15 Pro Tips to Speed up A WordPress Site (Beginners’ Guide)

Can you remember when was the last time you waited too long to load a site? Can't remember, right? As we usually leave a site if it takes an eternity to load.

According to Google, your website should load in two seconds or less. Any longer and visitors start to lose interest

Which is why everyone is on a race to speed up their WordPress site.

But making a blazing fast website isn't a task of one night. You need to have dedication, consistency, and proper guideline to improve your WordPress site speed. That is why today we are going to discuss the ways to speed up a WordPress site.

Unlike other “X best WordPress caching plugin” lists or generic “X tips to speeding up WordPress” tutorials, this article is a comprehensive guide to WordPress performance optimization.

We tried to cover everything from why speed is important, how to check site speed, and actionable steps that you can take to improve your WordPress speed immediately. So, keep reading.

How to Check Your WordPress Site Speed

Speed up your WordPress site

Your website loads instantly on your computer that doesn't mean it will load instantly on every computer or device.

Since you frequently visit your own website, modern browsers like Chrome store your website in the cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing an address. This makes your website load almost instantly.

However, a normal user who is visiting your website for the first time may not have the same experience. In fact, users in different geographical locations will have a completely different experience.

So, you need a neutral speed checker that will show you the real page loading speed of your site. We are gonna use Free Speed Test Tool here to check our site speed.

  • Browse that tool and put your site name to the selected area.
speed test
  • You will see the result of how your site is performing. Remember a good page should load under 2 seconds.

If you aren't comfortable with the above-mentioned tool, you can choose its alternatives. The following three tools are used extensively across the web:

  1. WebPageTest.org
  2. Tools.Pingdom.com
  3. PageSpeed Insights 

Why It Is Important to Speed up Your WordPress Site

Importance to speed up WordPress site

When we visit a website, if it takes too long to load, we leave that site without checking the reason why we visited that site. It increases the bounce rate of that website and decreases the impression as well.

Now more than ever site speed matters not only for ranking higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) but also to provide a better user experience and realize higher conversions. Google announced back in 2010 that desktop site speed had an effect on your SERP rank. However, in 2018, Google announced that mobile site speed has an effect on how you'll rank.

Apart from that,

So, you can't ignore the necessity to speed up WordPress site if you want to get a better conversion rate from your visitors.

15 Tips to Speed up Your WordPress Site

tips to speed up your WordPress site

After checking your site speed, if it takes more than 2 seconds to load, immediately take steps to make it faster than it was. Here we have mentioned 15 tips that can definitely improve your site speed if you take it seriously.

  1. Choose a Quality Web Hosting 
  2. Keep Your Site Up to Date
  3. Choose a Speed Optimized Theme
  4. Optimize Your Database
  5. Decrease Server Requests
  6. Use Optimized Images 
  7. Enable Page Caching
  8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Enable Gzip Compression 
  10. Minify CSS and JS Files
  11. Deactivate Unused Plugins 
  12. Don’t Upload Audio/ Video Directly to Your Site
  13. Add LazyLoad to Your Images 
  14. Disable Hotlinking & Leeching of Your Content
  15. Enable HTTPS and HTTP/2

As a side note, these are not ordered by importance or any criteria, we have just gathered everything that we have learned around how to speed up a WordPress site and listed them all here. Let's take an in-depth look at each of the points.

Choose a Quality Web Hosting 

choose a web hosting

Your Web hosting company and hosting package have a huge impact on the speed of your website, among many other important performance-related things. Most WordPress hosts offer several types of hosting:

  • Shared hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • Virtual private server (VPS) hosting
  • Managed WordPress hosting plans

When choosing a WordPress hosting plan, you generally get what you pay for. 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 gives 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.

Established websites with more content and higher levels of regular traffic should find a dedicated, VPS, or managed hosting plan from a reputable provider. These plans will allocate enough server resources to handle increased traffic without affecting load time.

Keep Your Site Up to Date

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 use,

  • WordPress updated version
  • Updated PHP version
  • HTML latest version
  • Updated WordPress Themes & Plugins.

Always be running the latest versions of these things to optimize performance, keep your site secure, patch bugs, and ensure every feature and tool functions as it should.

