When it comes to managing a WordPress site, appearance and functionality are not the only things that you should prioritize. Speed is also one of the most crucial aspects that can determine whether your page is worth visiting or not.
What is the point of having a beautiful theme and all the sophisticated plugins if readers have to wait forever to open your site, anyway?
That’s why in this article, I am going to show you several applicable methods to speed up WordPress. The great thing is, you don’t even have to pay a massive amount of money or learn much about coding to use them.
That said, before we dive into the tips, let’s learn why your website needs to be as fast as possible.
Why Speed Should Be Your Concern
Did you know that three seconds is the longest acceptable time for a site to open? Yes, that is the rule of thumb nowadays. The shorter it gets, the better. But if yours take longer, don’t expect to get higher traffic or bigger profits.
In other words, the speed of your WordPress greatly impacts user experience right from the start. You can’t engage visitors further if they are not impressed with how they first interact with your website.
Ultimately, this trend can lead to worse SEO performance since your bounce rate grows higher. To search engines, seeing many people exiting your page only after one click means that it is not good enough to be placed at the top.
I have some definitive proof to support that claim.
Based on data collected by Pingdom, when your site opens within two seconds, you will only suffer from a 9% bounce rate on average, while a three seconds delay increases it to 11%. Those are good numbers that should be your golden standard.
If the load time surpasses 5 seconds, the bounce rate multiplies to 38% and you should immediately start thinking about how to speed up WordPress.
Furthermore, a recent study also shows that 79% of online shoppers are reluctant to buy from the same place again if it has slow speeds across the site.
These days, customers want to purchase quickly and they can’t afford to lose any time. If they don’t get what’s expected, it makes sense to find somewhere else that has better service.
That’s why you need to pay attention to even the smallest time difference. In fact, another statistic reports that you can lose 7% of conversion even if your site is just 100 milliseconds slower. You don’t want that, do you?
Now you know that speed should really be your concern and one tiny second means a lot for users. There’s no reason you should take that for granted.
How Fast Is Your Own Website?
Before you implement all the methods to speed up a WordPress site, it’s important to get a better idea of how long readers should wait to visit your page.
To know the data for sure, you can use a tool like Pingdom, which has been trusted by many for collecting such crucial information.
Using it is pretty easy. Once you sign up for the service, go to the monitoring page and click Report. Choose Page Speed and the result will show up within 5 minutes. This is my example.
If your website turns out slow, this article will be very useful. However, if it’s already fast, extra optimization is always welcome to maximize performance.
10 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site
No expensive tools and advanced technical skill required, here are the best applicable ways to supercharge your website speed:
1. Pick a Reliable Hosting Provider
Hosting is like a foundation for your website. Therefore, you have to make sure you choose the best one that can be trusted with your files and can handle all the traffic you throw at it.
You will need to focus on delivering the best user experience and that means a server problem should never get in your way.
To make sure everything is of high quality, you should always pick a hosting provider carefully. Some indicators will help you decide which one can be your best choice.
Firstly, ensure it has a stable uptime. 99% is the standard and don’t ever settle with a company that offers less.
The second thing you need to look at is their pricing scheme. Compare all the specifications and see if the features are worth the price.
In this case, bear in mind that more expensive hosting doesn’t always mean a better service.
Amazing customer support is also one aspect you can’t overlook. Having a group of helpful professionals that’s ready to assist you 24/7 is a bliss.
What’s more, all the latest technology should be included. For example, every good hosting provider should have PHP 7.3, which is the most recent version of the programming language.
You can get 99+% uptime guarantee, cutting edge features, and a great 24/7 customer support that’s available around the world, in many different languages. What’s better, is that the price starts from as low as $0.80/month.
2. Be Up to Date with WordPress
WordPress is the most frequently updated content management system and that is actually a good thing for the users. Why? Because every time a newer iteration comes, there’s always a bunch of improvement in security, bug fixes, and speed.
Delaying such a crucial upgrade is similar to letting your site be vulnerable. As shown in the study data, 39.3% of hacked WordPress sites in 2017 did not use the latest version of the platform.
Therefore, to enjoy all the greatest features and secure your data, you always have to update it as soon as it’s available. Fortunately, since WordPress 3.7, the whole process is automated. If not, you can follow the instructions from the official support page to enable it.
