Improve WordPress Speed: Here Are 24 Tips That Actually Work!
Just because your website is slow to load doesn’t mean it has to be that way. Just follow these 24 tips and Improve WordPress Speed, without any resources and time required.
The tips vary in difficulty, but all are worth the time to learn and implement. Let’s get started, shall we?
First things first… you need a fast internet connection… if you don’t have one, you should see your internet service provider! If that doesn’t seem feasible, keep reading below so you can still make the necessary changes.
- Optimize Your Hosting
Most WordPress hosting plans come with a lot of limitations. This is great for beginners, but if you need extra resources, you should look elsewhere. For example, some hosts are limited to how much bandwidth and disk space you can use each month. Make sure your host has unlimited bandwidth and disk space. Most VPS (Virtual Private Servers) and dedicated servers have unlimited bandwidth, but shared hosting plans can vary significantly. To get started without spending any money on new hosting – just optimize your current hosting! The easiest way to do this is by installing a plugin called WP Super Cache . WP Super Cache will generate static HTML files out of your dynamic WordPress site.
This way, your web host will serve up the static HTML files, which have significantly lower overhead than a dynamic WordPress site.
The downside of WP Super Cache is that it can sometimes break your theme’s functionality – but if you follow our steps carefully, WP Super Cache should be easy to use and won’t cause any issues. Installing WP Super Cache is an easy process: Install the plugin
Create a page caching schedule (the default schedule works just fine)
Make sure caching is enabled for all users on your blog (this should be enabled by default). If you want to change these options (like cache expiration times), view our guide on how to set up WP Super Cache .
- Change the Template
Themes are the backbone of your website – so if you don’t have one, it won’t matter how fast your hosting is. So we’re going to start with a quick lesson on choosing a theme. Are you new to WordPress? You should start with a starter theme, because they have basic functionality that other themes and plugins can’t replicate. You should also check out our article on picking the best WordPress theme . You should also make sure your theme loads quickly, which you can optimize by doing a few things.
Optimize your images – you can use a free tool like Gickr to optimise the images of your website. Increase page speed by using optimized plugins – currently, the fastest WordPress plugin is WP Super Cache . Keep in mind that some plugins are designed for speed and performance – but they’re not as common as other types of plugins. Run a plugin like Pingdom Tools to monitor load time. If your scores aren’t very good, you should try other methods before switching to a new theme.
- Choose the Right Plugins
Plugins are a crucial part of every website, and not all plugins are created equal. You should know that a lot of the most popular plugins can slow down your site by adding extra code and functions. If you want to speed up your WordPress site, you should stick with lightweight, clean code plugins. There aren’t many fast plugins available – but here are our favorites:
Accelerated Image Compression : If you use WordPress with a lot of images, this plugin could be an expensive alternative to Accel Image Optimizer – but if you want to save money and still speed up your site – Accelerated Image Compression is a great plugin for reducing traffic and loading times.
Jetpack : If you have a lot of content on your blog, you should try Jetpack – it’s one of our favorite plugins. It’s very lightweight and adds many useful features, including pinterest sharing buttons, social media icons and live search. Post Thumbnails : This plugin Improve WordPress Speed by giving you an option to use the original image of your post as a thumbnail instead of a 200-450k image that only thirty people are going to see.
- Keep Your Site Updated
Even if you follow our top three steps to speed up your WordPress site, it’s important to note that WordPress updates are inevitable. It’s always best to keep your plugins and themes updated, because the developers of these products will release bug fixes and new features with each update.
If you don’t update your themes and plugins at least weekly (if not more often), then you will likely run into issues that cause your site to load slowly. The good news is that most updates are easy to install, so make sure you have them enabled! If you need help updating a plugin or theme, feel free to consult our guide on how to update WordPress .
