Table of Contents
- Why Does Speed Matter?
- How to Test the Speed of Your WordPress Website?
- How to Optimise Speed of Your WordPress Website?
- Wrapping Up
Want to provide a blazing-fast performance to your visitors? What about learning a few WordPress speed optimisation techniques?
It would be a lie if I said website speed doesn’t matter. Nobody enjoys being on a website that is slow and unresponsive. Google – the most popular search engine indexes your website based on speed. The slower your website is, the less ranking possibility on search engine pages.
If your online business is built on WordPress, that’s a saving. WordPress powers around 40% of the website on the web. It’s the most powerful CMS for a reason.
Here, we’ve put together the ultimate tutorial guide to WordPress speed optimisation. You’ll get insightful ideas on why speed is essential and how to speed up your WordPress website! But before that, let’s take a quick look at why speed matters!
Why Does Speed Matter?
Fast loading website is the ultimate key to providing a better browsing experience. Statistics show that the average loading time of a website is 2.5 seconds on desktop and 8.6 seconds on mobile. Websites that take more than 2 seconds to load have a bounce rate of 47%, which is a significant loss to your website.
Let’s explain: The faster your website loads, the better your user experience, which leads to higher conversion and lower bounce rates!
How to Test the Speed of Your WordPress Website?
Many of you might have yet to learn that your WordPress website is slow in the first place. Beginners think that their website is Okay just because it loads fast on their website! And that in itself is a big mistake!
That’s why we suggest checking the speed of your website, but how do you do it? How do you check the speed?
Various tools are designed and developed to check the speed of your website. Here’s a few:
You can use any of these tools to check the speed of your website. A good website loads within 2 to 5 seconds. But the faster you make it, the better. It’s now time to look after the 16 WordPress speed optimisation techniques!
How to Optimise Speed of Your WordPress Website?
Let’s quickly dive into the methods and techniques you can use to optimise the speed of your WordPress website. All the techniques mentioned below have helped many websites perform better in speed.
1. Select a Reliable Hosting Plan
While hosting might seem just a place to build your website, there’s more to it. Web host affects six crucial aspects of website performance: security, uptime, SEO, customer support, scalability, and speed.
So what makes a good hosting plan?
They take extra measures to optimise the performance of your website and offer good customer support. Using the speed optimisation technique is of no use if your web host is slow in the first place. So, we recommend using high-quality hosting.
There are different types of WordPress hosting options around the web.
You need to understand the right one from the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll waste time finding the best one later!
Shared WordPress Hosting
This is the most popular WordPress hosting, known as shared hosting. Here, all the largest hosts in the industry – the hosting companies function by typically utilizing cPanel. In such a hosting service, at some point, you experience slowness. A shared host tends to overcrows the services, which, in turn, impacts the speed and performance of your website.
Managed WordPress Hosting
The third-party type of hosting handles all the back-end server-related tasks of your website and provides support whenever you need it. They are fine-tuned to function with WordPress and include features like a one-click staging environment, automatic backups, and more.If you want to save time, managed hosting is the one you need!
The pricing for such hosting typically ranges from $25 to $150 per month or even more, depending upon the size of your website.
Characteristics defining a reliable WordPress host, such as
- Faster server response time
- Optimised for WordPress
- Upfront Customer support
- Availability of server location
- Modern technology, such as HTTP/2
Some of the most reliable hosting plans are Cloudways, Siteground, Kinsta, A2Hosting, and WPEngine.
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2. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content Delivery Network (CDN) is a server that hosts your website in various locations worldwide. Using this service ensures that your website loads quickly all around the world. Users from different cities can be on your website in the minimum time range.
For example, if a user is browsing your website from London, a CDN loads content from a server somewhere in Western Europe or the United Kingdom.
There are many CDN providers available for you to select from. The one we highly recommend is Cloudflare. It is said to be one of the best providers. A few reliable CDN service providers are Sucuri, Bunny CDN, Bluehost, and MaxCDN.
It’s not a compulsion to go with our suggestions! If you already have a suit in your mind or if you’ve been used to creating websites, you understand hosting better.
3. Pick a Lightweight Theme
A theme is a framework of your website that you build, customise and style to fit the need of your website design. Themes are designed to help you build professional-looking websites without coding a single line.
