How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

Not only is having a fast website imperative for SEO, but it’s also very important for your website’s conversion rate.

If someone visits your site and it’s too slow, they are likely to leave and visit the next site.

That is why having a fast WordPress website is vital to a successful website. If your WordPress website is taking 6 seconds or longer to load than you need to read this now.

In this guide, we are going to show you how to speed up your WordPress website and lower your bounce rate, allowing you to get more traffic and conversions.

Why Having a Fast Website is Important

There are a large number of reasons that you want your website to be blazing fast.

One of the most important reasons is that having a slow website decreases your conversions on your website. Whether you are selling products, services or you are a blog, if your website is slow, people will leave.

According to Tyton Media:

“40% of people ventured away from a website if it loaded for more than 3 seconds.”

That mean’s that your website should load in at least 4 seconds or are you going to lose more than half of your visitors!

https://wordpressseo.net/yoast-seo-tutorial-for-beginners/

Another reason it’s super important is SEO (search engine optimization).

In order to rank high in Google and get loads of organic traffic from Google Search, you will need to have a really fast website.

Google looks at website usability and user experience as a search engine ranking signal so if you aren’t seeing great organic traffic, this could be why.

So, it’s very important you implement these strategies to increase your WordPress website speed.

Check Your Website Speed

Before doing anything, you should first check the current speed of your website so you have a benchmark.

There are a lot of great tools out there that will allow you to test your website speed. Google Search Console even has a new area that can give you insights about your website’s speed.

Here is a list of the best tools to check your website speed:

So how do you run a speed test on your WordPress website?

Here is an example of how to test your website’s speed with Pingdom.

Simply enter your WordPress website’s URL, choose a location that is closest to your location and click start test.

pingdom speed test

It will run through your site and give you details of each resource loaded, how long it takes and how to increase your speed.

pingdom speed test results

Your ideal website speed should be under 5 seconds but if you can get to 2-4 seconds you will be on the safe side. Any slowness of your WordPress website can cause high bounce rates so make sure it’s fast.

If your website will just not get any faster than you should probably look at your hosting provider.

Get Fast Hosting

Most new webmasters just pick the cheapest hosting option but this can actually hurt you really bad in the long run.

Have you ever came across a slow website on the first page of Google? The answer is no!

Google ranks website well that provide a good user experience and load fast for the searcher.

The cheap hosting sites will put your website on a shared server with hundreds or even thousands of other websites, all fighting for resources. This can cause slow loading for all of the sites on the shared server.

So which hosting sites are the best for WordPress?

From our WordPress Hosting guide, here are the fastest  and affordable hosting platforms for WordPress:

Host Price Uptime Rating
Bluehost $7.95 99.9%
WPEngine $29.00 99.9%
Hostgator $9.95 99.9%
Siteground $9.99 99.9%
A2 Hosting $9.99 99.83%
GreenGeeks $9.95 99.9%
Dreamhost $4.95 99.98%
InMotion $7.99 99.9%
Site5 $8.95 99.9%

Any of these hosting providers will allow you to have a fast loading website that can grow with your business.

The general rule of thumb is that the more you pay, the more speed that you will get so don’t skimp on WordPress hosting!

Reduce Plugins

The more plugins that are installed on your WordPress website the slower it’s going to get.

Each plugin has its own dependencies, javascript and other resources that take time to load. That is why having a minimal amount of plugins installed on your site is vital to having a fast WordPress website.

Most plugins can easily be installed or set up on your WordPress website without needing to install a Plugin.

If you are looking for the most streamlined and fastest website, have a WordPress developer set up the functionality you need without using a plugin so it doesn’t compromise your site speed.

To remove unwanted plugins from your site, simply go to your plugins page, click Deactivate and then Delete.

uninstall and delete wordpress plugin

Remove all of the plugins that you don’t need or use anymore.

Be sure to test your site speed before and after so you can benchmark the difference. You will be surprised how much removing a few bulky plugins can increase your WordPress website’s speed!