- Optimizing Your Database
One way to speed up your WordPress site is to minimize the number of queries and page requests the database performs. Your database is the brain center of your website, so all sorts of different things are stored in it. If most of these functions are performed on every page load – then you’re going to have a big impact on how fast your site loads. When you start optimizing your site, keep your main search function out of the database (so it doesn’t slow down other elements). The main reason why you should keep this functionality out of the database is because many servers utilize a single database connection per user account. So if you try to pull search results from the database, other users will be affected on your site.
If you don’t have a query or page load function in your WordPress site – there are a lot of plugins that can improve this. If you’re unsure how to modify your functions.php file – we have a step by step guide on optimizing functions.php . The fastest WordPress plugins that are designed to decrease database performance are:
- Keep Your Database Clean!
Now that you’ve optimized your database, part of your job as the web master is to make sure it’s clean and doesn’t slow down the speed of your site. It’s pretty easy to clean your database – all you have to do is delete the spam and old comments (if any). This is an important step, because if you don’t clean your database regularly, it will get bloated. If you want to learn how to optimize your database by cleaning it, check out our guide on optimizing your WordPress database .
- Reduce Server Requests
After the initial request of submitting a comment or blog post on your WordPress site, there are many other requests that are made by the server. The more server requests are made – the slower it takes for each page load. Some of these server requests happen simply because of your plugin’s settings. For example, a lot of the more advanced options in plugins are likely to make extra server requests. The easiest way to reduce server requests is to deactivate and delete the plugins you aren’t using. You can learn how to optimize your WordPress plugin settings by checking out our step by step guide .
- Always Use Minify for Your CSS and JS Files
The good news is that minifying is fairly easy to do – all you have to do is install a plugin like WP Minify (and follow the instructions). For more information on how to compress your code – check out our guide on how to minify WordPress blog posts . If you want a more efficient WordPress theme, then consider using one of these minified premium themes on our curated list of fully-minified themes .
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you want to load your WordPress site faster than ever, then consider using a content delivery network (CDN). CDNs are used to host your content so it’s served from different servers all over the world. By using a CDN, you decrease the distance your site has to travel before it reaches the end user. For example, if someone in New York accesses your site and you have a CDN – then it would be accessed via servers that are closer to New York than say London. If you have images hosted on your server – it’s highly recommended that you use a CDN for them as well (to further decrease load times). Here are some more explanations of how CDNs work and some awesome benefits of using a CDN to Improve WordPress Speed .
- Don’t Overuse Plugins or Themes
We know this one can be hard – but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that heavy plugins and themes slow down your site. If you want to learn more about this topic – then check out our guide on how to properly deactivate and delete WordPress plugins . You need to make sure you don’t use a lot of unnecessary plugins – because the more plugins you have, the longer it takes for each page request.
- Use No-Cache WordPress Settings
If you want to make your WordPress site load faster – then it’s important that you use proper caching. Caching is the process of having a copy of your site cached on a server somewhere close to the end user. This way, when someone goes to your site for the first time – it will load quickly and be cached for future visits. The important thing to note about caching is that you need to make sure that the cache expires after a certain amount of time (or manually refresh the cache).
You can refresh your WordPress cache by going to Tools > Cache Management under WP Admin. Here are some more tips on how to optimize a WordPress blog .
- Improve WordPress Speed via WordPress.com
If you are hosting your own WordPress site with any host – then be sure to take advantage of the many awesome features WordPress.com has to offer. Using a hosting account through WordPress.com is simple – all you have to do is sign-up, pick a domain and WordPress.com will handle the rest. If you only need a basic theme and don’t have much content on your site – then it’s easy to speed up your WordPress install on WordPress.com.
You can even use the No-Cache feature so your site loads instantly for those first few visitors that go to your site. It’s also worth noting that using WP DB Cache helps to reduce page load time for new visitors coming from search engines like Google and Bing. The best thing about using a WordPress hosting account through WordPress.com is that you get access to the WordPress.com Developer Forums where you can find answers to your questions and share ideas with other WordPress users.
