Would you like to improve the speed of your WordPress site? Fast-loading pages improve the user experience, increase pageviews, and aid in WordPress SEO. In this article, we’ll go over the best WordPress speed optimization tips for improving WordPress performance and speeding up your website.

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

We attempted to cover everything from why speed is important to what slows down your WordPress site and actionable steps you can take right away to improve your WordPress speed.

We’ve created a table of contents to help you navigate our ultimate guide to speeding up your WordPress site.

Table of Contents

WordPress Performance Fundamentals

  • Why is WordPress Site Speed Important?
  • How to Test the Speed of Your WordPress Website
  • What is the source of your WordPress website’s sluggishness?
  • The Importance of Reliable WordPress Hosting

WordPress Acceleration in Simple Steps (No Coding)

  • Install a Caching Plugin for WordPress
  • Optimize Images for Speed

Best Practices for WordPress Performance Optimization.

  • Maintain the Upkeep of Your WordPress Site
  • Improve Background Processes
  • Use Excerpts on the Homepage and in the Archives
  • Divide your comments into pages.
  • Make use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Uploading audio/video files directly to WordPress is not recommended.
  • Use a Speed Optimized Theme.
  • Utilize Faster Plugins

WordPress Speed Optimization (Advanced)

  • Divide lengthy posts into pages.
  • Reduce the number of external HTTP requests.
  • Reduce Database Inquiries
  • WordPress Database Optimization
  • Limit Post Revisions
  • Disable Hotlinking and Leeching of Your Content
  • Use Lazy Loading if Needed
  • Make use of a DNS Level Website Firewall.
  • Fix HTTPS/SSL Errors Without Using a Plugin
  • The most recent PHP version

Why is WordPress Site Speed Important?

According to studies, the average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds to 7 seconds between 2000 and 2016.

What does this mean for you as the owner of a website?

You have a limited amount of time to show users your content and persuade them to stay on your website.

Users may abandon your website before it even begins to load if it is too slow.

According to a StrangeLoop case study involving Amazon, Google, and other larger sites, a one-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% loss in conversions, an 11% decrease in page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, Google and other search engines have already begun penalizing slower websites by ranking them lower in search results, resulting in lower traffic for slow websites.

To summarize, if you want more traffic, subscribers, and revenue from your website, you must create a FAST WordPress website!

How to Test the Speed of Your WordPress Website

Beginners frequently believe that their website is adequate simply because it does not appear to be slow on their computer. That is a HUGE blunder.

Because you frequently visit your own website, modern browsers like Chrome cache it and automatically prefetch it as soon as you begin typing an address. As a result, your website will load almost instantly.

A normal user visiting your website for the first time, on the other hand, may not have the same experience.

In fact, users in different geographic locations will have vastly different experiences

It is a free online tool that allows you to test the speed of your website.

Following your website speed test, you may be wondering, “What is a good website speed that I should aim for?”

A good page load time is less than two seconds.

However, the faster you can complete it, the better. A few milliseconds saved here and there can add up to a half-second or even a full second saved on your load time.

What is the source of your WordPress website’s sluggishness?

Your speed test report will most likely include a number of suggestions for improvement. However, the majority of that is technical jargon that is difficult for beginners to understand.

Understanding what causes your website to lag is the key to improving performance and making better long-term decisions.

The following are the primary causes of a slow WordPress website:

  • Web hosting – When your web hosting server is not properly configured, your website’s speed suffers.
  • WordPress Configuration – If your WordPress site is not serving cached pages, it will overload your server, causing your website to be slow or completely crash.
  • Page Size – Mostly images that haven’t been optimized for the web.
  • Poorly Coded Plugins – Using a poorly coded plugin can significantly slow down your website.
  • External scripts – External scripts such as ads, font loaders, and so on can have a significant impact on the performance of your website.

Now that you know what is slowing down your WordPress website, let’s look at how to speed it up.

The Importance of Reliable WordPress Hosting

Your WordPress hosting service is critical to the performance of your website. A good shared hosting provider, such as Bluehost or Siteground, will go above and beyond to optimize your website for performance.

However, with shared hosting, you share the server’s resources with a large number of other customers. This means that if your neighboring site receives a lot of traffic, it can affect the overall server performance, slowing down your website.

Using a managed WordPress hosting service, on the other hand, provides you with the most optimized server configurations for running WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting companies also provide automatic backups, WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to safeguard your website.

WPEngine is our recommended managed WordPress hosting provider. They are also the most well-known in the industry. (See our exclusive WPEngine discount.)

WordPress Acceleration in Simple Steps (No Coding)

We understand that making changes to your website configuration can be frightening for beginners, especially if you are not a techie.

But don’t be concerned; you’re not alone. We have assisted thousands of WordPress users in improving the performance of their sites.

