20 Ways to Speed up a WordPress Website
Have you ever wanted to have a fast website, which your visitors would love to visit every single day?
It is no secret that Google loves fast websites and rewards them with higher ranking spots if they meet the criteria.
If you wish to be a part of Google’s loved websites, you can continue reading our 20 tips on how to speed up a WordPress website, and implement those tactics onto your site as well.
Reasons to speed up your WordPress website
Optimizing your website can be a difficult task for most site owners, thus they wish to opt-in for WordPress speed up services.
And there are many reasons, why you should optimize your website for speed, but we will take a look at the most important ones.
WordPress comes unoptimized out of the box
When you install WordPress for the first time, it usually comes up with a few plugins, such as Akismet anti-spam, Hello dolly, and a few more bonuses, which depend on your hosting provider.
The first thing you do is download all of the plugins you saw on the internet and start adding content. Once you have finished adding content, you start noticing that everything is loading slower than before.
That’s because your website doesn’t have any caching, or tweaks applied. Nonetheless, the plugins and their scripts are applied to every single page, which takes more time and resources to load your page.
Slow websites have high bounce rates and fewer conversions
If you prefer not to optimize your website, you should at least know the dark side of things. Google doesn’t like slow websites, and that’s for a reason.
The statistics show that 47% of visitors would abandon a website, leaving the cart with products full, just because it took more than 3 seconds for the page to load.
Letting the money slip away from you would be a dramatic mistake, especially when you know where the issue lies, and how easy it is to fix it.
Optimizing helps you rank higher in the SERPs
Google loves optimized websites. In fact, page speed is considered a ranking factor, and is scored in the PageSpeed insights report.
Those who pass the Core Web Vitals, get rewarded with higher rankings by the search engines, due to better page experience.
However, there are far more ranking factors, which some websites do better, thus they take a higher ranking spot.
As we know, there are more than 10,000 ranking factors. Scoring on one of them would not win you all rankings, but can help with your feature SEO strategies.
Ways to Speed up a WordPress Website
1. Stick with a fast web hosting provider
Choosing your web hosting provider is the most crucial step to optimizing, and growing your website. There are tons of hosting providers, which offer great features, however, they also have some drawbacks.
One of the drawbacks is the speed and uptime of the hosting provider. By watching only these 2 factors, you can easily choose a good host.
The myth of shared or private hosting is not that important, because even with shared hosting you get great results.
In some cases, shared hosting may not be the greatest option if you have large traffic waves, but as a starter, it can save you a ton of money.
In case you need some help with choosing the right option, you can check our article where we explain when you should change to a VPS hosting.
The next thing about hosting providers, that could help you score big in the Core Web Vitals is the type of servers.
Most hosting providers are providing their customers with NGINX and Apache hosting. Even though they may seem like a great option, we don’t follow them.
The fastest, and easiest to optimize servers are the LiteSpeed ones. They are built for traffic and come out of the box with LSCache (LiteSpeedCache).
If you haven’t heard about LSCache, it’s the best caching plugin, which can do wonders with any website, without requiring extra plugins or money for a pro version.
However, most web hosts do not offer the LiteSpeed servers in their plans, which can make your search a bit harder.
To help you find the most suitable host for your website, we have included an article with the best LiteSpeed Web Hosting Providers.
2. Choose a lightweight WordPress theme or page builder
WordPress themes and Page builders are other problematic sectors for WordPress websites. A large proportion of people prefer using heavy page builders, such as Elementor, Divi, and others.
Even though they unleash the potential of designing stunning websites and give more functionality, these features come with a certain price.
Elementor and Divi are very known for their bad performance, due to being filled up with bloated code. If you ever had to run a page speed test to measure website speed (link), the results would be disappointing.
However, even their speed issues can be optimized but will require a touch from a professional developer, otherwise, you are bearing the risk of breaking your website’s CSS or JS codes.
Some good examples of optimized-for-speed Page Builders are Zion, Live Canvas, and Gutenberg.
If you are looking for more examples, you can check our list of recommended Page Builders for WordPress.
3. Convert images to WebP
Images are one of the most serious issues when it comes to WordPress websites. E-commerce, photography, and even service websites like to put a lot of images on their pages.
Adding images is not a problem at all. It can even help your clients understand your website, see proof of your work, or even understand how the product looks like.
However, these images will need to have their format set correctly. If you leave your website with PNG images, there’s no doubt that your loading times, will be high.
And if you convert your image formats to WebP or AviF, you will notice drastic changes in the speed of your website.
The reason behind this is that once a visitor clicks on your website, he has to download the content it offers. Whether you have caching set or not, the first click is always important.
4. Lazy load your images
Lazy loading is another serious factor for image optimization. It can improve the response time of your website, and let browsers download your content at the speed of light.
That’s why when a user visits a website, the browser will start downloading all the images you have on that certain page.
