How to Speed Up WordPress

The art of increasing the speed of a WordPress site is something that any site owner should master. The reason is simple and logical, which is to have a faster page loading speed. After all, it is a key player in sustaining Web traffic and increasing conversions.

Thus, this guide is put on how to speed up WordPress. It starts by highlighting the importance of website loading speed, how it gets slowed down, and how to measure it. It then reveals the most effective, basic to advanced techniques to speed up the WordPress site as fast as possible.

So, are you all set to get rid of slow loading WordPress pages? Well, continue reading!

Basic Informations

Why Speed is Important for your WordPress Site?

It is a fact that the human attention span lasts just for a couple of seconds, not more than 10 seconds when focused. So, if someone visits your site for the first time, you as a site master have only those many seconds to keep them engaged.

Now out of these many seconds, if the landing page or home page takes two-three seconds to load, the individual is likely to leave your site even before it loads completely. As per the search panel of Bing, a delay by just two seconds is likely to result in decreased user satisfaction as well as number of clicks by 4+%.

In a nutshell, a slow loading time means losing the opportunity even before you could grab it! It also means reduced search engine ranking, as site speed is now an important SEO factor.

How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed?

Sadly, most WordPress developers believe that their website speed is fine. This is perhaps their computer loads it pretty fast. Well, this is something that no developer should believe it. This is because opening the site in the same modern browser and computer is quick due to caching that fetches the page quickly stored in the cache memory.

On the other hand, a user accessing your site for the first time from a different computer may not be able to enjoy the same loading speed. Thus, it is better to break the overconfidence by testing the speed using some free but reliable tool such as the only speed tool of wpengine.com and isitwp.com.

Usually, your web page should load within two seconds. However, if you can reduce this loading time, it is truly commendable.

What Slows Down Your WordPress Website?

To be able to reduce the loading time, it is essential to know what increases the same. After all, to resolve the problem, it is critical to know and handle its root cause. In this case, there are a couple of key causes most of which tend to technical.

Try finding the cause by first looking at the configuration of the web hosting server. If they are not suitable or are not set well, the loading speed is likely to fall significantly. Second, check the caching settings. In case caching is not supported, then too, the speed will become less.

Third, check the page content including the multimedia ones. If the images and videos are too many to load and not optimized, the loading time will be definitely more than expected.

Fourth, scan to spot inefficient add-ons, plugins, or third-party scripts. If their coding is inefficient, your page loading performance will also be inefficient.

Importance of Good WordPress Hosting

One of the major role players in good loading speed of your WordPress website is the hosting service you choose. This is because one such good service takes the responsibility of optimizing the overall performance of your website.

There are two main types of hosting services namely, shared and managed. In case of shared hosting, all server resources are shared amongst the websites hosted on that server. This means that if one of the sites get high traffic, the performance of other sites is likely to become slow.

This risk is not there in case of a managed or dedicated service. Such a hosting service offers the most optimized and as well as secured settings to execute WordPress sites.

Importance of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Do you know that a hosting server at a distance farther than your visitors results in more loading time than a server nearby them? The more remote the server is, the longer it takes to load the site. A CDN is a perfect solution to overcome this issue.

Typically, a CDN distributes all the static files of your site such as images and scripts across multiple servers at once. Now, when a visitor visits your site, the page is downloaded as fast as possible, as its files are accessed from the nearest possible location. This truly brings down the loading time.

Instead of hosting all content on a CDN, you can choose to host only some parts. There are many good CDN services available such as Cloudflare offering a free plan and MaxCDN.

Speeding Up WordPress

Here are some of the tested techniques to speed up your WordPress site. You may try using a few or all to get the desired results!

Use Best Plugins for Speed

As stated above, plugins with an inefficient coding decrease loading speed. Thus, it is vital to choose the plugins that help in either increasing the loading speed or at least does not affect the loading speed negatively. These plugins should also be easy to use and facilitate smooth user experience.

As a thumb rule, just test the page speed after using any plugin on it. If it is not down, you may use the plugin. However, there are hundreds of WordPress plugins. To make your job easy, here are some suggested WordPress plugins to consider.

You can use Soliloquy for having highly performing sliders, Breeze as a cache plugin, and WPForms for fast downloading of contact forms.

Optimize Images

It is a popular fact that images can bring down the performance of a web page, if bulky or not optimized. Well, this is because they take more storage as well as execution space than text files. Thus, it is essential to optimize or compress them without compromising their quality.

