WordPress powers an astonishing 39.5 percent of all websites. Before we continue, just let that sink in for a moment…
Yeah, there’s a good chance that over a third of the websites you regularly use are running on WordPress. However, not all WordPress websites are created equal. Some zoom along at lightning-fast speeds, while others seem to languish in the slow lane.
What is happening here?
There could be a lot of different factors that are affecting your website’s speed. In this guide to speeding up your WordPress website, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common problems and how you can fix them.
A faster website means better SEO, a better user experience, and happier customers. It’s something that you can’t afford to ignore.
Are you ready to learn how to increase WordPress website speed and start building a better site? Then read on!
Remove Unnecessary Software From Your Site
Do you have a lot of old plugins that you don’t use anymore? Are there themes that you once downloaded on a whim and never actually used? Are you running scripts on your web pages that you don’t need?
Taking a scalpel to your site’s software can pay off massively in terms of speed. Every plugin that you have that you don’t need, every unnecessary script, every unused file that’s taking up space… all that extra stuff has to be downloaded before your site renders in the user’s browser. That means slower loading times that are irritating for them and bad news for you.
Be critical of the software that you run on your webpage. Be minimalist and only run software that is essential for your site.
Avoid Uploading Uncompressed Images
Uncompressed images are poison for any web page’s speed. Uncompressed images can be several megabytes in size or more.
You should be using an image format like .jpg?extend_cdn for your site, as this format compresses the image, which means there’s less data for your visitors to download. Even when using a .jpg?extend_cdn, your images should still not be served in their original size.
Your images should not be larger than 1920×1080 (or similar, depending on aspect ratio). Your users will not appreciate the extra detail that comes with full-size images, and it will slow down your site considerably. Compressed images also take up less storage space, which is a boon for you.
Use a Theme That’s Designed for Speed
We mentioned the importance of not clogging up your site with themes that you don’t need, but there’s more to it than that. The theme that you use on your site also has a big impact on your website’s speed.
A bloated theme with a lot of scripts and dependencies will slow your site down significantly. Minimalism is more than an aesthetic; it’s a conscious design choice that affects the backend of your site, too.
A minimalist theme that is designed with speed in mind will boost your website’s speed without compromising your design or branding.
Split up Your Longer Posts
Long-form content can be fantastic for SEO purposes. It positions you as an authority in your field and helps to convince new customers that you know what you’re talking about.
Yet when you’re dealing with posts that are thousands of words long, with accompanying images, you’re putting a whole lot of data into one page. This means that when the server serves that page, it’s going to take longer.
The answer is simple: break up your long posts into multiple pages. This is as simple as clicking a button in your WordPress editor or, at most, adding some HTML code, depending on your configuration.
Breaking up your longer posts also has the advantage of making your posts a lot more readable. Make the most of people’s attention spans, and give them content that is easy to consume.
Add a Caching Plugin to Your Site
A caching plugin is an excellent addition to any site. While it won’t help your visitors load your site any faster on their first visit, it will help them every time they come back to your site.
Caching plugins allow visitors to store copies of your pages or their elements on their computers. This means that the next time they come back, they don’t need to download it from the server again, as it will simply load up the local copy instead. These kinds of plugins are relatively small but can make a massive difference to the speed of your site.
Consider Switching to a Faster DNS Provider
When someone types in your website’s URL, their computer doesn’t instantly know what to do with it. The URL is a human-readable address for the website, but the actual address is the website’s IP address.
To render the URL into an IP address, their computer will use a DNS service, which functions like an old-fashioned phonebook. It will then connect to the IP address. If your website’s DNS provider is slow, this whole process will take longer.
The DNS provider that your registrar gave you most likely isn’t the fastest one around. Switching to a faster DNS provider doesn’t need to cost anything either; there are multiple companies that offer DNS services for websites that are free and fast.
Combine Your JS and CSS Files
You likely have multiple CSS and JS files on your webpage. If each of these is loaded consecutively, your webpage will take longer to load due to the stop-start nature of consecutive loading.
Combining your JS or CSS files is as easy as clicking a button in some plugins. You may need to do some research on how to do it otherwise, but it can make a big difference to your load times.
Use a CDN
If you cater to customers from all around the world, you may want to consider using a CDN. This is a network of servers that caches your content in various locations around the globe, which means that the site will be speedy no matter where your visitors connect from.
While these aren’t suitable for everyone, they could help your business. Using a CDN is fairly easy too, and usually only requires a simple plugin and registration process.
Keep Your Comments Speedy
Comments threads can be irritating, but they’re also a great way to keep in touch with your customers and make them feel engaged. However, they can also be a drain to your site’s speed. This is because every comment needs to pull the commenter’s avatar from Gravatar, which means more data to load.
If you don’t think that your site benefits from comments, you can remove them entirely by going into your discussion settings.
If you don’t want to make such a drastic move, however, you can disable user avatars in discussion settings, too. This means that there are no more images to load, only text.
Refine Your Homepage
The homepage is the first page that your visitors see. Keeping it speedy is vital, as you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
One thing that you need to do to speed up your homepage is to stop showing full posts. Very few people will read a full post or several full posts on one page, and it slows down your site considerably.
Show excerpts from a selection of posts, maybe around five or six. Then allow your visitors to click on them to go to the post’s page.
You can also consider removing sharing widgets from your homepage and using them exclusively in posts instead.
Choose a WordPress Optimized Host
Not every website host is created equal. If you’re still using a hosting solution that isn’t designed with WordPress in mind, your website’s performance will suffer.
A WordPress optimized host offers lightning-fast performance, strong reliability, and dedicated support services that can help you with both general and WordPress-specific issues.
Speeding up Your WordPress Website: Solved
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to speeding up your WordPress website and feel confident in your ability to make your site faster! If you’d like to make the switch to WordPress-optimized hosting, we’d be happy to help.
Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.