How To Speed Up WordPress
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the best things ever to happen to the web, bringing blogging and content management to the masses. The platform is free to use, incredibly easy to work with (especially to speed up WordPress, as we’ll see in a moment), and presents a workable user interface, even for non-technical people to setup and manage an online presence.
But on the downside, a WordPress site or blog that hasn’t been especially optimized for speed will start to lag over time, unless you take measures to speed up WordPress. Worse, we now know this is a key ranking factor in Google, which ultimately affects how well (or otherwise) your website performs. As a result, keeping things running a top speed is a key component to getting the most from your website.
Here are 7 quick tips you can use to speed up WordPress. No matter how you’re using WordPress, or how quickly or otherwise your site currently loads, these techniques can help you gain a vital few fractional seconds of load-time – often enough to make all the difference.
Better Quality Hosting to Speed Up WordPress
As a starting point, you can’t expect a fast website when you build on shaky foundations. That just doesn’t make sense, right? Poor quality, cheap hosting almost always equals slow hosting, and no matter how well optimised your WordPress site, you’re never going to be able to make up for this lost ground.
Remember that even a lag of 2 seconds decreases per visitor value by as much as 5%. When you think of it like this, all of a sudden that cheap hosting package doesn’t look like great value for money.
WPEngine is our recommendation of choice here – they’re the Ferrari of WordPress hosting (but starting at just $35/month), and the choice of any serious blog or website owner. Not only do they provide an excellent managed-WordPress service, which takes all the technical pressure off your shoulders, but they also offer some of the fastest hosting for WordPress in the world – if you want a fast website, get a fast host.
Choose A Faster Theme
It’s not just your host that can let you down, in terms of the speed potential of your website. In some cases, it’s the theme that is holding things back. Some WordPress themes look fantastic at first glance, and then you install them only to find out they are super slow and sluggish. This is a failure of development, and will be holding your site back – despite your best efforts otherwise.
But by choosing a faster theme, you’re giving yourself a head start. Theme speed usually correlates to how big and bulky the site is in the back-end. Are there hundreds of different features packed into a theme? That might be good from a usability point of view for setting up and managing your website, but not necessarily the optimum choice from a speed perspective. Look for lightweight themes by design, and try to keep things as lightweight as possible behind the scenes. The more nimble your website theme and structure is, the quicker page load speeds you’ll be able to obtain.
Images can make or break your website visuals. But they’re also a factor in determining how fast your WordPress site loads. Lots of high resolution images might look spectacular, but unless you take steps to control the size of these images, you’re going to quickly add unwanted seconds to your load time.
There are plenty of plugins out there, such as Smush.It which enable image compression, often automatically as you add new media to your WordPress blog. These tools compress images without sacrificing quality, reducing file sizes down to a standard more amenable to web use.
While you will lose out on resolution when zoomed in, you can set the compression threshold to a rate that still keeps the images sharp and aesthetically interesting. Importantly though, reducing the file size will keep your website as slim as possible, a necessary precursor to running a top speed.
Use A Caching Plugin
Caching plugins store elements from your page for quicker recall at a later date, rather than freshly requesting elements from your server on each page load, critical to speed up WordPress. In layman’s terms, caching plugins make things faster. End of story. There’s one in particular you should always download – W3 Total Cache. It’s the industry standard, it’s completely free to use, and it’s one of the best and quickest ways to pick up the pace with your WordPress site.
You’ll find this easily from the Plugin installation page in your WordPress backend. The plugin itself is lightweight, installs in seconds, and can leave an instant and lasting impression on the speed of your website. With WordPress page speed, it’s all about racking up the incremental gains to make your site steadily load faster and faster. Caching plugins are probably amongst the lowest hanging fruit, and are one of the quickest ways to make a significant change to your page loading speeds.
Use A CDN
CDNs, or content delivery networks, are another option for making your website load even faster still. These are networks that allow static files from your website to be stored remotely, spread across multiple different geographic locations worldwide. When a user lands on your page, the elements are loaded from the server located nearest to their IP address, which provides a much faster page loading experience, versus pulling it from your central server which might be halfway around the world.
CDNs are a favourite tool of serious WordPress websites and high traffic blogs, but there are free solutions out there, such as CloudFlare and Free-CDN which can go a long way towards helping in your fight for a faster page load time.
Remove Unnecessary Plugins and Widgets
If you’ve been trying out different plugins or themes to get the best look for your site, it’s common to leave them where they are, even if you don’t end up using a given theme. There must be millions of WordPress websites out there carrying multiple different installed themes around, or with potentially tens of millions of unused plugins still uploaded to the server.
This can all have a knock-on impact on the speed with which your website loads. Unnecessary add-ons, including widgets that appear on the homepage, for example social sharing widgets, can all add up to an undue load on your server, and as a result, your load times. Chop these down to the bare bones, and only proceed with the bare minimum installed on your WordPress blog for the speediest outcomes.
Declutter The Back End
The same applies to all content in the backend. So if you’re sitting on a lot of draft posts you’re not intending to use, for example, or you’ve got a ton of page revisions backed up, this can all add some time delays to your database, slowing down your WordPress site and leaving you lagging behind in the search engine and user experience stakes.
Think minimalist for best results – this is invariably how you get a WordPress website operating at its fastest, compared to those that are not particularly optimized for speed, and one of the easiest ways to speed up WordPress.
As we’ve seen, page load speed can have a massive impact on your website’s performance, both in terms of SEO, and in terms of real conversions from users on your site. Slower websites don’t perform as well as their faster counterparts, and every incremental gain in speed will improve your results considerably over time.
With these easy methods at your disposal, now there’s no excuse not to have the fastest WordPress site in town!