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How To Speed Up A WordPress Website

WordPress is a powerful and versatile platform for creating websites, powering a significant portion of the web. However, many users face the common issue of slow website speed. In this post, we’ll discuss why having a fast WordPress website is important and share how to speed up your WordPress website.

Why It Matters to Have a Fast WordPress Site

A fast website is crucial for several reasons:

1. User Experience

The most critical reason is that no one likes a slow website. Visitors expect a site to load quickly. If it doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, most people will leave and never return. A high bounce rate can lead to missed sales, lost potential customers, and even deter regular visitors.

2. SEO

A slow website can result in poor search engine rankings. Google uses core web vitals to evaluate your site’s performance. Slow loading times can lead to penalties, pushing your content down in search results. Key metrics like the time to first byte (TTFB), which measures how long the user’s browser takes to receive the first byte of data from your server, are crucial. Faster sites are more likely to rank higher in search results.

3. Conversion Rates

Slow websites can discourage visitors from purchasing, signing up for newsletters, or reading blog posts. Generally, a slow site translates into unhappy customers who are less likely to spend time or money on your site, directly impacting sales and conversions.

4. Mobile Users

With the increasing number of users accessing sites on mobile devices, speed is even more critical due to the potential limitations of mobile networks. A fast site ensures a better experience for mobile users.

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

At first glance, WordPress seems simple, but it’s quite complex behind the scenes. It involves numerous moving parts and databases to fetch data from whenever a page is loaded. As you add more pages, media content, plugins, and widgets, your site’s performance may begin to decline.

Fortunately, WordPress’s versatility allows for various optimization strategies. Here are some tips to help you enhance your site’s speed.

#1. Conduct Performance Tests

Begin by assessing your site’s current performance. There’s no single metric that captures overall performance because it varies based on factors like the visitor’s geographic location, internet connection strength, and whether your site is cached in their browser.

Performance can also differ across your site’s pages due to the varying amount and type of content. While homepages are commonly used to estimate load speed, it’s essential to test other high-traffic pages as well.

For a practical estimate, use a free performance measurement tool like Website Grader. Simply enter your homepage URL to see how your site performs. These tools often provide speed improvement suggestions that you can apply and then retest.

Regular performance testing is crucial, especially after implementing new features, to ensure your site maintains competitive load speeds.

#2. Choose a Great Hosting Provider and Plan

Choosing a top-notch hosting provider is essential for your website’s performance. All your files and databases reside on their servers, which must be reliable and responsive when a user accesses your site.

A good hosting provider offers fast and stable servers. Stability, or good “uptime,” ensures that the server is consistently operational, keeping your website accessible at all times. Speed pertains to the server’s hardware specifications, which affect how quickly your site loads.

Scalability is another crucial aspect. A quality host can handle traffic spikes, ensuring your website remains operational even during high-demand periods.

Customer support is equally important. A good WordPress hosting provider should offer excellent technical support to help you quickly resolve any issues, minimizing downtime and keeping your site running smoothly.

Finally, consider the server’s location relative to your users. Even a fast server can result in slow load times if it’s geographically distant from your primary audience. Choosing a server closer to your users can improve page load times significantly.

#3. Use a lightweight theme

a screenshot of an example of a theme

The theme you choose significantly affects your website’s loading speed. While WordPress offers a vast array of themes, not all are created equal.

Some themes are better coded than others. Poorly optimized themes can slow down your site and cause problems.

Simplicity often beats complexity. Themes loaded with images, scripts, and other assets can be slower to load. A lean theme can provide a better user experience.

Our recommendation is to choose a fast, well-reviewed theme. Check ratings and reviews to make an informed choice. Although you can change themes later, it’s best to stick with one to avoid potential issues from switching.

If you use a page builder, the same advice applies. Choose a popular, well-reviewed option. Some page builders are optimized for speed better than others. For example, Elementor has made significant improvements to enhance speed.

#4. Implementing a Caching Solution

Caching is a crucial component for enhancing website performance. It provides a simple way to speed up your WordPress website, resulting in faster page loads, especially for returning visitors.

Caching involves storing frequently accessed data in a temporary storage area. Instead of fetching this data from the server every time it is requested, it can be quickly retrieved from the cache. This reduces the amount of data transferred between the server and the visitor’s browser, leading to faster page load times and overall improved website performance. Consequently, when a visitor returns to a recently viewed page, it is served from the cache rather than fetching all the elements like HTML and images from various databases.

Using caching plugins can automate this process. They are generally user-friendly, but it’s important to avoid installing multiple caching or optimization plugins simultaneously, as they can conflict with each other and potentially slow down your site.

Here are some recommended caching plugins:

– WP Rocket

a screenshot of WP Rocket

A very powerful option designed to be simple to use. It significantly speeds up your site but does not offer a free version.

– W3 Total Cache

Known for its comprehensive and flexible options. It includes hundreds of settings for fine-tuning performance.

– NitroPack

Provides full-page caching with advanced performance optimization techniques. It offers many impressive features, but the pricing scales with pageviews.