We’ll show you how to speed up your WordPress site with a few simple clicks (no coding required).

You can do this if you can point and click!

Install a Caching Plugin for WordPress.

Pages on WordPress are “dynamic.” This means that they are created on the fly whenever someone visits a post or page on your website.

WordPress must run a process to find the necessary information, put it all together, and then display it to your user in order to build your pages.

This process has a lot of steps, and it can really slow down your website if you have a lot of people visiting it at the same time.

As a result, we recommend that every WordPress site use a caching plugin. Caching could also increase the speed of your WordPress site by 2x to 5x.

This is how it works.

Instead of going through the entire page generation process each time, your caching plugin copies the page after the first load and then serves that cached version to every subsequent user.

When a user visits your WordPress site, your server retrieves information from a MySQL database and your PHP files, as shown in the graphics above. It then combines everything into HTML content, which is served to the user.

It is a lengthy process, but then you can ignore much of it by using caching instead.

There are numerous WordPress caching plugins available, but we recommend WP Rocket (premium) or WP Super Cache (free).

Many WordPress hosting companies, such as Bluehost and SiteGround, also provide caching solutions.

SuperCacher for SiteGround

If you’re using SiteGround, go to your hosting cPanel and enable SuperCacher under ‘Site improvement tools.’

Then, in order to manage SuperCacher settings, you must install and activate the SG Optimizer plugin in WordPress.

Caching on Bluehost

If you’re using Bluehost, go to My Sites » Performance and enable caching.

If you use a managed WordPress hosting provider, you won’t need a caching plugin because it’s built-in and enabled by default.

Bonus: For maximum performance, combine caching plugins with a web application firewall such as CloudFlare or Sucuri.

Image Speed Optimization

Images help put your content to life and increase engagement. According to research, using colored visuals increases the likelihood of people reading your content by 80%.

However, if your images aren’t optimized, they could be doing more harm than good. In fact, one of the most common speed issues we see on beginner websites is unoptimized images.

We recommend that you use photo editing software to optimize your images for the web before uploading them directly from your phone or camera.

These photos can have massive file sizes in their original formats. However, depending on the image file format and compression settings in your editing software, you can reduce the size of your image by up to 5x.

We only use two image formats at Your Blog Master: JPEG and PNG.

You may be wondering what the difference is.

The PNG image format, on the other hand, is uncompressed. If you compress an image, a few information is missing, so an uncompressed image has higher quality and more detail. The disadvantage is that it is a larger file size and thus takes longer to load.

JPEG, on the other hand, is a compressed file format that reduces image quality slightly while being significantly smaller in size.

So, how do we know which image format to use?

When we have a photo or image with a lot of different colors, we use JPEG.
When we need a transparent image or a simpler image, we use PNG.
JPEGs make up the vast majority of our images.

The chart below compares the file sizes and compression tools that we could have used for the StrangeLoop image used above.

Best Practices for WordPress Performance Optimization

You’ll notice your site loading much faster after installing a caching plugin and optimizing your images.

However, if you truly want to keep your website as fast as possible, you must follow the best practices outlined below.

Because these suggestions aren’t overly technical, you won’t need to know any code to put them into action. However, using them will prevent common issues that will cause your website to slow down.

Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

WordPress, as a well-maintained open source project, is frequently updated. Each update will include not only new features, but also fixes for security flaws and bugs. Your WordPress theme and plugins may also receive regular updates.

It is your responsibility as a website owner to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins up to date. Failure to do so may cause your site to be slow and unreliable, as well as leave you vulnerable to security threats.

Improve Background Processes

Background processes in WordPress are tasks that are scheduled to run in the background of your WordPress site. Some examples of background tasks that run on a WordPress site are as follows:

  • WordPress Backup plugin responsibilities
  • WordPress cron jobs for scheduled post publication
  • Cron jobs in WordPress to check for updates
  • Search engines and other crawlers attempting to retrieve content

Tasks such as cron jobs for scheduled posts and updates have little impact on website performance.

Other background processes, such as backup plugins and excessive crawling by search engines, can, however, slow down a website.

When it comes to backup plugins, make sure that your WordPress backup plugin only runs during low traffic times on your website. You must also modify the frequency of backups and the data that must be backed up.

For example, if you’re making a full daily backup but only publishing new content twice a week, you’ll need to adjust.

If you need more frequent backups, such as real-time backups, we recommend using a SaaS solution to avoid taxing your server.

When it comes to crawling, you should keep an eye on your crawl reports in Google Search Console. Frequent crawls that result in errors can cause your website to slow down or go down.

Use Excerpts on the Homepage and in the Archives

WordPress displays the full content of each article on your homepage and archives by default. This means that your homepage, categories, tags, and other archive pages will all take longer to load.

