If you’re using WordPress as your website platform, there are a number of ways to speed up your site and make it more responsive to users, which translates into more potential customers for you. These 10 tips will help you improve the performance of your WordPress website in just about every way possible – from making sure your images are optimized correctly to ensuring that your plugins aren’t bogging down the backend of your site. Put these tips into action today, and you’ll see an immediate performance improvement!
1) Use a CDN
If you host your WordPress site with a web host that gives you access to an easy-to-use CDN, use it. Cloudflare provides free CDN service for all its users and can speed up your site by caching static files in multiple locations around the world. You can also leverage Amazon’s free cloudfront service if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars. Just be sure you’re signed up for their Free Usage Tier and then go here to learn how it works. If all else fails, just move your site closer! Try hosting your website on DigitalOcean or another location closer to where most of your visitors are located.
2) Configure WP Rocket
In an attempt to improve WordPress website speed, it’s a good idea to keep your plugins and WordPress core up-to-date. That way, you can be sure that you have all of your bases covered when it comes to essential functions and features, which in turn will help ensure smoother performance. But even with careful updates and maintenance, users can still encounter hiccups in their experience because of poorly coded plugins or difficult-to-maintain themes. To avoid these issues, consider using a caching plugin like WP Rocket. This free plugin offers numerous optimization settings that users can toggle on or off as needed—by default, all are enabled but only about 10% are actually used.
3) Enable WP caching
Caching your WordPress site means letting your web host hold a copy of your website’s information in a temporary storage area, then serve it up on request. This can improve WordPress website speed by lowering server load and decreasing page load times. Some hosts have WP caching built into their hosting plans, while others (especially those with reseller hosting accounts) offer it as an add-on service for an additional fee. Research WP caching services if you’re not sure which type of plan you should get; pay attention to any limitations listed, as well as features like bandwidth caps or third-party statistics reporting. If you want more details about how to go about enabling WP caching, check out our complete guide: How To Enable Caching In WordPress – Complete Guide.
4) Optimize Images
Do you have plenty of gorgeous images on your WordPress website? If so, that’s awesome, but it may also be slowing down your site. That’s because WordPress has no way of telling if images are actually necessary. Images are usually downloaded by all users, whether they need them or not. Downloading large files unnecessarily can definitely impact website performance and slow it down considerably. In fact, one study found that simply serving an image could take up to 5 seconds for users. On top of that, each additional image adds an extra millisecond (or more) in delay when downloading from a server! So how do you optimize images?
5) Optimize Database Queries
A huge factor in WordPress performance is how many times your server has to query your database—WordPress stores everything from users’ content, comments, settings, and so on in a database. In fact, a poorly optimized database could take more than 3 seconds per page load just from database requests. Optimizing your queries can lead to significant speed gains for every page load—especially for pages with lots of comments or other data. The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert developer or even familiar with MySQL (the most common WordPress-database engine) in order to optimize your database queries; there are plenty of plug-ins that can do most of it for you.
6) Upgrade to PHP 7.2+
Over 60% of web hosts currently use version 5.6 or older, which isn’t as efficient and uses more memory than newer versions. It also tends to take longer for PHP pages to load and run. To speed up WordPress, your hosting provider should be able to provide you with an updated version of PHP; if they can’t, consider switching providers! When updating PHP, it is recommended that you work with your developer—or get one—to make sure any custom code on your site works with newer versions of PHP. There may be some issues that need tweaking after upgrading.
7) Add an SSL certificate
One of the easiest ways to speed up your WordPress website is also one of most effective. Adding an SSL certificate (or https://) encrypts all traffic sent between your site and visitors’ browsers, which means websites load faster because information has been secured—particularly helpful for sites that send a lot of private or sensitive information, like login pages or credit card transactions. You can buy an SSL yourself and enable it in just a few clicks on WordPress; if you don’t have time to do that but you want your site to load as fast as possible, use a service like Cloudflare that enables https:// on sites for free.
8) Use Gzip Compression
While you can start improving your website’s speed right away, some changes will take more time than others. One of these changes is using Gzip compression. While there are several ways to increase WordPress website speed, simply adding a plugin like WP Super Cache is usually one of the easiest ways to get started. By using Gzip compression, you’ll be able to streamline your website and reduce load times significantly by compressing each file on your site with a .gz extension. This will allow for faster downloads for both visitors and search engines alike. If you don’t know where to start in making your website faster, consider starting with Gzip compression since it requires only minor configuration and can be done quickly by anyone who knows their way around WordPress.
9) Clean Up Your Theme & Plugins
If you’re using a lot of custom shortcodes and widgets, you might be experiencing some sluggish performance. To see if your site is overburdened with extra code, install a plugin like Site Audit or W3 Total Cache and look for warnings that recommend removing unused shortcodes or other broken links in your theme. If you’re not sure what kind of excess may be bogging down your WordPress website, test it yourself by adding in a few extras and seeing how fast your page loads after doing so. Make sure that page load speed is something on your radar—you can’t improve what you don’t measure!
10) Manage Excess Shortcodes & Widgets
Shortcodes are nifty, but when you have too many of them, they can take up a lot of space on your site. Adding shortcodes and widgets in new places can help you improve your WordPress website speed by simplifying your design. Whether it’s shortcodes or widgets, if a feature isn’t essential to your design, you should probably remove it from your WordPress website. Ideally, you should minimize these little tools as much as possible so that readers spend their time reading more about your business instead of struggling with something as simple as clicking through to a post or page.