Speeding up your WordPress site is very important. In the world of blogging, online business and SEO, speed is very important.
Why speed is important
Speed also affects user experience and conversion rate. It can make bounce rate go high or low. Google has a list of reasons why the performance of your blog or site matters.
The benefit of a fast website includes:
- Improved search engine ranking
- Better conversion rate
- Better user experience
- High income from ads and others
- Reduced bounce rates
- Better engagement rates
And many more.
The good news is that if you are using WordPress, and it is slow, this guide can help you make it fast. If you follow this guide, you can make WordPress very fast. This guide will be simple and straight to the point.
How test the speed of your website
There are many tools available to test your website. Here are some:
- ThinkWithGoogle: It focuses on mobile performance. Since Google use mobile first, the speed of your site on mobile is very important. Anything above 2.5 seconds should worry you.
- GTmetrix: You can check the speed of your site and many performance related issues. The scores gives you a better understanding how your site performs.
- Tools.Pingdom: Like GTmetrix, you can use it to check your speed and general performance
- PageSpeed insight: Owned by Google, it can help you check your website performance.
How to make your WordPress very fast
Follow these steps to make your WordPress blog or website very fast:
1. Choose a fast hosting provider
The first step to having a fast WordPress site is picking the right host for your blog. The host of your site goes a long way to determine how fast your website will be.
If you are starting a blog new, it is important that you pick a fast web host. If you already have a blog large or small but it is very slow. You may have to start thing of a fast web host.
There is a lot of marketing on the internet that confuses people. A lot of terrible web hosts advertise a lot and push attractive slogans like “unlimited bandwidth” “unlimited space” and all the unlimited lies. That is all part of marketing to win new customers.
Some pay affiliates huge amount of money. And these affiliates promote them on their blogs, even though they are not using it themselves. Just to make money!
So what makes a good hosting provider? There are several things. One is their uptime. You need a web host that has a good uptime. Meaning it will not always be going off. 99.9% uptime is good. You also need a host with the right server configuration. A security conscious web host is important. And a web host that is optimized for speed.
At this time, Cloudways is the best and fastest web host around for WordPress. That is where BloggingTools is hosted. You have a choice of several servers. The servers you get through them is well optimized for speed. With Vanish cache, Redis cache and more. They have an in-house plugin called Breeze that is amazing.
But Cloudways is most suitable for already established websites with good visitors as you will be paying up to $10 a month to for the smallest configuration. But if money is not an issue, as a beginner you can go for it.
Aside from Cloudways, Kinsta, WP Engine and Closte are good and fast for large websites too.
If you are just beginning, you may not need to use Cloudways or others listed above unless you have a good budget. The best is to start small and as your site grows, you move to one of the providers above. For beginners, you can use Bluehost. They have many data centers and tools to help new bloggers succeed. With a good support to run to when you have issues. And they are officially recommended by WordPress.
2. Pick a data center close to your audience
The data center that the server of your website is located can have a say in how fast your users access your website. The closer the data center is to your users, the faster it will load for them.
Where are most of your audience located? If you are already running a website, look at your analytics and you will find where the majority of your visitors are coming from. Then choose a data center close to them. If you are just starting, which locations are you targeting with your site? Get a data center close to it.
For major web hosting providers like the ones I listed, they offer you a choice of many data centers in many continents.
You can use a tool like GCPing to find the closest data center to you
3. Choose a lightweight and fast WordPress theme
The theme you use can seriously affect the speed of your WordPress website. A lot of themes are bloated. You find themes that seems to have everything packed in it. While it may sound exciting, it can also affect how fast your site load. This is because whenever your site is loading, most of the stuff that comes with it are loaded too whether you are using them or not. They also make the page size large.
The best practice is to go for a theme that is lightweight. And is fast loading and has what you need. A responsive theme is a must! As it will make your website faster and better on mobile. Google and all search engines love mobile performance.
There are some good themes that allow you to disable some elements you are not using and they will never load when your site is loading.
The fastest and most lightweight WordPress theme around is GeneratePress. There are many reasons this theme is good. It is lightweight. Less than 30kb! It is very fast. SEO optimized and has all the features you need. And you can deactivate any part of of its packaged options that you don’t need. BloggingTools is currently using this amazing theme!
4. Optimize images
Images can make your site load very slow. If you do not optimize your images, then you are hurting your website and your SEO.
Compressing and reducing the size of your image is very important if you care about the speed of your site. Thankfully, you can optimize your image without losing quality.