Another disadvantage of displaying full articles on these pages is that users are less likely to click through to the actual article. This can reduce pageviews and the amount of time users spend on your site.

You can configure your site to display excerpts rather than the full content to reduce loading times for archive pages.

You can change the setting to “For each article in a feed, show: Summary” instead of “Full Text” by going to Settings » Reading.

Divide your comments into pages

Getting a lot of feedback on your blog posts? Congratulations! That’s a great sign of a receptive audience.

However, loading all of those comments can slow down your site.

WordPress includes a built-in solution for this. Simply navigate to Settings » Discussion and select the “Break comments into pages” option.

Make use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Remember how we said earlier that users in different geographical locations may experience varying loading times on your site?

This is due to the fact that the location of your web hosting servers can affect the speed of your website.

Assume your web hosting company’s servers are located in the United States. A visitor from the United States will typically experience faster loading times than a visitor from India.

The use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help to reduce loading times for all of your visitors.

The CDN is a network of servers located all over the world. Each server will keep “static” files that are used to build your website.

Static files include files that do not change, such as images, CSS, and JavaScript, as opposed to your WordPress pages, which are “dynamic,” as explained above.

When you use a CDN, every time a user visits your website, the static files are served from the server that is closest to them. Because the CDN is doing a lot of the work, your own web hosting server will be faster as well.

We recommend that you use StackPath CDN. We’ve been using MaxCDN on all of our websites, and it’s now a part of StackPath.

It works well with WordPress websites and works in tandem with your existing WordPress caching plugins to provide even faster loading times.

Uploading audio/video files directly to WordPress is not recommended

You can upload audio and video files directly to your WordPress site, and they will be automatically displayed in an HTML5 player…

However, you should NEVER do this!

You will incur bandwidth costs if you host audio and video. Even if your plan includes “unlimited” bandwidth, your web hosting company may charge you overage fees or even shut down your site entirely.

Hosting large media files also significantly increases backup sizes, making it difficult to restore WordPress from backup.

Instead, use an audio and video hosting service, such as YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, SoundCloud, and others, and let them handle the heavy lifting. They have the necessary bandwidth!

WordPress includes a video embed feature, so you can copy and paste the URL of your video directly into your post, and it will embed automatically.

Use a Speed Optimized Theme

When choosing a theme for your website, pay special attention to speed optimization. Some themes that appear to be beautiful and impressive are actually poorly coded and can significantly slow down your site.

It is usually preferable to go with a simpler theme rather than one that is bloated with complex layouts, flashy animations, and other superfluous features. You can always add those features with the help of high-quality WordPress plugins.

Premium WordPress theme shops such as StudioPress, Themify, CSSIgniter, and Astra provide well-coded and speed-optimized themes.

Utilize Faster Plugins

Poorly coded WordPress plugins frequently load excessive bloat, whether your site requires it or not. This both speeds up and slows down your site’s page load time.

We frequently publish our expert pick of best WordPress plugin showcases to help you choose the best plugins. We place a premium on usability, user experience, and, most importantly, performance.

The following are some of our recommendations for the most popular WordPress plugin categories.

  • WPForms – WordPress’s fastest and most user-friendly contact form plugin.
  • Soliloquy – If you want to add sliders to your site, the best WordPress slider plugin in terms of performance and features is Soliloquy.
  • Envira Gallery – Photo gallery plugins can also cause WordPress to slow down. We ran the tests and discovered Envira Gallery to be the fastest WordPress photo gallery plugin.
  • Shared Counts – Social media plugins load additional scripts in an inelegant manner. Shared Counts is one of the quickest WordPress social media plugins.

You can run your own tests in addition to our recommendations. To compare the impact of a plugin on performance, simply run speed tests before and after installing it.

WordPress Speed Optimization (Advanced)

You should notice a significant improvement in your site’s loading times if you follow the WordPress optimization best practices and basic speed tips listed above.

However, every fraction of a second matters. If you want the fastest possible speed, you’ll need to make a few more changes.

Divide lengthy posts into pages.

Longer and more in-depth blog posts are popular with readers. Longer posts are also more likely to rank higher in search engines.

However, if you publish long-form articles with a lot of images, it may slow down your loading times.

Consider breaking up your longer posts into multiple pages instead.

WordPress includes built-in functionality to accomplish this. Simply include the!––nextpage––> tag in your article where you want it to be split into a new page. If you want to move the article to the next page, repeat the process.

Reduce HTTP Requests from Outside the System

Many WordPress plugins and themes load files from third-party websites. These files may contain scripts, stylesheets, and images from third-party sources such as Google, Facebook, and analytics services.

It is acceptable to use a few of these. Many of these files have been optimized to load as quickly as possible, making them faster than hosting them on your own website.

