How to Speed Up a Slow WordPress Site

How long does it take for your WordPress website to load? Have you checked it using site speed tools? The loading speed of your WordPress website has a big effect on the “bounce” rate or how many visitors click away before seeing your site’s content. For a WordPress site, loading slow is like the blue screen of windows. It means you’re losing visitors and that also means you’re losing business.

Do you really want to speed up your WordPress site? Fast loading pages improve user experience, increase your pageviews, and help with your SEO. I will try to explain from why speed is essential, what slows down your WordPress site and steps how to speed up a slow WordPress site. So that you can take these steps to improve your WordPress speed efficiently.

There is plenty of troubleshooting work you can do to speed up your WordPress site and you could take days tweaking and experiment with it. However, the major WordPress issues usually is due to poor quality web hosting or hosting-related problems so the first place you should start by checking with your host provider.

To make it easy, I have listed all out in order to help you navigate through my guide how to speed up a slow WordPress site.

How to Speed Up a Slow WordPress Site

  1. Check WordPress Website Speed
  2. Reasons of Slow WordPress Website
  3. Use a Good WordPress Hosting
  4. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
  5. Optimize and Compress Images
  6. Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
  7. Optimize Background Processes
  8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Don’t Upload Audio/Video Files to WordPress
  10. Use HTTPS protocol
  11. Use PHP version 7
  12. Deactivate and delete any unused plugins
  13. Optimize WordPress Database

1. Check WordPress Website Speed

First, you must take this step to test the speed of your WordPress site to see what the loading time right now. You visit your site regularly so your computer will have parts of the site cached. That means it doesn’t have to download everything so it’s more than likely loading faster for you than it would be for others who hasn’t been to the site before.

Instead, use a website like tools.pingdom.com or GTMetrix.com to get an independent speed test. This will tell us the loading times and let us see which files are being loaded and what their sizes are. And it give you a full report on the page loaded, what’s working well, and what’s slowing things down.

Ideally, you need the loading times at 2 seconds. However, the faster you can make it, the better it is. A few milliseconds of improvements here and there can add up to shaving off half or even a full second from your load time. Do not mind the scores they provide or rate your site, just keep aiming for the loading time of 2 seconds or less.

2. Reasons of Slow WordPress Website

Your speed test report will contain multiple recommendations for improvement. By understanding what’s causing the slow loading or poor response time it’ll help narrow down the steps you can take to fix it.

Learning what slows down your website is the key to improving performance and making smarter long-term decisions.

The primary common reasons for a slow WordPress website are:

  • Web Hosting : Slow or poor quality hosting that doesn’t match your requirement or traffic or site.
  • WordPress Caching : No caching or caching plugins installed, then it will overload your server thus causing your website to be slow.
  • Page Size : No image compression or optimization has been done.
  • Older PHP version : The version of PHP you’re using is old or out of date
  • Bad Plugins : You have a poorly coded plugin or out of date plugin, then it can significantly slow down your website.
  • HTTPS : Not using HTTPS or taking advantage of the HTTP2 protocol.
  • CDN : A high traffic site is best to use content delivery network (CDN) in order to reduce the load on the hosting

3. Use a Good WordPress Hosting

Your WordPress hosting service plays an essential role in website performance. On shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. Shared hosting makes money by stacking 10,000 other sites on the same server which leads to slow, unreliable server. This means that if your neighboring site gets a lot of traffic, then it can impact the entire server performance which will slow down your website.

On the other hand, using a managed WordPress hosting service give you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting like us also offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website.

And make sure you host your site in the country where your visitors or customers are. For example you’re based in Malaysia, your visitors and clients are also based in Malaysia. Common for businesses to get a host in Malaysia instead of US which ultimately will cause the site to load slow.

