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19 Above And Beyond Tips To Speed Up WordPress

Do you experience slow loading pages? If the answer is YES, then you may need to speed up your WordPress website! Slow loading pages decrease your page views, worsen user experience, and hinder your WordPress SEO progress.

Speed is important!

Some major companies including Google, Shopzilla, Microsoft, Bing, and AOL have recognised the significance of having web pages that load quickly.

What are you waiting for? If you are looking forward to speeding up your website and boosting WordPress performance, then you are at the right place. In this article, you will learn the most important page speed optimisation tips effective for a slow WordPress site.

Did you know WordPress is the most popular Content Management System in the world?

WordPress is not just a platform for bloggers; it is a flexible content management system. With WordPress, you can create fully functional applications and websites or even a simple blog.

The number of WordPress speed up tips you should follow can depend on the type of website you have, however generally the more you implement the better chance you have of impressing your visitors as you’ll be providing them with the best possible experience. Now you may wonder, in what ways can I use WordPress?

Well, you can use WordPress in many different ways. It’s open to possibilities, here are some of the most popular:

  • Arcade
  • Blog
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Gallery
  • Portfolio
  • Rating Website
  • eCommerce Store
  • Video Collection Site
  • Membership Site

These are just a few examples of how WordPress can be used. By using WordPress you get to experience its true power.

Businesses worldwide use WordPress on their websites. According to ManageWP, over 74 million websites are currently powered by WordPress which is over 27.8% of all websites.

Some really high profile brands like Google, Sony, CNN, Facebook, Time Magazine, Disney, The New York Times, eBay, and LinkedIn use WordPress.

Why Should You Speed Up WordPress?

An experiment by Google replicated the slowness which accompanies a webpage or website with a bad page-load speed.

When the load speed was dropped from 100 milliseconds to 600 milliseconds, the number of searches decreased by 0.2% to 0.6% over a span of 4 to 6 weeks.

And a 200-millisecond delay meant 0.22% fewer searches in the first 3 weeks and 0.36% fewer searches in the following 3 weeks.

Furthermore, a 400-millisecond delay resulted to a decline of 0.44% and 0.76% searches in the first and second 3 week periods.

As a website owner, you may wonder – what do these results signify?

Well, time is important!

According to a StrangeLoop case study involving Google, Amazon, and other popular sites, a one second delay in page-load time can lead to 16% drop in customer satisfaction, 11% less page views, and 7% loss in conversions.

For instance, if your site normally earns £100,000 a day, then you could lose £2.5 million in sales over a year.

Currently, the average human attention span is 7 seconds, which is a significant drop from 12 seconds as it was in the year 2000, before the mass adoption of smart phones.

A slow website means you have little time to show your content and convince users to stay on your website because users will possibly leave your page before it even loads.

A slow website means users will possibly leave your page before it even loads!Click To Tweet

Here is the good and bad news!

The bad news is that Google, Yahoo, and other search engines are penalising slower websites by ranking them lower in search results. This means less traffic for slow sites.

And the good news is that you can get more subscribers, revenue, and traffic on your page if you speed up your WordPress website. Luckily, in this article, we offer you all the tips you need to accomplish this!

Before we highlight the steps to make your WordPress site FAST, you may need to know the importance of WordPress hosting, how to check your site’s time to first byte (TTFB) performance and what is probably slowing down your WordPress site.

Importance of WordPress Hosting

A specialist WordPress hosting service works magic on website performance. Better hosting means a more reliable and faster website. This means that your traffic generation efforts, Adwords, and SEO will attract more new visitors with better engagement.

A faster site means better SEO rankings as well as better customer retention. And with a better user experience, you get improved conversion rates.

Siteground is a good example of a shared hosting provider who takes extra measures to improve your WordPress page speed.

One disadvantage of shared hosting is that server resources are shared with many other users. This can affect the server performance and in turn, slows down your website if your neighbouring sites get a lot of traffic.

Alternatively, you can use a managed WordPress hosting service which will give you the most enhanced server configuration to smoothly run WordPress.

Managed WordPress hosting firms also offer automatic WordPress updates, automatic backups, and advanced security configurations to safeguard your website.

On top of that, WordPress is free, easy to use, extendable using plugins and themes, search engine friendly, safe and secure, is easy to manage and can handle various media files. Add speed into the equation and your website will be up and running smoothly.

You can try WP Engine, which is a popular managed WordPress hosting provider. With Managed WordPress Hosting providers, not only will your website be faster than typical shared hosting, your platform will also be able to handle thousands of users at once.