3. Be Up to Date with Your Themes and Plugins
Like WordPress itself, themes and plugins are also subject to regular updates. As a matter of fact, you should always find those that are regularly refreshed to prevent running into problems.
Performance and security are still the main concern here, meaning that an outdated version is susceptible to errors and malware attacks. There’s a good chance it can affect your site speed, too.
However, there is no option to update themes and plugins automatically. The best solution is to keep track of them in the Dashboard on your own. Relax, it is all just one click away!
4. Use a Fast and Responsive Theme
A slow site might come from a poorly designed theme, too. So, before choosing one, you need to make sure it is fast and responsive. But how can you do that?
Well, I suggest that you also use Pingdom for this task. All you need to do is go to the demo page of a theme, copy the link, and paste it in the tool. It will provide you with guidelines for what needs to be improved.
However, I do have some recommendations for the fastest themes on the market right now.
- Avada — At around 1.9 MB in size, Avada is not a particularly small theme compared to others, but it is shown to offer an amazing 1.24 second load time. The stunning design and easy navigation also make it worth the $60 price tag.
- Wanium — You’d be surprised to know that this beautiful theme will only cost you $16. The minimalistic approach to the appearance might be the main reason it can achieve the 91 performance grade and 1.35-second page loading speed.
- Folia — A small 550 KB package, 93 performance score, and only sub-one second load times. What else could you want? Moreover, $49 is clearly a steal for what you can get.
5. Enable Caching
A cache is used to temporarily save someone’s browsing data from a website so it will load from local storage when they visit the same page. That is to say, web caching will produce a faster experience for returning users.
Some hosting providers offer caching capability by default but alternatively, you can use plugins to help you do the job. Autoptimize, W3 Total Cache, and WP Super Cache are some of the best tools you can get on the market and they are all free.
6. Optimize Your Images
Images are a big part of your webpage that don’t only make it more appealing but also serve to improve SEO purpose. However, after you have owned your WordPress site for quite some time, there might be too many pictures that could slow it down.
Don’t delete them right away because that will probably harm your older posts. Instead, you can start optimizing the uploaded photos by using image compression, which can be divided into two formats — lossy and lossless.
Lossy images will have a smaller size since a part of the data is removed permanently, meaning there is a decrease in quality. WordPress uses this method by default, and it allows you to adjust the compression rate.
In contrast, lossless compression keeps all the data intact while shrinking the file size at the same time by removing the file’s metadata. This compression method isn’t as aggressive as the previous one and will result in a smaller file size decrease. This is an excellent option if you have more storage to spare.
Having said that, both compression methods provide a perfect solution to your image-related speed problems.
But if you want to make a further adjustment and automatically optimize every photo that you upload, a WordPress image optimization plugin can be very helpful. Here are my top picks:
- Shortpixel — a lightweight, freemium plugin that will make sure every past image is compressed with one click. Both lossy and lossless compression are supported in various formats including JPG, PNG, GIF. It even supports PDF.
- Imagify — This image optimizer tool promises to maintain quality while significantly reducing file size. It provides three compression methods — Normal, Aggressive, and Ultra — based on how far you want your images to be compressed.
7. Use a CDN
CDN, short for Content Delivery Network, is a global set of servers whose main task is to provide a site’s content closer to the readers. For example, if someone is accessing Google from the USA, they are going to receive all the information from the nearest source.
Therefore, using a CDN will help your website load faster regardless of reader location because your data is not only stored in the origin server. It can also help you maintain the speed even when there is a high surge of traffic.
CloudFlare, KeyCDN, and Amazon CloudFront are the top-rated Content Delivery Networks you can use right now. As a matter of fact, your hosting provider might already give you the option to activate it, so be sure to check that out.
8. Activate Hotlinking Protection
Hotlinking refers to the act of “stealing” someone’s images and putting the exact URL on other websites, either for commercial or non-commercial use.
This unethical practice has been a huge problem for website owners because it will directly consume their bandwidth, which is a page’s ability to move a certain amount of data. The lower it gets, the less information you can give to your readers at the same time.
The worst part is, hotlinking might be done unintentionally.
For these reasons, you should activate the appropriate protection to prevent this issue from happening. You might want to try installing All In One WP Security and Firewall which can also help you block other security threats for free.