When selecting a theme, it’s essential to pay attention to its speed. Some of the beautiful themes need to be better coded, affecting the performance of your website. Themes are the overall layout of your website. They decide on how your website appears, how each element on your website gets presented, and the impression it creates among your visitors.
Here, if your theme is built with low-quality code, not only does it create a slow-loading website, but switching to another theme is quite frustrating! You need to perform a lot of steps to get your website all right by implementing a theme. It’s better if you can decide forward with the best lightweight theme that excels its performance and fucntionaliteis.
We suggest going with more specific themes. Some of the most lightweight WordPress themes that ensure a fast performance are:
All of these themes offer professionally designed templates and layouts.
4. Use the Latest PHP Version
If you need to become more familiar with what language WordPress is written in, it’s PHP. Therefore, we suggest you use the latest version of PHP. The newer the versions are, the more efficient and secure your website is. Ensure that your PHP host offers at least PHP 7 or higher.
The recent search shows that comparing PHP 7.3 to PHP 5.6, the newer version handle 3xx as many requests per second on average. It is 9% faster than PHP 7.2.
In most cases, your host handles the PHP version for you and keeps it up to date. But you would want to check what versions are installed.
You can check your PHP version from your WordPress website dashboard.
- Head to Tools > Site Health
- Click on the Info tab.
- Scroll down to the server tab.
There you can see the PHP version listed. If you’re still using the PHP version, you can ask your hosting provider to update it. You can also manually update the PHP version, but we don’t recommend this to beginners.
5. Optimise WordPress Images
Images break the monotonous look of your website. Your website can be pretty dull without the use of text. Images occupy around 21% of your webpage’s weight. This implies that the more important, the slower the loading time.
Therefore, optimising the images you upload on your website is essential. Optimised images result in fast loading, better user experience, and improved SEO. Images and videos occupy 81% of the weight of the website.
We suggest reducing your image file size as much as possible through lossy or lossless compression. Many image compression tools and plugins are available that optimise the images without losing their quality. You can either optimise the image before uploading it to your website or use a plugin on the website to reduce its file.
Some of the most popular image compression tools and plugins are:
6. Install High Quality Plugins Only
Plugins are the software add-ons you add to add or enhance the existing feature on your website. But did you know poorly coded WordPress plugins bloat your website and increase the page load speed? Not only that, but it also slows down your website.
Therefore, it is necessary that you install and use only high-quality plugins on your website. We suggest reading the reviews of the plugin before moving ahead. Some real users have used the plugin and understand what it offers on your website.
Some of the best WordPress plugins that uses high-level code and ensures performance and security are:
Another thing you can do is deactivate or uninstall the unused plugins. Keeping unwanted plugins adds junk to your web files. It also adds up to the size of your backup. It’s better to deactivate the plugins or uninstall them if they’re no longer used on your website.
7. Use a Page Optimisation Plugin
Another great way to speed up your website pages is using the page optimisation plugin. There are various plugins, both free and paid, available.
One of the best plugins to optimise the page of your website is WP Rocket. The plugin allows you to cache your pages and minify JS and CSS files. It also offers Gzip compression, lazy loading, and more. But, the plugin is premium, costing $49 per year. Some other page optimisation plugins are PerfMatters, WP-Optimize, and Autoptimize. The one that stands out in terms of its features and functionality is NitroPack.
The plugin is an all-in-one platform for all speed optimisation. The plugin automatically outperforms your competitors without writing a single line of code. You can enter the URL of your website, and the plugin does all the testing determining the optimisation factor on a website. It integrates fully with WordPress, WooCommerce, and many other content management systems.
The functionalities of the plugin help you to
- Increase the conversion rate of your WordPress website
- offers a better user experience
- Gain an edge over the competitors
- Outgrow the number of visitors on your website.
We ourselves have used the plugin to optimise the speed of our clients making a vast improvement in the optimisation and performance of the website. Here’s the result:
An increased result in performance, SEO, speed, and many other factors of a website.
8. Reduct HTTPS Requests
The external HTTPS request directly affects the performance of your website. Usually, WordPress plugins and themes load various files from other websites. This file includes external resources. Therefore, we suggest reducing the request. This results in better performance.
There are many ways you can reduce such requests.
- Uninstall or deactivate the unused plugins
- Optimise images and use lazy loading
- Minimize the number of plugins on your website
- Disabling scripts and styles
9. Keep WordPress Website up to Date
WordPress has had many updated versions and changes almost every day. Older versions of WordPress websites lack various features and functionalities. To enjoy the best services, keeping your website up-to-date is recommended.