For enterprise WordPress hosting, you can try Pagely. They are considered amongst the best in business.

Another option to consider is cloud hosting. It’s not as powerful as managed hosting, but is quicker to deploy and easier to scale up. Cloud compares favourably to shared, but the former is a much better alternative for the reasons stated above.

How fast is Your WordPress Website?

Have you ever measured your current site performance or speed?

One HUGE mistake beginners often make is thinking that their site is OK, just because it feels fast on their computer.

Since you usually visit your own page, modern browsers such as Chrome and Firefox store your website in a cache where it is automatically prefetched as soon as you begin typing an address. Therefore, your website will load almost instantly.

But a normal user may not have the same experience when visiting your page for the first time. In fact, different geographical locations result in a completely different user experience.

Therefore, we recommend that you test the speed of your website from different locations using free online tools like Pingdom, GTmetrix, WebPageTest, and PageSpeed Tools.

Kinsta has put together a thorough guide to give you a deep dive into the Pingdom Speed Test Tool, which will help you make sense of it’s waterfall analysis.

You can also access your site performance on your Google Analytics account. If you have not yet added your web page to GA, then you should.

Apart from these ways, many hosting services provide access to basic information on page load speed.

You have just run your website speed test and you may be wondering – what is the ideal page speed that I need to aim for?

If your page-load time is less than 2 seconds, then you are good to go!

If your #WordPress page-load time is less than 2 seconds, then you are good to go!Click To Tweet

In fact, the faster the website, the better the website. Surprisingly, you can make your website faster by making slight load time improvements – removing a few milliseconds here and there can add up to reduce your load time by half a second or even a full second. Even removing plugins you really don’t need help bring your WordPress site back to basics and speed it up.

What is slowing down Your WordPress Website?

The page speed test report gives different recommendations for improvement. If you are a beginner, it may be hard for you to understand these recommendations which are mostly technical jargon.

However, it is important to understand what is slowing down your website to improve performance and make smarter long-term decisions.

Here are the common causes for slow WordPress websites:

1. Web Hosting

A poor server and/or configuration hosting can hurt the speed of your website.

2. Page Size

Images that are not optimised for the web may slow your website down.

3. WordPress Configuration

A slow website is completely bad news, but what if your website crashes entirely? Ensure you check if your WordPress site is serving cached pages to avoid overloading your server.

4. Bad Plugins

Are you are experiencing a slow website? Then you may be using a plugin that is not coded properly.

5. External Scripts

External scripts like font loaders and ads can also have a massive impact on your website’s performance.

Easy Steps on How to Speed Up WordPress

Now that you know what is slowing down your WordPress website, let us look at ways you can make your WordPress website fast.

Making changes to your WordPress website configuration can be a scary thought for beginners, particularly if you aren’t a tech-geek.

But do not worry, you are not alone. Thousands of WordPress users have improved their page speed thanks to these simple steps.

Speed up your WordPress website with just a few clicks. Surprisingly, no coding is required – phew!

It’s even easy as ABC for beginners!

1. Choose a Good Host

The first and most important step when starting out is choosing a good host. For beginners, a shared host can seem like a good bargain. You may get unlimited page views, but suffer incredibly slow page speed and regular downtime especially during periods of high traffic.

Publishing popular stuff while running your WordPress website on shared hosting is asking for trouble.

Don’t be a victim of your site slowing down every time, try investing in better hosting.

Give managed WordPress hosting a try and reap the benefits of a fast WordPress site.

2. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin

WordPress pages are dynamic, meaning they are created on the fly when someone visits a page or post on your website. To create your pages, WordPress first runs a process aimed at finding and putting together all of the required information before displaying them to the user.

Lots of steps are involved in this process, and your website can really slow down if you have many people visiting your website at once.

To avoid the slow performance, you need to use a caching plugin on your WordPress site. Caching can make your website 2x to 5x faster.

Wondering how it works?

Instead of repeating the entire page generation procedure every time, caching copies the page and shares the cached version to all subsequent users.

Once a user visits your website which is made using PHP, information from your PHP files and MySQL database is retrieved on your server. All the information is then put together into HTML content and later served to the user. The process is quite long, but you can skip some steps if you use caching.

Multiple caching plugins are available for WordPress, you may try out the WP Super Cache plugin. Amazingly, it is easy to install and setup this plugin on your WordPress site and you will surely notice the difference.