13. Check Your Website Speed in Google Analytics
If you want to make sure your site is loading quickly – then it’s important that you use Google Analytics and check how fast your site loads. In this example, we show how to look at average load time in Google Analytics. However, you can check the speed of your page in Google Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Speed. You can also use this site to check how long your site takes to load and compare it to other sites on the web.
The best thing about Google Analytics is that you can use it free of charge (or with a premium account). You don’t want to spend all that time optimizing your WordPress install only to see that your website loads slowly on mobile devices.
You should be careful with the data in Google Analytics because it will be skewed if you have a lot of traffic, or visitors are loading images from another source – so keep this in mind when checking out your site speed.
- Check Your Site Speed using Page Speed Insights
If you want to check the page speed of your WordPress site – then there’s a couple of ways you can do it. There’s plugins like WP Fastest Cache that can help you see how long it takes to load your site based on server response time. Our favorite way to check the speed of your site is by using Google Page Speed Insights . If you haven’t already noticed – Google has been becoming much more data driven – so content-heavy sites might have some problems getting decent scores when checking out their data (because why would a search engine allow you to rank higher than them?). If you want to take advantage of Google Page Speed Insights, then all you have to do is copy-paste your URL into the search box and let it crunch the numbers.
The nice thing about Page Speed Insights is that it will tell you what fixes to make and how easy the fix is. You can also use this tool to compare your site against similar sites – remember, if you want better search engine rankings and conversion rates – then a fast WordPress site will always win.
- Limit The Number of People on Your Server
This tip is especially relevant if you’re using a shared server. If you have an unlimited hosting account, then things can get out of control quickly. In the example below, we explain what happens if you have to many people on your server (it’s not good news). Don’t worry, there’s a way to fix this problem too.
The problem with having a lot of people on your shared server is that WordPress will have to process more requests for pages and more requests for processing images. The more requests that get processed, the slower your website becomes and the more it loads on your server. If you want to speed up WordPress on a shared server – then follow these steps:
Limit the number of WordPress installs you have on your server. Limit the number of plugins you have installed. Limit the number of themes you use (or change your theme). Use CDN to store image files as far away from your server as possible (you can learn more about this here ). Make sure you are not using unnecessary stuff like widgets that are cluttering things up.
- Avoid WordPress Caching Plugins
There are a lot of WordPress Caching plugins out there that try to Improve WordPress Speed. However, if you don’t know what the plugin does – then it could be more trouble than it’s worth. One of the best ways to make sure you get quick page loads is by making sure that all your images are stored on CDN (as mentioned in tip #15). The best way to avoid using these types of plugins for speeding up your site is to simply check out some reviews online before installing one. If you do have a lot of visitors who visit the same place on your site over and over again – then it may be worth installing a caching plugin to help optimize things. The cache plugin we recommend is W3 Total Cache and you can use it to speed up WordPress as well as all other types of sites.
- Check Your Web Server Configuration
If you ever want to get a deeper understanding of how your web server works – then this will be a crazy deep dive into the configuration files for Apache, Nginx and IIS web servers. We don’t have the space in this article, but if you want to learn more about these web servers then check out these articles: How Apache Works, How Nginx Works and How IIS Works (note: there may be some overlap between these articles). In the example below, you can learn how to find out what type of web server your WordPress install is using.
If you want to get the most out of your web server then you need to understand everything that’s going on under the hood.
You can even install a tool called Web Server Diagnostics – this tool will show you a list of errors and warnings that can be found in your Apache configuration files (it’s used by us here at WP Engine). If you have trouble getting a plugin working – then use Web Server Diagnostics to see what might be stopping it from working.
