Believe it or not, but a website’s loading time is just as important as the website’s actual features, whether with your SEO or your visitors. That’s why finding ways on how to speed up WordPress is a legitimate concern of website owners.
Google has indicated that a website’s speed is one of the over 200 signals used by its algorithm when ranking pages. Their Mobilegeddon and AMP projects were even designed to help websites optimize their speed and layout for mobile browsers. Online customer satisfaction matters to Google, and that is how they build and manage their algorithm.
Visitors, meanwhile, expect a web page to load in 2 seconds at most, and any more than 3 seconds makes them close that website’s tab faster than it takes to load the whole page. And achieving that kind of speed is kind of next to impossible when your WordPress website uses 20 plugins for your website’s various features, or your hosting provider makes your website lag overall.
Google’s internal study even showed that, when a website responds slowly, visitors are more than likely to spend less time browsing through. This is the reason why, even if site speed is only one of the numerous signals that Google’s algorithm considers for ranking, you should still take action, as your visitors care about loading speed. Longer load times negatively affect conversions, as studies suggest.
The reason visitors care so much about loading times is because attention spans are getting shorter. Eight seconds seem to be the average now, as discovered by Microsoft Corp. – and that’s shorter than the nine seconds of a goldfish. This is especially true with younger audiences, who switch to another task when there is nothing occupying their attention within the time they gave.
However, plugins or hosting providers might not be your only concern when you want speed up your WordPress website. There might be other factors that’re lagging up your website, which is actually easy to address and solve.
The following infographic from WP Shrug will take you through the ways on how to speed up WordPress to make sure that your visitors enjoy their time on your website and everything that it can offer, instead of exiting after the first 10 seconds of loading time.
When talking about website speed, a lot of publishers – WordPress user or not – will argue that it is indeed an important factor that has to be sustained consistently for the reason that it can directly impact the user’s experience. Its effect is so huge that in fact, 40% of internet users said that they will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
In today’s world where the attention span of people is getting shorter, it is imperative for all website owners to understand the value of speed as a key factor in overall user experience and therefore an important signal to rank well in search engine results pages.
Check the items below as we’ve gathered up some of the tricks and methods you need to speed up WordPress and help your website load at lightning speed.
How speed up Wordpres Tip #1: Test you Website Speed
Before starting to speed up your WordPress website, it is important to have an idea of how fast your website’s initial speed is. The data you will gather will serve as a reference as you apply the succeeding tips below.
Here are some of the online tools that can help you determine the parts of your website that might be causing bottleneck:
- Google PageSpeed Insights – Simply enter your website’s URL and receive both a mobile and desktop speed grade, along with some suggestions for fixing the problem areas.
- Pingdom Website Speed Test – Evaluates all of your web page parts and provides a performance outline complete with a rating and recommendations.
- GTmetrix – Evaluates your website by giving you both a PageSpeed and YSlow score, informing you of page loading time, page size, and the number of requests made, as well as solutions for making your website better.
How to speed up WordPress Tip #2: Find a Quality and Reliable Hosting Provider
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.
You can choose from plenty of shared hosting providers since they’re cheaper and more viable if you’re just starting out. And then if the need arises, you can take advantage of a virtual private server or dedicated server since they allow more bandwidth allocations and other extra perks that shared hosting services don’t have.
Here are some of the factors that you should consider when choosing a hosting provider:
- Limitations/Technical Specifications
How to speed up WordPress Tip #3: Consider Simplicity and Functionality in a WordPress Theme
There are a lot of virtually stunning themes available for you to pick nowadays. However, the looks do not necessarily equate to performance, especially if the theme is bloated with lots of functionality you don’t even need which often slows down a website.
You just have to choose a theme that perfectly suits your business needs – the one that is not too intimidating to your audience’s eyes, yet offers the functionality needed to navigate your WordPress website.
You can test your chosen theme’s demos by using the above mentioned online speed tests. The results will give you insights on how well-coded your chosen themes are.
How to speed up WordPress Tip #4: Avoid Cluttering Your Site with Unnecessary Plugins
If you’re asking if too many plugins can slow down your WordPress website’s performance, the answer is definitely yes. Although one of the key differentiators that separates WordPress from other platforms is its wide array of plugins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to install all the plugins that you see, though.