The most preferable way is to optimize images before uploading them to WordPress. You can use Photoshop or other similar applications to compress images before uploading. There are websites you can also use such as TinyJPG, CompressJpeg and Resizeimage.net
The advantage of compressing and optimizing your images before uploading them is that it will save you the headache of paying for premium image optimizers.
5. Use effective caching
Caching your website effectively can make it fast. It reduces load on your server while making content readily available to your readers.
Most elite web hosts handle caching at server level, but you may still need to use a caching plugin to speed up browser and page caching.
The caching plugin you use will depend on your web host. If you are using Cloudways as web host, using their in-house breeze plugin for caching is faster than any other caching plugin on server managed by them. If you use Hostinger, the LiteSpeed cache plugin will perform very well because of the LiteSpeed Web Server. For Siteground, SG Optimizer will work best.
Generally, WP Rocket and W3 total cache if well configured can improve performance too.
To take your caching to the next level, make use of vanish cache and object cache.
6. Make use of a CDN
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can make your site load faster. The visitors to your website will probably come from different locations. A CDN will help serve your website fast to them from a location closer to them.
A CDN is present in so many locations with a large network of data centers. This enables them to load your site fast to users from different countries. For example, if your site is hosted in India and you have a visitor from the USA, normally your site should be loaded from India since that is where your site is hosted. Imagine the time it will take to load from India for someone in the USA. But with a CDN, the site will load from the USA. Making it faster.
The CDN makes a copy of your website and store in different locations for easy and faster access. There are many CDNs out there.
CloudFlare is a popular CDN that you can use for free! They have so many data centers across the globe. BunnyCDN, StackPath CDN and Google Cloud CDN are also pleasant options.
7. Delete unused themes
There is no need to keep a theme that you are not using. You can delete them. An unused theme can consume disk space, which if full or close to full can affect performance.
You can always install anytime you want to change theme.
8. Deactivate or delete unused Plugin
Plugins make WordPress very easy to use. You can find a plugin for almost everything you need. While it can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing.
Most people tend to install plugins they never need just because of the functions. Unfortunately, some of these plugins can impact your website speed. Some are badly coded too.
The best practice is to deactivate or delete plugins that you are not using. You can always install in the future if there is a need.
9. Use latest PHP version
The PHP version that you are using can slow or fasten your WordPress blog.
Usually the newer PHP versions have been improved to be faster, handle things better and also more secure.
If you are unable to upgrade your PHP version, you can speak to your host to do that for you
10. Optimize HTML, CSS and JS files
Reducing the number of calls your CSS and JS files make can improve the loading time of your site. If you run a test of your site on Google PageSpeed Insight or any other speed tools, you may get a warning that relates to this.
While you can follow the guides provided by the test tools to improve your load time, if you are not technical enough, you may break things.
Thankfully, there is a plugin that does this so well and it is 100% free. You can install Autoptimize, activate and proceed to optimize HTML, CSSS and JS.
11. Unload unwanted CSS and JS
There are a lot of CSS and JS that load on your website that you do not need. Some plugin may come with many features but you are only using one of the features but they all load when it is activated. You can unload them.
Or you may only use the plugin for a particular page, but it loads on every page. An example is a contact us plugin. It is mostly used for the contact page. But whenever every page is loaded, the CSS loads.
The best thing is to unload them on pages you don’t need them.
12. Disable default options and features you are not using
There are a lot of default options that come with WordPress that you may not be using. Removing them can make your site perform better.
Examples include: Pingbacks and trackback, Emojis, embeds, RSD link, shortlink, Dashicons and many more.
You can deactivate them and make your site faster. With Plugin like Asset cleaner or Perfmatters you can handle this.
13. Enable Gzip compression
Compressing your site can improve speed and performance. It will also reduce bandwidth consumption.
Most caching plugin have options for you to do this. Check the plugin you are using or ask your host to do this for you.
If you know what you are doing and want to do it manually, copy the codes below and add it to your .htaccess file.
14. Clean up WordPress Database
Clean up the WordPress database to improve performance. Cleaning up means removing unwanted stuffs and optimizing existing ones.
You can delete spam comments, draft posts, and trash posts. Optimize database tables. Clean up other important options.
This will reduce the size of database and make your site faster.
Most caching plugin will have options to enable you to do this easily.
15. Reduce external scripts.
Even if you optimize your WordPress to be fast but you have some troublesome external scripts, they can slow down your site. A lot of the render-blocking resource warning are caused by external scripts
An example is Google AdSense, Google analytics and Google fonts. They can increase your page load time.
For Google AdSense, you should only use limited ad units per page and make use of Ad balance in your AdSense account to control it.
You can host Google analytics locally to improve performance. There are plugins that can help you do this.
Generally, only use external scripts that are necessary.