Remember, if you are using a managed WordPress hosting provider, then a caching plugin won’t be necessary because they maintain it for you.

3. Optimise Images for Speed

Images lighten up your content which in turn helps boost engagement. Studies show that using coloured images or visuals makes users, 80% more likely to visit your page and read your content.

Avoid using non-optimised images, which could make things worse more than help improve the performance. In fact, images that are not optimised are one of the most commonly experienced page speed issues for beginners.

Before uploading a photo directly from your camera or phone, you may need to use photo editing software to ensure you optimise your images for the web.

Normally, photos can have large file sizes in their original formats. However, you can reduce your image size up to 5x depending on the compression and image file format you select in your editing software.

JPEG and PNG, are two of the best image formats you can use on your website.

What is the difference?

Well, JPEG image format is compressed. This file format slightly decreases image quality, but the image is considerably smaller in size.

PNG, on the other hand, is an uncompressed file format. When an image is compressed it loses some information, therefore an uncompressed image will have more detail and be higher in quality. The main disadvantage is that it is a huge file size; therefore it takes more time to load.

Now you may be wondering – which image format should I choose?

– If your image or photo has multiple colours, then use JPEG

– If you need a transparent photo or it is a simpler photo, then use PNG

Optimising images using popular editing tools like Photoshop is important to maintain the image quality and fasten the process of uploading images to your website.

Gravatar images

On the other hand, you can also adjust Gravatar images. This improves page speed by removing crazy looking Gravatar logos that may slow down your WordPress site.

You can choose to completely disable the images for everyone, and throughout the site.

Your site speed can be improved by setting the default image to a blank space instead of a default image. Just go to Settings >> Discussion on the WordPress dashboard.

Lazy Loading

Lastly, you can add Lazy Loading to your images. Lazy Load only gets the images that are visible in the user’s browser window, and when readers scroll down, the other images start to load before they come into view.

This boosts page speed and saves bandwidth through loading fewer data. Surprisingly, Lazy Load can also be used for texts and videos too!

Just install a Lazy Load plugin and automatically add Lazy Load to your images.

After optimising your images and installing a caching plugin, you will notice your website will begin loading faster.

Thousands of #WordPress users have improved their page speed thanks to these simple steps.Click To Tweet

Best Practices for WordPress Performance Optimisation

Amazingly, you can make your website load faster by using the following best practices.

These tips are simple to implement, no coding is needed. Using them will help make your website fast by preventing common slowdown issues.

1. Update Your WordPress Site Regularly

WordPress is an open source project that is well maintained and updated frequently. Every update offers new features and also fixes bugs and security issues. You may also need to regularly update your WordPress plugins and themes.

It is your responsibility to always keep your WordPress website, plugins, and themes updated to the latest versions. Miss this and your site can become unreliable and slow, as well as making you prone to security threats.

2. Use Excerpts on Archives and Homepage

Adding a WordPress navigation menu to your site is an easy task but really important. Normally, your WordPress menu settings handle where and how navigation menus are displayed.

By default WordPress displays the entire content of every article on your archives and home page. This means your tags, categories, archive pages, and homepage will all load slowly.

A disadvantage of displaying full articles is that users may forego the need of visiting the actual article. The result is reduced page views, and time users spend on your page.

The best part is you can speed up your archive pages’ loading times by setting your site to show excerpts instead of the whole content.

It’s simple! Just navigate to Settings >> Reading and select “Summary” rather than “Full Text” on the “For each article in a feed, show” option.

3. Split Your Comments into Pages

Well done! You’ve received many comments with your blog posts. This is a really good indicator of having an engaged audience.

However, the disadvantage is, your page speed is hurt through loading all those comments.

Luckily, WordPress has a built-in solution for the issue. Simply go to Settings >> Discussions and select the option, “Break comments into pages”.

4. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Previously, we mentioned that users in different geographical locations might experience completely different loading times on your website.

Usually, your web hosting server’s location can have an impact on the speed of your site. For instance, let’s assume your web hosting firm has its servers in London. A visitor who is also in London will generally load your site faster compared to a visitor located in New York.

Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help to accelerate loading times for your visitors.

What is a CDN?

CDN, short for Content Delivery Network, is a network of servers, which are geographically dispersed to deliver website’s cached content to end users depending on the user’s geographical location, the static content’s origin, and the content delivery edge server.

