Do you want to speed up your WordPress site? Fast loading pages improve user experience, increase your pageviews, and help with your WordPress SEO. In this article, we will share the most useful WordPress speed optimization tips to boost WordPress performance and speed up your website.
Why Speed is Important for Your WordPress Site?
Studies show that from 2000 to 2019, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds.
What does this mean for you as a website owner?
You have very little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your website.
A slow website means users will potentially leave your website before it even loads.
According to a StrangeLoop case study that involved Amazon, Google, and other larger sites, a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
On top of that, Google and other search engines have already started penalizing slower websites by pushing them down in the search results which means lower traffic for slow websites.
To sum it all up, if you want more traffic, subscribers, and revenue from your website, then you must make your WordPress website FAST!
Why test WordPress site performance? Well, things like site speed are becoming increasingly more important each year, and maybe even each month.
Quite simply, and this is something that’s been proven multiple times, the faster your site is, the better you’ll be able to serve your audience.
This rings true on many levels:
chief of them: faster sites are more user-friendly – there’s simply less lag,
faster sites are more optimized for mobile viewing,
faster sites rank better in Google,
lastly, faster sites convert better (people generally don’t like to wait more than two seconds for a webpage to load).
1. Test your load times
Let’s begin by going through perhaps the most significant way to test WordPress site performance – the test of how fast your site is.
For starters, you could just enter the URL of the site in your browser’s address bar, and see for yourself. But a test like that doesn’t give you the whole picture. As in, it only lets you know how fast the site behaves for you, and not for your audience.
There, select the server location from where you want to measure your site performance. It’s best to select the location that is nearest to your target audience:
A couple of seconds after clicking “START TEST,” Pingdom will let you know about the individual components of your overall performance score.
You can look into them one by one for more insight:
2. Test how much concurrent traffic your site can handle
The next test really worth doing is via the Load Impact tools:
Just enter your site’s URL in the box and click “Run free test.”
What Load Impact does is that it actually creates 25 concurrent (bot) users, and sends them over to your site in order to see how the site performs under load. The test takes place over the duration of five minutes.
When the test is done, you get a nice summary + chart:
At first glance, this seems complicated, but you can actually read that chart pretty easily. Basically, all that matters is this:
(!) You want the green line – representing your load time – to be as flat as possible. If it goes up, it means that your site performance can be improved.
3. Test the quality of your WordPress setup
Much like all software products, your WordPress site consists of multiple small elements, scripts, and mechanisms that, when combined together, give you all the features that make WordPress awesome.
However, not all those elements are always 100% optimized…
This is where GTmetrix comes into play, and provides a really comprehensive way to test WordPress site performance.
Similarly, all you need to do is enter your site’s URL and click the “Analyze” button.
After a while, you will get a detailed summary, going through different elements of your website:
HTTP requests optimization, and much much more.
GTmetrix also gives you an overall score using a simple grading system. For example, if you’re not doing all that great in the performance department, you’ll see this:
Your speed test report will likely have multiple recommendations for improvement. However, most of that is technical jargon which is hard for beginners to understand.
Learning what slows down your website is the key to improving performance and making smarter long-term decisions.
The primary causes for a slow WordPress website are:
Web Hosting – When your web hosting server is not properly configured it can hurt your website speed.
WordPress Configuration – If your WordPress site is not serving cached pages, then it will overload your server thus causing your website to be slow or crash entirely.
Page Size – Mainly images that aren’t optimized for web.
Bad Plugins – If you’re using a poorly coded plugin, then it can significantly slow down your website.
External scripts – External scripts such as ads, font loaders, etc can also have a huge impact on your website performance.
Now that you know what slows down your WordPress website, let’s take a look at how to speed up your WordPress website.
Your WordPress hosting service plays an important role in website performance. However, on shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. This means that if your neighboring site gets a lot of traffic, then it can impact the entire server performance which in turn will slow down your website.
On the other hand, using a managed WordPress hosting service give you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting companies also offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website. (Check this article Shared hosting vs Dedicated on GoDaddy)
Speeding Up WordPress in Easy Steps (No Coding)
We know that making changes to your website configuration can be a terrifying thought for beginners, especially if you’re not a tech-geek.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone. We have helped thousands of WordPress users improve their WordPress performance.
We will show you how you can speed up your WordPress site with just a few clicks (no coding required).
If you can point-and-click, then you can do this!
Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
WordPress pages are “dynamic.” This means they’re built on the fly every time someone visits a post or page on your website.
To build your pages, WordPress has to run a process to find the required information, put it all together, and then display it to your user.