New updates introduce new efficiencies and can help reduce the issues on the website. An updated website is also solid and secure. Upon the release of the new version, you can view the notification on the website’s dashboard.
All you have to do is follow the instructions and update it to the latest version repeatedly. But, before a few updates can be major, and directly updating them proves to be harmful to your website.
For example A few of the plugins might not be compatible with the new update, or many features might need enhancement after you update the version. So, it’s better, to try to update it on your staging website and see how the update goes and then only moving towards the update on your main website.
10. Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks are the WordPress component that alerts you whenever your blog or post receives a link.
It is the process in which other websites link to your content and get the link displayed in the comment section. While this might sound useful, having such things puts an undesirable strain on the server resource. So, it’s best to disable them.
To disable them
- Head to Settings > Discussion from your website dashboard.
- Uncheck the ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new posts’.
- Save the changes.
Here’s what non-minfied HTML codes look like:
And here’s the minified one:
You can use plugins like WPRocket or Autoptimize to minify your files.
12. Use WordPress Caching
Caching is one of the best ways to speed up your WordPress website.
So, what exactly is caching?
Whenever a user browses through your website, it requires a request to the server. This usually results in performance issues on how WordPress assembles web pages. Whenever a user browses a brand new website, the PHP on your website server has to retrieve all the relevant content and send that file to the client.
This has many advantages, like saving server space and allowing dynamic website content. But, in return, this takes more time and energy than sending a pre-written website.
WordPress caching simplifies the entire process. It functions by helping you build HTML pages on your website with PHP. This saves time for your future request. We recommend using the plugin WPRocket, W3 Total Cache, or WP Super Cache on your WordPress website.
13. Disable Gravatar Images
The Gravatar images that are usually displayed next to your username on the website are the images you upload on the WordPress network. It appears in the ‘About the author’ section and in the comments.
Since these images are stored on another network and not your site, they must be loaded separately. Therefore, we suggest disabling Gravatars. By doing so, you save a lot of bandwidth.
To disable the Gravatars:
- Head to Settings > Discussion from your website dashboard.
- Click the check box next to Gravatar.
- Save the changes.
14. Update Everything
Significant to minor updates exist on WordPress themes, plugins, and the platform itself. Updating them from time to time should be your role as a WordPress administrator. Poor updates and maintenance hugely impact making your website slow and fatal to viruses and malware.
Keeping your website updated all the time is critical. Whether it is a plugin or a theme – staying up to date maximizes performance and security. Before updating it on the main website, we suggest testing it on a staging website, seeing how it goes and then making changes on your leading site. Everything in your WordPress website needs to be updated and fully functioning.
You can run the latest versions to keep your site secure, patch bugs, and ensure each feature runs smoothly. It automatically adds up to the speed of your website.
15. Optimise WordPress Database
It would be best to fine-tune your WordPress database. Your website database needs upkeep over time; otherwise, it can be bloated. They get cluttered with unnecessary files, which contributes to slow loading.
We suggest optimising the database regularly. You can use specific plugins or access the database via Cpanel to optimise it manually. Here is a way how you can update your database.
Using the InnoDB MySQL Storage Engine
This engine has row-level rocking supporting transactions and is more reliable than MyISAM.
- Login to phpMyAdmin and select MySQL database.
If you find any of them are using MyISAM, it’s better to convert them to InnoDB. InnoDB is proven to perform better and be more reliable. It is seen that a lot of old websites still use the MyISAM Storage engine in their database. InnoDB has many advantages over MyISAM, so it’s better for website speed and optimisation.
16. Limit / Delete Posts and Page Revisions
When you open up the posts or pages on your website dashboard, you can view the number of revisions. Revision is when you update or save the post or page with new content, image, or anything. Revision exists in drafted as well as published posts and pages.
While revisions help you revert to the previous version’s content, they have drawbacks. It harms the performance of your website. On websites with thousands of posts and pages, it quickly adds up to thousands of rows in the database, which is unnecessary. The more rows you have, the larger your database size will be, which takes up ample storage space. In this case, you can do the few you can do!
Delete Old Revisions
You can do a quick cleanup by deleting the old revisions. You can do this with MYSQL, but this method is not suggested if you’re a beginner. Instead, you can use plugins like WP Rocket and WP-Sweep that have a database optimisation feature available to clear out the old revisions.