9. Use Gzip Compression
GZIP is both a file format and a famous compression method.
There are many big files that, when reduced in size, will make it easier for your WordPress site to load more data in a shorter period of time.
To enable such a process, you have two options — editing the .htacess file or using a plugin. I will show how to do this with the latter as it is more convenient:
I am using W3 Total Cache in this case.
Once you have installed the tool, go to the Performance menu on your admin page.
Choose Browser Cache and be sure to enable Enable HTTP (gzip) compression.
10. Maintain Your Database
The database is where WordPress stores all important data that will be retrieved every time your page is loaded. It is your duty as the owner to maintain such an important part of your website.
Sometimes, your data structure can get a bit too cluttered, which is not an optimal condition to deliver the fastest experience for readers.
Using a plugin, such as WP Optimize, will make it easier for you to keep the database up and running at its peak performance. All you have to do is select the necessary optimizations and enable them from your WordPress admin page.
Another reason to keep it optimized is security. Leaving your database unchecked is going to make it vulnerable to threats. One of the commonly known issues is SQL Injection, where hackers exploit the lack of protection using code injection to mess with your data.
This part should be your top priority as there is a lot at stake.
The Ultimate Alternative: Managed WordPress Hosting
Did you find all the tips above too complicated? Or are you unable to allocate your time to implement them? I can understand the situation, but eventually, somebody has got to tend to your WordPress site if you still wish it to thrive.
Luckily, some companies offer managed WordPress hosting, which has become the ultimate solution to this problem.
With this kind of plan, most of your website management is handled by professionals, leaving you to focus more on the concept and content. Everything will be fine-tuned to work specifically on WordPress, thus ensuring the highest performance.
Here are several features that managed hosting services have to speed up a WordPress site:
- Server-level caching — The practice of caching from the server side that can minimize latency and improve performance. Using managed WordPress hosting will eliminate the hassle of setting the client-server cache by yourself.
- Up-to-date Technologies — Incorporate the latest technology, such as PHP 7.3, HTTP/2, or the newest version of Nginx to make sure everything is running top-notch.
- Automatic updates and daily backups — Your hosting provider will take care of this so you don’t have to worry about your website losing important data or being outdated.
- Extra security — You are going to have an extra line of defense that will monitor your website for potential vulnerabilities and resolve a security threat before it becomes your concern.
- Premium DNS — By having a premium DNS, you will have a more reliable server for your domain name. It translates into better uptime and faster page loading speeds.
However, keep in mind that managed WordPress hosting is generally more expensive than regular shared web hosting — it can reach up to over 10 times of the normal price.
Still, if you have the budget and you fall into one of these categories, this plan might be more preferable:
- You are a full-time blogger who needs to use their time only to make more and better content.
- You have a thriving online business which needs to focus on other aspects, like marketing or production.
- You are a public figure who has to be present on many occasions.
Time to Take Action!
Having a fast website should always be your priority if you want to maximize your profit. You will be able to provide the best user experience and also prevent your visitors from fleeing.
Let’s have a quick overview of what you can do to speed up a WordPress site:
- Pick a reliable hosting provider — Make sure your hosting is high quality and can handle every optimization you throw at it.
- Be up to date with WordPress — Check if your WordPress version is the latest one to ensure performance and safety.
- Be up to date with your themes and plugins — Be mindful of outdated versions as they might cause problems and burden your website.
- Use a fast and responsive theme — Inspect the theme before you buy it using speed test tools like Pingdom.
- Enable Caching — Allow web caching to deliver faster loading speeds when people visit your webpage again.
- Optimize your images — Compress every image you upload to prevent them from slowing down your site.
- Using a CDN — Take advantage of a global set of servers to bring your content closer to the readers.
- Activate hotlinking protection — Prevent someone from stealing your images and eating up your bandwidth.
- Use gzip compression — Reduce file sizes to help your website deliver more data at the same time.
- Maintain your database — Declutter your database structure to keep it running smoothly.
If you find it difficult to set up all of these methods or just don’t have the time, I suggest using managed WordPress hosting instead. While it might be more expensive, your website will be taken care of, and you only need to focus on your content.
I hope that by reading this article, you will be able to make your website far quicker than it ever was before!