Optimize Images

One of the biggest culprits for a slow loading page is large and unoptimized images.

Having too many large images on your page can increase your loading times upwards of 2-3 seconds or more.

When you add large images to your website, it usually gets shrunk to fit the user’s screen, resulting in slow loading images that are being reduced anyway!

You can use a plugin like WP Smush to reduce the size of your website’s images, increasing your loading times.

smush image compression wordpress

Install and Activate the plugin and head to the settings page. You can find it by looking in the left sidebar for the ‘Smush’ tab.

It will take you through a simple set up wizard that is about 5 steps. Simply enable all of the features on each step of the wizard and then click finish setup wizard.

finish setup smush image plugin

Once that is complete you will be taken to the dashboard page where you can begin smushing your images. Click the ‘Bulk Smash Now’ button to begin smashing your images.

bulk smash running

It will run for a while depending on how many images you have in can take up to 30 minutes. When it is does running, you can see how much space it has saved after compressing all of your images.

bulk smash savings

If you want even more savings, or you need to smash more than 50 images with 1 click, you will need to upgrade to the Pro version. But simply smashing 50 images at a time will suffice for me!

Now that your images are compressed, you will need to stop people from using your images and draining your resources.

Disable Hotlinking

When you create custom images and upload them online, there is a chance that someone else will find your image and use it on their site. There are also websites that automatically index images and host them on their site.

This is called hotlinking and will cause load on your server, decreasing your own website’s load time.

In order to prevent people from hotlinking your images, you will need to add a small piece of code to your .htaccess file using FTP or the cPanel file manager.

Here is the code to disable hotlinking on your site:

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

Just paste it in your .htaccess file and you are all set.

Note: Be sure to change wordpressseo.net to your own domain name.

Install Caching

Cacheing is another great way to decrease your WordPress website’s load time.

Caching sounds complicated but its pretty simple really. With caching, simple HTML versions of your pages are created when someone visits a certain page. When other people visit that page

This reduces load times because the page doesn’t have to call the database and other resources that can increase load times.

Setting up caching is not as difficult as it may sound. First, you will need to install a plugin called W3 Total Cache.

w3 total cache wordpress

Install and activate the plugin and you should see a new tab on the left sidebar of your WordPress admin area called ‘Performance’.

Click the General Settings link and we are going to enable some caching features to increase the website speed.

w3 total cache settings

First, you want to enable Page Cache.

w3 total cache page cache

For the Page Cache Method, you should choose ‘Disk: Enhanced’ or any of the Opcode options if you have them enabled on your server. To enable these, you will need to contact your hosting provider, but you should see significant speed increases with just Disk: Enhanced.

Now you will want to enable Browser Cache as well.

w3 total cache browser cache

This will enable HTTP compression and expiry headers which will decrease the size of pages, making them load faster.

We can decrease their size even more by enabling minification.

Minify Your Code

Next, we are going to minify our HTML, CSS, and JS.

What is minifying?

It’s basically exactly how it sounds. When you minify code, it will combine all of your code, remove whitespace or any other redundancies and put it all into a nice small file.

This will reduce file sizes resulting in faster load times.

In the next section of W3 Total Cache, you will find the Minify box.

Now, you need to enable Minify.

w3 total cache minify settings

All of the default settings are fine and you will notice that a popup appears that will warn you that this could mess up your site design so be sure to check it after you click ‘Save Settings & Purge Caches’.

This will delete the old cache so you are served a new page that is up to date. If your site looks normal, then you are good to go and all of your code should be minified.

You can check by right-clicking on your webpage and clicking view source. This will show you the source code of your WordPress website. it should be

Set up a CDN

CDN stands for content delivery network.

It’s basically a server that hosts your media like images, CSS, JS and frees up load on your own server, increasing performance.

