If you've noticed your WordPress website is a little sluggish, or you've been asking yourself the question “Why is my WordPress website so slow?”, you're going to learn five easy ways you can improve speed and performance of your website.
Page load speed should be one of your top priorities when it comes to your website.
After all, if the page won't load for your visitors, even though you may have the best content on the planet, they're not going to stick around long enough to even see it.
It's not just your visitors that you should be thinking about either.
Google takes page load speed into account when it comes to the search results. Their priority is to provide their users with the best website experience possible, so they're not going to rank pages that will cause their users to become frustrated while waiting for a site to load.
So what can you do to improve the loading time of your web pages?
Here are five questions you should be asking yourself about your WordPress website:
1. Is Your Theme Bloated?
The theme you use can make a big difference in how your website performs.
Some themes might look pretty but are poorly coded and full of bloat, which will not only slow things down but could become a security risk if hackers are able to find their way in through a “backdoor” in the code.
I've recently started switching some of my sites to use the free Astra Theme by Brainstorm Force.
As you can see from the image Astra is “Stylish, Lightning Fast & Easily Customizable” which is everything you could want from a WordPress Theme.
There is a Pro version which will give you more options for customization, but the free theme, coupled with a good page builder such as Beaver Builder or Elementor will give you lots of creative possibilities for building awesome looking, fast loading websites.
2. Does Your Hosting Company Suck?
There's hosting and there's good hosting. You can read some shocking stories online about the nightmares people have had with hosting companies for various reasons.
It's one thing to want to save money by going with the cheapest host you can find, but what is that cheap hosting costing you in terms of downtime, inferior performance, and outdated servers?
It really does pay to do some research and choose wisely because it can be a real PITA to change hosts – trust me, I've done it and it's a hassle and a time suck!
Choose a host that uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) for their servers, and preferably a host that has servers that are specifically optimized for WordPress.
If shared hosting suits your budget more, I'd recommend spending a little more on a better host and choose the Turbo option from A2 Hosting. Your websites will be hosted on their SwiftServer Platform with speeds of up to 20x faster than competing hosts.
If you prefer to go up a level and go with VPS hosting, I currently use and recommend Cloudways.
Cloudways are different from mainstream hosts in that they're a managed cloud hosting platform where you choose your server size and provider depending on your budget – Amazon, Google, DigitalOcean, Kyup, Linode or Vultr.
I have a server in New York with DigitalOcean and love the speed, as well as how quick and easy it is to deploy a new WordPress site or other apps, even if I don't yet have a domain name in mind!
The only slight downside with Cloudways is you have to organize and pay for a separate email service for your domain as they don't use cPanel. However, it is never recommended to have your email and your web hosting on the same platform anyway, even if it is the cheapest way, because if your website goes down, so does your email.
3. How Many Plugins Are You Using?
With 40,000 free plugins to choose from it's easy to get carried away!
However, plugins impact site performance in two distinct ways: additional HTTP requests and additional database queries so the more you have, the more your site's performance will be eventually impacted.
Additionally, the more plugins you have, the more likely there will be an incompatibility between one or more of them which could lead to your site crashing or not functioning properly.
So how many is too many? Dan Norris of WP Curve recommends keeping plugins to under 20 where possible.
In order to minimize the number of plugins you have, try to find plugins that do the job of several other plugins in the one hit, such as WP Optimizer which fixes the 6 biggest WordPress speed issues and claims to make your sites up to 500% faster and up to 70% lighter (even before using cache)!
4. Are Your Image Files Too Big?
Optimizing your images is one of the easiest ways to speed up your WordPress website.
Take a bit of time to resize very large images before you upload them, and choose an appropriate size for where you want to display them.
You can also use a plugin like I do, such as WP Smush Pro from the awesome folks at WPMU.
You can download the award-winning FREE version from the WordPress repository.
As well as Image Compression, another way to speed up your website is to “lazy load” your images.
Lazy loading forces images to load only when they are “above the fold.” In other words, only images that come into view in a user’s browser will load. The rest of the images will load as the user scrolls down the page.
The plugin I've used previously is called Rocket Lazy Load, a very lightweight plugin with a tiny script (less than 2kb!)
Or you can use a plugin like WP Optimizer that optimizes images AND lazy loads them, as well as other tasks that speed up your WordPress website at the same time!
5. Are You Using a CDN?
While a Content Distribution Network can't fix issues caused by bloated themes or masses of plugins, it can speed up your website's loading time for visitors who are browsing far away from the geographical location of your server.
You can read about CDNs in detail in a previous article I wrote here.
Cloudflare is probably one of the best-known CDNs but did you know WordPress has it's own CDN for images? Simply install the Jetpack plugin and connect, and all the images you upload will be distributed via the CDN, speeding up image load times.
Cloudways Cloud Hosting Platform that I talked about in Q2 have also integrated their own CDN for their hosting customers.
The methods of speeding up your WordPress website mentioned above certainly don't cover everything you can do to improve performance, but they're a great start.
If you want to fix the six biggest WordPress speed issues, make your sites up to 500% faster and up to 70% lighter in just a few clicks (even without using a caching plugin) click the image below.
I installed the WP Optimizer plugin on a couple of my own sites and a couple of my client sites and tested them with Pingdom. Even though I considered my sites as fairly well performing anyway, you can see I was able to shave off 1.71 seconds off the load time of ProvideoVault.com and 0.21 seconds off the load time of my client site.
One of the things that WP Optimizer did that I didn't already have a plugin for was tidy up my databases, including getting rid of old post revisions and spam comments from the database, which was something I hadn't thought about previously.
As a result of my testing, I've come to the conclusion that this is something I would definitely use on client sites, basically because it's an all-in-one solution that I can instal and have working with just a few clicks!