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How to Speed Up WordPress Site Load Time

Written by Jessica Frick on
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Whether you’re on a downtown expressway or the information superhighway, no one likes to go slow. There’s not much you can do about the granny in the fast lane doing 30 mph. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to speed up WordPress site load time.

In this post, we share why site speed is critical, the primary causes of slow sites, and our top tips on how to speed up WordPress site load times.

Why Site Speed is Critical

Site speed is a key predictor of the success of your website. Slow websites can harm your business.

Impacts of a slow loading site include:

  • Poor Customer Experience. Making users wait for your site to load gives a bad first impression. If you were expecting house guests, you wouldn’t leave them on your front porch for several minutes after they rang the doorbell. A fast-loading site shows website visitors you’re expecting them, are ready to host them, and value their time.
  • Lower Conversion Rates. People are impatient. They won’t wait for a slow-loading site. They’ll leave before they complete their purchase or fill out a lead form. Improving your site loading speed can increase your conversion rate.
  • Poor Search Rankings. Search engines know that people are impatient. When search engines like Google crawl your site, they note the site loading time. Search engines prioritize faster loading sites and reward them with better rankings.

What Causes Slow Site Load Times?

Your WordPress site should work like a well-oiled machine, but when it starts slowing down, you’re left to troubleshoot why. Unfortunately, websites don’t come with check engine lights or other clues to what’s wrong. But you can use this list as a starting point when troubleshooting a slow-loading WordPress site.

Common causes of slow site speeds include:

  • Low-Quality Hosting. You get what you pay for when it comes to hosting. On a cheaper hosting plan, your site is more likely to experience a slow down if another site on the same server is experiencing an influx in traffic.
  • Unoptimized Images. High-resolution images are great if you’re making prints for a gallery wall. If you try adding the same images to a gallery on your website, your site speed will plummet.
  • Overload of HTTP Requests. You can weigh down a page if you include too many requests, such as trying to load several scripts or CSS files.
  • Plugin Problems. Faulty plugins can cause bugs or slow down your website.
  • Poor Caching. Spotty or poor caching can slow down a site by requiring more loading work than necessary instead of storing page versions.

How to Speed Up WordPress Site Load Time in 10 Steps

Now that you know what might cause a slow site let’s review how to fix it. Ensuring your site does these 10 things will push it into overdrive.

  1. Upgrade Hosting Providers. Without the right host, there’s not much you can do to fix a slow site. At Pressable, we’re dedicated to creating the best hosting solutions for WordPress. We consistently rank as one of the fastest WordPress hosting services in Review Signal’s WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks.
  2. Compress Files and Images. Compress your image files or consider using WebP format for smaller file sizes and faster loading times.
  3. Install All Updates. Keeping your WordPress core system, plugins, and themes up to date is vital for security and speed. Pressable’s managed WordPress hosting includes automatic updates, so you can keep your site safe and fast without having to remember to check for updates.
  4. Troubleshoot Plugins. Plugins are a frequent cause of slow loading sites. If you’ve tried everything and your site is still slow, consider deactivating your plugins and activating them one at a time to identify the problem.
  5. Enable Caching. Caching helps increase page loading speeds by reducing the number of requests the server processes at once. A cache is a temporary copy of a resource like an image, page, or stylesheet. The server can use the cached version instead of wasting time looking it up again. You can enable caching with a plugin or through your hosting. Pressable’s plans include advanced caching options. We covered the details in our post on how to clear cache in WordPress.
  6. Utilize a CDN. Extend the benefits of caching with a content delivery network. A CDN caches files in data centers around the globe so visitors can pull cached files from the data center physically closest to them. You can enable a CDN with a plugin or through your host. Pressable’s plans include a lightning-fast global CDN.
  7. Transition to a Lightweight Theme. Themes come with a lot of options. All those options add loading time to your site. Consider looking for a lightweight theme. Trying out different themes is a great reason to set up a staging environment. Fortunately, Pressable’s plans include unlimited free staging sites for WordPress.
  8. Clean Up the Database. Draft posts, deactivated plugins, inactive users – these elements take up space in your WordPress database. You’re not using them, but the excess clutter makes database queries take longer. Cleaning up your database is part of our recommended WordPress maintenance routine.
  9. Update PHP. PHP versions can influence your site speed. Newer versions of PHP should help decrease your site loading time. Pressable clients can manage the PHP version on their hosting dashboard. We always offer and recommend using the latest version of PHP.
  10. Minimize HTTP, JavaScript, and CSS. Did you run a speed test on your site and see the recommendation to reduce render-blocking resources? That means you’re loading too many requests for things like JavaScript and CSS. Consider reducing the number of resources you need or installing an optimization plugin to minimize and condense your JavaScript and CSS.

Switch to Pressable to Speed Up WordPress Site Load Time

Don’t settle for a slow site. Pressable is where WordPress works best, and that means fast.

We utilize a server infrastructure built specifically for WordPress.

Pressable’s state-of-the-art NVMe server infrastructure was created by the same team powering WordPress.com, WordPress VIP, and WooCommerce. We’ve optimized to deliver the best and fastest performance for WordPress and WooCommerce websites. Don’t believe us? Give it a try for yourself in the Pressable playground.

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Jessica Frick

Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and spends her days focused on creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.