10 Simple Ways To Improve WordPress Speed Performance

A WordPress site that loads under 2 seconds is on the top speed performance. A site that loads after more than 4 seconds will loss more traffic than it will ever gain. This may not be a race but a website’s speed speaks a lot about its performance. Speed has an effect, whether direct or indirect on all performance metrics that matter.

So, why would you settle for a slow website? You may not know but the tools and strategies that can help you improve WordPress speed performance is just one click away.

  • Keep your site updated: this may sound so simple but a simple update can fix a lot of your site’s current speed issues. Updates often bring in fixes for bugs, fixes, and upgrades. Aside from this, you need to perform regular site-level updates by ensuring that your WordPress theme and plugins are up-to-date. Most of the time updates only require a click to initiate
  • Regularly check your WordPress site’s performance – There’s a reason why your WordPress site is slowing down and GTmetrix will get to the root of it. Use GTmetrix gain insights on your site’s load speed and performance optimization options. The insights you can gain from a GTmetrix performance report include:
    • Google PageSpeed and Yahoo! YSlow scores
    • Page load details (page load time, total page size, and the total number of requests)
    • PageSpeed and YSlow performance recommendations (with insights on specific elements that slow down your WordPress site)
    • Page load breakdown (waterfall and video elements)
    • Page performance historical data
GTmetrix performance report
GTmetrix performance report

There are also more advanced features like page monitoring (scheduled tests), condition-based performance alerts, multi-regional tests (up to 7 test regions), video capture, mobile page performance analysis, and developer toolkit access.

GTmetrix will also enable you to compare your site’s wordpress speed performance from other websites analyzed by GTmetrix before.

  • Install WP Fastest Cache plugin – a cache system is vital. You won’t want your page to render slowly as it hogs a lot of memory space. Aside from the basic function of generating and saving static HTML files of your dynamic WordPress page, cache plugins like WP Fastest Cache offer features that maximize the caching functionality.

The WP Fastest Cache plugin is one of the top performing WordPress cache plugins.

Wp Fastest Cache review
Wp Fastest cache vs wp super cache and others…

Its features include Mod_Rewrite module – the fastest URL rewriting method available, admin control, cache blocking for pages/posts with Short Code; SSL, CDN, and Cloudflare support; cache timeout, preload cache, and many more.

WP Fastest Cache plugin optimizes website performance in different ways. First, through the creation of static HTML files and then through minifying both Html and Css. WP also enables Gzip Compression, and combine CSS and JS resources.

  • Host with SiteGround – Selecting the right WordPress hosting changes everything. SiteGround offers fast, powerful, and reliable WordPress hosting starting only at $3.95 a month. With an official recommendation from WordPress, SiteGround offers user-friendly and hassle-free managed website hosting packed with features and a whole suite of website building and management tools.

These features include automated WordPress installation, a free migrator plugin, Professional Transfer Service, WordPress started site management, up to 30 copies of daily backups, staging tool, unlimited email accounts, developer toolkit, free CDN service in partnership with Cloudflare, custom firewall, and many more.

Performance speaks for itself. You can clearly see the results from the speed performance of this very website. Coupled with the WP Fastest Cache plugin, you will notice visible changes in no time. 

  • Use Query Monitor to detect slow and unused plugins – the tools that help you run your WordPress site may also be the same tools that slow it down. It’s easy to forget about the plugin you installed years ago and rarely used but they will always make their presence known through slow loading times. This happens even to the best of WordPress sites. What you need to do is install a plugin scanner that evaluates the performance, size, and usage of plugins in your site. Query Monitor is one of the best examples of a plugin scanner but it offers more than just the basic functionality that many similar plugins employ.
query monitor wordpress
Query monitor wordpress

It debugs Ajax calls, user capability checks, and REST API calls. The output presentation focuses on the most relevant information narrowed down to plugin, theme, and function database query groups. You will receive notifications plugins that are slow, duplicated or giving erroneous queries. Query Monitor also allows filtering by query type, component, and calling the function – providing separate views for each filter.  

  • Optimize images – what WordPress site can do without images? The use of images is perhaps one of the most natural and effective ways to boost readership and engagement. But they can also slow down your webpages.

