10 Simple Tips to Make Your WordPress Website Faster

Published in WordPress.

The speed of your website is a key factor to get better scores in search engines and, therefore, more visits. A slow website is frustrating for your visitors and will hardly be among the first results of Google.

Luckily, improving the performance of your website is relatively simple. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing with you 10 tricks that any WordPress user can follow to accelerate the loading of their website. If you haven’t yet implemented any of these tricks, the results of doing so will blow your mind.

WordPress Performance

When we want something, we want it now. Users have no patience and demand more speed and immediacy to all our devices and applications. We hate slow websites (specially if they have tons of ads that make them even slower).

“So damn slow!”

I bet you have abandoned more than one because of how slow they were … And if so, why don’t you worry about your website running fast?

The loading speed of your WordPress web should be a priority, along with the quality of the content you generate. The problem is that we don’t always know where to start when we detect that our website is slow… Well, let’s see some things you can do to scratch a few tenths of a second (or even more)!

How to Check the Speed of Your Website

If you already have the perception that your website is slow, it probably is. But if you are not sure about it or you think it’s quite good already, I recommend that you use some online tool to make sure it is.

A few weeks ago, for example, Antonio told us about Google’s PageSpeed Insights. In essence, it is a tool that checks the speed at which your website loads and gives it a score from 0 to 100 depending on how well or badly it did. In addition, it also includes a section with recommendations on what you can do to improve the results.

Results of Google PageSpeed Insights.
Results of Google PageSpeed Insights.

Another interesting tool to check the speed of your website is the WordPress speed test by isitwp. If your website loads in two seconds or less, it’s great. Otherwise, the closer you get to these figures, the better.

Anyway, as Antonio told you in his post, don’t go too crazy with this subject. Web optimization is an iterative process that must be done step by step, little by little—don’t despair if you don’t see the results at first and keep working on it every now and then.

How to Make a WordPress Site Faster

Now that you know why it is important to have a website that loads fast and you know a couple of tools to check your website’s speed, it’s time to get down to work and see what options you have to improve your website.

#1 Get a Great Hosting Providers

The first tip to get a faster website is using a better hosting provider. It is quite obvious, isn’t it? The more money you are willing to spend and the more resources you put on your website, the better it will work.

Usually, when one creates a new website, they try to spend as little as possible on it. Features such as backups, caches, CDNs, and other fancy stuff are out of the equation. This is obviously great to get up and running quickly without a “big” investment, but it doesn’t help when it comes to bare speed.

There’s plenty of hosting options to choose from, so look for one that meets your needs.

#2 Use a Modern PHP Version (7+)

Although in recent months WordPress has made a major change in terms of the technologies it uses (namely, it now uses JavaScript stacks too), the reality remains that WordPress (or, at least, its backend) is a platform based entirely on PHP. So any improvement we can find in PHP is a direct improvement in WordPress.

PHP 7+ is going to peel them!

PHP is currently in version 7+. And the good news is it’s up to 2 times faster than its predecessors! In other words, simply by updating PHP 7 on your server, you get that WordPress go twice as fast.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the loading speed of your page is twice as fast, since the loading time of the web depends on more factors apart from the speed of WordPress itself. But dividing by two that time is a very good contribution nonetheless.

Although most serious providers will give you the ability to bump to PHP 7+ (if they have not already done so), not all of them do. If that’s your case, follow tip #1 and go to greener pastures 😉

#3 Install a Cache Plugin

Even if we accelerate the speed of our WordPress, truth is that running WordPress for each request takes some time. WordPress has to determine which content should be loaded for a specific request, fetch it from the database, look for the theme and the appropriate templates, render the content, run all the plugins… Wouldn’t it be better if we could spare all this work? Enter cache plugins!

A cache plugins works (roughly) as follows: when the server receives a request, WordPress runs and generates the page following a process similar to the one I just described. When there’s a cache plugin available, the plugin will simply save the generate page for later usage. This way, when new requests arrive for that same page, the cache plugin says “Hey, I already know what’s the answer to this request! I got it,” and the cache returns the previously generated page quickly and effectively..

There’s a lot of options for cache plugins, so choose the one you like best.

#4 Use a CDN

The next step to a cache plugin is a Content Distribution Network or CDN. A CDN is basically a network of computers that operates as intermediate cache between your WordPress server and your visitors’ computers. When a user requests a page from your website, if the CDN has that page cached it will return it directly without the request ever reaching your server.

This sounds very similar to a cache, but it has one advantage: CDN has computers distributed all over the world and, therefore, the computer that replies to a visitor’s request is probably closer to them than your WordPress server. The closer a server is to its client, the faster the communication between the two is.

Again, there’s plenty of services to choose from. JetPack, for example, connects to a CDN to serve your images. It’s also possible that your own hosting provider includes one!

#5 Optimize the Images of Your Site

Images, videos, sound… all these are resources weigh a lot and, therefore, slow down the load of our website. For the specific case of images, we have the possibility to optimize them for our website. In essence, this means that we can modify their dimensions (width and height) as well as their format and level of compression so that the total size in bytes is as small as possible.

If you are interested in this topic, I recommend this previous post where I spoke precisely about the optimization of images we made in Nelio.

#6 Leverage Video Services Like YouTube

Related to the previous trick is video management. My recommendation here is: don’t upload videos to your WordPress server ever—they use a lot of disk space, consume bandwidth, and are slow to serve.

Instead, I recommend you use services such as YouTube or Vimeo to store and serve your videos. These types of services often generate multiple versions of your videos (at different resolutions) and have powerful CDNs to distribute their content. They work extremely well and will help you save some good money.

#7 Keep Your WordPress, Plugins, and Theme Updated

Another common tip is to keep WordPress updated, along with the plugins and themes you have installed. Typically, developers usually do a good job of improving and optimizing their products, so it is common to use new versions to improve performance.

#8 Clean Your Site and Remove Old Stuff

As important as keeping your site up-to-date is keeping it clean and tidy. If there are any installed (or even active) plugins and themes that you don’t use, then you’re wasting some precious resources stupidly.

Good WordPress maintenance includes cleaning from time to time.

Every time WordPress runs to handle a request, all these things make it slightly slower. It is clear, then, that it makes no sense to keep them in your site—they’re doing no good to your site. To reduce WordPress runtime and resource usage, uninstall everything you don’t need and make sure you keep your installation clean.

#9 Reduce the Content Included in a Single Page

The time it takes to generate a page depends on its size—the more content it has, the slower it is to generate and transmit. For example, you already know that your blog loads the latest n posts you published The more posts on your blog, the slower it is to generate, as WordPress has to go to the database to fetch them all, send them to the visitor, etc.

A simple improvement you can make to speed up your website is precisely to limit this fetching and sending of data. In WordPress settings, reduce the number of posts that appear on your blog, make sure you only show excerpts (instead of full posts) in your archives, and add pagination in your comment section. This way, requests will be as small as possible, while still being very useful.

#10 Reduce the Number of Revisions

By default, WordPress saves several revisions of the content you create. This is especially useful when you forget to save and the browser freezes or when you make a mistake deleting something and want to recover the previous content. The problem is that each version takes up space in your database, making it slower as time goes by.

In this post by Kinsta you’ll find out how you can optimize WordPress through proper revision management. Do not miss it!

Your turn!

As you can see, getting a faster website is very simple if you follow these 10 tips. Although these are simple and very easy to implement tips, it’s unbelievable the amount of people who haven’t already applied them on their websites.

If you have any advice you want to share with our other readers, leave it in the comments section below. 😎

Featured image by Joe Neric on Unsplash.

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