Design & Development, WordPress

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site


 

Why Is Site Speed So Important?

If you want to create a successful site, it’s essential to factor in site speed. Site speed is one of those things that go unnoticed when it works well but is painfully obvious when it doesn’t. 

Visitors will bounce off a site that has slow page loading times. Likewise, websites with poor site speed may negatively impact their SEO

But don’t worry – even if your WordPress site is slow now, we have a few tips to help you speed things up.

Step 1: Assess Your Site Speed

You can use several tools to assess your site’s speed performance. We have listed a few below:

Page Speed Insight

To assess your site, you can visit the PageSpeed Insight page and enter your website’s URL. It will run some tests on your site, see how fast it is, then give your site a grade on performance from 0 to 100. It also usually includes recommendations on how you can improve your site. 

Benefits of PageSpeed Insight include:

GTmetrix 

Like PageSpeed Insight, GTmetrix will help you figure out how you can improve the speed of your site. Such valuable insights include beneficial Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like:

  • How your page could be better optimized
  • Performance reports
    • About content, blocking time, etc.
  • How your site performs on 20 different mobile devices
  • Monitor page loading speed
    • Playback of the actual performance via page loading
  • Check out GTmetrix to learn more!

WebPageTest

  • WebPageTest is another helpful site speed tool. Some of its valuable features include:
    • You can run granular tests on factors like:
      • Browser Versions
      • Geographic Location
      • Device Types
      • Cache States
      • Etc.
    • KPI Measurement
      • Load Time
      • FirstByte Time
      • Start Render
      • Speed Index
      • Etc.
  • For more information, check out WebPageTest.

From Pair WordPress Expert, Charlie:

  • “Running the site through multiple analyzers provides additional information as not all site analyzers use the same algorithms in their tools. Additionally, there is an overlapping of testing evaluations as well as site analyzer provides some unique information not found on the others.”

Step 2: Speeding Up Your WordPress Site

Now that you’ve assessed your WordPress site, you know how fast (or slow) your site is. Not satisfied with your current performance? We have a few tips to help! 

TURN OFF (AND REMOVE) EXTRA PLUGINS

Does your WordPress site currently have plugins installed that it’s not using? One way to speed up a WordPress site is to remove all the unused plugins. This action includes plugins you’ve deactivated but never uninstalled.

Many of us install plugins to test them on our website. However, it’s easy to forget to uninstall the plugins after deactivating them. However, those plugins are still taking up space and resources on our WordPress site. So it’s best to remove them entirely. 

OPTIMIZING WORDPRESS IMAGES

Do you use images on your site? If so, have you taken the time to optimize them? 

Unoptimized images are often a cause of site slowness. Image files can be large and will noticeably slow down unequipped sites. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use images, though. Images are a necessary part of building a website. 

So what are you to do? Here are two ways to help cut down the strain images can cause a website. 

FIX YOUR IMAGE DIMENSIONS

When you upload an image to WordPress, do you think about the file dimensions beforehand? 

Image dimensions may not seem like a problem since many themes will resize images to fit needed sizes. However, that means the site is doing extra work resizing images each time a visitor lands on your site. Multiply that by each image, and you have a decent chunk of your server resources dedicated to loading images. 

To avoid the extra resource usage associated with resizing images, you can resize your images to the exact dimensions your site uses, so your WordPress installation doesn’t need to. Using images with the correct dimensions frees up your server resources to keep your site running smoothly. 

You can change your image dimensions in most image editors or directly in the WordPress media editor. 

COMPRESS YOUR IMAGES

Image compression is a great way to reduce your image file size. Image files are often large, especially if you’re using high-quality images. Compression works by reducing that file size.

A smaller image file size means less data your website has to load. In other words, your webpage will load more quickly because it has less work.

It’s important to note that there are two types of compression: lossy and lossless. Lossy compression will degrade the image to cut down on the file size. On the other hand, lossless compression retains the original image quality while cutting down the file size. It’s essential to think about which compression method you want to use since one option will reduce your image quality.