Images are on high priority in GTmetrix’ PageSpeed reports. That’s why the logical first step is to have your site analyzed in GTmetrix. On the “PageSpeed” tab, you can find the “Serve scaled images” section. Here, you will find size recommendations (specific resize dimension and percentage of reduction) for large images. You can resize the images manually or use lossless compression to retain the original image’s quality.  

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gtmetrix serve scaled images

There are practices you need to follow in order to prevent images from affecting the speed of your website. Here are simple steps to help you optimize web images:

  • Be aware of your image’s maximum display size. This is the maximum dimension that the web browser will serve your image.
  • Full-page WordPress images should a file size of around 80 kb – 100 kb while images in a page or blog post should be 20 kb to 30kb.
  • Use the right image format: JPG for photo images, PNGs for graphics, and GIF for small and simple graphics.
  • Use CSS to create padding around images instead of using white space

Make sure to replace your images with the optimized versions. Use these images at their full size in order to retain the effects of your optimization efforts. After this, run your website for another performance analysis in GTmetrix. This is to ensure that you did not miss any images that need optimization.

  • Optimize your site’s background processes – several background processes like backup plugin tasks and search engine crawling can have an impact on your site’s speed. Thankfully, there’s a way to fix these issues. Make sure that your back up plugin either:
    • Only run during slow traffic hours
    • Only backups necessary data
    • Only creates backups during a fixed schedule

Excessive crawling can slow down your website but you also need to worry about crawl errors. These errors can cause your WordPress site to become unresponsive – which is actually worse than a slow website. To address the first issue, adjust or limit the Googlebot crawl rate through the Search Console Home page. You will find the “Crawl rate” section under the “Site Settings”. You can adjust the maximum crawl rate from there. If you want the crawl rate to be lower than what is allowed for some reason, you need to file for a special request.

crawl rate
crawl rate

Addressing crawl errors can either be on a site or page-level (URL errors). You can access crawl errors on the Search Console dashboard under the “Crawl” section. Check for any errors at least once every 90 days (Google shows activities within 90 days).

Identifying and fixing these crawl errors is easy through the Google Search Console dashboard. There, you can check the pages in your site indexed by Google, content keywords (the most common keywords in your site as found by Googlebots), blocked resources, and an option to temporarily remove URLs from the index. These options, especially the latter can help diagnose and fix common indexing errors. You can also diagnose other crawling errors like 404 errors, server errors, and security issues from the Google Search Console.

  • Opt for responsive, light themes – it’s understandable that you’ll want a theme with built-in features that make customization easier. But the style you adore may be one of the reasons why your pages are loading slowly or not loading properly at all. Select themes that are responsive, well-coded, built on a secure platform, SEO- friendly, and built with speed optimization in mind.

Sometimes, you can easily judge if a theme will cause performance issues just by looking at it. Unnecessary features, clunky graphics or animation elements, and complicated layouts are sure signs of a bloated theme.

  • Refrain from uploading media files directly to WordPress – you can, but should you? Uploading videos and audios directly to WordPress is convenient. You’ll have easy access to your media files through the media library. You can compile them, grab them as the need arise.

But this also means that your WordPress site is hosting these files, costing you bandwidth and increasing your backup sizes. The simple solution is to host media files – especially the larger ones on hosting services. A lot of video hosting services are actually free to use like YouTube and DailyMotion. All of these platforms have audio/video embedding features – a feature that WordPress also supports.

  • Use lazy loading – this last one is an option many don’t even consider. Lazy loading is a simple concept but it is vital in ensuring that image and media assets render properly. The default rendering procedure is to simultaneously load all images and videos in a page. This often results in several web page assets failing to render properly. Lazy loading, on the other hand, loads or displays images and videos that are visible on the screen. As the user scrolls down the page, previously hidden images and videos will render from the placeholder images. This is effective not only for images and videos but also for comment gravatars.
lazy load wordpress plugin
lazy load wordpress plugin

There are several lazy load plugins available for WordPress that offer finer control over what images and videos you want to lazy load.

That’s all for today’s tutorial, feel free to share you secret sauce and tips to improve wordpress speed performance below:

Mustapha Ajermou
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