Have you ever wanted to speed up your WordPress website? I’ve put together 10 ways to speed up your WordPress website that even a novice can do. Over the last few years, fast loading websites have become crucial to ensure potential customers or readers stay on your website. Recent surveys have shown that over 53% of users will leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load
In this article, I will share the best (or most useful) WordPress optimisation tips and tricks to boost your website performance and speed.
I carried out a test on one of my new clients website to get an idea on the issues they were having with website speed. Using my favourite tool GT Metrix here are the results.
By following the steps below, you will learn how I improved their overall website speed by using my website optimisation blueprint – here are the final results are optimisation.
How to speed up your WordPress site and where to start with WordPress optimisation
First of all, I would suggest you use one (or all) of the following websites to figure out what the issues are with your website, then you’ll know exactly what’s causing you a speed-headache.
GT Metrix – my favourite tool for website speed optimisation
Pingdom – a close second, it reports quicker but doesn’t detail as much
Google PageSpeed Insights – good for finding out how Google rates your website
Whatever the results show, keep in mind that we will be trying to improve your score and it’s unlikely that you will reach 100/100 or 100% ratings – don’t waste your time trying as it’s not worth the effort.
Let’s get started – backup your website!
First of all, I would highly recommend you backup your website before doing any of the optimisation techniques listed below – just incase it breaks your website and you need to revert back to a previous version.
Here are the top solutions / plugins I would recommend for backing up your WordPress website;
BlogVault – $89 per year (great selection of features – most of my sites use this)
Updraft Plus – $84 per year (the big favourite in the WP community)
Backup Buddy – $52 per year (another popular backup solution)
STEP 1 – Choose a better website host
Your WordPress website hosting service is one of the most important roles in your website performance, whether you’re using a shared hosting platform, a VPS, cloud server or dedicated server you need to make sure they are optimised for WordPress.
There are many options to choose from that I will recommend later on, if you choose a shared hosting provider you will need to keep in mind that any other websites that share your server and have high traffic – your website will suffer! However, I understand that not everyone can afford a more dedicated solution for their website.
Managed WordPress hosting is on the rise and becoming very popular in the small business and blogging community as these hosting servers are fully optimised to get the best out of your website. Many Managed WordPress hosting companies also provide automatic backups, WordPress updates and security for your website.
I have recommend some of my favourite hosting platforms below and a quick guide to each, take your time to find the best fit for you.
SiteGround – from $4.95 per month
The cheapest on my list and one of the best budget hosting providers around, these guys have been around for years and offer lots of different packages, I would recommend the WordPress Hosting – Grow Big package from their list.
WPX Hosting – from $20 per month
WPX Hosting one of the best managed hosting providers for the price, they have a few hosting packages to choose from so choose which one would best suit your needs.
Kinsta – from $30 per month
One of the best up and coming hosting providers, I love these guys and they have a great support service. Kinsta have a wide variety of WordPress Hosting packages to suit any requirement.
WP Engine – from $29 per month
The leader of the pack when it comes to Managed WordPress Hosting, each of their packages are built solely for WordPress websites so you know you’re getting a good bang for your buck! They have quickly become to go-to guys for bloggers and startups!
Liquid Web – from $29 per month
Blazing fast servers for those of you who are looking for something more intense, these guys promise to show a massive uptake in your website speed – even on their basic Managed WordPress package.
Whatever hosting package you decide to go for, make sure they are on par with the companies I mentioned above as these features are what you will need to improve your website speed.
STEP 2 – Install a WordPress Cache Plugin
Most of the time, people will come on to your website via your homepage which in most cases – doesn’t change. Every time someones comes on to your website homepage it needs to run thousands of lines of code and queries just to display it properly (from the WordPress installation to your theme and active plugins) on someones screen.
Instead of generating this page fresh every time someone visits, you can use something called ‘cache’ which basically means the website will be served from a stored version. You may update your website page a few times per week and worry that they may not receive the latest version – don’t worry! Cache expires every few hours and can be cleared any time you edit the page.
By using a caching plugin you can increase your website speed anywhere from 3 to 7 times the original load time – impressive right! So plugin(s) will you need for your website? Good news – there are some free ones that are ace!
W3 Total Cache – FREE
This plugin comes to you for free and has over 1 million downloads straight from the WordPress repository. In your WordPress website click on Add New under the Plugins tab and type it in and your good to go.
WP Super Cache – FREE
From the creators of WordPress this plugin has over 2 million downloads and can be installed from the WordPress repository aswell. Like above, you can install it from Plugins tab and start tweaking some settings.
