, you should create images in the right format. Even if you’re using PNG or JPEG images, make sure to crop them in the proper size before uploading any image to your website.
The lossy method reduces image size significantly but also reduces the quality along with it. With the lossless method, you won’t see a dramatic reduction in either the image’s size or quality.
As you become more familiar with these methods, you can decide which level of compression is the best for optimizing your site’s images.
5. Pick premium DNS over free DNS
A Domain Name is a website’s address. For example, themegrill.com is ThemGrill’s domain name. With this very name, your potential audience will reach your website and the business it represents. So, you must get a good domain name for your website as well.
When registering a domain name, you can choose either a premium or a free DNS (Domain Name System). Now, those on a tight budget might go for the free option. But, we recommend choosing a premium one over that since they’re faster, more reliable and offer better security.
Premium DNS is not included as part of most domain services but you can purchase it as an additional service with all the best domain registrars.
6. Minify CSS, HTML, and JS files
7. Setup a CDN
Every time a visitor clicks on your website, its contents are fetched from the main server. Now, this is a big problem for a global company with target audiences in every part of the world. The further they are from the main server, the slower your website loads for them.
For example, Asian visitors won’t enjoy the same page speed as American visitors if the server is located in the USA.
To eliminate this problem, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). It has multiple servers distributed across the globe that store a cached copy of all your website data.
So, the request for this data goes to the server nearest to the visitor instead of the main server. This directly improves your WordPress site’s speed for visitors from any region.
8. Implement AMP on your site
Not considering the speed of your website on mobile devices is the last thing you want to do. Mobile users are just as impatient, if not more when it comes to page speed. So, to increase the speed of a WordPress website on mobile devices, you can use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Need an AMP plugin to get you started? Here’s our collection of the 10 best AMP plugins you can use.
9. Regularly update core WordPress
Updating WordPress regularly is the best practice for all users. These updates come with bug and security fixes. So, putting off updating your WordPress can cause your website to be slow and vulnerable to security attacks.
To check whether you have the latest version of WordPress or not, go to your Dashboard’s Updates section. If you’re using an outdated version, then immediately install the latest version of WordPress.
For the step-by-step procedure, please check our guide on how to upgrade your WordPress site, themes, plugins to the most recent version.
10. Update Theme and Plugins timely
Similarly, along with WordPress core, the themes and plugins you’re using should be updated too.
In the Updates section, you’ll see a list of all the plugins and themes with new versions. It’ll also tell you whether the plugin’s new version is compatible with your current version of WordPress. You can select them and update them in bulk for ease.
One crucial thing to remember while updating a theme is that any customizations you’ve made to the theme will be lost in this process.
To avoid this, use child themes while customizing the WordPress theme you’re using.
As mentioned above, check our detailed guide on update your WordPress, themes, and plugins.
11. Fewer Plugins are Better
The more isn’t always the merrier. With every plugin you’re installing and activating, you’re also adding more code for the browser to load. So, with every needless plugin you add, you’re reducing your WordPress site’s speed.
For example, you may be using multiple plugins that do the same thing as in the image below. Cachify, Breeze, and Cache Enabler are WordPress cache plugins. You don’t need all of them when one will do the job just fine.
You may also be installing lots of plugins to add different features, when you could just be using a single multipurpose plugin offering said features together.
That’s why it’s important to sort through plugins you’re using or plan to use and keep only the necessary ones. The fewer the plugins, the better your WordPress site’s page speed performance.
Check our ultimate collection of the essential and best WordPress plugins!
12. Remove Unused Plugins from Your Site
So, what should you do with all the unnecessary plugins that are cluttering up your site? It’s best if you uninstall and delete the plugins altogether. Just deactivating inactive plugins won’t work since they still bloat your database with stored data.
To do this, go to your WordPress Dashboard. Then, click on Plugins. Here, Deactivate and Delete all unused plugins.
But this still may leave behind tables of the plugin data in the database. To get rid of it completely, you’ll either have to manually clear these tables or use a database cleaner plugin like Advanced Database Cleaner.
13. Avoid Hosting Videos on Your Site
WordPress has the option to directly upload a video from your media library or computer. But this is not ideal for your website’s speed.
What you’re doing is hosting big video files on your site. In addition to the slow performance, you’ll have to pay your web hosting provider large fees based on the video bandwidth use.
