WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) for bloggers, business owners, and other brands.
The powerful website builder and blogging tool is perfect for anyone serious about their online presence.
This is because it’s easy to use, affordable to set up, and you can easily download a range of different extensions to optimize and improve your site.
WordPress is a fantastic choice for anyone, no matter how new or experienced you are when it comes to building websites online. However, sometimes speed and performance can hold you back.
If you’ve worked with websites before, a slow website can be a huge issue. No one wants to spend their day waiting for a slow website to load, so if you don’t prioritize your site’s speed, you could be on your way to higher bounce rates, a reduction in repeat visitors, and less clicks through to your affiliate links.
We want you to build the best website possible, attracting millions of viewers every month. So, this article will be an in-depth guide on how you can optimize your WordPress performance and speed this year.
Why should you focus on speeding up WordPress?
If you think that your site’s speed will have no impact on viewers clicking on your site, or Google as it crawls your domain, you’d be wrong!
A slow website means that visitors will not want to come to your site again or may click away before they get to consume any of your incredible content. It also could lead google to ignore your website and place it at the very bottom of its search listings.
And, without viewers or high Google rankings, your website doesn’t stand a chance!
We’ve all clicked on a website and waited patiently for it to load. How long would you wait before clicking away?
Maybe 10 seconds, if you’re super patient?
Actually, Google suggests that any page that takes over 2 seconds to load will start to lose the interest of visitors.
Once a user has clicked away from your website and decided to go to one of the other thousands of listings they can find on Google, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to get them back to your site again.
If not for your slow page load times, this viewer might have signed up for your newsletter, clicked on your affiliate links, bought your course, etc. So, it could be a costly mistake.
In addition, poor performance and slow speed could also have a big impact on the way that Google views your website.
This means that the time it takes your page to load could have a direct impact on your website’s ranking in Google search results.
So, it doesn’t matter how much time you put into updating your SEO, promoting your website on social media, or sourcing the best images for each blog post if you aren’t also addressing speed and performance-related issues.
To conclude, your site speed and performance can have a big impact on the way people view your brand online, affect conversions, and cause big problems when trying to climb up to the top of Google rankings.
However, although speed may be extremely important, it’s not something that WordPress specializes in.
This is because WordPress works by dynamically constructing a page when a user clicks on your website. It pulls in data from a range of sources to make an HTML file, which it then sends to the user’s browser.
Because WordPress is building everything a user could need as they need it, performance isn’t always guaranteed to be as quick as Google would want it.
On top of that, all the extensions that add functionality, aesthetics, and personality to your website use a considerable amount of server resources – which can result in declining performance.
When your website is trying to do so many things at once, you run the risk of it failing to do some of the most basic things — like loading quickly.
However, all hope is not lost. There are ways to test and improve your WordPress speed optimization so you can keep satisfying new and existing viewers while also impressing Google.
Or, if you’re not sure about what is WordPress and why we think it’s one of the best website platforms out there, you can read plenty more about it in our other articles!
How to test the speed of your WordPress website
When you’re launching a new site to the world or trying to improve your current website so you can turn it into a business, there’s little room for error.
So don’t let yourself fall at the first hurdle by failing to prioritize the speed of your site.
When you’re trying to test your site speed, there are a variety of methods you can use.
But you don’t just have to rely on one tool. You can get a great picture of the true speed of your site using a combination of tools.
Of course, you can pull up your site and see how long it takes to load, but we’d recommend using professional services that can give informational insights into site performance.
Here are five of the most common website performance tools and how you can use them to test the speed of your WordPress website.
PageSpeed Insights (PSI)
The first and the most common tool is PageSpeed Insights from Google.
Considering Google decides where to rank your page, they are an excellent source of information to identify any potential performance-related issues with your website.
With this tool, all you need to do is enter your web page URL and hit the big blue “Analyze” button. You’ll be given a detailed report known as a Core Web Vitals Assessment.
It will measure your website based on a number of ranking factors and give you an overall score on the experience that users get when visiting your site on both mobile and desktop.
Your score can be anything between 0 and 100. Anything that is below 50 is considered very poor, and any score that is between 50 to 90 means your website could do with a bit of improvement.
You should always aim for a PageSpeed Insights score of at least 90, as this is a good indicator that your website is performing exactly as it should — and impressing Google!
The good thing about PageSpeed Insights is that it will also give you a list of recommendations of things you can do to your website to improve your score, so you’re not just left to figure out everything for yourself.
Pingdom also allows you to choose the country that you want to test from. This gives you interesting insight into any differences among how your viewers from various countries experience your website.
From your Google Analytics, you should have a good idea of where the majority of your viewers come from. So, we’d recommend testing your URL from each of these primary locations.
