A fast WordPress site brings more visitors, which can result in more leads, higher conversions, and more importantly, better rank in search results.
In this article, you’ll learn about different ways to increase your WordPress website’s speed, from basic to advanced methods.
These are strategies we use in our own WordPress websites to create super-fast sites and pages. They can base used on almost any website and won’t cost much to implement.
So let’s get started!
Before we speed up your WordPress site, it’s important to understand what’s slowing it down.
When it comes to loading speed, there are 2 main elements at work: Server site elements (response rate), and On-page elements (images, code, etc…)
The response rate is the speed that it takes for a browser to request a file from your website’s server.
In this guide, we’re going to cover both website side and server-side issues and fix them!
First, run a test.
Before you begin, you need to understand what’s slowing your website down. Go to Pingdom’s speed test, enter your website URL, and take a look at the results.
Scroll down to the section where you see a bunch of bars like this. If you see a long yellow bar on the first row, this means that your website’s response rate might be slow.
In this case, this big yellow bar, and the yellow bars below it show that it’s taking more than a second for each page element to even respond to the browser request. This means that the browser has to wait over a second to even start downloading these elements.
Keep in mind that the response rate is the hardest issue to solve, mainly because it can have many different reasons but usually, the main and biggest issue is the distance between the computer that is requesting the file, and the location of website’s server (aka, travel time, ping, latency and etc…)
Here are a couple of different ways to solve this server-side issue:
Choose a Good Hosting Service: I recommend using Google or Amazon Cloud to host your WordPress sites. The response rates are absolutely insane, and more importantly, you can add more RAM and CPU to your website’s server to increase speed in the future.
In our case, we use Google Cloud to host our website, and use Google Cloud to even host our videos!
Keep in mind that learning to host a WordPress site on cloud is a big challenge because Cloud environments are not made for hosting wp sites, so it can be a little bit challenging and there is a learning curve into it. I recommend reading this detailed tutorial on installing WordPress on Google Cloud.
Domain CDN: Another way to increase your website response rate is to preserve your domain’s DNS information to different locations around the world. A tool like Cloudflare.com can help you do this for free.
This will increase the DNS resolve speed which can result in faster load times, and faster file downloads and access.
File CDN: And to top it off with CDNs, you can spread your website’s content (images, scripts, css files and etc..) around the world in different servers and serve them using the closes server to the visitor’s location.
This is called a Content Distribution Network, and it’s used to increase website load time. File CDNs are not free but worth the money since they can significantly increase your load speed. We recommend StackPath’s CDN for WordPress sites.
Now that you’re familiar with server-side solutions, it’s time to talk about on-page options to increase your website’s speed.
Aggressive on-page caching: The idea is simple: compress the website, as much as possible. Mix CSS files, remove space in HTML files, cache database, expiry headers and etc…
All of these can be done using advanced WP caching plugins, such as W3 Total Cache in a couple of clicks.
Keep in mind that W3 Total Cache is an advanced plugin and can easily break your site if you active options that aren’t compatible with your site. When you install it, make sure you test each option with your website to ensure the compression options are not causing any css or theme issues.
W3 Total Cache can also work great with StackPath’s CDN to increase your website’s speed.
Compress Images: Another way to decrease your page’s size and increase your page speed is to decrease your file sizes.
Make sure you’re not loading any images over 180KB on the page. Use an image compression tool such as Optimizilla to make your image sizes smaller without decreasing your image quality.
Deactivate Plugins That You’re Not Using: Plugins are the biggest force when it comes to slowing down a website. That’s why a fresh WP install is always fast.
Take a moment and go over the plugins you have installed on your site and deactivate the ones you’re not using.