8 Tips to Speed up Your WordPress Site

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This is a guest post by Syed Balkhi.

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.

Users today have no time to wait around for a slow site. There’s always another site a click away that can give them the information they need faster.

In fact, 47 percent of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. So, if your website doesn’t load quickly, you run the risk of users abandoning your site, which is not good for your revenue.

You can use a free tool like Pingdom to test your site speed and if it fails the test, don’t worry. There are a number of ways to easily boost your site speed so that you can get back to impressing visitors and turning them into subscribers and customers.

Let’s make your WordPress site lightning fast, check out these 8 tips to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Choose a good host

One of the first steps in building your WordPress website is to choose a hosting option. When you’re first starting out, you might think the best choice for you is the cheapest one. But if you’re worried too much about saving money, you might be sacrificing the speediness of your site.

With cheaper hosting sites you’re usually sharing the server with a bunch of other websites, which can slow your site down and can also mean poor service as well. But a with managed WordPress hosting service like WP Engine, you get the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress.

Read our complete WP Engine review.

If you don’t want high traffic to slow your WordPress site down, then be sure to pick a hosting service that understands the need for speed.

2. Keep WordPress updated

WordPress is well-maintained and updated frequently. These updates can include new features but they can also fix important security issues and bugs. You also have a WordPress theme and a number of plugins that could have frequent updates as well.

If you fail to update your WordPress site, you risk big site slow-downs and it can also make you vulnerable to security threats. So, as a website owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your WordPress site, theme, and plugins are always up-to-date with the latest versions to ensure your site is running at top speed.

3. Use a theme optimized for speed

You might find a WordPress theme that you think is sleek and fits your brand perfectly but if you pick the wrong one it can spell disaster for your site speed. Some of the most beautiful WordPress themes are poorly coded and not optimized for speed at all.

So stay away from WordPress themes that are overloaded with bulky unnecessary features, flashing animations or complicated layouts; you can use plugins to add all the features you need. Instead look for impressive-looking themes that are optimized for speed and are mobile-friendly like the ones offered from Compete Themes. A site that’s fast and looks great is much more superior than the flashiest WordPress theme that’s slow.

4. Optimize ‘Above-the-Fold’ content

Above-the-fold content (the area at the top of your page that’s visible in the browser before scrolling) is what a user sees when they first land on your site and contains the content that is the most important to your business. It’s essential that your above-the-fold content loads first — and quickly — before the other elements on the page.

For instance, if your HTML loads the third-party widgets on your page before your above-the-fold area, you’ll need to rearrange the order to improve loading time. So, be sure to structure your HTML to load the most important elements of your page first.

5. Optimize images

If your website is image-heavy, it could cause your website to load at a snail’s pace. Most images are very large files, but you can’t get rid of your images altogether. Images are super important to the success of your website, so to speed up your site without sacrificing your eye-catching images you need to optimize your images for speed.

WP Smush Progress

The first step to optimizing your images is to resize your photos before you post them on your site. You can also use a WordPress plugin like WP Smush to easily, automatically compress and optimize all of your images.

6. Minimize HTTP requests

The more components you have on your website, the longer it will take to load; this is because an HTTP request has to be made for each of these elements. One way to avoid slowing down your site is to take a minimalist approach to your web design and only include elements that are essential to the user experience and increasing on-site conversions.

But you can also use Google Chrome’s Developer Tools to see how many HTTP requests your site makes and search for any files that are unnecessary and ones you can combine to make your site faster. A user-friendly way to minimize and combine files is to use a WordPress plugin like WP Rocket.

7. Use excerpts on homepage and archives

WordPress by default displays the full content of each article on your homepage or in your archives, and this can cause the rest of your website to slow down. Not only does showing the full content of an article on your homepage slow your site down, but it also reduces pageviews and lowers user engagement. If you display the full article there’s no need for them to click on it.

Display Post Excerpts

So, head over to your WordPress Settings, under the Reader tab, and change your settings so that your site will display excerpts instead of the full text.

8. Enable browser caching

When a user visits your website, the browser has to download all of the elements on your page and save them to a cache folder on the hard drive. That includes images, HTML, javascript, stylesheets, and more. Downloading all these elements each time a user visits your site will slow down your speed performance. But a browser cache enables users to store this information so the next time they visit, they won’t have to download it all over again.

If you want to improve page load time and user experience, use a WordPress cache plugin like W3 Total Cache to enable caching with ease. According to W3 Total Cache, you can see at least 10 times improvement in overall site performance by fully configuring browser caching with their plugin.

We also recommend the WP Rocket for anyone who wants to try a premium caching option. You can see how to use WP Rocket here.

Wrapping up

That’s it. Now it’s time to take these tips to speed up your WordPress site and put them to good use. Your website visitors will appreciate speedy loading times and won’t hesitate to come back to your site again and again. You’ll see a huge difference in not only your site traffic but your bottom line as well.

If you want some more tips on speeding up your WordPress site, check out our WP performance guide.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
This article was written by Ben Sibley. He is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.