Some people advice you that if you want a high performance site you should run your site on a VPS, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Yes, a VPS has more raw server power than a regular hosting account. But server configuration is far more important as well, and unless you’re a server specialist, you’re not going to have the skills or knowledge to optimize your server to a higher standard than that of a managed WordPress hosting provider.

This is one of the reasons why you should get our managed WordPress hosting plan, you get the power of a dedicated server with the configuration built in and optimized for speed.

4. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin

Installing a WordPress caching plugin is one of the most effective permanent performance tips. What WordPress will do every time a visitor visit it? It will generates the page will these several steps:

  • Loading the content from database
  • Generating the code for the theme, scripts, and everything else
  • Grab all images, audio, and other media files
  • Sending the page content to the visitor

A caching plugin makes a cached version of each page on the site similar to google cached. With a caching plugin WordPress doesn’t have to do all the work of generating the page. When a visitor lands on the page, the cached version gets sent to them. This saves time as well as processing power on the server.

That’s why we recommend every WordPress site use a caching plugin. Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2x to 5x faster. There are a lot of good WordPress caching plugins available, such as WP Rocket, W3 Total CacheWP Super Cache plugin and more.

Do not install or use two caching plugins together as its very common issue we see and make sure before experimenting with caching you have a backup. Some cases such as the caching plugin incompatible with plugin or theme you had installed, it will cause your site to appear down. If that situation happen, you need to revert the changes.

Many WordPress hosting companies like Bluehost and SiteGround offer caching solutions as well. If you are using SiteGround then login to hosting cPanel and enable SuperCacher under “Site improvement tools”. After that, you will need to install and activate the “SG Optimizer” plugin in WordPress to manage SuperCacher settings. If you are using Bluehost, then go to “My Sites > Performance” section to turn on caching.

If you’re using a managed WordPress hosting provider, then you don’t need a caching plugin because it is built-in and turned on by default or you may contact them for further instructions.

5. Optimize and Compress Images

Images that aren’t optimized for use on the web will slow down the loading time. Even the most basic smartphone takes pictures that are far higher resolution than what you need to look good on a website. If you upload those images to your website without optimizing them first, they’re going to take longer time to load. Instead, you should either use an image optimization plugin for WordPress or use a photo editing app on your PC to optimize the image before you upload it.

Compress the images on your site without a visible drop in quality with “smush” and they are free to use but paid version with more features. Often images can be compressed by 20 to 50%, which can easily cut 1 to 2 seconds off the load time of a page. I only use two image formats which is “jpg” and “png”.

Well, “png” image format is uncompressed. When you compress an image it loses some information, so an uncompressed image will be higher quality with more detail. The downside is that it’s a larger file size, so it takes longer to load. On the other hand, “jpg” is a compressed file format which slightly reduces image quality, but it’s significantly smaller in size.

What i would do is, i will use GIMP GNU Image Manipulation Program to edit and compress it save as “jpg” before uploading the images to my WordPress site. Then let “smush” compress those images smaller again in order load faster.

Lately, there is a new player around with new technology that can reduce even more, a new image format for the Web. WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. Using WebP, webmasters and web developers can create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. You may try this WordPress plugin called “webp express“.

6. Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

WordPress is updated frequently and is no different than other apps you run on your smartphone and it gets updated regularly to add features, fix security flaws, and improve performance. The same goes for the plugins and themes you have installed on your WordPress site. They get updated for the same reasons.

Keeping everything up-to-date will help your site run as quickly as possible, not to mention make it more secure. It’s your responsibility to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins updated to the latest versions. Not doing so may make your site slow and unreliable, and make you vulnerable to security threats.

7. Optimize Background Processes

Background processes in WordPress are usually scheduled tasks that run in the background. Backup plugin which runs backup task, cron jobs to publish scheduled posts and updates are some examples of background tasks that run on a WordPress site.

Tasks like cron jobs for scheduled posts and updates have minimal impact on website performance. However, other background processes like backup plugins and excessive crawling by search engines definitely slow down a website.

