Research shows that people are not very patient when it comes to the Internet. About 23% of people do not wait for a page to load if it takes more than 4 seconds. This may seem like a very harsh statistic, but it is not that difficult to achieve this result. If you can reduce the website load time to 2.9 seconds, then it will be enough for the website loading speed to be faster than half of the existing ones. This means that even minor site improvements can lead to tangible benefits for your business. Since about a quarter of all sites are powered by WordPress, it comes as no surprise that users want to speed up their site loading on WordPress.
Step 1 – Checking WordPress Speed
Before we start the process of optimizing your WordPress, we need to know how your site is in relation to others. Checking the speed is not just a formality, if your site’s loading speed is already optimal, then you will not need to follow this guide. There are many useful tools for testing the performance of your site. One of the most popular is the GTmetrix tool. In addition to tables with dimensions, he gives advice on how to improve their performance.
Step 2 – Removing Unnecessary Plugins and Themes
We often add new features to our site to make it modern and relevant. In WordPress, this is done with plugins and themes. Quite often, new plugins and themes replace the functionality of the original site. Over time, you may find a huge number of plugins on your site that have not been used for quite some time.
A large number of these types of plugins can lead to severe degradation in WordPress performance. As a basis for our future optimization process, you should remove or at least disable unnecessary plugins. Ideally, only those plugins should remain that are necessary for the full operation of your site.
Minification is one of the most useful processes for increasing website speed. It consists in reducing the size of files and scripts (HTML, CSS, JS) by removing unnecessary characters such as spaces and comments from these files.
Plugins that can help you with the minifcation process are Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache.
Step 4 – Enabling Gzip Compression
In addition to minifying files, you can also benefit from a separate form of compression, also known as Gzip compression. Basically, whenever someone visits your site, resources (files) are fetched from your server. The more resources, the longer it takes to load them on the user’s side. By enabling Gzip compression, you can significantly reduce the size of these resources, thereby speeding up the WordPress loading process.
Step 5 – Optimizing Images
You might think that due to their static nature, images do not have much of an impact on site loading speed. Quite the opposite is true – high quality images have a huge impact on almost every resource on your site. However, this does not mean at all that you should give up sharp images in favor of small and blurry sketches. There are many ways to optimize your site’s images. For example, the WordPress plugin – Smush Image Compression and Optimization provides a convenient way to achieve higher performance without losing image quality.
Step 6 – Splitting Long Content into Pages
Another private tip that you might come across when looking for ways to optimize WordPress is pagination. This process means splitting up large content into smaller pieces so that these pieces can then be displayed separately on different pages.
Pagination is often used for the comments section because loading thousands of comments on a single page has a significant impact on server resources. In WordPress, you can easily enable pagination – just go to Settings, then Discussion. Here you can specify the maximum number of comments for a page. It is recommended to indicate the average value. A small number of comments on a page can also have a negative effect, as the user may not want to constantly go to the next page to view them.
Step 7 – How to Increase Website Load Speed by Changing PHP Version
This is one of the least known tips. However, it is also one of the most effective ways to increase your website loading speed. Moving from PHP 5 to PHP 7 may seem daunting, but the benefits speak for themselves. WordPress performance doubles with PHP 7 compared to PHP 5; the former can handle 112% more requests / second than the latter. Moreover, WordPress gets a good performance boost thanks to PHP 7 memory optimization. That is why PHP 7 is installed as the standard version of PHP on all our shared hosting plans, which gives 5x the speed of a WordPress site.
However, one important thing to keep in mind is the lack of backward compatibility in PHP 7. This means that you will not be able to use certain plugins and themes, including those that work fine in PHP 5. To check which plugins and themes are on your WordPress is not supported by PHP 7, use the PHP Compatibility Checker.
Step 8 – Using Caching Plugins
Caching is a well-known mechanism that can reduce some of the server load. Basically, the cache stores information that is often used on the client’s system (browser, memory) so that the browser does not need to retrieve this information from the server again. Caching can dramatically improve website performance and is therefore one of the most effective methods for improving WordPress performance.
There are a huge number of plugins available for WordPress that offer different types of caching, WP-Rocket and W3 Total Cache.
Step 9 – Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Thanks to the lightning speed of the internet, it’s easy to forget that, in the end, web pages are on real hardware far enough away from you. And sometimes this distance is so great that it can negatively affect the response time. Most sites solve this problem with a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
When you enable CDN on your site, the client browser no longer needs to fetch every page from the server, instead some static pages are hosted in the data centers that are closest to the visitor. This reduces the total number of requests processed by the server, which improves WordPress performance.
The choice of CDNs is overwhelming. The most popular are Cloudflare and MaxCDN. We’ve prepared a separate tutorial on how to set up Cloudflare for your WordPress site, which you can find here.