Your Pingdom report will cover a few things on your web pages, including:
- Your website’s overall performance grade
- Page size
- Load time
- Number of HTTP requests
It will also give you a list of potential suggestions to improve your WordPress performance and page speed.
After plugging in your URL and pressing “Test your site,” you’ll receive an overall grade for your website. It will also rank you from 0-100% for your site’s performance and structure, while reporting on the usual web vitals such as loading time.
It will prioritize recommended solutions so it’s extremely clear which ones will make the most difference to your overall site speed.
For example, some improvements that it could suggest include avoiding large layout shifts, using a content delivery network, or reducing initial server response time.
Finally, you can also use a tool called WebPage Test. This performs very similarly to the other tools that we have mentioned in this article.
After you enter your URL, WebPage Test will send a test from a specified location on both mobile and desktop devices. This will give you a full picture of how different users see your website and how it shows up in search engines.
The test gives you the answer to some top-line questions, such as whether your website is quick, usable, and reliable. It also provides a very in-depth analysis of your website and WordPress performance, so there will be plenty of data and information that you can use to make improvements.
How to speed up a WordPress site
As we’ve covered already, speeding up your WordPress site is something that any website owner should care about.
Speeding up your site can result in more visitors, higher Google rankings, and more loyal readers of your content.
If you’ve tested your website and found that your load speed is slow, or your PageSpeed Insights score isn’t the best, you don’t have to worry too much.
As long as you’re willing to make some changes to your website, you should have no problem boosting your score and watching your website fly up the Google rankings.
Below, we’re going to take you through some of the first things to do for WordPress speed optimization.
Most of these tips are super simple solutions that shouldn’t take you too long to implement. Even better, the improvement in site speed will be instant. Here’s a WordPress tutorial on how you can improve your site speed in a few simple steps.
1. Optimize your Images
Our first tip is to optimize images on your website. When your site’s images are too large, they can take a long time to load. This could be one of the reasons why your PageSpeed Insights scores are so low.
Optimizing your images for WordPress is really easy. All you have to do is resize or compress them into a smaller file size.
For example, your header image, background image, and any other image in your blog post should be high-res. However, high-quality images don’t necessarily require huge file sizes.
To compress images, we recommend using fotor, which is a free online picture editing tool that can come in handy for anything photo-related.
All you have to do is open the website and go up to the top of the screen, where you’ll see a little open button. Click on that button and open an image from your computer. Next, go to the menu at the top and click the “resize” option.
This will allow you to change the height and width values of your image. As you do this, you’ll notice a padlock image within the box.
When this is locked, it means that you can only change the value of the height and width in a proportional way (e.g., when you change the height, the width automatically adjusts). If it’s unlocked, you can change both values to whatever you want.
To avoid distortion, you should try to keep the padlock locked when editing your image. As a guide, 1500 pixels wide is a pretty good size for images that are going to be on your full-width homepage.
Once you’re happy with the values, just save as a JPEG (JPEGs are a little bit smaller than PNG files) and then download the file to your computer. Now it’s ready to upload to your website.
Top tip! When you upload your new file into your WordPress website builder, remember to delete the old picture to free up a bit more space.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of resizing everything manually, you can also use online compression tools for image optimization. For example, sites like Optimizilla or Optimole let you upload the file you want to compress, then redownload the compressed version — it’s extremely simple.
Remember: the more an image is compressed, the more likely your photo will become blurry.
You want to find the right balance between compression and image quality! Normally, compressing an image between 20-30% will not result in any visible difference. However, at 60% or above, you might start to notice a bit of a difference.
Some people might tell you to download a WordPress plugin that will automatically resize all your images for you.
Although this is a quick and effective way to compress your images in bulk, having more plug-ins on your WordPress server can slow down your site loading speed even more, so it’s not something that we would recommend.
2. Manage Your Cache
Our next tip is to learn how to effectively manage the cache on your website. Cache is essentially just temporary storage for your images, page text, or other types of multimedia from your WordPress media library.
It’s quite simple to get all of this under control by using a handy WordPress caching plugin.
With your WordPress admin dashboard open, go over to the plug-ins section and press “Add New.”
You’ll then be given the chance to search for the plug-in you want. In this case, it will be “WP Fastest Cache.” You’re looking for that name with the logo of a cheetah — the plug-in has around 1 million active installations.
To get it working on your site, you need to click “Activate.” Then go back to your list of plug-ins and enable all settings that it asks.
Basically, what this caching plugin will do is clear a bunch of items that are stored in your CSS files and all the preview files created while you were building your website.
By doing this, you’ll save some space on your website and improve your WordPress site speed.
3. Delete Plugins You Don't Need
Step number three is to delete unused plugins from your WordPress database that you don’t need or don’t use anymore.
Plug-ins may be helpful for performing certain tasks, but they take up a lot of space and slow your website down.
