How To Speed Up A WordPress Site in 2023

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If you’re running a WordPress website, there are a number of things you can do to improve your site speed. In this guide, we’ll show you how to speed up a WordPress site by making simple changes to your settings. We’ll cover all the standard options such as good hosting, using a caching plugin, optimising images, keeping plugins and themes up to date, using a content delivery network (CDN), cleaning up your database, and limiting post revisions.

But sometimes, even after you take care of all the above, your website speed is still slow. That’s why we’ll cover some extra awesome methods that you can use to fix your slow WordPress site and push those Google Page Speeds, GTMetrix or any website speed test into the green!

Are you ready to make your site faster? Here goes…

Why should you speed up WordPress?

It’s important to speed up your WordPress website for a few reasons. First, faster sites have better user engagement. Studies have shown that if a site takes more than a few seconds to load, users are likely to click away. This means that speeding up your site could help you improve your conversion rate. Additionally, fast sites tend to rank higher in search results. Google has stated that site speed is a factor in its algorithm, so if you want to attract organic traffic, you need to make sure your site is as fast as possible. Finally, fast sites provide a better experience for mobile users. More and more people are using their phones to browse the web, and if your site is slow, they’re likely to get frustrated and move on to another site. So if you’re looking to improve your WordPress site, speeding it up should be one of your top priorities.

How Fast Should a Website Load?

How fast should a site load? The answer is, as fast as possible! Every second that a page takes to load is an opportunity for potential customers to click away. In fact, the probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. So, ideally, you’ll want your website to load within 2-3 seconds. This two-to-three-second mark is the turning point where bounce rates skyrocket – in fact, 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a site. 

To put that into context, pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds see their bounce rates skyrocket to 38%. So if you’re looking to keep potential customers on your site, you need to make sure your pages are loading quickly!

What Affects Page Loading Speed?

When you click on a link, your browser starts loading the page. But what exactly happens during that time? And what factors can affect how long it takes for a page to load?

There are a number of factors that can impact page loading speed. The size of the page is one factor – if a page is too large, it will take longer to load. The number of images on a page can also impact loading time, as each image needs to be separately downloaded. The type of content on the page – whether it’s text, video, or audio – can also affect loading speed. If a page contains a lot of high-quality images and videos, it will take longer to load than a page with mostly text. Finally, the speed of your internet connection can also affect how quickly a page loads. If you’re on a slow connection, it will take longer for the page to load than if you’re on a fast connection.

How to test your WordPress Site Speed?

It’s important to test your website speed on a regular basis, to make sure that your visitors are able to load your pages quickly and smoothly. There are a few different tools that you can use to test website speed, including Pingdom, GTmetrix, Google Page Speed Insights, and the Google Chrome Lighthouse Extension. Each of these tools will give you different insights into how your website is performing, so it’s a good idea to use more than one. Note – There are WordPress plugins that let you test the speed of your site from within the WordPress admin area. In general, we’d recommend that you avoid tools like this as they affect site performance.

Pingdom is a great tool for testing the overall website performance. Simply enter your URL and Pingdom will give you a detailed report of how long it took to load each element on the page.

GTmetrix is similar to Pingdom, but also provides additional information such as page size and the number of requests made. This can be helpful in identifying areas where you can improve your website speed.

Google Page Speed Insights is another useful tool for testing website speed. Simply enter your URL and Google will generate a report with recommendations on how to improve your page speed. One thing to keep in mind with this tool is that it uses data from the Chrome User Experience Report, which may not be representative of all users. Having said that, one reason to speed up your website is to improve your Google Rankings. Page Speed Insights is extremely popular as it’s widely considered that if Google’s own tools consider a page to be fast, then they score better in search results.

Finally, Google Chrome Lighthouse is a great option for testing specific aspects of your web pages, such as performance, accessibility, and SEO. Simply open Chrome DevTools and select the Lighthouse tab or install the chrome extension. From there, you can select which category you want to test and run the audit. Lighthouse will generate a report with specific recommendations on how to improve that aspect of your page. Google Page Speed insight now often shows the same information as Chrome Lighthouse.

Good Quality Managed WordPress Hosting

Your choice of hosting can have a major impact on the WordPress performance, security, and speed of your website. That’s why it’s important to use a good quality hosting provider.

You could opt for a dedicated server, which would give you the best performance but also comes with a much higher price tag. For most small to medium-sized websites, though, a good quality managed WordPress host will be both cost-effective and suitable. When choosing a WordPress host, you should never use a cheap shared hosting provider or any company that’s owned by EIG (see this article for a complete list). Good quality managed WordPress hosts offer fast servers, expert support, and good security features. These are essential for running a successful WordPress website.