Choose a Speed Optimized Theme

There are many shiny and beautiful themes in the WordPress market. But don’t forget, themes with a lot of dynamic content, widgets, slider, sidebar, etc., can cause your hosting server to respond slowly.

Rather than opting for a feature-rich theme (which involves a lot of code that has to be loaded every time someone visits your site), take a minimal approach by using a theme that contains the bare bones of what is necessary to function well.

Be careful when purchasing themes on popular marketplaces. When you choose a theme, check the page speed of the theme’s demo. Then decide whether it is purchasable or not.

Optimize Your Database

Optimize database to speed up WordPress site

It's a good sign that WordPress often autosaves everything, but the disadvantage is that your database will get filled with thousands of post revisions, trackbacks, pingbacks, unapproved comments, and trashed items pretty quickly.

Cleaning up your database can be done manually through phpMyAdmin, although can be tricky and damaging if you don’t know what you’re doing.If you aren’t a technical whiz, installing a plugin to accomplish this task is the safer way to go.

Plugins like WP-Optimize, Advanced Database Cleaner, and WP-Sweep can help help you out to optimize your database.

These plugins routinely clear out your database’s trash, keeping the database efficient and filled only with what needs to be kept. Of course, when doing anything to your database, always back up first.

Decrease Server Requests

Server optimization to speed up WordPress site

A server request happens every time your browser asks some type of resource from your server. This can be a file like a style sheet, a script, or an image.

The more server requests necessary to complete loading your site, the longer it will take. As a consequence, requests should be as few as possible. Here are a few things you can do to reduce them to a minimum:

  • Lower the number of posts shown on a page
  • Only show post excerpts, no full posts on your archive pages (find the option under Settings > Reading)
  • Split longer posts into pages
  • If you get a lot of comments, break them up into several pages (Settings > Discussion)
  • Reduce the number of images and other elements on your page
  • Uninstall unnecessary plugins, especially slower ones

Use Optimized Images 

Image Optimization

Images are imperative to keeping a site visitor engaged. While your site may contain a ton of beautiful imagery, it’s a good idea to optimize these images to achieve fast page load times. There are multiple ways you can optimize your images, including compressing images, adding alt text and titles, and creating an image sitemap.

For automatically image compressing, you can use a WordPress plugin. WP Smush is a free plugin that automatically compresses images as you upload them to the media library. All compression is “lossless,” meaning that you won’t notice any difference in the quality of images.

If you don't want to use a plugin for image compression, you can do it manually. You can use photoshop or other image editing tools to minify your image size. Or, you can use online tools like tiny png to compress your images.

Enable Page Caching

how to make web pages load faster

WordPress pages are “dynamic.” This means that every time a visitor requests a web page from a non-cached site, the PHP on your WordPress server has to retrieve all the relevant content from your WordPress database, assemble it into an HTML file, and send that file to the client.

This method has its advantages, including saving server space and allowing for dynamic website content. But, it also takes more time and energy than sending a pre-written web page.

One of the most popular methods to solve this issue is using a cache plugin. A caching plugin will store the final view of your site for any future visitors. This means that your WordPress won’t have to generate it for every following person viewing the site.

Some of the most popular caching plugins are,

  1. Cache Enabler – WordPress Cache
  2. W3 Total Cache
  3. WP Super Cache

You can do it without using a plugin. For that reason, you will need to add expires headers by adding the following code to your .htaccess file.

#
# associate .js with “text/javascript” type (if not present in mime.conf)
#
AddType text/javascript .js

#
# configure mod_expires
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_expires.html
#

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 600 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/xhtml+xml “access plus 600 seconds”

#
# configure mod_headers
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_headers.html
#

Header set Cache-Control “max-age=2692000, public”

Header set Cache-Control “max-age=600, private, must-revalidate”

Header unset ETag
Header unset Last-Modified

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Use CDN to speed up WordPress site

A CDN leads to faster page load times because when configured, your website will use an optimized server that’s closest to your site visitor. The data center will store static content and files, and then deliver them to users based on their location.

This can help reduce external HTTP requests because the static content is already ready to go instead of requesting tons of HTTP at once.