For backup, you need to make sure that it will only run during low traffic time on your site. You also may need to use your hosting panel backup option to backup instead of a WordPress backup plugin. Frequent crawls that are ending up in errors can cause your website to slow down or become unresponsive. You need to keep an eye on your crawl reports in Google Search console.

8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers located in different parts of the world where you can host certain parts of your website. They’re most effective for larger files that rarely change like images and audio.

When a visitor lands on your website, those components of the page load from the CDN instead of your server. And because the CDN has servers around the world, it can serve the files from the location that’s closest to your visitor, making the site load as quickly as possible for them.

CDN such as Cloudflare is free, so there’s really no reason not to use it.

A lot of hosting has “Cloudflare” functionality built-in into it with an option in the Cpanel, so if you have that then turn it on. Cloudflare takes over your DNS hosting. There are two distinct issues with slow sites. Either the site itself is overloaded and slow, or the DNS hosting and DNS lookups from hosting provider are slow. Cloudflare acceleration and optimisation features reduce the size of your site, help it load faster and help it render faster.

Cloudflare reduces the load on your web host and means that some of the files that make up your website are loaded on servers much closer to the visitor. This means that is less latency (distance for the information to travel) when someone loads a page, which again, results in a much faster load time. Loading files from the CDN also bypasses your web server, which cuts slow hosting out of the picture for some files.

9. Don’t Upload Audio/Video Files to WordPress

You can upload any audio and video files to your WordPress site. But you should not do that! Hosting large audio files and large videos files will cost you bandwidth. Hosting large media files also increases your backup sizes tremendously, and makes it difficult for you to restore WordPress from backup.

Instead, you should use an audio and video hosting service like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, SoundCloud and etc. Or i assume that you know how to compress audio and video to a really same size then i may do so. Actually there are audio and video editor which can make a 40mb file size into 4mb file size. This you need to experiment on it more with those respective editor software. When you homepage is less than 5mb then i guess you are good to go.

10. Use HTTPS protocol

The HTTPS protocol is encrypted, making it more secure. Beside from the security benefits, HTTPS supports HTTP version 2, which has a speed advantage over HTTP 1.1. When your website is using HTTPS, it will load faster.

11. Use PHP version 7

WordPress is mainly written in the PHP programming language. It is a server side language, which means it is installed and runs on your hosting server. The newer PHP 7 is two times faster than PHP 5.6. That’s a huge performance boost that your website must take advantage of.

PHP version will be shown via WordPress admin dashboard, just click “tools > site health”. If your website is using a version lower than PHP 7, then ask your hosting provider to update it for you. If they are unable to do so, then it is time to find a new WordPress hosting company.

12. Deactivate and delete any unused plugins

Less plugins is better from a speed perspective. Many plugins add additional Javascript and CSS lines into your code, so if you’re not using a plugin, get rid of it. It will just clutter up your site and create lag. Note that some plugins keep code in your site even when inactive, so if you’re not using it, delete it completely.

13. Optimize WordPress Database

After using WordPress for a while, your database will have lots of tables that you probably don’t need any more. For improved performance, you can optimize your database to get rid of all that unwanted tables.

This can be easily managed with the “WP-Optimize” plugin. It allows you to clean your WordPress database by deleting unwanted tables and data such as trashed posts, revisions, unused tags, etc. It will also optimize your database’s structure with just a click.

Conclusion

If you’re still stuck after all of these options or don’t want the headache of handling it all yourself, we can do for you as an extra service. We’ll do a full back-up of your site, diagnose the cause, explain it all to you and then get it fixed immediately. The whole process will need 3 to 5 business days.

Remember that your hosting is the foundational component of everything you do online. Your SEO and Google rankings, your Adwords and Facebook ads and all the leads that comes through your website are tied to the speed and user experience of your website. Faster, more reliable hosting will easily pay for itself in the form of more enquiries, calls and sales.

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