Implement WordPress caching to speed up your site

If you’re looking for ways to speed up your WordPress site, caching is a great place to start. When implemented properly, a good WordPress caching plugin (or server-side caching) can make a big difference in both the performance of your site and the user experience. And there are several different types of caching that can be used to improve different aspects of your site. For example, page caching can help to speed up the loading of pages by storing frequently accessed files in memory. Object caching can help to speed up database queries by storing commonly accessed data in memory. And reverse proxy caching can help to reduce the load on your server by storing frequently accessed pages in a cache. Implementing caching can be a bit complex, but the rewards are definitely worth it.

Image Optimisation Is Vital

Images are an essential part of any website. They can help to communicate a message, improve the look of a page, and make content more engaging. However, if they are not properly optimised, images can also slow down your website and contribute to poor page performance. Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps that you can take to ensure that your images are optimised for the web. One key step is to ensure that your images are the correct size. This means using the correct dimensions and ensuring that the file size is not too large. Another important step is to make use of lazy loading, which helps to improve page load times by deferring the loading of images until they are needed. Finally, you should also consider using WebP format for your images, as this can help to further reduce file sizes. If you’re not sure what WordPress plugin to use there are a few to choose from. Shortpixel is definitely worth considering.

Limiting Post Revisions

WordPress automatically saves a revision every time you update a post. This means that if you make a mistake, you can easily go back and restore an earlier version of the post. However, these revisions can quickly add up, and they can have a negative impact on your website’s performance.

Every revision is stored as a separate row in the database, and each row takes up space. As the number of revisions grows, the database gets larger and slower. In addition, revisions can bloat the size of your backups, making them more difficult to manage. For these reasons, it’s best to limit the number of post revisions that are stored on your website.

You can set the maximum number of revisions in the WordPress settings. By default, your WordPress site will keep an infinite number of revisions, but you can change this to any number you like. If you’re not sure how many revisions to keep, a good rule of thumb is to limit it to 3 or 5 per post. This will give you plenty of flexibility without impacting your website’s performance. You could use a standalone plugin for this but if you’ve installed another optimisation tool like Perfmatters then you’ll have this option available anyway. You can also do it manually by adding code to your wpconfig.php file but that’s beyond the scope of this guide.

How Your WordPress Theme affects site speed

The WordPress theme you choose for your website can have a big impact on its performance. Multi-purpose themes are often packed with features and can be quite heavy, which can slow down your site. In contrast, a lightweight theme only includes the features that you need. As a result, your site will load faster and use fewer resources. When choosing a WordPress theme, it is important to consider the impact on site speed. Paying attention to these details can make a big difference in how quickly your pages load. By choosing a fast, lightweight theme, you can ensure that your site runs smoothly and provides a positive experience for your visitors.

Speed Optimisation Plugins

There are a lot of plugins that claim to speed up a WordPress site. But which ones actually work? And more importantly, which ones are worth using? Rather than telling you what doesn’t work, we’ll get straight to the point.

Perfmatters is our favourite speed optimisation plugin and we now use it on every website build! 

It’s a lightweight speed optimisation plugin with great support and allows granular control that other plugins lack. It allows you to disable unnecessary WordPress features that can slow down your site. For example, you can disable unneeded post revisions, comments, emojis, and more. Perfmatters also lets you minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to reduce file size and improve load times. 

Another great feature of Perfmatters that you don’t see in many other plugins is the ability to disable scripts on a page or page/post type basis. For example, did you know that If you have WooCommerce installed, it loads scripts on every page – Even the ones that don’t use it? This is where Perfmatters comes into its own!

If that sounds like a sales pitch then so be it, but it really is a worthwhile investment.

What is a CDN and do you need one?

A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a group of servers located around the world that work together to deliver content more efficiently. When a user requests a piece of content from a CDN-enabled website, the CDN will determine which server is best able to provide that content and will direct the user to that server. This system can greatly improve the speed and reliability of content delivery, especially for users who are located far from the website’s primary server.

There are some situations when you may not need to use a CDN, such as if all of your users are located in the same region as your primary server. However, for most websites with a global audience, a CDN can be a valuable asset. If you’re considering using a CDN for your website, be sure to research different providers and compare their features to find the best fit for your needs.