There is a handful of really great CDN’s that you can use to increase your website’s speed. Here are some of the best for WordPress:

To set up your CDN, you will simply use W3 Total Cache that we were using before to cache the site.

Head to the General Settings tab and go to the CDN section towards the bottom. You will find a dropdown that allows you to choose all of the most popular CDNs (including the ones above) that you can integrate right into W3 Total Cache.

Click enable CDN.

w3total cache cdn settings

Then, choose the CDN that you decide to go with. I will show you how to set up things on the CDN side using StackPath.

Simply head to StackPath.com and create an account. Now you will be taken through a simple set up wizard to get your CDN online and connected to your site.

On the first step, choose Website & Application services.

stackpath cdn

On step 2, select the CDN option.

choose cdn stackpath

Step 3 will ask you to enter the URL of your WordPress website that you are installing the CDN on.

choose a site stackpath

Don’t worry about any of the upgrades for now. Just simply installing the basic CDN should give us so large speed increases. The next step will ask you to confirm the hostname/IP address. you shouldn’t need to change anything here so click continue.

Now StackPath will return back your new Edge Address. This is the root domain of where all of your CDN hosted files will be located. Click continue to complete the CDN set up process.

stackapth edge address

Next, we need to create some API credentials that we can put into WordPress to connect this service to our WordPress website. Click your profile in the top right corner and select ‘API Management’.

Click the generate credentials button to create a new API key and secret.

generate api creds stackpath

It will generate a Client ID and API Client Secret that you will need to enter in W3 Total Cache in WordPress.

api credentials stackpath

So head back to the WordPress admin area and go back to the W3 Total Cache settings in the CDN config.

Click the Authorize button and it will allow you to paste in your Client ID and API Client Secret that we generated in StackPath.

config cdn options w3 total

Click Next and you have now set up a CDN on your WordPress website.

wordpress cdn api creds

To check if it is set up you can either click the Test StackPath button in W3 Total Cache or you can view the page source of your website and look for any image or external resource.

cdn installed stackpath

You will see that the URL is to your Edge Address in StackPath. This means that the CDN is installed and set up correctly!

Add Lazy Loading to Images

Setting up Lazy loading for your images can help decrease your page load time on your WordPress website.

Lazy loading its a growing practice that defers the initialization of objects until it’s needed on the screen.

Normally, when a web page loads, it’s loads the entire web page and then serves it to you. With lazy loading, it only loads the parts of the screen you can see, and then waits to load the other elements until you scroll to them.

With WordPress, setting up lazy loading is super simple.

First, Download the Lazy Load plugin by WP Rocket.

lazy load by wp rocket plugin

The Lazy Load settings are located in the  Settings->Lazy Load of your WordPress admin area. Simply head to the settings page and then choose which items you you want to lazy load. I would suggest checking all of the boxes to lazy load everything.

lazy load settings

And that’s it! Your WordPress website now has lazy loading installed and you will see a nice increase in site speed.

Limit Post Revisions

By default, WordPress saves the posts and pages every time you save it so that you can go back and revert any changes if you mess something up.

This is a great feature, but if you are making a lot of changes, it can create a large database.

I can create up to 100 revisions on a blog post so you can imagine how that can get out of control.

Luckily, we can limit the number of revisions that WordPress will save.

All you have to do is edit your wp-config.php file and add 1 simple line of code. Use cPanel file manager or FTP to edit your wp-config.php file and add the following code:

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

Change the number to however many post/page revisions you want to save maximum. Here is an example of this implementation in our wp-config.php file:

wordpress wp config post revisions

And that’s it! Now, WordPress will only save 3 post/page revisions and this will free up a lot of space in your database.

Finishing Up

Now that you have made all the necessary optimizations from above, its time to do a final test and see how much speed increases we got.

We ran WordPressSEO.net through the Pingdom speed tool and got a 1.52s load time!

pingdom speed after optimization

So you can see first hand that doing these methods can increase your speeds upwards of 100% or more!

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