Limit the Number of Revisions
A good strategy is limiting the number of revisions stored on your website. If you keep the revision number to 3, only three revisions would be stored, irrespective of all the revisions you’ve made in the past.
Now, the number can be near 3 or 4. There is no point in keeping it 40. You can limit the number of revisions on your website via code or using a plugin like Perfmatters.
To do via code:
- Head to your wp-confg.php file
- Insert the line of code above ‘ABSPATH’.
In the case you insert it elsewhere, it will not work.
define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 10);Here, I’ve kept the number to 10, but you can do it per your preference. If you don’t want to work with codes, use a plugin instead; start by installing Perfmatters on your website. On the page, you can view the Limit Post Revisions option.
- Please set it to your desired number.
The last option is to disable the revision on your website. To enable this, ensure you follow the first option by cleaning it from the database and doing so. This way, your database will be free from old, and no new revisions will be added.
To do so:
- Add the code below to your wp-config.php file.
And again, you can also use Perfmatters to disable the revisions.
17. Mobile-Friendly Approach
You might be aware of the mobile-first index introduced by Google on 26th March 2018.
It says that Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking system will now use the mobile phone version of your WordPress website for indexing and ranking your website. This helps improve your search experience for mobile users. So, when it comes to optimising your WordPress website, speed on mobile devices must be considered. It affects the usability of your website. A slow-loading website increases bounce rates. And bad mobile experience leads the majority of users never to return.
So, what can you do to implement the mobile-friendly approach? The first thing is to select a mobile-friendly theme.
While most of the themes claim to be mobile-friendly, are they?
Make sure to view the mobile version of the theme, and decide if you think it fits the need! The other thing is responsiveness; your website has to be responsive! All the themes we mentioned above are 100% mobile friendly and offer excellent responsiveness to users browsing your site through mobile.
18. Limit the Number of Posts on Blog Page
Whether you’re a blog website, or a website having a blog page, we recommend limiting the number of posts. Having lots of posts can be pretty significant.
Limiting posts is highly recommended if your blog feed is set to page your homepage or any other page of the site. You don’t need 100 thumbnails, all loading simultaneously on your website. And, for those running high-traffic blogs, your homepage is the most crucial page of the website. The fewer the requests, the faster the performance. However, you can reduce the files by limiting the number of posts loading on a single website. This is called pagination. On the bottom of the blog page, you can see the number of pages with the option to Next/Previous posts. Most WordPress themes have custom pagination built-in. By default, WordPress sets the limits to 10. But we recommend keeping it to 5 to 6.
To change the number of posts:
- Head to Settings > Reading
You can view the option of Blog Pages shown at most on the page.
- Add the number of posts you would like to show.
- Save the changes.
19. Disable Hotlinking and Redirection
Hotlinking is when you use images from the internet on your website directly through a URL. Such images are used on your website but get served from the original location. It is using another website’s resources on your website. Hotlinking can be a massive drain on your website. This is why we recommend disabling hotlinking.
Instead of using the images directly through the URL, you can save the image to your device and upload it on your website, giving the credentials. Too many redirects are something you need to watch out for. Often, these redirections consume much of your time making the site slow loading, and above all, redirection is proven to significantly impact the speed.
Here is the result of the page before redirection:
And, here’s the same page after the redirection:
Using a free redirection plugin can sometimes cause issues to the website. So, it’s best to select a plugin that looks out for the redirection process without affecting the performance of your website.
20. Front End Optimisation
This sums up our article on the 20 best WordPress speed optimisation techniques. Speed, as mentioned earlier in this tutorial, is the most important factor of a website. The conversion, earning, and visitors on your website highly depend on performance and speed. We always suggest trying these methods to increase the speed of your website and optimise it. We discussed website speed, why it is important, how we can check the website’s speed, and the ways to optimise the website.
While there is more to each of these techniques, you can follow these steps to enhance the performance and speed of your website. Applying all of these methods can be time-consuming and too much for a website. Among all these methods, a few we highly recommend are selecting reliable hosting, a lightweight theme, a better-coded plugin, and using an image optimisation plugin. All these techniques have proven results and contribute to creating a fast-loading website.
What are your thoughts on this article? Which technique do you follow to optimise the speed of your website? Did we miss out on any certain technique? Do let us know!
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