A CDN is made up of servers worldwide. Each server stores “static” files or unchanging files like CSS, JavaScript, and images. These are different from your “dynamic” WordPress pages as explained above.

When using a CDN, users visiting your website are served with those static files from any server that is close to them. Therefore, your web hosting server loads faster since the CDN has done most of the work.

You can use MaxCDN on all your projects. It complements your current WordPress caching plugins and also works well with websites that use WordPress, speeding up load times.

Alternatively, you can also use CloudFlare. CloudFlare can be integrated with W3 Total Cache plugin to greatly improve the page speed and also the security of your website. Surprisingly, both are absolutely FREE!

5. Uploading Videos Directly to WordPress is a No-no!

It is possible to upload videos directly to your WordPress website, and it will display them automatically in a HTML5 player.

But you should NEVER EVER do that!


Well, hosting videos is bandwidth intensive. Your web hosting company could charge you extra fees, or even completely shut down your website, even if you use one of their “unlimited” bandwidth packages.

Hosting videos vastly increases the size of your backups, making it hard for you to restore your WordPress website from a backup.

You should use alternative video hosting services like Vimeo, YouTube, and DailyMotion to perform all the hard work. Yes, they have the bandwidth for it!

WordPress comes with a fixed video embed feature, that helps you copy and paste all your video URLs directly into your page or post where they are embedded automatically.

6. Use a Speed Optimised Theme

When selecting a WordPress theme to use for your website, it is essential to focus on speed optimisation. Some impressive-looking and beautiful themes are poorly coded slowing your web page way down.

Usually, it is better to use quality plugins and select a simple theme to get all the features you require. Avoid choosing a bloated theme that has complex layouts, unnecessary features, and flashy animations.

Exceptional WordPress theme shops include Array Themes, Themify, and StudioPress, which offer well optimised and coded themes for page speed.

After selecting the ideal WordPress theme you may want to learn how to properly switch your WordPress theme for a smoother transition.

7. Use a Faster Slider Plugin

Another common element of web design that can lead to a slow website is sliders.

Even if all your images are optimised, a slider plugin that is poorly coded means your entire work is wasted.

Soliloquy is one of the fastest WordPress sliders compared to other slider plugins based on features and performance.

8. Use a Faster Gallery Plugin

Do you have a photography portfolio or website?

Then you may need to display your photos using an image gallery plugin. It is very important to choose a WordPress gallery plugin which is optimised for greater speed.

Envira Gallery is one of the best WordPress gallery plugins on the market. If you need to create stunning image galleries which are fast to load, then you should consider using this gallery plugin.

9. Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks

Pingbacks and trackbacks help you know that another websites or blogs are linking to your post. Pingbacks are automatic while trackbacks are manual, but both end up as comments on your page.

Did you know that 99% of all pingbacks and trackbacks are spam?

If you begin getting too much of them, your page speed can possibly be affected.

To correct this, simply go to Settings >> Discussions, then disable pingbacks and trackbacks under the Default Article option.

Alternatively, you can use an Anti-Spam plugin to deal with spam.

Say goodbye to spam!

10. Optimise WordPress Database

After using WordPress for some time, your database will be filled with a lots of unnecessary information that you don’t require anymore. For improved page speed, you can consider database optimisation to get rid of the unnecessary information.

This can be easily done with the WP-Sweep plugin. It enables you to clean your database by deleting things such as unused tags, revisions and trashed posts. It also optimises the structure of your database, with just a click.

You can also use WP-Optimize or WP-DB Manager plugins. WP-DB Manager has an interesting feature which schedules dates to optimise your database.

The basic speed tips and best practices for WordPress optimisation listed above are fundamental in boosting your page speed and by using them you should notice a big improvement in your website’s loading times.

But every fraction of a second counts! That’s why you will need to make some more changes to attain the fastest speed possible.

You should consider advanced fine-tuning to speed up WordPress and you will save even more time wasted in page loading.

Amazingly, you can #speedup #WordPress by using these best practices!Click To Tweet

Advanced Fine-Tuning of WordPress for Speed

The tips listed below are a bit more technical, some require you to modify your websites files or have a general understanding of PHP. Not so good or helpful for beginners!

Make sure to backup your site first just in case.

1. Break Long Posts into Pages

Readers tend to love more in-depth and longer blog posts. Longer posts are even more likely to rank top in search engines.

But if you tend to publish long articles with a lot of images, it could hurt your loading times.

Instead, you should consider breaking up your longer posts or articles into multiple pages.