This process involves a lot of steps, and it can really slow down your website when you have multiple people visiting it at once.
That’s why we recommend every WordPress site use a caching plugin. Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2x to 5x faster.
Here’s how it works.
Instead of going through the whole page generation process every time, your caching plugin makes a copy of the page after the first load, and then serves that cached version to every subsequent user.
As you can see in the graphics above, when a user visits your WordPress site, your server retrieves information from a MySQL database and your PHP files. It then puts it all together into HTML content which is served to the user.
It’s a long process, but you can skip a lot of it when you use caching instead.
There are a lot of good WordPress caching plugins available, but we recommend using either plugin premium
Optimize Images for Speed
Images bring life to your content and help boost engagement. Researchers have found that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content.
However, if your images aren’t optimized, then they could be hurting more than helping. In fact, non-optimized images are one of the most common speed issues that we see on beginner websites.
Before you upload a photo directly from your phone or camera, we recommend that you use photo editing software to optimize your images for the web.
In their original formats, these photos can have huge file sizes. But based on the image file format and the compression you choose in your editing software, you can decrease your image size by up to 5x.
At JasaSEO.be, we only use two image formats: JPEG and PNG.
Now you might be wondering: what’s the difference?
Well, PNG image format is uncompressed. When you compress an image it loses some information, so an uncompressed image will be higher quality with more detail. The downside is that it’s a larger file size, so it takes longer to load.
JPEG, on the other hand, is a compressed file format which slightly reduces image quality, but it’s significantly smaller in size.
So how do we decide which image format to choose?
If our photo or image has a lot of different colors, then we use JPEG.
If it’s a simpler image or we need a transparent image, then we use PNG.
The majority of our images are JPEGs.
Below is a comparison chart of the file sizes and different compression tool that we could have used for the StrangeLoop image used above.
As you can see in the chart, the image format you use can make a HUGE difference in website performance.
For details on exactly how to optimize your images using Photoshop and other popular editing tools, without sacrificing quality
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
As a well maintained open source project, WordPress is updated frequently. Each update will not only offer new features but it will also fix security issues and bugs. Your WordPress theme and plugins may have regular updates, too.
As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins updated to the latest versions. Not doing so may make your site slow and unreliable, and make you vulnerable to security threats.
Optimize Background Processes
Background processes in WordPress are scheduled tasks that run in the background of your WordPress site. Following are some examples of background tasks that run on a WordPress site:
WordPress Backup plugin tasks
WordPress cron jobs to publish scheduled posts
WordPress cron jobs to check for updates
Search engines and other crawlers trying to fetch content
Tasks like cron jobs for scheduled posts and updates have minimal impact on website performance.
However, other background processes like backup plugins and excessive crawling by search engines can slow down a website.
Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives
By default, WordPress displays the full content of each article on your homepage and archives. This means your homepage, categories, tags, and other archive pages will all load slower.
Another disadvantage of showing full articles on these pages is that users don’t feel the need to visit the actual article. This can reduce your pageviews, and the time your users spend on your site.
In order to speed up your loading times for archive pages, you can set your site to display excerpts instead of the full content.
You can navigate to Settings » Reading and select “For each article in a feed, show: Summary” instead of “Full Text.”
Split Comments into Pages
Getting lots of comments on your blog posts? Congratulations! That’s a great indicator of an engaged audience.
But the downside is, loading all those comments can impact your site’s speed.
WordPress comes with a built-in solution for that. Simply go to Settings » Discussion and check the box next to the “Break comments into pages” option.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Remember how we mentioned above that users in different geographical locations may experience different loading times on your site?
That’s because the location of your web hosting servers can have an impact on your site speed.
For example, let’s say your web hosting company has its servers in the United States. A visitor who’s also in the United States will generally see faster loading times than a visitor in India.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), can help to speed up loading times for all of your visitors.
A CDN is a network made up of servers all around the world. Each server will store “static” files used to make up your website.
When you use a CDN, every time a user visits your website they are served those static files from whichever server is closest to them. Your own web hosting server will also be faster since the CDN is doing a lot of the work.
Don’t Upload Audio/Video Files Directly to WordPress
You can directly upload audio and video files to your WordPress site, and it will automatically display them in an HTML5 player…
But you should NEVER do that!
Hosting audio and videos will cost you bandwidth. You could be charged overage fees by your web hosting company, or they may even shut down your site altogether, even if your plan includes “unlimited” bandwidth.
Hosting large media files also increases your backup sizes tremendously, and makes it difficult for you to restore WordPress from backup.
Instead, you should use an audio and video hosting service like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, SoundCloud, etc., and let them take care of the hard work. They have the bandwidth for it!