To prevent such issues from happening, we can always resort to lazy loading. This is a process where all of your images under the fold will be left unloaded, until the user scrolls on that page.
For example, if your website is showing 2 images on your front page, without scrolling, they will be loaded, while any other images, requiring scrolling will be left untouched.
Once the user scrolls to the page where your lazy loaded images are, they will start appearing immediately, without making any difference to the user experience.
5. Load scripts asynchronously
Loading your scripts asynchronously can also improve the speed of your WordPress website, without causing any damage to it.
By default, WordPress loads your scripts and CSS synchronously. Each script has to load fully, so the next one can start downloading, and loading faze.
Not many people understand how bad this is, and continue to seamlessly add more scripts in their heads, which makes the scripts load with a higher priority.
What websites should first show the HTML/CSS parts of your page and not the scripts.
That’s why we will need to set up an asynchronous way of loading all of your page’s content and give priority to the HTML/CSS parts, so the user can start seeing the screen with its respective elements.
Most of the popular caching plugins include this setting by default, which makes it absurdly easy to improve the page speed with only beginner knowledge.
6. Minify and Combine CSS and JS
Once you start downloading plugins, and themes, you will start to notice that they have respective files for each script, which makes your website slow, but not only.
Each part of the script is written on a different line, which makes the browsers slow, due to having to read each line and execute the script.
The best way to minimize this critical issue is by minifying and combining all of your CSS and JS into a single file.
This means that all the lines of your CSS code will be transformed into a single long line, and then combined with the rest of your CSS files into a singular file.
Visually it makes no difference, as we cannot determine if a website has its files minified, and combined, but it helps browsers to load your website much faster.
And once the same process is repeated for your JS files and codes, you will notice even bigger differences in page loading times.
It will help your website to prioritize what should be executed first, without suffering any blocking, and loading time.
It only makes sense, since you first have to show the image, description, and button of the product, you wish to sell.
8. Configure caching on your website
Caching is one of the most important factors for the fast page loading of websites. It can drastically improve page speed in just a few clicks.
When a visitor comes to your website, he will need to download all the information. However, with caching, he will not need to download it after the first visit, because the browser has saved all the information, and will just deliver a static page to the end user.
With caching enabled, your visitors can browse through your website’s pages without having to wait a long time for the content to get generated.
Especially for those who use the “Instant Click” option in LSCache, can see a huge improvement, and instantly loading pages.
9. Use a CDN
Setting up a CDN (Content Delivery Network) on your website is a must when it comes to an international website. A CDN can help you improve the page speed, and even handle larger proportions of traffic than web hosts.
While a CDN cannot host your website, it can help your website with caching your content and delivering it faster.
Another great thing about CDNs is that when they cache your website, the delivery will happen from the nearest to your visitor’s point.
Depending on how large is the CDN company, the better delivery you will have, which can result in more traffic coming to your website.
If you are just starting a website, and do not wish to pay for a CDN, Cloudflare is a great option to start with. Those who have LiteSpeed servers and LiteSpeed Cache configured, can use the QuicCloud CDN, which comes with some free credits, depending on the plan.
10. Unload unused scripts
The most crucial part of a website’s page speed is the scripts running. Most of the plugins will inject scripts, and CSS styles into the whole website, even if they are not being used.
However, not using them does not mean they will not be loaded on pages.
A great way to keep the website clean from unneeded scripts and styles would be to unload them. Asset Cleanup is a great example of a script, and style unloading plugin.
You can use this plugin with any caching plugin, and easily turn the Asset Cleanup options off. The free plan can do a great job of unloading unnecessary parts on your website, helping to improve page speed.
11. Host fonts locally
Most of the websites out there like to make font combinations and include variations. A very popular option for fonts is Google itself, as they have a large database of fonts.
While these fonts look very good and could win some eyeballs on your pages, there is a certain price that has to be paid.
To install a font, all we need to do is to embed the styles of the font on our website. Since these embeds are external, the website will generate extra requests. Each request takes some time to receive a response, and pass the work to the other one.
Since Google provides us with the option to download the fonts, it’s a great choice. This way the speed of a website will not be sacrificed if beautifying the website is important.
12. Use fewer external scripts
As mentioned with Google Fonts, most of the external scripts are a bigger harm to a website. Such an example could be Google Analytics or Hotjar.
Both of these analytics websites require website owners to place scripts into the head part of the content, so they can track where users have landed on the website, and what actions have they done.
Since Google analytics cannot be avoided on websites, due to the information collection and tracking, the best way to handle such issues is by hosting these scripts on our website. This is a process called localization, where the website contains, and hosts the script.
The analytics tools will steel get the information needed to create their reports, while the website will maintain great speeds, even at peak traffic.
A great tool for localizing, and self-hosting Google Analytics would be Lightweight Google Analytics. You can easily set how much information should Google Analytics collect, and even set the scripts in the footer of your website, without breaking anything.