Optimize Your WordPress Database

When we talk about optimising your WordPress database, what we mean is cleaning it up and getting rid of any unnecessary data. This can help to improve your site’s performance and keep it running smoothly. Some things you may want to delete from your database include:

-Transient options: These are options that are only used for a short period of time and are typically only needed for a few hours or days. If you don’t delete them, they can build up over time and start to slow down your site.

-Spam comments: If you’re not using a spam filter, your database can quickly fill up with spam comments. These take up space and can slow down your site, so it’s best to get rid of them as soon as possible.

-Revisions: If you frequently save revisions of your posts or pages, these can also start to add up over time and take up valuable space in your database. It’s a good idea to periodically go through and delete older revisions that you don’t need anymore.

So how often should you optimize your WordPress database? It’s generally recommended that you do it at least once a month, but if you have a large site or one that gets a lot of traffic, you may want to do it more often.

Feel like you’ve tried everything and still can’t get good Page speed scores?

Here are some extra-juicy tips to speed up your WordPress site and drop that page load time

HINT: Most of the improvements below can be achieved with Perfmatters

Defer and Delay Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language that allows you to create interactive web pages. When you defer loading JavaScript, you are telling the browser to wait until the page has finished loading before it loads the JavaScript. This means that your page will load faster because the browser can focus on loading the HTML and CSS first. Delaying the loading of JavaScript can be useful if you have large files that are not essential for the initial page load. By delaying the load, you can ensure that the user doesn’t have to wait too long for the page to be fully loaded. However, you should only delay loading JavaScript if it is not essential for the user to be able to interact with the page immediately. Otherwise, you risk causing confusion or frustration. When used correctly, deferring and delaying JavaScript can help to improve the performance of your web pages.

Remove Unused CSS

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a code used to style the HTML on a webpage. Every extra bit of CSS that your page has to load is an extra burden on the browser. Unused CSS can make your pages slower to load by increasing the amount of time the browser has to spend parsing the CSS file. By removing unused CSS you can reduce the overall size of your CSS files, which will also help to improve page loading times.

Host Fonts Locally

In order to ensure optimal page loading times, it is important to carefully consider when to host fonts locally. In general, fonts should be hosted locally whenever possible. This ensures that the font files will be cached on the user’s computer, which can dramatically improve page loading times. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If a font is used infrequently, it may be better to host it externally in order to avoid using up valuable storage space. In addition, if a font is used on multiple websites, it may be more efficient to host it externally so that users only need to download it once. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to host a font locally depends on a variety of factors and should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Disable The Google Maps API

For website owners looking to improve their page speed, disabling the Google Maps API is a great place to start. The Google Maps API is an external JavaScript library that allows developers to embed Google Maps on their websites. However, loading this large library can significantly slow down page loading times. Disabling the Google Maps API will prevent the library from being loaded, resulting in faster page load times. While this may mean that your website will no longer be able to display maps, there are other ways to display this information that won’t impact your page speed. For example, you could use static images or open-source alternatives to the Google Maps API. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your website loads quickly and provides a positive experience for your users.

Alternative to Google Recaptcha

Google Recaptcha is a common form of CAPTCHA used to verify that a user is not a robot. However, it can also slow down your website’s page speed. WP Armour is a lightweight alternative that can help improve your website’s speed without sacrificing security. WP Armour uses encryption to protect your forms and blocks malicious requests before they reach your server. As a result, your website will load faster and be more secure. In addition, WP Armour is easy to install and does not require any coding knowledge. Simply download the plugin and activate it on your WordPress site. WP Armour is an essential tool for any website owner who wants to improve their page speed and security.

Preload Vital Files

Preloading files means that the browser will download certain assets before they are actually needed. This can be helpful in a number of ways. First, if the user ends up needing that asset, it will already be downloaded and ready to go, which can save precious time. Second, preloading files can give the browser a head start on loading other assets that might depend on the preloaded file. For example, if your CSS file depends on a custom font, preloading the font will give the browser a chance to start downloading it while the CSS file is being parsed.

Of course, preloading files comes with a few caveats. First, you need to make sure that you are only preloading files that are actually needed by the current page. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting bandwidth. Second, you need to carefully consider the order in which you preload files. Ideally, you want to start with the most essential files and then move on to less essential ones. By taking these factors into account, you can use preloading strategically to give your website or web application a boost in speed.

In this article, we’ve provided several tips for improving WordPress website speed. We’re extremely confident that if you follow through with the advice given in this guide that you’ll be able to speed up almost any WordPress page. However, we’re well aware that many of these tips are somewhat technical and can take time and patience to perfect, especially if you lack the confidence or experience to implement them. That’s why we’ve developed a fixed-price WordPress Speed Optimisation service.

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