WP Rocket – $39 per year (THIS IS WHAT I USE ON MY SITES)
This is probably one of my favourite plugins and worth every penny, it has out performed any free caching plugin considerably on all the sites I have tested it on. It’s easier to setup than the two plugins mentioned above and has a great user interface. They have a dedicated support team that is on hand to help with any questions
Whichever caching plugin you use, be sure to check out my tutorials on getting the most out of each plugin – you can find them here.
STEP 3 – Optimise your images for speed
We all know that images are biggest contributors to how our websites look, one of the easiest tricks to improve your page speed is to reduce the size of these images without any compromise to the quality.
Images that you upload to your website in their original format can have extremely large file sizes which will cause your website to slow down dramatically. You can decrease your images in a photo editing program such a Photoshop which can be a pain in the a$$.
However, there are a many plugins that will do this at the click of a button and the good news for you is… I’ve tested most of them and will recommend the best ones below.
My favourite image compression plugins are;
Smush – FREE
By far my favourite image compression tool, I use this plugin on all my websites and have never had any problems. This awesome little tool can decrease image sizes by up to five times there size without any drop in quality.
EWW Image Optimizer – FREE
Another popular image compression tool that can’t be missed. It does the same job as Smush and there’s no difference in quality, just a small file size.
You can use any of the above plugins and you will notice a dramatic reduction in your images sizes and improvement in the speed of your website.
STEP 4 – Use a content delivery network (CDN)
It doesn’t matter if you have the best hosting company in the world, you will still have latency problems from time to time. If you have people from all over the world coming on to your website, it can be pain in the neck for your website load time due to pulling the data from across the globe.
To get rid of this issue, I would highly recommend you use a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
CloudFlare – FREE (and paid)
CloudFlare is probably the most popular Content Delivery Network (CDN) in the world, it has a huge range of products to help you manage your website. Many of the top websites in the world use their platform to deliver their websites. All my websites run on the CloudFlare platform now.
StackPath / MaxCDN – Free Trial ($20 per month)
MaxCDN used to be one of my favourite Content Delivery Networks until they joined forces with StackPath and I fell out of love with them, however they are still very good so worth the mention. They boast some pretty impressive clients and services that will blow you away.
If you decide on CloudFlare, don’t forget to check out my tutorial on getting your website setup.
STEP 5 – Check your plugins
I guarantee that you will have plugins install on your website that are either not activated, outdated, no longer supported or drastically slowing down your site.
Keeping any of the above plugins on your WordPress website will add a huge amount of junk to your website files and increase the size of your backups. I highly recommend you look through your plugins and deleted any that you don’t have activated straight away.
Check for plugins that are no longer supported by WordPress and out of date, you can find out which plugins could cause your website harm. To do this, simply click on Plugins from your menu, look at the plugin names and click on link that states ‘View details’ and if it’s out of date or no longer supported it will show something like the following image.
You can also use a free plugin called Query Monitor to check out which plugins are causing performance issues within your website and remove them.
Once you have removed all those deadwood plugins that are causing problems on your website, you need to optimise the good ones.
By using the minify feature of the caching plugins mentioned above you can remove all this unwanted data by reducing the file size by up to 50%.
STEP 7 – Don’t upload videos or audio to WordPress directly
If you have any videos or audio clips uploaded on your WordPress website, make sure you have a copy and remove them immediately!
Hosting large media files will increase your website load time and take up a huge amount of space on your server.
Instead of hosting them on your website, upload them to YouTube, Vimeo or Daily Motion and embed them into your website using their built in embedding features.
STEP 8 – Use the latest version of PHP
If you didn’t already know, WordPress runs on the programming language PHP.
To ensure your website is running as efficient as possible, make sure you have the latest version running – you can do this in your cPanel.
At the time of writing, the latest version of PHP is 7.3. According to a recent carried out by WPX, PHP 7.3 is 150% faster than PHP 5.6 which the majority of WordPress websites run on.
STEP 9 – Optimise your WordPress Database
If you have been using WordPress for a while, your database will have lots of old information that is not required is simply clogging up your website. To improve your websites performance, you can optimise your database to remove this information.
You can do this quickly using the plugin I mentioned above called WP Rocket. If you don’t want all the features of this highly recommended plugin, I would suggest using the free WP-Sweep plugin. It will allow you to deleted trashed posts, revisions and unused data. These plugin will also optimise your database structure with a single click.
STEP 10 – Update Update Update
Every few months, WordPress will release a new version and the plugins you are using will release updates to go along with it. These plugin updates are usually released to fix bugs, increase the security and improve functionality on your site.
You should try to keep your website and plugins updated at all times to prevent any security vulnerabilities to your website. You will also notice an improvement in site performance by keeping it up to date.
I hope the above information has helped to increase your website speed and the optimisations have created a noticeable change in your site performance. If you have any questions or would like some more help with optimising your website, let me know in the comments below and i’ll get back to you.