- Consider Removing or Changing WordPress Permalinks
This tip is actually something we recommend to our customers. If you have trouble with performance – then speed up your page load time by changing the default permalink structure for your site. In WordPress, you can change the default permalink structure by going to Settings > Permalinks and choose one of these options:
To get better compatibility with plugins and themes, use a more customized template like this “rewritten index” option (although most people are already doing this). This will make sure that when you have a lot of links to different places on your site – that your page loads faster. However, if you don’t have a lot of links – then you can use one of the other options like “custom structure”. You can learn more about this tip here in our guide to WordPress permalinks for SEO.
- Don’t Use The Default Page Template
When you install WordPress, it will create a default page template that uses the HTML editor. This is the “bare bones” of WordPress – so if you want to speed things up – then try to replace this stuff with a new template. One of our favorite ways to do this is by using a child theme – which allows you to customize everything on your site without having to change the original source files. If you want more information about how quick page load times are affected by using WordPress custom templates, then check out this article here that we wrote.
- Secure Your Database
This tip isn’t really in the SEO context, but it does relate to how a website performs when it comes to speed. If you want your site to perform at a higher level by eating up less resources – then make sure you have secured your MySQL database. In the example below we explain what happens when your database is open to the world and who could potentially exploit this type of thing. It’s not something we like to see on our servers. If you want to learn more about securing your WordPress database, then check out this article here (it’s free).
- Optimize Themes For Speed
One of the best things you can do to speed up your site is to optimize all your themes and plugins. WordPress comes with a lot of default plugins, but if you want to get the most out of your website, then it’s good practice to download optimized versions. No site should have a lot of bloatware! Being frugal with resources when you’re building/optimizing your site will have an incredible impact on performance. If you’re really serious about improving time on page load times, then it makes sense to check out our theme optimizing checklist too.
- Reduce The Number of Email Subscribers You Have
If you’re running a popular site, then chances are you get a lot of people signing up to your email list. A lot of people will even enable your contact form so they can send you messages. However, if you have too many subscribers on your list – then it could be slowing down your site. If over half the content on your blog is just one type of page – then people may not need to subscribe to get the information they want (example: if 90% of your content is about how to make money online, then it makes sense for them to subscribe). Here’s how you would know how many people are on your email list.
The other way of finding out how many subscribers you have is by looking at your MailChimp account. In the example below, we can see that our site has over 4,000 subscribers – which is way too many (especially if they’re all going to get the same thing). If the majority of people subscribe to your site – then you might want to keep this number lower. In this example, it makes sense for us to only send email newsletters from our site once every two weeks and not every day as we did above.
- Use FTP Instead of Email For Updates
One of the best ways to get updates on your site is through email. However, this method can be very slow if you’re sending out a lot of updates (because you’re going to have to wait for the mail server and deliver it). Plus, if there is an error and your email doesn’t arrive in time – then it can result in more people not receiving your email. On the other hand, if you could go about things another way – then that would be much better for both performance and security. In this case, you could use FTP and have all your site files stored on a server close by (a file hosting company or Dropbox). Then, you wouldn’t have to worry about email being very slow for an update. This can also be more secure than your regular email system when you don’t want anyone to see what you’re doing. If you want to learn more about making WordPress updates faster – then check out Improve WordPress Speed here.
- Reduce Your Major Themes Update Frequency
One of the biggest problems we get from customers is that they update their themes too frequently without testing the performance first. There are a few reasons for this: most of us aren’t aware of how much time it takes for WordPress to download and process a new theme, as well as how much bandwidth is used. Sometimes, an update takes longer than we think. It depends on how new your theme is and how much work you’ve put into it. In addition, if you want to make sure that your site performs at an optimum level – then you should probably do some more testing before updating. In the example below, we can see how our site is slowing down after updating our theme for the 11th time:
These are just a few of the tips and tricks we use to keep our sites fast. There will be more changes coming that we’ll be including in future updates, but if you want to learn more about Improve WordPress Speed, then make sure you subscribe to our blog. Don’t miss out on getting some of the best tips and tricks first. Also, if you have any questions on how to Improve WordPress Speed – then leave them below in the comments section. We’ll reply with more great tips.