Page speed is a factor that can be measured precisely with a bunch of tools online. Furthermore, every visitor, even the not technically competent, could sense rather a website is loading fast or slow.
Today the vast majority of users spend their online time in the popular social apps, reading news from the big online media websites, or scrolling memes on some funny website. The point is that these websites are behind a million-dollar infrastructure, with own powerful servers providing the best possible loading speed.
This is not the case with small businesses and personal websites that most of the time would be hosted on cheap shared hosting. This doesn’t mean, by default, that all these websites are doomed to be slow from the start.
There are ways to speed up WordPress, even if you use a cheap shared hosting server.
In this article, I’m going to write down some of the methods I’m using to speed up WpCtrl.com and achieve the numbers shown below (note I’m using a $3 shared hosting as I’m writing this).
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It’s not a perfect score, but I’m pretty satisfied with the numbers. Also, I’m in the process of moving WPCtrl to SiteGround, where I host my other websites.
With their in-house caching app I expect a load time of around 1.2 seconds!
Before applying the things I’m about to show you in this post, the same GTMetrix speed test was showing a fully loaded time of over 5 seconds and a page size of over 2MB.
Let’s jump right into the fixes you could apply to your website and see the results immediately.
1. Get a Solid WordPress Hosting
You can find my detailed article on how to choose your hosting here.
Your hosting and your theme are the backbones of your website. This is leading us to the second point.
2. Choose a Fast WordPress Theme
This might be unpleasant for those of you, who already bought a theme, and found out it’s not loading very fast no matter what you do to optimize it.
It’s not like you are totally screwed up, you can still apply some optimizations to speed up WordPress and your site, but the end result will always be average.
Like Adrian Cojocariu notes in this post on how your theme affects SEO
Ugly Design Can Scare Users Away
Slow Speed Will Bore the Users to Death
Bad Structure Will Puzzle Search Engines
IF you look at the top WordPress themes sold on ThemeForest they all look stunning visually. But when you run a speed test you’ll hardly get a good score.
These themes usually come with a page builder (Elementor or WPBakery Page Builder) tons of features, elements, and customizable options.
While all of this is great in terms of design and possibilities, if your goal is to gain organic traffic and rank high in the search results page, you better reconsider your choice of theme.
My Theme Suggestions
|Name||Speed Score||Live Demo|
|Rein (Dark mode)||⚡⚡⚡⚡ ⚡||View Now|
|Lighthouse||⚡⚡⚡⚡ ⚡||View Now|
And no matter how big and powerful you imagine your website to be, remember you will start with one blank page and zero content.
All those widgets, rich menus, interactive sections mean nothing if you don’t have corresponding content behind them.
So far one thing is for sure – content is what gets you ranked in the search results, the theme is just the ‘make-up’ of your content. It shouldn’t interfere with it in any way but emphasizes it.
WordPress themes have one key option, and you as a website owner should have this in mind when you build your website.
Your homepage displays, you can go with your latest posts or a static page. And this has a lot to do with the speed of your homepage.
It’s located in the Settings > Reading menu and it defines how your homepage will look and function.
Let’s explain real quick what’s the difference between the two.
Your latest posts as its name suggest will show your latest posts in a specific layout, with an excerpt and the post featured image. Some themes might have different layout options for you to choose from.
While the static page option gives you the freedom to design a custom page, based on your needs and content. Usually, this will require a page builder like Elementor or WpBakery, or you can use the in-house Gutenberg editor.
Which one is better and what should you choose?
It’s hard to say, both have pros and cons, but if you are new to blogging and WordPress, pick the latest posts option for now. There are many successful blogs that are still using this approach.
In terms of speed, again it depends, on what type of custom page you will create, or how many posts you will show with the latest posts option. Usually, the latest posts should perform better in terms of speed, because of the fewer request and number of scripts being executed.
Now let’s hop to the plugins section. Here is what I use to speed up WordPress performance.
3. Use a Good WordPress Caching Plugin
With just a few clicks, from the installation to activating your Caching Plugin you reduce the load time of your site with more than 50%!
The best free caching plugins right now are:
|WP Super Cache||View Here|
|WP Fastest Cache||View Here|
|W3 Total Cache||View Here|
What I use on WPCtrl to Speed up WordPress
I’ve tried many caching plugins over time and the one that works best for me and delivers the best results is WP Fastest Cache.
It has the most simple configuration ever, and it does what it is supposed to do.
Here is my configuration
You have to be careful with all the minify and combine actions, they can break parts of your website and cause malfunctions!
Best Premium Caching Plugins
If you have the budget, there are some amazing paid caching plugins.
- WP Rocket
4. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Explained simply, the CDN stores a copy of your website’s content in multiple locations (servers) all over the planet, to minimize the distance between your visitor and your server.
If you have a worldwide audience, which will definitely happen if you write your content in English, you better include a CDN service in your game plan to speed up WordPress even more.
There is a free CDN called Cloudflare. I don’t like it, you can try it if you want.
What I use and costs me just a few cents a month is a premium service called BunnyCDN.
As you can see from the image above I pay $0.0142 for a GB of data served.
The whole process of setting up BunnyCDN to work with your WordPress is very easy.
Download the BunnyCDN free plugin and follow the simple instructions. You’ll set your CDN in no time.
5. Don’t Go Bananas on Plugins
WordPress is popular with its wide repository of free plugins. There are also tons of premium once on sites like CodeCanyon.
As a young website owner, you might find yourself in the commonplace of thinking ‘for every problem, there’s a plugin’.
Plugins do a great job and there are essential plugins that you must have. But if your list of plugins grows to a number more than 20-30 you might reconsider using some of them to speed up your website.
6. Beware of Your Media Sizes – Optimize and Compress your Images
Images are what adds most to your page size. If you upload a 6MP, 5000 by 3000px photos in your posts, directly as you downloaded them from a stock images website or your phone camera you will hardly ever get a good page speed score.
Always resize your images according to your themes specific sizes. If your post would have a wide hero featured image, use a size no greater than 1920px wide. For your post images, 990px wide is more than enough.
👉 Use the online tool TinyJPG to compress your images even more (without worsening their quality).
👉 Download a plugin like Smush to auto-optimize your images on upload.
Sometimes you can get a reduction of 80-90%!
7. Optimize Your WordPress Database
Don’t panic, I know this sounds a bit complicated but it’s not.
I use the free plugin WP-Optmize. This plugin will not only optimize your database, but it also provides image optimization and page cache.
Just make sure to always create a backup of your database in case something go wrong.
Your website speed is not just the number of seconds it takes to load. Today load time is a major factor in SEO and user experience. Make sure to take action towards optimizing your WordPress pages and content. You can get good results without investing a ton of money.
How to Speed-up Your WordPress Website? Step-by-Step.
Step 1: Get a Good Hosting
If that’s still possible, and you haven’t already created your website on some crapy host, go for some of the recommended hosting companies.
Step 2: Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
For non-tech savvies I recommend WP Fastest Cache. The caching plugin can speed up your website with just a few clicks.
Step 3: Don’t install too many Plugins
More plugins mean more code and requests, and more code and requests mean a slower page load time. Keep it clean and use only well-known, good rated plugins.
Step 4: Watch your file size
If your infobox has a placeholder for a 200×100 image, there is absolutely no need to upload a high quality (1920×1080) image. Just open any image editor (Paint, photopea, or Photoshop) and resize it to the needed size.
Other than that every time you upload a big image, try compressing it with free tools like TinyJPG or Compressjpeg.