We all know how important website speed is. A fast website means happy users, and happy users mean more conversions and higher search engine rankings. But what exactly is website speed? And how can you optimize your WordPress site to load quickly on the frontend and backend?
In this ultimate guide to WordPress speed, we'll answer all of your questions about website speed and how to optimize your WordPress site for speed. We'll also provide some top tips on how to troubleshoot common speed issues, so you can keep your site running fast and smoothly.
What is Website Speed?
A fast website is important for two main reasons:
1. User experience: A slow website can be frustrating for users and may cause them to leave your site without converting.
2. Search engine optimization: Google and other search engines use website speed as a ranking factor, so a slow site can negatively impact your SEO.
How to Measure Website Speed?
There are many tools that you can use to measure the speed of your WordPress site. Some of our favorites include:
GTmetrix is another popular website speed testing tool. It also measures the load time of a page, as well as the page size, the number of requests, and the Performance and Structure scores. We've been using GTmetrix for years and find it to be one of the most accurate speed testing tools. With 50 free audits a week, it offers an extremely generous free plan.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that measures the speed of a page on both mobile and desktop devices. It also provides insights on how to improve the speed of your page. This score is extremely important since Google uses it as a ranking factor.
3. KeyCDN Tools
KeyCDN offers a free speed test tool that allows you to test the load time of a page from multiple locations around the world. If you're creating a website to target a global audience, this is a great tool to use. Combine testing with a fast CDN (we'll explain more about that soon) and you can be confident your site will load quickly for users around the world.
12 Ways to Optimize WordPress for Speed
Now that you know what website speed is and how to measure it, let's take a look at how to optimize your WordPress site for speed. We've put together a list of plugins, services, tips and tricks that we've been using for years to keep our WordPress sites loading quickly.
1. Use a Caching Plugin
Caching is one of the most effective ways to improve the speed of your WordPress site. Caching is a process that stores the static elements of a web page so they can be accessed quickly and without having to send requests to the server for each visit. This can dramatically improve the speed of your website. It works by creating a static HTML version of your pages and storing them on the server. When a user visits your site, they are served the cached HTML page instead of the dynamic WordPress page. This reduces the server load and improves the speed of your website.
We've used WPRocket on all our sites for years and it's helped us achieve amazing load times. The plugin includes features to increase speed like database cleanup, minification, and preloading. WPRocket starts at $49 per year for a 3-site license.
2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a collection of servers located around the world that deliver content to users based on their location. By using a CDN, you can improve the speed of your site for users located far from your server. We use BunnyCDN on all our sites. It's easy to set up and comes with a free trial.
The benefits of using a CDN are:
-Reduced server load: A CDN offloads some of the requests that would normally go to your server, reducing the load on your server.
-Improved speed: A CDN can improve the speed of your site by delivering content from a server that's closer to the user's location.
-Increased security: A CDN can also help protect your site from DDOS attacks and other security threats.
3. Choose a Fast WordPress Host
One of the most important factors in website speed is the quality of your web hosting. If you're using a cheap, shared hosting plan, your site will likely be slow. While we don't necessarily recommend any specific host, we use CloudwaysCloudways for our WordPress sites and have been extremely happy with the speed and reliability. A fast WordPress host is important for two reasons: speed and reliability. A fast host will help your site load quickly for users around the world. A reliable host will help ensure that your site is always online and available to your users.
4. Optimize Your Images
Images are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to slow-loading pages. By optimizing your images, you can dramatically improve your website's speed. There are many ways to optimize images, but we recommend using the Imagify plugin. They offer a free plan letting you compress a few dozen images. For $9.99 a month, you can compress an unlimited number of images.
5. Use a Lightweight WordPress Theme
The WordPress theme you use on your site can also have a big impact on speed. Some themes are packed with features and can be quite heavy. Others are lightweight and designed for speed. We don't recommend using a theme at all on your WordPress site. Instead, we recommend building your site from scratch using a page builder like Breakdance or Oxygen.
6. Minimize HTTP Requests
7. Reduce External Scripts
External scripts are files that are loaded from another server, like Google Analytics or Facebook Like buttons. These can slow down your pages because the browser has to wait for them to load before it can render the page. If you're using a lot of external scripts, try loading them asynchronously so they don't delay page rendering. You can also use a plugin like WPCode to move them to the bottom of the page. Loading scripts in your site footer will ensure the rest of your content loads first.
8. Avoid Using Too Many Plugins
WordPress plugins are great because they add new features to your site with just a few clicks. However, every plugin you install adds new code to your site, which can slow things down. We recommend only installing plugins that you need, and deleting any that you're not using. You can also use a plugin like QueryMonitor to see which plugins are slowing down your site. If you're considering installing a plugin to fix a single issue, consider whether you can fix it with code instead.
9. Implement Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is a technique that delays the loading of images and other elements until they're needed. This means that your pages load faster because the browser doesn't have to load all the images at once. You can lazy load images in WordPress using a plugin like A3 Lazy Load or WP Rocket. A3 Lazy Load is a free plugin that's easy to use, while WP Rocket provides lazy loading and many other speed optimization features. A3 Lazy load can fade in image placeholders while loading the actual images, giving users immediate visual feedback instead of waiting for all the content to load.
10. Be Careful With Redirects
Redirects are used to send visitors from one URL to another. They're often used when a page has been moved or deleted, but they can also be used to track clicks and affiliate links. While redirects are necessary in some cases, too many can slow down your site. We recommend only using redirects when absolutely necessary and using a plugin like Redirection to manage them.
11. Optimize Your Database
Your WordPress database stores all your website data, like posts, comments, and settings. Over time, it can become bloated with unnecessary data, which can slow down your site. You can optimize your database with a plugin like WP-Optimize or Clean up Optimizer. Both plugins will clean up your database and improve its performance. Cleaning content from your database like post revision history and trashed posts can save you gigabytes of space and make your WordPress site load faster.
12. Optimize Your Homepage
Your homepage is often the most visited page on your site, so it's important to make sure it loads quickly. There are a few things you can do to optimize your homepage for speed:
- Keep the number of posts on your homepage low. We recommend showing between 5 and 10 posts if you're going to show any.
- Don't display large images on your homepage.
- Use a caching plugin to cache your homepage.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver your homepage content from a server that's closer to your visitors.
When planning a WordPress website, speed and performance should be one of your top priorities. A slow WordPress site can frustrate users and hurt your search engine ranking. Over the last few minutes we shared 12 tips to speed up WordPress in 2023. While some of these tips require a bit of technical knowledge, others are easy enough for beginners to implement.
We hope this article has helped you learn how to speed up WordPress. If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook! Good luck with optimizing your WordPress site!