– WP-Optimize

A good middle ground offering basic full-page caching along with advanced database and media optimization tools.

– WP Super Cache

A basic solution that provides full-page caching but lacks more advanced optimization features.

#5. Use the Latest Version of PHP

PHP is the scripting language behind all WordPress websites. As a server-side language, its files are stored and executed on the web server hosting your site. Updating PHP improves efficiency and page load times. The latest stable version, PHP 7, released in 2015, offers significant performance improvements over previous versions. Check your site’s PHP version and update it if necessary. Consult your hosting provider’s documentation or support if you’re unsure of your current PHP version or need help upgrading.

#6. Delete Unused Plugins

a screenshot of plugins

In WordPress, plugin quality matters more than quantity. Running too many plugins can slow down your site. Deactivate and delete any plugins you no longer use, testing your site after each deactivation to ensure everything functions properly. Identify and replace any resource-heavy plugins with lighter alternatives.

#7. Install Only High-Quality Plugins

Ensure that the plugins you keep are high-quality. The best plugins are designed to use minimal server resources and are regularly updated to stay compatible with the latest WordPress core updates. Check recommendations and reviews before installing new plugins to avoid performance issues.

#8. Optimize Images

Large images can slow down your WordPress site. Reduce image file sizes without compromising quality to save space and improve load times. Use tools like Photoshop or image optimization plugins such as Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer.

#9. Implement Lazy Loading

If your site has many images, consider implementing lazy loading. This technique loads only the images in the user’s viewport initially, deferring the rest until the user scrolls down. Lazy loading can also apply to videos and other content, enhancing perceived page load speed.

#10. Use a CDN

If you want to speed up your WordPress site, using a content delivery network (CDN) is a great solution. A CDN is a network of servers distributed globally to store and deliver your website’s files. By serving files from the server closest to a visitor’s location, a CDN ensures faster loading times. 

Additionally, CDNs provide redundancy; if one server fails, another can take over, keeping your site online. Many hosting providers, such as SiteGround, include a free CDN with their hosting packages.

#11. Optimize Core Web Vitals

Familiarize yourself with Google’s Core Web Vitals, as they are crucial for your website’s success in search results. Understanding these metrics is essential. Here are simple definitions for each:

– Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The time it takes to load the largest image or text on a page.

– First Input Delay (FID)

Measures the time from a user’s first interaction (click, tap, etc.) to when the browser starts processing that response.

– Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Measures unexpected layout shifts on the page, which occur when a visible element changes its position unexpectedly.

– First Contentful Paint (FCP)

The time it takes to load the first element (text, images, videos, etc.) on the page.

– Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

Assesses the overall responsiveness of a page to user interactions.

– Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Calculates the time between requesting a resource and receiving the first byte of information.

Staying on top of these metrics is a must to ensure your website performs well in search results.

#12. Reduce External Scripts and Optimize Your JavaScript

Note: This section is more advanced and assumes some development experience. If you’re new to website building or lack development experience, consider seeking help from an experienced developer for JavaScript tweaks and optimizations.

JavaScript is a powerful language that enhances website interactivity and user experience. It powers animations, pop-ups, and integrations with analytics tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar, enabling features like A/B testing and personalization.

However, excessive use of JavaScript and external scripts can slow down your website. Each external script requires the browser to make additional requests, which can significantly impact page load times. This issue is especially common on pages with multiple external ads, leading to a frustrating user experience. Minimizing external scripts reduces data load and speeds up your site.

Excessive JavaScript also impacts your site’s crawl budget. Google needs to render these files during indexing, consuming resources. The more resources spent on these files, the fewer resources available for crawling other pages on your site.

Here are ways to reduce and optimize JavaScript usage:

1. Audit Your Scripts

Identify what scripts are loading on your site.

2. Optimize Loading

Use techniques like `defer` or `async` to load scripts more efficiently.

3. Local Resources

Avoid loading resources from external domains. Instead, host local copies of resources like Google Fonts.

4. Alternative Methods

Whenever possible, use CSS for animations instead of JavaScript.

#13. Reduce File Size

Compressing images is a well-known method to reduce file size, but you can also compress your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

Although the reduction in bytes or kilobytes might seem minor, it can add up. One effective way to reduce file size is by eliminating redundant spaces and lines in your code. Additionally, you can combine multiple files into one, compress it, and still serve it without breaking your site.

Editing code might sound daunting, especially if you’re not a developer. Fortunately, there are plugins to help with this process. Consider using:

– Autoptimize

This plugin optimizes JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files.

– WP Minify

This plugin allows you to combine and compress JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files.

#14. Update Everything

As a WordPress administrator, keeping everything updated is crucial. Regular updates to WordPress core, themes, and plugins ensure your site runs efficiently, remains secure, patches bugs, and ensures all features and tools function correctly. Always use the latest versions to optimize performance.


Improving the speed of your WordPress website requires a continual commitment to maintenance and optimization. When used consistently, these tactics will significantly enhance the performance of your WordPress site, resulting in a better user experience and increased search engine presence. Remember that prioritizing performance and continuously optimizing your site is critical to sustaining great speed over time.


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