To give you some insights, a blank website’s normal loading time (without any plugins installed) is only 419 milliseconds. Installing 20 or more plugins, however, can significantly increase your site’s loading time from 1 second to 3.20 seconds – just enough to drive away most of your website’s visitors.
When choosing plugins, remember to focus on quality rather than quantity. Here are some tips for managing plugins:
- Test your website’s speed before and after installing a Plugin
- Use a Plugin Performance Profiler
- Opt for Plugins with multiple functions
How to speed up WordPress Tip #5: Enable WordPress Caching
According to the WordPress Codex, one of the surest ways to speed up WordPress is by setting a cache. It can significantly boost the loading speed of your website even when you’re using a shared hosting service.
It works by displaying a static copy of your website rather than executing PHP and making database calls for every visit – saving a ton of bandwidth in the process.
WordPress is using this process in multiple places of its internal functioning, but you can enhance the level of caching of other WordPress processes by installing cache plugins like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, or WP Rocket.
How to speed up WordPress Tip #6: Use a CDN
Besides speeding up the delivery of your content to your visitors, it also reduces your latency since it reduces the distance between the server and the endpoint machine – compared to shared hosting or managed hosting services which only utilizes one server.
A website latency test conducted by KeyCDN showed that a website using CDN can experience a 73% decrease in latency instantly.
Some of the best free CDN providers are CloudFare, jsDelivr, and Jetpack.
How to speed up WordPress Tip #7: Upgrade your PHP Version
For beginners, PHP is a dynamic scripting language to create dynamic interactive websites like WordPress. WordPress relies on PHP to execute its code to generate web pages. The version of PHP has a tremendous impact on your WordPress website’s performance.
In fact, a benchmark performed by Kinsta Managed Hosting showed that PHP 7 is almost 2x faster than its previous version.
Upgrading, however, may result in some old functions to be no longer supported; although most of the modern themes available today don’t encounter any random errors when using an upgraded PHP version. You just have to call your hosting provider and ask them how you can switch to a new version.
How to speed up WordPress Tip #8: Optimise Images
Visuals often convert better than text, particularly if you are selling a product/service that has visual appeal. Optimising your images is one of the best ways on how to speed up WordPress because it helps reduce the loading time of your website. When uploading an image to your WordPress website, you can choose to compress or save it as a progressive JPG.
Other ways to optimize your images are as follows:
- Shrink uploaded images through image optimization plugins such as Ewww Image Optimiser
- Resize and crop using basic photo editing software
- Disable image hotlinking
- Define image sizes
- Defer image loading until needed with a Lazy Load Plugin
How to speed up WordPress Tip #9: Clean Out Your Database and Limit Post Revisions
After you’ve enjoyed using your Wordpres website for a while, your database will contain unused, orphaned and duplicated data which you don’t need. Removing this data can reduce the size of your database, making the backup process significantly faster, and more importantly it will improve the overall performance of your website.
To do this, you can simply install a plugin such as WP Sweep, which will allow you to do the task easily.
Post revisions also take up space within your database, so it’s a good idea to limit the number of drafts stored to a minimum of 2 or 3 to serve as your backup copies.
Simply add this line of code to your w[-config.php file: define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3);
How to speed up WordPress Tip #10: Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks
WordPress, by default, sends and receives pings and trackbacks from and to other websites. This happens when other sites mention your website, which in turn notifies you and upon approval updates the data in your post.
This can cause irrelevant links to be added to your site, which can cause confusion to your visitors and it also affects your website’s performance.
To disable notifications on pingbacks and trackbacks on your WordPress website, login to the dashboard, then go to Settings > Discussion and uncheck the ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)’ option. You can also use a plugin such as Disabler that allows you to turn off self-pings caused by internal linking.
Having a strong footing on your website’s speed will give your website a substantial boost not only to search engines but to your audience and customer’s experience as well. Although having a speed-optimised website Is not everything, it can help you a lot in driving more traffic to your website, and it can increase the number of satisfied uses who might eventually turn into quality leads and sales.