8 Best Ways To Speed Up WordPress

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Is your WordPress website slow? Check out my essential ways to speed up WordPress. You'll rank higher, improve user experience and maximise conversions.
Ways To Speed Up WordPress

Is your WordPress website running slowly? Either for your visitors or when adding new blog posts, pages and images? If so, I’m confident I can help.

In this article I’ll detail all the different ways to speed up WordPress. Doing so will make your website lightning fast. You’ll provide a better user experience. And you’ll increase your chances of converting visitors into customers.


Why Website Speed Matters

Users expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds, and almost half of those will leave a site that takes longer than that to display a page.

Do you find yourself always leaving websites that take too long to load? I know I do. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of users expect a site to load in less than 2s and 40% will abandon a website if it takes more than 3s.

I don’t know about you, but I think 40% is an alarming statistic! Having a slow website essentially means you’ve instantly lost 40% of potential sales.

There are many benefits to increasing your website speed. Some of these include higher Google rankings, more website traffic and improved user experience. All of which increase your conversion rate.

Best Website Speed Test Tools

The best speed testing tools are GT Metrix, Pingdom and Google Page Speed Insights. It’s important to note that each of them will give you different results. This is because they analyse your website in slightly different ways.

– GT Metrix
– Pingdom
– Google Page Speed Insights

I recommend using GT Metrix to start because it’s the easiest to use and interpret. Make sure to test using a server closest to your target audience.

Ways To Speed Up WordPress

1. Invest in a cloud hosting provider
2. Choose a server closest to your visitors
3. Use the latest PHP version
4. Use a performance focused WordPress theme
5. Use less plugins
6. Integrate a premium caching plugin
7. Optimise media
8. Optimise WordPress database

1. Invest in premium hosting

This is arguably the most important step and most effective way to speed up WordPress.

I recommend using a cloud hosting platform like Cloudways, which gives you access to the best cloud hosting providers in the world. You’ll even get access to the same servers that Google and Amazon use!

For providers that specialise in WordPress, check out my list of the best WordPress hosting providers in Australia.

Whatever you do, don’t use poor hosting from the likes of GoDaddy or any of the subsidiaries owned by Endurance International Group (EIG). Some of these include Bluehost, Hostgator and JustHost. You will most likely experience slow load times, poor support, frequent downtime and overall poor service. Here’s a good article that talks you through hosting providers to avoid.

If you want the best performance, always invest in premium hosting. And ideally Cloud Hosting. Shared hosting is still ok if you are on a budget. But the only reliable shared hosting provider is SiteGround (in my opinion).

2. Choose a server closest to your visitors

Once you’ve decided on a premium hosting provider, it’s important to choose a server that is closest to your target audience and potential visitors. You don’t want your server in the US when your visitors are in Australia.

The greater the distance between your server and visitor, the longer the connection time.

To test your connection times, I recommend using a TTFB test tool from KeyCDN. They have a free tool that will show you connection times worldwide for your domain.

See screenshot below testing this website. Notice how the connection time aka Time to First Byte (TTFB) is ~30ms in Australia but almost 1s from Europe? Big difference and this is before your website content is loaded.

Pro Tip:

If you have visitors worldwide, then you’ll ALSO need to set up a content delivery network aka CDN. I recommend using CloudFlare to get started (it’s free to use).

Connection Time Test - KeyCDN

TTFB test tool from KeyCDN.

3. Use the latest PHP version 7.4

There are two main reasons to use the latest PHP version…

Firstly, it will improve performance allowing your site to process twice as many requests.

Interestingly ~30% of websites still use PHP version 5, which is ~2 times slower than PHP 7.

The second reason is security. Just like any software, it’s best to run the latest and greatest version to keep up with recent security patches.

If you aren’t using PHP version 7.4, you could be missing out on a signficant performance and security boost.

4. Use a performance focused WordPress theme

Unfortunately most WordPress themes are not performance focused. Most themes are made with a gazillion features that make it easier to design and develop your website BUT slow your site down.

I recommend using Astra. The free version is fine to start with.

Just for this article I’ve created a new website using Astra, imported one of their free starter layouts and run a speed test. Even without optimising the website, the home page loads in under 1s!

Astra Speed Test

Astra speed test using starter layout.

5. Use Less Plugins

A great way to speed up your WordPress site is by simply using less plugins. Each plugin adds load time to your site.

It’s also important to delete any plugins that you aren’t using. Don’t just deactivate and leave them there. Doing this can also be a security risk.

More importantly than using less plugins is to remove resource intensive and slow loading plugins. Check out this detailed list of plugins to avoid.

6. Use a Premium Caching Plugin

Integrating a premium caching plugin is a great way to speed up WordPress. Sometimes it’s all you need.

For more advanced users I recommend using Swift Performance. The premium version is great but they also have a decent free version.

WP Johnny has put together an epic guide to setting up Swift Performance. Make sure you check it out if you decide on using Swift.

For beginner users, I recommend using WP Rocket. Not as many advanced options as Swift but an amazing plugin that is very easy to set up.

7. Optimise Media

Compress Images

One of the key components to load time is your overall website size. Most of which is made up of images. So optimising your images by compressing and removing unneeded EXIF data is key.

If your website uses video it’s also crucial to optimise the way they are loaded. Make sure you DO NOT upload videos directly to your website. Embed them instead. Most page builders like Divi and Elementor makes this very easy with video modules. Just copy paste your video URL.

Lazy Load Videos

I also recommend lazy loading videos so that they load upon user interaction. This will significantly reduce external requests and loading time. This is crucial. Don’t forget to do this.

Swift Performance comes with an image optimiser that is easy to use. It also optimises images on upload. So you can set and forget. Much better value than paying for a separate image optimisation plugin in my opinion.

8. Optimise WordPress Database

It’s important to optimise your database from time to time. For busy eCommerce websites this might need to be done weekly. For smaller, low traffic websites this might be monthly.

To clean and optimise your database it’s important to delete trashed posts and post revisions. Don’t let them build up.

The premium version of Swift Performance has a database optimiser making this very easy. Another great reason to use Swift. Always make sure to take a backup before optimising though!

Another great database optimisation tool is WP Optimize. I often use this to remove old leftover tables from deleted plugins.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. A bunch of ways to speed up WordPress.

The list I’ve provided covers the most important elements of page speed optimisation. I’ll cover more advanced tactics in a future post.

Feel free to reach out if you need help.

Good luck!

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