To clear out the ones you don’t use anymore, navigate to the plug-ins section of your WordPress dashboard and then go to “Installed Plug-ins.”
You can go through the list of plug-ins and delete any that your website doesn’t need.
First, press the “Deactivate” button for each plug-in you don’t want. If there are lots of plug-ins to delete, use the bulk actions option to select multiple plug-ins and deactivate them all at once.
Once they’ve been deactivated, you'll perform the same action again, but this time choosing “Delete” instead of “Deactivate.” By doing this, you are completely removing the plug-ins from the back-end of your website.
Having plug-ins on your website is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, they’re great because they can help bring lots of new features and functions to your website, but this is often at the expense of slowing your site down.
So, for anyone who’s starting to build their website or looking to improve their current design, it’s important to learn how to balance the number of plug-ins with the speed of your website.
4. Is it your hosting company?
Finally, you may have tried all of the tips that we’ve mentioned above but are still struggling to improve the performance of your website on your web server.
If this is the case, it could be that you’re not actually doing anything wrong. It might be your host that’s causing your WordPress site speed to slow down.
The managed WordPress hosting company that you host your website with could actually play a role in why your WordPress site’s performance is so low.
One reason for this is that the most common hosting plan shares the same space with other users.
If you want to your website to run faster, you could upgrade your plan to a dedicated IP address on another web hosting server with a good hosting provider.
Since you’re no longer sharing your IP space with other users, shared hosting can’t hold back your site speed anymore.
More tips for a fast WordPress site
If you’ve implemented all of the tips that we’ve mentioned above, but still think you could do with an extra website speed boost, here are some other WordPress performance optimization tips you can try in just a few clicks:
- Avoid using too many redirects
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) which distributes your content between a group of services for quick loading
- Schedule power-intensive website tasks to low-traffic periods
- Simplify your page design and content by choosing less intensive WordPress themes
- Try lazy-loading content so your site loads quicker, by only loading certain content when they’re needed, rather than straight away
- Speak to your WordPress host
WordPress performance FAQ
If you still have some questions about WordPress and your site’s speed after reading through this article, here are the answers to some of the most common FAQs if your WordPress site is slow.
Why is WordPress so slow?
There are many reasons that your WordPress site may be slow, and WordPress isn’t responsible for all of them.
WordPress generates a view of your site every time a user clicks one of your links, meaning that it has to reload your page every time a user requests it.
This is one of the main reasons why your site may be slowing down, but there are also factors that you can control.
Some of these factors include optimizing the layout of your site, avoiding large images, using too many plug-ins, and not running regular speed tests to check your performance.
If you’re worried about the speed of your site, there are plenty of site speed analysis tools to test your website and provide you with solutions to speed up your website.
How can I improve my WordPress site performance?
If you want to improve the speed of your WordPress site and start to climb the Google rankings in your sector, there are a few simple tweaks for WordPress optimization that we’d recommend. The first, and perhaps most important, is to take a look through the images that you have on each page. If these images have extremely large file sizes, they can take a really long time to load.
By compressing or re-sizing these images, you’ll notice that your site speed will start to improve instantly.
Other things that you can do to improve your WordPress site performance include managing your cache, deleting any plug-ins that you’re no longer using, and checking the managed WordPress hosting plans that you have to ensure that this isn’t the cause of your slow WordPress website speed.
Can WordPress be fast?
Yes, it’s certainly possible to make your WordPress site extremely fast. If your website is loading extremely slowly, it’s often not due to your hosting provider but the way you manage and optimize the content on your website.
For example, if you have lots of unused plug-ins, images with huge file sizes, and huge databases full of unnecessary cache, your website will load extremely slowly, no matter what hosting provider you use.
In the article above, we outlined some strategies that you can implement if you want to dramatically increase the speed of your website.
Most of the tips that we suggested can be completed in a few minutes, but the results that you see in your site’s performance will be instant.
We recommend implementing all five of the main tips that we’ve listed above. If you do so, your website should be running faster in no time at all.
If you’ve tried working through all of the tips that we’ve listed but are still struggling to get your website working quickly, there may be a bigger problem that you need to fix.
If this is the case, we’d recommend contacting your hosting provider or the person you bought your WordPress theme from, as these may be two potential causes of a slow-running website.
Everyone wants their website to run as fast as possible. It’s a key way to generate more traffic to your website because viewers are less likely to click away, and Google is more likely to rank your website higher in its search listings.
In this article, we’ve explained why site speed and performance are so important for bloggers, brands, and other website owners, and we’ve also outlined some key strategies that you can follow to enhance the speed of your website.
We hope that after following some of the tips and tricks we’ve shared, you’ll be able to implement them on your WordPress websites and notice some significant changes.
Make sure to regularly check tools like PageSpeed Insights so you can keep track of how your performance is doing over time and to check if there are any new suggestions for how you can improve your website.