Instead, you can host all your videos on third-party hosting platforms like Youtube and Vimeo. Then, use the video embed feature of the WordPress block editor and paste your video’s link to add it to the page. Simple as that!
Want to explore other different methods to embed videos? Check out our detailed guide on embedding YouTube videos in WordPress.
14. Implement Lazy Loading for your Images
Not every image on your website needs to load at the same time. This will only slow down a page’s loading time unnecessarily. It’s better to prioritize images that are visible to visitors immediately over ones at the bottom of the page.
Lazy Loading is the perfect solution for that. The images on your website will load as a visitor navigates across its different parts. This, in turn, improves your WordPress site’s speed.
The Lazy Load feature is available in a lot of cache plugins like WP Rocket and image optimization WordPress plugins like Smush. So, you can just use one of them instead of using a separate lazy loading plugin.
15. Turn off Pingbacks and Trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks are mechanisms made to alert you when another site links to your posts. This poses a big problem to sites that receive many pingbacks and trackbacks. It creates needless strain on your server’s resources because every link generates individual requests.
When that happens, your website’s load time suffers. So, the best solution is to disable pingbacks and trackbacks.
For that, go to Settings on your Dashboard and click on Discussion. Uncheck the Allow link notifications from other blogs box and Save Changes.
16. Paginate Blog Posts and Use Excerpts
Too many blog posts loading on a single page makes your website slower. You can solve this problem in two ways.
First, if you plan to include blog posts on your home page, you should only display excerpts of the posts instead of the whole thing.
To do this, go to your Dashboard and click on Settings. In the Reading section, set For each post in a feed, include: to Summary which is Full Text by default.
The second method is to paginate blog posts. In the same settings, you can define how many blog posts a page should display initially.
Let’s say you set it to 10. So, to explore more than 10 posts, your visitors will have to click on a button that will load more blog posts.
17. Hotlink protection
Hotlinking is when another website directly links to your website’s media files like videos, images, and infographics.
This practice negatively impacts your WordPress website speed by increasing HTTP requests and load on your web server. Add to that the cost of additional bandwidth and resource consumption.
So, what can you do to prevent this and improve your WordPress site’s speed?
- One option is to use CDNs like Cloudflare with built-in hotlink protection.
- You can also enable hotlink protection with the .htaccess file.
- Some plugins such as All In One WP Security & Firewall provide hotlink protection.
- Another way is to disable the right click for your visitors so that they cannot copy your URL. This can be done with a plugin called Prevent Content Theft.
- Or you can simply change the link of your media files which will display a ‘404 Not Found’ error for the hotlinking party.
18. Limit the Use of Widgets and Social Buttons
Similar to plugins, cramming your website with unnecessary widgets and social buttons does more harm than good. They increase the number of data requests to your database resulting in slow page speed.
So, add only those widgets and buttons that are compulsory for your niche.
19. Paginate Comments Under Blog Posts
A few comments under blog posts aren’t that big of a problem. But when you have multiple discussions with hundreds of replies under a single blog post, this can start slowing down your site.
Instead of loading every comment on a single page, you should paginate the comments as you would with blog posts.
Go to Discussion on the Settings page. Enable Break comments into pages and then change the number of comments per page. Don’t forget to Save Changes when you’re done.
20. Use the Latest PHP version
Newer versions of Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) offer improved performance for a WordPress website. So, you must update it to the latest version available.
If you’re not sure about which version you’re using, you can check it on the Dashboard. Click on Site Health in the Tools section.
As you scroll down to the recommended improvements, you’ll see a suggestion telling you to upgrade the PHP version. It clearly shows which version you’re using as well.
However, you can’t upgrade PHP from the WordPress dashboard. Since PHP runs on the server, you’ll have to use your web hosting provider to upgrade it to the latest version.
21. Optimize your website’s database
Out of every piece of data stored in the database, there may be some that you no longer have any need for. With all this useless information bloating the database and delaying requests, your WordPress site is bound to slow down.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your site’s database. You can do this by manually cleaning up the database regularly. Or, you can use a cache plugin or database optimization plugin to do the job for you.
22. Enable HTTPS and keep your website secure
We know that HTTP is used to transfer data between a browser and a website. HTTPS is the secure version of this protocol which uses encryption for a safe data transfer. Websites using HTTPS display the lock icon in their URL.