You can use,

to set up your CDN. Though etting up a CDN can take a few hours, but it’s usually one of the quickest ways to dramatically improve page-loading speed.

Enable Gzip Compression 

Enable Gzip

The smaller your website size is, the faster it will load. GZip compression can reduce the size of your website content by about 70 percent. A website, after being compressed, loads faster due to the reduction in bandwidth.

When a user visits your website, their browser will automatically unzip the files and show their contents. This method of transmitting content from the server to the browser is far more efficient and saves a lot of time.

You can enable Gzip using WordPress plugins like,

If you want to do it manually that means without using a plugin, open your .htaccess file (found in the root directory on your server), and add the following code to it:


AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

Minify CSS, HTML and JS Files

Minify CSS, HTML and JS Files to speed up WordPress site

Minification of resources means removing unnecessary characters from your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS that are not required to load, such as:

  • White space characters
  • New line characters
  • Comments
  • Block delimiters

This speeds up your load times as it reduces the amount of code that has to be requested from the server.

There are plugins to help you out to minify your CSS, HTML and JS file.

Deactivate Unused Plugins & Themes

Deleting unused plugins and themes can speed up your WordPress site. Find out which plugins and themes you are not using anymore. If you’re not using a certain plugin, there’s a chance it’s doing unnecessary work in the background. It might be time to cut back.

To delete unused plugin, you’ll first need to deactivate it. Then you can go to your inactive plugins list and delete the ones you no longer want.

To remove unwanted themes, simply go to Appearance > Themes to delete the ones no longer in use.

Don’t Upload Audio/ Video Directly to Your Site

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!

It increases the loading time of your site tremendously. Instead of uploading audio and video (if it is needed) directly, embed the link and it will work perfectly.

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.

Add LazyLoad to Your Images 

wordpress file upload

Lazy loading is a concept where you delay the loading of the object unit the point where it is needed. In WordPress, this usually refers to not loading the object until a user scrolls down the page or using an on-click event. You can lazy load all sorts of content, from images to videos and even the commenting system.

To lazy load images, there is a great free little plugin called BJ Lazy Load. This plugin replaces all your post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and content iframes with a placeholder and loads the content as it gets close to enter the browser window when the visitor scrolls the page. Also works with text widgets.

To lazy load your videos there is a free plugin called Lazy Load for Videos. It replaces embedded YouTube and Vimeo videos with a clickable preview image. If your website is video-heavy this plugin alone can dramatically speed up WordPress.

Disable Hotlinking

Disable Hotlinking to speed up WordPress site

Hotlinking is a term used when one website uses another’s resources. For example, if someone has copied an image from your site, once his website is loaded, it loads the image from your website. This means that it is consuming bandwidth and resources from your server.

It makes your site slow and by disabling it you can improve your site speed.

You can disable hotlinking by adding the following code to your .htaccess file and updating it with your domain name.

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

After implementing hotlinking, images on external sites will show up as broken, a 403 error in the header.

Enable HTTPS and HTTP/2

Think out of the box

The web used HTTP 1.1 for a very long time. It was in need of an update! HTTP/2 has many performance enhancements over HTTP 1.1 like multiplexing, server push, header compression, and others.

In order to run HTTP/2, you must be running https on your site by having an SSL certificate installed.

It boosts up your WordPress site speed along with ensures the security of your site.

Stop Thinking and Start Optimizing Your Site Speed Now

If you're struggling to speed up your WordPress site, then it's time to start working on that. Make a plan according to our guide. Start checking your site point by point. Apply our suggestions to your site and see the impact whether it is working or not.

Remember one thing, you may not get the result instantly, but if you follow our guide you'll get positive results consistently and surely. It's not a task of overnight. So, be patient and keep your hard work up.

If you get any advantages from this guide, then don't forget to share it with our readers through the comment box below. It will help new readers to boost up their work.

And, if you face any problem while speeding up your site, do let us know. We are here to assist you. Good luck!

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Shams Sumon
Written by

Shams Sumon

Shams is a technology enthusiastic person who loves to write WordPress related content. In his free time, he loves to watch movies and sports. He has a keen interest in traveling all around the world.

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