However, if your plugins make a large number of these requests, your website may experience significant slowdown.

All of these external HTTP requests can be reduced by disabling scripts and styles or merging them into a single file.

Reduce Database Inquiries

Unfortunately, there are many poorly coded WordPress themes available. They disregard WordPress best practices and end up making direct database calls or making too many unnecessary database requests. This can significantly slow down your server by overloading it with work.

Even well-coded themes can contain code that makes database calls just to get the basics of your blog.

In this example, every time you see?php, it represents the beginning of a new database call:

  1. <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" dir="<?php language_attributes(); ?>">
  2. <head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
  3. <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="<?php bloginfo('html_type'); ?>
  4. charset=<?php bloginfo('charset'); ?>" />

Theme developers are not to blame for this. They simply have no other way of determining the language of your website.

However, if you are customizing your site with a child theme, you can replace these database calls with your specific information to reduce the number of database calls.

  1. <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" dir="ltr">
  2. <head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
  3. <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />

Examine your parent theme for similar instances that can be easily replaced with static information.

WordPress Database Optimization

After using WordPress for a while, your database will likely contain a lot of information that you no longer require. You can optimize your database for better performance by removing all unnecessary information.

This is simple to manage with the WP-Sweep plugin. It allows you to clean up your WordPress database by removing trashed posts, revisions, unused tags, and so on. It will also optimize the structure of your database with a single click.

Post-Revision Restrictions

Post revisions consume database space in your WordPress installation. Some users believe that revisions can also have an impact on database queries run by plugins. If the plugin does not explicitly exclude post revisions, it may cause your site to slow down by searching through them unnecessarily.

WordPress allows you to easily limit the number of revisions it keeps for each article. Simply paste this code into your wp-config.php file.

  1. define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 4 );

This code will limit WordPress to only saving the last four revisions of each post or page, and will automatically discard older revisions.

Disable Hotlinking and Content Leaching

If you create high-quality content for your WordPress site, the sad truth is that it will be stolen sooner or later.

This occurs when other websites serve your images directly from their URLs on your website rather than uploading them to their own servers. In effect, they are stealing your web hosting bandwidth while providing no traffic in return.

Simply add this code to your.htaccess file to prevent images from being hotlinked from your WordPress site.

  1. #disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
  2. RewriteEngine on
  3. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
  4. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? Yourblogmaster.com [NC]
  5. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
  6. RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Remember to replace Yourblogmaster.com with your own domain.

Some content scraping websites generate posts automatically by stealing your content from your RSS feed.

If necessary, use Lazy Loading.

If you include a lot of images, video embeds, and photo galleries in your blog posts, your site will benefit from lazy loading.

Lazy loading downloads only the images and videos that will be visible on the user’s screen, rather than all of them at once. All other images and video embeds are replaced with a placeholder image.

As a user scrolls down, your website loads images, which are now visible in the viewing area of the browser. Images, videos, and even WordPress comments and gravatars can be lazy loaded.

Make use of a DNS Level Website Firewall.

A WordPress firewall plugin aids in the prevention of brute force attacks, hacking attempts, and malware. However, not all firewall plugins are created equal.

Some of them run on your website, implying that attackers can already reach your web server before they are blocked. This is still effective in terms of security, but it is not optimal in terms of performance.

As a result, we recommend using a DNS level firewall such as Sucuri or Cloudflare. These firewalls prevent malicious requests from reaching your website.

Repair HTTPS/SSL Errors Without Using a Plugin

If you are migrating your website to HTTPS/SSL, you may encounter mixed content errors.

The simplest solution is to install a plugin such as Really Simple SSL. However, the issue is that these plugins first capture all URLs and then convert them to HTTPS before sending them to users’ browsers.

This has a minor but noticeable effect on performance. This can be reduced by manually fixing all URLs.

Use the most recent PHP version.

WordPress is typically written mostly in PHP programming language. It is a server-side language, which means that it is installed on and runs on your hosting server.

On their servers, all good WordPress hosting companies use the most stable PHP version. However, it is possible that your hosting provider is using an older PHP version.

PHP 7 is two times faster than previous versions. That is a significant performance boost that your website should take advantage of.

Installing and activating the Version Info plugin will show you which PHP version your site is running.

When you activate the plugin, it will display your PHP version in the footer of your WordPress admin dashboard.

If your website is running a version older than PHP 7, contact your hosting provider to have it updated. If they are unable to do so, it is time to look for a new WordPress hosting provider.

That’s all! We hope this article has taught you how to improve the speed and performance of WordPress.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with these methods. Don’t forget to test the speed of your website before and after implementing these best practices. You’ll be surprised at how much better your WordPress performance will improve as a result of these changes.

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