• Author Mickey Lieberman
  • Published June 4, 2023
  • Word count 1,409

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Why should you speed up WordPress?

Why would you not want your website to load as fast as possible?

When checking out new websites, nothing makes me spring for the “back” button like a slow webpage.

Site performance greatly impacts the user experience and largely shapes how visitors judge the quality of an online business.

There’s little room for error with page speed and patience.

According to the Big G (Google), your website should load in two seconds or less.

Any longer and visitors start to lose interest. Page performance is also a ranking factor used by search engines including Google.

The faster your site, the more likely you’ll land a coveted spot at the top of the SERP.

How WordPress works:

When someone visits a page on your site, WordPress dynamically constructs the page by pulling data from various sources — like your WordPress database and theme files — then combining them into an HTML file that is sent to the visitor’s browser

Building pages “on the fly” like this isn’t always ideal for performance.

WordPress themes and plugins all consume valuable server resources, even if you’re not actively using them on your site.

Too many things running on your web server at once will deplete its resources, slow down your pages, and thwart conversions.

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

  1. Run performance tests.

Performance varies by every visitor’s geographic region, internet connection strength, and whether your site is cached by their browser.

Page speed will also vary across your site’s pages, depending on the amount and type of content on each one.

Be sure to test performance regularly, especially after adding new functionality.

This will confirm your site continues to deliver pages at competitive speeds.

  1. Choose a reliable hosting provider.

Quality web hosting is the foundation of a fast WordPress site.

You must choose both a hosting provider and a plan that meets your bandwidth and performance requirements.

Most WordPress hosts offer several types of hosting: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and managed WordPress hosting plans.

  1. Update everything.

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

  1. Use the latest version of PHP.

PHP is the scripting language that powers all WordPress websites.

It’s a server-side language, meaning that its files are stored and executed on the web server that hosts your site.

  1. Delete unused plugins.

Quality is better than quantity when it comes to WordPress plugins.

  1. Install high-quality plugins only.

Make sure the plugins you do keep around are high-quality.

  1. Use a lightweight theme.

Like plugins, your active WordPress theme might be placing an unnecessary burden on your web server.

  1. Optimize images.

Large images are another common culprit of slow WordPress websites.

To further raise your site performance, reduce your image file sizes as much as possible without sacrificing quality

  1. Try lazy loading your content.

If your WordPress features a lot of images, you can also implement lazy loading.

Instead of fully rendering all images on a page at once when the page is first loaded, lazy loading only loads the images that appear in the user’s browser window and defers loading the rest until the user scrolls down to them.

  1. Don’t host videos on your server.

Instead of putting videos in your media library, use a third-party video hosting service like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia.

  1. Reduce CSS and JavaScript file sizes.

CSS and JavaScript are fundamental to your site.

The smaller you can make these files without affecting your site’s look and functionality, the faster your pages will load.

  1. Install a WordPress caching plugin.

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.

A caching plugin simplifies this entire process.

It builds every HTML page on your site with PHP, then saves these full HTML pages which are sent to future visitors when requested.

By skipping over the building process, your content reaches visitors more quickly.

As far as options go, we recommend WP Fastest Cache, WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, or WP Super Cache. They are all popular and frequently updated.

  1. Simplify your page designs and content.

Simpler pages simply consume fewer resources and will load more quickly across browsers.

  1. Tidy up your WordPress database.

Plugins like WP Optimize and Advanced Database Cleaner will conduct an audit of your files and scrap any non-essentials.

This is a much faster and safer alternative to deleting the files of your server yourself

  1. Limit or disable post revisions.

Whenever you save a WordPress post, WordPress automatically creates a copy of your revision and stores it in your database, instead of deleting the previous version.

By default, WordPress saves unlimited post revisions.

To limit post revisions to a set number, open your site’s wp-config.php file (located in the root folder of your site) and add the following code to the bottom of the file:

define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 4 );

  1. Avoid redirects.

Things happen, posts get deleted and relocated, or you need to rearrange your site’s structure. When this happens, the best way to avoid 404 errors is by implementing permanent redirects.

  1. Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks.

Pingbacks and trackbacks are two WordPress technologies that alert external websites when you link to them in your site’s content.

Disable pingbacks and trackbacks

To do so, go to Settings > Discussion in your dashboard and uncheck the first two options, Attempt to notify… and Allow link notifications…

  1. Use a CDN.

Another common cause of poor performance is real-world distance.

Your pages will tend to load on devices that are farther away from your web server’s physical location.

A CDN is a global collection of connected web servers. Each server stores a copy of your website’s JavaScript, CSS, and image files.

When a user requests a page on your site, the server closest to the user sends these files to them. A CDN gives your website global reach and levels load speed for all visitors, near and far.

  1. Compress files with GZIP.

GZIP is a lossless compression method widely used for sending files over the internet.

When you apply GZIP compression to your website, your files will be sent to users more quickly since you’re using much less bandwidth than with an uncompressed file.

  1. Limit external scripts.

External scripts are code files that your website uses but are not stored on your web server.

Weigh the cons of taking on additional plugins and tools that make use of external scripts, and consider if the added functionality is worth trading for the potential performance hit.

  1. Don’t fall victim to hotlinking.

Hotlinking is when one website uses a resource that is hosted on another website.

When another site hotlinks your resource, they’re displaying it on their website without the monetary or performance cost of hosting the content themselves.

  1. Schedule tasks for low-traffic periods.

Scheduling background tasks is an excellent way to keep your website healthy without eating up a chunk of your day.

Things like backups, updates, and security scans can be automated to run at regular intervals.

  1. Split long posts into multiple parts.

Lengthier posts with high volumes of images and dynamic information will always take longer to process.

Consider breaking them up into multiple posts instead. Usually, this can be done with little interruption to the user experience.

  1. Paginate posts.

Alternatively, you can split up lengthy posts into multiple pages if you don’t feel a piece merits multiple blog posts.

This is helpful not just for performance, but also for readability.

  1. Paginate comments.

If your comment sections are particularly active, you can save load time by paginating your comments

Fortunately, WordPress lets you easily paginate your comment section: Navigate to Settings > Discussion, check the box next to Break comments into pages, and set the number of comments per page (50 by default).

Alternatively, you can disable your comment section by unchecking Allow people to submit comments on new posts on the same screen.

Like many aspects of

There are several strategies you can implement to optimize your load time and provide the most satisfying, speediest user experience.

It’s worth spending a bit of your time to save your visitors a lot of time.