A Comprehensive Guide on How to Accelerate WordPress Performance

by | Jul 25, 2023 | Speed Up WordPress | 0 comments

Boosting the speed of your WordPress website is essential for enhancing user experience, increasing the number of page views, and for successful WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In this detailed guide, we will delve into the most effective tactics to speed up WordPress and enhance your website’s performance.

Boost WordPress Performance

This is not a generic post about WordPress performance tips or a mere list of best WordPress caching plugins.

Rather, this is an exhaustive handbook on how to speed up WordPress, with an emphasis on the importance of speed, the elements that could potentially slow down your website, and practical steps you can implement to boost your WordPress speed immediately.

To facilitate seamless navigation, we’ve curated a table of contents for this ultimate guide on speeding up your WordPress site.

Table of Contents

  1. The Fundamentals of WordPress Performance
  2. Accelerating WordPress in Simple Steps (No Coding Required)
  3. Best Practices for WordPress Performance Optimization
  4. Advanced Techniques to Fine-Tune WordPress for Speed
  5. The Role of Good WordPress Hosting
  6. Installing a WordPress Caching Plugin
  7. Optimizing Images for Speed
  8. WordPress Performance Optimization Best Practices
  9. Reducing External HTTP Requests
  10. Optimizing WordPress Database

The Fundamentals of WordPress Performance

Why is speed so crucial for your WordPress site? Studies reveal that from 2000 to 2016, the average human attention span has dwindled from 12 seconds to 7 seconds.

As a website owner, this underscores the importance of having a fast-loading site.

Speed Impact on Website

A sluggish website could mean users leaving your site before it even loads.

A case study involving tech giants Amazon and Google revealed that a one-second delay in page load time could lead to a 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, search engines such as Google penalize slower websites by pushing them down in search results, leading to less traffic.

In summary, if you want more traffic, subscribers, and revenue from your website, then you must speed up WordPress!

How to Analyze Your WordPress Website Speed

It’s a common misconception among beginners that their website is fine just because it doesn’t seem slow on their computer.

This is a critical error.

Since you frequently visit your website, modern browsers like Chrome store your website in the cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing an address.

This makes your website load almost instantly for you, but not for a first-time visitor.

Users in different geographical locations will have a unique experience.

That’s why we suggest testing your website speed using a tool like IsItWP’sWordPress speed test.

IsItWP speed test tool

A good page load time should be under 2 seconds.

However, the quicker, the better.

Slight improvements can significantly reduce your load time.

The Factors That Slow Down Your WordPress Website

Your speed test report will likely have multiple recommendations for improvement.

However, most of that might be technical jargon, which could be hard for beginners to comprehend.

Understanding what slows down your website is crucial to improving performance and making intelligent long-term decisions.

The primary culprits for a slow WordPress website are:

  • Web Hosting: If your web hosting server is not properly configured, it can harm your website speed.
  • WordPress Configuration: If your WordPress site isn’t serving cached pages, it will overload your server, causing your website to be slow or crash entirely.
  • Page Size: Mainly images that aren’t optimized for the web.
  • Bad Plugins: If you’re using a poorly coded plugin, it can dramatically slow down your website.
  • External Scripts: External scripts such as ads, font loaders, etc., can also significantly impact your website performance.

Now that you are aware of the factors that slow down your WordPress site, let’s explore how to speed up WordPress.

Pro Tip: Wish to reduce the number of plugins on your site? Start usingWPCode, a robust code snippet management plugin for WordPress. It can help you reduce at least five plugins.

The Role of Good WordPress Hosting

YourWordPress hosting service plays a vital role in website performance.

A goodshared hosting provider likeBluehost orSiteground takes extra measures to optimize your website for performance.

However, on shared hosting, you share server resources with numerous other clients.

This means if your neighboring site attracts a lot of traffic, it can affect the entire server performance, which will, in turn, slow down your website.

On the other hand, using amanaged WordPress hosting service gives you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress.

Managed WordPress hosting companies also offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website.

We recommendWPEngine as our preferred managed WordPress hosting provider. They’re also the most popular one in the industry. (See our specialWPEngine coupon).

Accelerating WordPress in Easy Steps (No Coding Required)

Making changes to your website configuration can be a daunting thought for beginners, especially if you’re not tech-savvy.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone.

We have helped thousands of WordPress users enhance their WordPress performance.

We will show you how you can speed up WordPress with just a few clicks (no coding required).

If you can point-and-click, then you can do this!

Installing a WordPress Caching Plugin

WordPress pages are “dynamic,” meaning they’re built on the fly every time someone visits a post or page on your website.

To build your pages, WordPress has to run a process to find the required information, put it all together, and then display it to your user.

