How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

One second of load lag time would cost Amazon $1.6 billion in sales per year.

Yes, you heard it right. With that amount of money, Amazon could also buy Miami Marlins or the Tampa Bay Rays! (Only if they’re interested in it)

What is important is if you’re on WordPress there are a lot of rolling factors to speed up your WordPress website because a faster loading website forms the foundation of your online business. It is something that should have your constant eyeballs. Research tells 14% of your audience will start shopping at another site if your page loads are slow, and 23% will simply stop the shopping experience or walk away from the computer. That’s a huge setback to your business’ bottom line.

Let’s get to the point. Why is speeding up your website important?

Apart from ruining your user experience and leaving you out with a significant chunk of your customers, increasing WordPress website speed is important for ranking in the SERPs. Google’s goal has always been to provide the users with the best possible search results, and a site that is slow is anything but a good experience.

So, how do you test your website speed?

Basically, the homepage is used to test the speed of your website. However, speed may differ from page to page, as it depends on a lot of factors viz., whether it has static or dynamic content, the number of requests it generates, etc.

The most widely used tools for testing the speed of your website are:

Now that we know how harmful a slow loading website can be, let’s look at 9 ways through which you can optimize your website’s performance.

1. Choose a good hosting provider

One of the major factors that restrict faster loading websites is a bad hosting provider. Choosing a good hosting provider is kind of a big deal because apart from your website’s loading times, a lot of other factors like security and uptime are dependent on it.

You might land into a lot of cheap offers that are available in the market. However, it is advisable that you don’t take up shared hosting. The reason being that with so many websites running on the same server, page load times greatly suffer. Most importantly, security isn’t guaranteed – because you don’t know who else is on the server so if any site on the same server is hacked, your website might get affected.

With having a WordPress website, the best option is to go for a managed WordPress hosting. Because a managed hosting provider works as your own team and takes care of all website and server related issues for you while giving a hassle-free experience. The best options that exist in the market are:

  1. WP Engine: Built-in caching and rated with the best customer service.
  2. Kinsta: Next-Gen infrastructure and fully optimized for speed.
  3. SiteGround: Range from stable to high performing machines and full management of servers on a regular basis.

2. Choose a lightweight WordPress theme

Themes are the foundation of how your website will look to your customers, however on the internal end of things, they also are an important factor in faster loading of your website. It’s important to keep in mind that themes with plenty of dynamic elements, sliders, widgets, social icons are appealing to the eye but they also contribute to higher page sizes and ultimately affect your website’s performance.

The best option here is to use a flexible and lightweight WordPress theme. There are multiple criteria that you can consider while doing this:

  • Fewer HTTP requests on the front end.
  • Complete usage of VanillaJS instead of jQuery for better speed optimization.
  • Efficient memory usage i.e it only processes features that are needed on the currently loaded page.

Suki WordPress Theme has all the above features. With only 26.6KB of total page size on the frontend and 493ms page load time, it gives you the ability to build amazingly fast websites.

3. Choose an effective caching plugin

Caching is important because it greatly reduces the load on your WordPress hosting servers, thus assisting in the fast loading of the website. It allows your WordPress website to reduce a lot of steps. You see, WordPress is a dynamic CMS, so every time a user visits your website, WordPress fetches information from the database and runs several steps before the web page is sent to the user’s browser.

Let’s take a look at the best caching plugins that are available:

  1. WP Rocket: Easiest and the most beginner-friendly plugin in the market. It allows users to instantly cache their website with one click. Includes optional features like lazy loading images, CDN support, DNS prefetching and more.
  2. W3 Total Cache: Might be a bit difficult for beginners, but is one of the most popular plugins. Includes page cache, object cache, gzip compression, limited minification support, CDN support and more.
  3. WP Super Cache: Free and you’d find it recommended by many WordPress hosting companies. Includes all caching features e.g page cache, advance cache preload, CDN support and more.

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Content delivery network

For people coming to your website, the site loading speed will differ for different people based on their locations. So, basically the further away the computer that hosts your site from the visitor is, the longer it’ll take to transmit your site data. Using a Content Delivery Network reduces this by hosting your static files across several servers at once, all distributed across the globe. Hence, whenever someone requests to see your site, they can receive them from the closest possible location, thus cutting download time. There are multiple services available these days:

  1. MaxCDN
  2. Cloudflare
  3. KeyCDN
  4. BunnyCDN
  5. Jetpack’s Site Accelerator (formerly known as Photon)

5. Optimize your images

Images on your site need more space than text or CSS. Exactly for that reason, in order to improve your WordPress website speed you’ll need to optimize or in other words compress the images to as small as possible, but keep in mind that the quality isn’t being compromised. The manual process of optimizing the images using Chrome Pagespeed insights extension or photoshop or any other tools is slow and time-consuming. But, nothing to worry about, as there are some amazing plugins in the market which will greatly help you with this task.

The best ones are :

  1. ShortPixel Image Optimizer: High-quality lossy compression, png to jpg auto conversion, multisite integration with single API, compatible with watermark plugins, etc.
  2. Imagify: A popular choice, and provides various levels of compression. It also optimizes thumbnails and retina images.
  3. EWWW Image Optimizer: unlimited file size for compression, free image backups till 30 days, compress images from plugins as well, CDN support for uploading to cloud servers and a lot more.
  4. Smush Image Compression and Optimization: Lossless image compression, compatible with multiple image files, auto-optimization on image upload, let’s you set max width/height for images and more.

6. Minify JS and CSS files

By minifying your website’s JS and CSS files, you can save some of your valuable time and further optimize your website’s performance. Here I am not talking about a lot of improvement in the speed of your WordPress website, but yeah, drops make ocean right?

Minifying basically means removing a lot of unnecessary characters from the source code.

Guides provided by Google share a ton of insight if you are into manual fixing. The caching plugins like WPRocket also provide this option, however there are also plugins like Autoptimize, Better WordPress Minify which can help you in optimizing CSS, JS and HTML files of your WordPress website.

7. Enable GZIP compression

GZIP compression is going one step further in the size reduction of your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. GZIP is a file format and a software application that you use for file compression and decompression. If you don’t have GZIP enabled you’d see errors and warnings in speed testing tools, like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix.

Caching plugins listed above like WP Rocket already help with GZIP compression. However to do it manually you can add the following codes in your .htaccess file:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

8. Perform Database Maintenance at regular intervals

It’s imperative to keep your WordPress databases lean and workable, and there are multiple ways to achieve it. Your database is prone to accumulation of temporary disk space and unused data from uninstalled plugins, post revisions, etc. Here one of the most important factors to focus on is the wp_options table because if this gets flooded with too much it can heavily impact faster loading of your WordPress website.

It is also necessary that you regularly delete fake users, unwanted content, unused plugins or themes and also spam comments.

9. Disable hotlinking

Hotlinking is the practice of embedding necessary images in your content which aren’t hosted on your own site. Hotlink protection can save you a lot of bandwidth by preventing other sites from displaying your images.

To prevent hotlinking from happening, just add the following code to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www.)*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg|jpeg|bmp|zip|rar|mp3|flv|swf|xml|php|png|css|pdf)$ - [F]

So, are you ready to speed up your WordPress website?

As a website owner, it is your prime responsibility to provide the best experience to the people visiting your website. Now we understand how important it is to speed up your WordPress website for your revenue generation, apart from influencing your bounce rates, conversions, search rankings and much more. Go ahead and turn the magic wand with the above tests on your WordPress website, and let us know how this has worked for you.

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