There are many image compression tools out there, many free! One such tool is Smush, a WordPress image-optimization plugin that improves site speed. It’s also completely free!

CHOOSE THEMES WISELY

When choosing a WordPress theme, speed is an essential factor to consider. A poorly designed or old WordPress theme may be slow regardless of all the trimming and tweaks you make. 

Some things can slow an optimized theme down, like large image files, but fixing those issues will return your website to full speed. However, if your theme isn’t designed for speed, it’s become outdated (and thus slow), or it’s poorly designed, slowness may be a permanent fixture that can only be fixed by swapping to a different theme. 

Choosing a well-designed, swift theme from the beginning can save you time and effort later. Your theme is the base of your website. You wouldn’t select hazardous materials to build a house on, so why would you choose a slow site for your theme?

From Pair WordPress Expert, Charlie:

  • “In addition to finding the best theme geared for speed, I have also noticed that a consistently updated theme also helps. If a customer has a fast theme that is rarely updated or in end-of-life support, eventually, that detriment will hinder performance and compatibility issues when the version of PHP and WordPress change over time. I always try to emphasize a regularly updated theme or have active support behind the developer.”

WORDPRESS CACHING

Site caching is a way to reduce your page load times. The server stores a copy of your website so that it doesn’t have to reload the resources every time a visitor lands on the page. Therefore, site caching can drastically reduce load times, especially if you’re using many plugins or a complex theme. 

Once caching is set up on WordPress, it works, so you don’t usually have to do anything extra after the initial setup. We take care of that initial installation on Pair Networks installations for you, so you don’t need to worry about it. On PairSIM WordPress installations, we’ve pre-installed WP Super Cache that handles the caching for you, while our Managed WordPress hosting packages come pre-installed with Varnish Cache. This caching HTTP reverse proxy can make your site up to 1000 times faster

CLEAN YOUR WORDPRESS DATABASE

Over time, your WordPress site has likely accumulated some unneeded junk in its database–especially if you frequently create, delete, and move posts and pages around. Of course, databases store essential files, but they also keep things like post revisions and unapproved posts. So every time you tweak a post or page, your database stores a copy. If you receive hundreds of spam comments, the database keeps that, too. 

Nothing is wrong with this. However, a database can get slower over time because there’s so much unused, useless data stored. Eventually, it can begin to affect your site. 

Luckily, you can get all the gunk out of your WordPress database by optimizing it! Optimizing your database removes some of the unnecessary data that your database is storing. Optimizing your database every once in a while is a great way to rejuvenate your site speed. It’s like spring cleaning – but easier! 

The developers of the popular UpDraftPlus plugin have a great plugin to optimize your database. And, as a bonus, it can help optimize your images, too. 

Check it out here: WP-Optimize.

Charlie’s Recommended WordPress Plugins for Site Speed Improvement:

  • Far Future Expiry Header
    • It helps the web browser determine whether it should request a file from the server or grab the file from the browser’s cache.
      • This plugin lowers the amount of data transferred and loaded on the server as most of the rendering is performed on the user web client’s end.
  • Leverage Browser Caching
    • Speeds up each cached page
      • Stores static files of a website in the visitor’s browser
      • Then retrieves those files from the web browser instead of from the server
      • This plugin lowers the number of recurring requests to the server and speeds up the loading times of each page that is cached
  • Async JavaScript
    • The problem: 
      • Javascript can affect first-time byte speeds. 
      • The rendering of all CSS/java is done on the server end. 
    • The fix:
      • Resolve the slow response times by having the server hand off the rendering to the local end user’s browser for CSS/java information (rather than the server).
      • Async JavaScript plugin = the solution

NEED HELP? CONTACT OUR SUPPORT!

Need help implementing any of these tips? Contact our Pair Support team! We’re available 24/7 every day of the year to help you get the most out of your website. Our Certified WordPress Support can help answer any of your WordPress-specific hosting questions. 

Need More WordPress Help?

 Check out the replay of our free WordPress webinar!