This process involves numerous steps and can significantly slow down your website when you have multiple people visiting it at once.

That’s why we recommend every WordPress site use a caching plugin.

Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2x to 5x faster.

Here’s how it works: Instead of going through the whole page generation process every time, your caching plugin makes a copy of the page after the first load, and then serves that cached version to every subsequent user.

Page caching

There are several excellentWordPress caching plugins available, but we recommend using eitherWP Rocket (premium) orWP Super Cache (free) plugin.

Check out our step-by-step guide onhow to install and set up WP Super Cache on your WordPress site.

It’s not difficult to set up, and your visitors will notice the difference.

Many WordPress hosting firms likeBluehost andSiteGround also offer caching solutions.

Bonus: You can combine caching plugins with aweb application firewall like CloudFlare orSucuri for optimal performance boost.

Optimizing Images for Speed

Optimizing images for speed

Images enrich your content and help boost engagement.

Research has found that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content.

However, if your images aren’t optimized, they could be doing more harm than good.

In fact, non-optimized images are one of the most common speed issues we see on beginner sites.

Before you upload a photo directly from your phone or camera, we recommend that you use photo editing software to optimize your images for the web.

Below is a comparison chart of the file sizes and different compression tools that could be used for the images.

Image speed chart

As you can see in the chart, the image format you use can make a massive difference in website performance.

For details on exactly how to optimize your images using Photoshop and other popular editing tools, without sacrificing quality, see our step-by-step guide onhow to save images optimized for web.

WordPress Performance Optimization Best Practices

After installing a caching plugin and optimizing your images, you’ll notice your site will start loading a lot faster.

But if you want to keep your website as fast as possible, you’ll need to use the best practices listed below.

These tips aren’t too technical, so you don’t need to know any code to implement them.

But using them will prevent common problems that will slow down your website.

Keep WordPress updated

As a well-maintained open-source project, WordPress is updated frequently.

Each update will not only offer new features but it will also fix security issues and bugs.

Your WordPress theme and plugins may have regular updates, too.

As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins updated to the latest versions.

Not doing so may make your site slow and unreliable, and make you vulnerable to security threats.

Reducing External HTTP Requests

Reduce cross-domain HTTP requests

Many WordPress plugins and themes load all kinds of files from other websites.

These files can include scripts, stylesheets, and images from external resources like Google, Facebook, analytics services, and so on.

You can reduce all these external HTTP requests by disabling scripts and styles or merging them into one file.

Here’s a tutorial on how to disable your plugins’ CSS files and JavaScript.

Optimizing WordPress Database

WordPress database optimization

After using WordPress for a while, your database will have lots of information that you probably don’t need any more.

For improved performance, you can optimize your database to get rid of all that unnecessary information.

This can be easily managed with theWP-Sweep plugin.

It allows you to clean your WordPress database by deleting things like trashed posts, revisions, unused tags, etc. It will also optimize your database’s structure with just a click.

See our guide on how to optimize andclean up your WordPress database for improved performance.

Limit Post Revisions

Limit post revisions in WordPress

Post revisions take up space in your WordPress database.

Some users believe that revisions can also affect some database queries run by plugins.

If the plugin doesn’t specifically exclude post revisions, it might slow down your site by searching through them unnecessarily.

You can easily limit the number of revisions WordPress keeps for each article. Simply add this line of code to your wp-config.php file.

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 4 );

This code will limit WordPress to only save your last 4 revisions of each post or page, and discard older revisions automatically.

Disable Hotlinking and Leaching of Your Content

Prevent image theft in WordPress

If you’re creating quality content on your WordPress site, then the sad truth is that it’ll probably get stolen sooner or later.

One way this happens is when other websites serve your images directly from their URLs on your website, instead of uploading them to their own servers.

In effect, they’re stealing your web hosting bandwidth, and you don’t get any traffic to show for it.

Simply add this code to your.htaccess file to block hotlinking of images from your WordPress site.

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image optionRewriteEngine onRewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?wp.com [NC]RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?google.com [NC]RewriteRule .(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ - [NC,F,L]

Note: Don’t forget to replace wpbeginner.com with your own domain.

Use DNS Level Website Firewall

Use DNS level firewall

A WordPress firewall plugin helps you block brute force attacks, hacking attempts, and malware.

However, not all firewall plugins are the same.

Some of them run on your website.

This means attackers are already able to reach your web server before they get blocked.

This is still effective for security, but not optimal for performance.

This is why we recommend using a DNS level firewall like Sucuri or Cloudflare.

These firewalls block malicious requests even before they reach your website.

With the extensive guide above, you should be able to significantly speed up WordPress.

Don’t forget to test your website speed before and after implementing these best practices.

You’ll be surprised how these changes will boost your WordPress performance.


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