The best way is to compress them prior to uploading them on the server. There are many tools available for this purpose, such as Photoshop offering the Save for web option (without maximum compression) and ShortPixel for auto compressing the images while adding them to the site.

Just avoid narrowing a full-size image after posting it, as doing so results in a slow loading web page. To avoid this, just ensure to pick the right image size.

Update Plugins/Themes

It is known to all that WordPress continues to release new updates quite frequently. This is also applicable to the plugins you use. Well, it is wise to implement these updates, as they enhance security, fix bugs, and boost performance.

Thus, you should update all WordPress plugins as well as themes. In case you do not update, they will become too slow. Further, even the security of your site will be at more risk than earlier. So, just check out your dashboard and update or remove all outdated plugins, themes, and WordPress versions.

Database Maintenance

It is not unusual to load up the database with unused data, unused plugins, old content versions, and spam comments. Such stuff surely consumes space that would have otherwise be useful for something more useful.

To keep the database size as small as possible and more efficient in terms of functioning, it is vital to go for regular database maintenance. You can choose from one of the available tools such as WP-Optimize and WP-Sweep. It is also wise to keep an eye on the wp_options table, as it can decelerate the performance if it outgrows in size.

Use LazyLoad

Lazy loading is the process of loading only those images that will be visible in the currently focused area of the browser window. Thus, all the images on those pages are not loaded at once. When the visitor goes down, the other images start loading and become visible just when that page area comes into view.

This is truly a reliable optimization technique to accelerate page loads. It also preserves a significant amount of bandwidth by loading only the required content.

Leverage Browser Caching

Browser caching is the technique of downloading the static page content from the local space rather than from the server on which the site is hosted. The browser cache stores the content requested for the first time on the user’s browser.

Now, if the same user visits again or some other page of that same domain, the browser uses the copy in its temporary cache and downloads only the content that seems different or updated.

Utilize GZip Compression

This is all about compressing your WordPress website, which is simply a series of files. GZip compression significantly decreases the overall size by more than 50%. Obviously, a compressed website loads more quickly. The Breeze cache plugin can do this for you in case your hosting service does not offer it.

Add Expires Headers

An Expires header is one of the ways to leverage browser caching. It is a means to state a distant time in the future for page assets so that the browsers do not have to re-download any static content. The tag stating the expiry time in seconds should be set in the root .htaccess file.

Serve Static Content from A Cookieless Domain

Linking an HTTP cookie with static content results in extra overhead. When a browser sends cookies along with a request for some static content, the hosting server overlooks them. Thus, the cookies result in unwanted traffic and shoot the load time.

Thus, it is essential to avoid cookies associated with the static content. For this, you need to have static resources on a domain that does not create cookies.

Defer Parsing of JavaScript

This is a useful technique for those who have lots of JavaScript code in their WordPress sites. The more the script in your WordPress site, the slower will be the loading time. Thus, either you use JavaScript only when needed or defer it parsing. To do so, you can use the lightweight plugin, WP Deferred JavaScript.

Parallelize Downloads across Hostnames

This is the technique in which you are required to set several sub-domains such that each one can take up the responsibility of loading different page resources. For browsers accessing sites over HTTP1.1, it is not mandatory to have this setup. This is because browsers deal with around 6 simultaneous connections per hostname. Thus, setting several hostnames enables a browser to deal with multiple connections at once.

Minify HTML

It is possible to deduct data the client needs to download by minifying resources having HTML, JavaScript, and CSS assets. Here, you remove unwanted characters such as whitespaces and comments from the code. This increases the loading speed significantly, as the file size gets reduced.

Remove Query Strings from Static Resources

You may also try deleting query strings that start from ‘&’ or ‘?’ in URLs. While it does not directly help in decreasing the loading time, it resolves caching issues that may arise with a few CDNs or proxy caches.

Server Response Time Test

A fast server response time directly contributes to fast loading speed. This is regardless of how are your images and scripts are (compressed or not). So, do test the time your hosting server takes to respond.

Avoid Landing Page Redirects

From one URL, an HTTP redirect to another URL is an additional overhead, as it raises the user’s wait time. Thus, consider using a single preferred URL version.

Combine External JavaScript WordPress

JavaScript files are usually present in different external assets. Instead of having them as separate files, consider combining them into a single file. Doing so can reduce the loading time.

Minimize Request Size

An HTTP request is what a user initiates by clicking something, which is then sent to the server. It contains different details for the server to process and act upon. All such requests are executed in series, which means a high load on server if the requests are many. Thus, it is essential to minimize such requests.