WordPress has a built-in video embed feature, so you can copy and paste your video’s URL directly into your post and it will embed automatically.
Use a Theme Optimized For Speed and SEO
When selecting a theme for your website, it’s important to pay special attention to speed optimization. Some beautiful and impressive-looking themes are actually poorly coded and can slow your site way down.
It’s usually better to go with a simpler theme than to choose a theme that’s bloated with complex layouts, flashy animations, and other unnecessary features. You can always add those features using quality WordPress plugins.
Use Faster Plugins
Poorly coded WordPress plugins often load too much bloat whether your site needs it or not. This increases your page load speed and slows down your site.
Slow Loading WordPress Plugins
Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact forms, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. These can be identified using Query Monitor or GTmetrix Waterfall.
AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
All-In-One Event Calendar
Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
Broken Link checker (use Dr. Link Check)
Constant Contact for WordPress
Contact Form 7
Contextual Related Posts
Digi Auto Links
Disqus Comment System
Fuzzy SEO Booster
Google Language Translator
Google XML Sitemaps
Leaflet Maps Marker
Real Estate Website Builder
Really Simple Share
SEO Auto Links & Related Posts
Share Buttons by AddToAny
Share Buttons by E-MAILiT
Tribulent Slideshow Gallery
Ultimate Social Media & Share
WooCommerce Customer History
Wordfence (disable live traffic reports)
WordPress Related Posts
WordPress Popular Posts
WordPress Social Ring
WP Bakey (formerly Visual Composer)
WP Facebook Like Plugin
WP Jump Menu
WP Social Bookmarking Lite
WP Social Share
WP Power Stats
WPML (if you use too many extensions)
Yet Another Related Post Plugin
Yuzo Related Posts
Finding Slow Plugins In GTmetrix
An alternative solution to finding YOUR slowest loading plugins is to run your site through GTmetrix and check out your report. If when you expand items the same plugin appears multiple times in your report (or simply takes a long time to load in the GTmetrix waterfall tab), you should probably delete or replace that plugin.
Turn Off Unused Plugin Settings
Go through each of your plugins and decide which settings you can turn off (this will lower CPU).
Wordfence’s live traffic view also consumes high CPU…
Avoid Using 2 Plugins For Duplicate Functionality
Since Yoast creates a sitemap for you, you don’t need the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. If your host takes backups for you, you don’t need a plugin for that. If you have Google Analytics, do you really a statistics plugin that slows down your site and does about 1/1000 of what Google Analytics can do? Think about which plugins you actually need and delete the ones you don’t. And instead of using Jetpack so you can use 1 or 2 features, install a lightweight plugin that does the same thing but doesn’t have a million settings/features that will slow down your site.
Disable Unused Settings In WordPress
WP Disable lets you disable settings in WordPress that consume CPU and slow down your site. It also has options for heartbeat control (if you remember the actual heartbeat control plugin, you can now delete it and just use this)… as well as a few other options that can speed up your website/admin panel. Go through the settings and disable everything you don’t use…
Tips On Using WP Disable
Disable EVERYTHING you don’t use
Scheduling spam deletion is a good idea
Emojis, Google Maps, and Gravatars take a long time to load
Set post revisions to 3-5 so you have backups, but you don’t need hundreds
Miscellaneous options in the “request” tab can further your improve load times
Fine-Tuning WordPress for Speed (Advanced)
By using the WordPress optimization best practices and basic speed tips listed above, you should see a big improvement in your site’s loading times.
But every fraction of a second counts. If you want to get the very fastest speed possible, then you’ll want to make a few more changes.
The following tips are a little more technical, with some requiring you to modify your site files or have a basic understanding of PHP. You’ll want to make sure to backup your site first just in case.
Split Long Posts into Pages
Readers tend to love blog posts that are longer and more in-depth. Longer posts even tend to rank higher in search engines.
But if you’re publishing long-form articles with lots of images, it could be hurting your loading times.
Instead, consider splitting up your longer posts into multiple pages.
WordPress comes with built-in functionality to do that. Simply add the <!––nextpage––> tag in your article where you want to split it into next page. Do that again if you want to split the article on to the next page as well.
Reduce External HTTP Requests
Many WordPress plugins and themes load all kinds of files from other websites. These files can include scripts, stylesheets, and images from external resources like Google, Facebook, analytics services, and so on.
It’s ok to use a few of these. Many of these files are optimized to load as quickly as possible, so it’s faster than hosting them on your own website.
But if your plugins are making a lot of these requests, then it could slow down your website significantly.
You can reduce all these external HTTP requests by disabling scripts and styles or merging them into one file.
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