13. Enable Gzip Compression
Gzip compression can easily speed up the process of sending your website for download to the user’s browser, which is a potential speed-up technique, and a mandatory pre-step before even releasing your website.
The role of Gzip is to take your whole page’s contents and zip them, so the browsers can receive them, unzip them, and deliver the content even faster.
Enabling Gzip on your website can happen easily. All you need to do is paste the Gzip script in your htaccess file, or use a plugin for Gzip compression.
14. Clean your database
Adding and deleting information on your website can easily fill up your database. Imagine every plugin and theme that gets deleted on the website, doesn’t mean that it will be removed from the database.
The WordPress database saves all the information, in case a deleted plugin or a theme needs to be downloaded and used again.
And since databases are not humans or act smart, a great way to keep things clean will be to clean the database.
While cleaning your database manually could take too much time, a great option to fastly resolve this issue would be using the plugin called Advanced Database Cleaner.
In just a few clicks you will delete all unusable database tables, post revisions, and more.
15. Remove unused plugins
Some website owners like to keep the deactivated plugins when searching for alternatives, in case they don’t find one. Once they find a good replacement for their previous plugin, they often forget to delete it.
Deactivating a plugin doesn’t mean that it will not require resources, or be alive even if untouched.
These deactivated plugins are still checked by WordPress and can cause critical damage to a website if they are not removed.
Except for taking a bit of a website’s performance, unused plugins are also a gateway for hackers to attempt and encrypt malicious codes onto your website. Once these scripts are injected, there is no assurance that the website will recover from the hack any time soon.
16. Use less effects on pages (optional)
Effects are one of the biggest issues on websites. Most website designers will not care about user experience or the page speed of a website.
Their task is to simply provide the end-user with stunning designs, multiple effects, and whatsoever.
Even though these effects might look great on a website, there is a cost, and it’s the page speed. While it’s not worth sacrificing effects over page speed, a great way to reduce the time for a website to load would be deferring the Java Script or using CSS for most of the effects.
Another great option to improve the loading times of a website would be to strip the code needed for performing a certain effect on the website.
Some designers need to write tons of lines just to make a single effect. If that’s the case, it would be better to give more money to a professional designer, so the losses can be minimal.
17. Avoid too many redirects
One of the most common, but easy to fix mistakes for improving the page loading time is to avoid redirects on your website.
The simplest example would be the HTTP to HTTPS. Most people start to build websites locally, which means no SSL certificates.
Once these websites are transferred to a live web host, site owners must ensure that the WordPress URL and Site URL are starting with HTTPS, and not HTTP. Otherwise, the website will be loaded in HTTP, and then redirected to the HTTPS version, making a chain and slowing your website.
Another good example to look out for is page redirects. Every time a page is deleted, it is often a good idea to follow where it redirects to.
Because if you set a redirect to another page with another redirect, you will create a long thread, until the target article has been found.
Most SEO pros will say that redirects are a good way to show search engines where your pages have been moved to, but managing the redirects is an even better idea.
Redirects are used if a keyword or a page is getting traffic
18. Keep post revisions low
For those who like to draft articles, and keep many revisions of the websites, this feature can actually kill a website’s page speed.
Each revision of an article can slightly increase the loading time, but not bring dramatic results.
A good way to keep everything to a minimum would be drafting articles away from the website and updating pages only with the final results.
For deleting post revisions, there are many plugins, or a simple solution would be the max post revision in LS Cache.
However, post-revisions are not a page speed killer, but it’s a good practice to keep the count low.
19. Disable pingbacks on WordPress
One of the most unnecessary options in WordPress is pingbacks. They serve no other purpose, except for notifying you when a website or service links to your website.
While these things can be followed with any page analyzer, it makes the work of pingbacks unneeded.
Disabling the pingbacks on your website can also save significant page speed, as every page on your website receives them.
To disable pingbacks from your post you can go to Settings in the WordPress dashboard, and click on Discussion. Once the page finishes loading you should see the option “Allow link notifications from other blogs”.
Remove the tick and save changes, so you can fully stop pingbacks.
20. Disable the heartbeat of your website
The WordPress heartbeat API is a communication protocol, which uses Ajax calls. The heartbeat API is used to sync the information between the web server and your website, saving your information in a real-time setting.
When you create posts in WordPress, the heartbeat API will make sure to save your changes, without having to click any buttons. If anything were to happen to the website, the information would never get lost, but stay active on the page.
However, these API calls happen all the time, as WordPress will need to perform checks if the information has changed, which can result in slow loading times.
Disabling the Heartbeat API will lower the resources of your server’s CPU, but your website will not automatically save the information, or provide updates about the information on your website.
If you are working alone on your website, and the information on the website isn’t a big factor, you can use a plugin to disable WordPress heartbeat.
Passionate in SEO, as well as in playing games like Minecraft.