The good thing about this protocol is that you’re protected from online security attacks that affect your website’s performance. A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is one example of this.
And that’s not all. Visitors trust secure sites more than non-secure ones. So, you may see an increase in traffic and conversions. It will also help your site’s SEO since Google favors HTTPS pages over HTTP.
That’s why you should consider enabling HTTPS for your website. How do you do this?
- First, pick a hosting provider which gives you a dedicated IP address.
- Buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider and activate it.
- After that, install this certificate on your server.
- Update your WordPress website to enable HTTPS.
- Redirect your visitors from HTTP to HTTPS pages when necessary.
For more detailed instructions, please check our article on adding SSL and HTTPS to your site.
Not sure about spending money on an SSL certificate? Try web hosting providers like Bluehost that offer free SSL certificates with all dedicated hosting plans.
23. Add Expire Headers
You can define how long a visitor’s browser should display cached content by adding an expire header. Until this designated time, any returning visitor to your website will be served its cached version by their browser. So, these visitors will be able to experience a faster page speed during this period.
Once the expiration time is met, all the old content is replaced by re-downloaded fresh content from the server and stored in the browser cache until it expires again.
It’s possible that the CDN (like KeyCDN and Azure CDN) you’re using automatically adds an expires header to every server request. If not, you’ll need to add them manually or use a plugin like Add Expires Headers.
24. Use HTML instead of PHP when possible
But the downside of having unnecessary PHP code in your theme is that it increases requests to the database. As a result of too many requests, your WordPress site’s speed decreases.
This is easily avoidable by replacing PHP codes with simple HTML codes wherever possible.
HTML doesn’t interact with the database as PHP does. So, the database will have to deal with fewer back and forth requests. Because of this, you’ll see an improvement in your website’s speed.
25. Reduce Redirects on Your Website
A redirect guides a browser from one URL to another. This process obviously consumes time. Even more so when there are too many redirections taking place. So, in order to speed up your WordPress website, you’ll have to reduce the number of redirects.
You can use an SEO tool like Screaming Frog to crawl all the links on your website and find out how many redirects you have. Once you do that, delete redirects to dead URLs, fix 404 errors, and remove unnecessary 301 redirect chains.
26. Clean up Your Media Library
There’s a chance you might forget to delete the media files that come with the theme you use for your website. As you continue uploading more images over time, they’ll eat up even more space.
By cleaning up your media library, you’ll be freeing up space in your database. This improves the speed of your WordPress site.
Moreover, the process is quite simple. Just go to your Dashboard and click on Media. All the files in your media library will be displayed here. You can select and delete any file you don’t need using bulk selection.
27. Disable, Delete, or Limit Post Revisions
As you’re writing a blog post, your drafts will be saved as a post revision. This feature enables you to recover your old drafts. But too many post revisions will occupy unnecessary database space.
So, you can either limit or disable post revisions to increase the load speed of your WordPress website using the following methods:
A. Disable post revisions
First, locate the wp-config.php file in the root folder of your WordPress site. You then need to add this code on top:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false)
This code prevents any post revisions from being stored in the future.
If you would like to enable your post revision, simply replace the code with this:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, true)
B. Delete post revisions
- You can delete your post revisions using WP-Optimize or similar plugins that perform database optimization.
- You can also use a SQL query to do this. Go to phpMyAdmin, choose your database, and run this query in the SQL section.
C. Limit post revisions
In case you need some post revisions, you can just replace the true or false value in the above code with a number.
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 5)
After this, WordPress will save a maximum of 5 post revisions.
28. Disable automatic updates
WordPress runs background update checks for your installed theme and plugins without your knowledge. It’s a good thing that it’ll alert you as soon as a new version of a theme or plugin is found.
But the glaring drawback is that since these background checks are happening in regular intervals of time, it slows down your admin dashboard. You can easily solve this by disabling automatic updates with plugins like Easy Updates Manager and Disable All WordPress Updates.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can neglect regular updates. Remember to deactivate such plugins weekly and check for new updates manually.
This was our list of WordPress speed optimization tips on how to increase the speed of a WordPress site.
Whether you already have a running website or are planning to make one, there are tips for either case. So, try to implement any tip you think is suitable for your WordPress website’s performance optimization.
If this article was helpful, you might also want to read another one of our articles on the best speed optimization plugins and tools.
Oh, and don’t forget to share this article and comment your thoughts below!