Luckily, WordPress has an inbuilt functionality to do that. Just add the NextPage tag in your post where you need to break it into next page.

Repeat this to break the article into the next page too.

2. Reduce External HTTP Requests

Many WordPress themes and plugins load all types of files from other sites. These files may include images, scripts, and stylesheets from external resources such as Facebook, Google, and analytics services.

It is OK to use some of these. Most of these optimised files load as fast as possible, so it is quicker than hosting them on your personal website.

However, your website can be slowed down significantly if your plugins make lots of these requests.

Therefore, you should disable styles and scripts or simply merge them into one file to reduce all the external HTTP requests.

To minify and concatenate on-page plugin stylesheets and scripts you can use a plugin like Better WordPress Minify, increase the number of files to minify (20 should be sufficient for most) and ensure that everything is still working, if not you may need to tell it to ignore certain scripts or to load them in a different order.

3. Reduce Database Calls

This step is a bit more technical and will need a general knowledge of PHP and WordPress template files.

Unfortunately, there are many WordPress themes that are poorly coded out there. WordPress standard practices are ignored and the themes end up making a lot of unnecessary database requests, or direct database calls. This overworks your server making it really slow.

Even well-coded themes have code that makes database calls in order to get basic information from your blog.

Theme developers cannot be blamed for that. They have no other technique to identify what language your site uses.

But if you customise your website using a child theme, then you can replace all of these database calls using your specific information to reduce the amount.

Always review your “parent” theme for cases like this which can be simply replaced with “static” information.

4. Limit Post Revisions

Post revisions consume space in your database. Some users also believe that revisions can hurt some database queries controlled by plugins. Your site might slow down if the plugin does not specifically eliminate post revisions by unnecessarily searching through them.

You can easily reduce the number of revisions WordPress saves for each article. Just add this line of code within your WP-config.php file.

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );

This code limits WordPress to only keep your last three revisions of each page or post, and automatically discard older revisions.

5. Disable Leaching and Hotlinking of your Content

If you’re posting quality content on your website, then the sad truth is that it will possibly be stolen sooner or later.

This usually happens when other sites serve your images or photos right from their URLs on your page, rather than uploading them to their personal servers. In effect, they are stealing your web-hosting bandwidth, and you get no traffic at all to show for it.

Just add this code to your .htaccess file to block images hotlinking from your WordPress page.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?YOURDOMAIN.COM [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Some content scraping sites automatically create posts after stealing your website content from your RSS feed.

Be extra cautious!

6. Add an Expires Header to Static Resources

An expires header specifies a future time so that users browsers do not have to re-fetch any “static” content such as images, javascript, and CSS files.

This technique can significantly reduce your load time for your regular users.

Simply copy and paste the code below into your .htaccess file located at your websites root directory:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/gif A2592000
ExpiresByType image/png A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpg A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpeg A2592000

The above numbers can be changed as you wish.

Testing your #WordPress site for #speed and #performance is a MUST!Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

Nothing beats a well managed WordPress website with a built-in caching solution and a custom theme from a good developer. If you are on a tight budget, don’t worry. There are several free online tools and software that you can use to speed up your site including WP SpamShield Anti-Spam, Lazy Load XT, Autoptimize, WP Sweep, and many more. You don’t need to spend a penny!

You can still try using a premium caching plugin to get the best results instead of using too many plugins for the same purpose. Anyway, using too many plugins does not necessarily hurt your site speed provided you use quality plugins.

Testing your site for speed and performance is a MUST!

While testing, use a different plugin every time to check the results. Each plugin may have a different effect on your site. Use the one that makes your WordPress website as fast as possible.

At the same time, be aware that having a fast website is just one of the many things you must concern yourself with. Being fast in other areas like customer support, social media responses, and others is just as important–sometimes, even more so!

I hope you really learned a lot in this article. Now you are equipped with valuable tricks to boost performance and speed up your WordPress site.

Simply go ahead and try out some of these techniques. Make sure to test your page’s speed before and after – you will surely be surprised how effective these tips are!

100 Tips for Maintaining Your WordPress Site

Defend your site from hackers, improve speed, and learn tactics used by WordPress experts

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About Steven Watts

Steven WattsSteven is the founder of Newt Labs. He's a WordPress specialist with an interest in building the most effective websites possible. Since 2010, he's been helping businesses with their online goals.

100 Tips for Maintaining Your WordPress Site

Defend your site from hackers, improve speed, and learn tactics used by WordPress experts

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