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[Complete Guide] WordPress Speed Optimization

Boost your WordPress Performance in a Few Simple Steps

WordPress CMS is an amazing open source platform, but its performance can be underwhelming at times. Whether you are running a business site or just a personal blog, WordPress speed optimization boosts your site’s load time and ensures that your visitors get the best experience possible, helping your website to pass the Core Web Vitals.

Before we start, here are some simple steps that will help you optimize your WordPress website better for optimum performance:

  1. Install the latest version of WordPress.
  2. Update plugins to their latest versions.
  3. Choose a fast hosting while installing WordPress.
  4. Optimize images before uploading them to WordPress.
  5. Edit wp-config.php file with recommended settings.
  6. Create a staging environment for testing new plugin updates before they go live on production server.
  7. Keep everything up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes from the admins of your favourite plugins and themes, or use tools like Sucuri.

Ok, so what is write above are the simple steps to optimize the site speed of your WordPress site. Still curious about how to improve your site performance? Read the comprehensive article below.

How to increase the speed of your site – Long guide

WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet today, representing at least 25% of all online websites. From a personal WordPress page to a full WooCommerce online store, WordPress is a clever choice due to its extensive choice of templates, comfort of use and strong functions accessible due to the thousands of plugins that have been prepared for it.

The WordPress reputation is staggering, and as such every week I handle a good number of queries relating to WordPress, from the simplest “How to’s”, through to even more advanced debugging.

One of the biggest problems that comes up from site to site is the load time.

I’ve invested intensely in developing a WordPress hosting infrastructure which is as fast as can be – Last version of SSD storage, RAID 10, LiteSpeed WebServer, CloudLinux OS, Maria DB, Cloudflare + w/Railgun, and more. In comparison to most WordPress hosting providers from the market, my platform for WordPress already is ultra-fast. But however, there were still cases where some of my clients ran into speed issues, usually the result of there being too many plugins installed (more of them, installed without a real purpose), bloated plugins, or unoptimized themes (yes, this exist. Take care from where you buy your WordPress theme).

Before you start, I highly recommend to backup your WordPress site!

 


Use a Light and Well-Optimized WordPress Theme

On the WordPress themes market you can find thousands of beautiful and eye-catching templates. Most of them are poor-coded and will slow your website. If you run a basic cookie recipes blog, I suggest you to use the default WordPress themes. If you want to look more professional, install a premium theme.


Delete Inactive and Unused Plugins

A part of the speed up process is to get rid of inactive or unused plugins. Also, take a look if your current plugins are work properly and are errors-free. Everyone tend to have a lot of plugins installed on their website. Mostly because the majority of WordPress plugins are FREE.

This is not a good thing for your website speed. Try to install as few plugins as you can, and only if you need them. If you install a lot of unnecessary plugins, those will cause bad latency to your website and the rendering will load very slow.

Of course, if you find something which you think it can help your website, it is worth to give a try and test it for a while.

For testing the plugins health, you can use this plugin: Query Monitor . You can also take a chance with this one: Download P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)


Update WordPress CMS, Theme and Plugins

Keep your WordPress theme and Plugins up to date all the time. This is also a good Security tip for the WordPress website owners.

  1. ***TIP 1: Before you update anything, make a backup of your entire website.
  2. ***TIP 2: Before you update anything, you can develop a second – test- website, to see if everything work fine.

WordPress Image Optimisation

WordPress image compression tips
WordPress image compression tips

 

1. Image size:

Uploading large size images will make your WordPress very slow. Why would upload a 12MB image, when the visitor’s device require a image with only 35kb?! Have logic, right? Also, if you want to host videos to your website, try to host them outside of your server. You can give a try to Youtube, Vimeo or any other video platform. It is free and it is good.

Also, it is rare for a image with a size of 12MB to have a resolution of, let’s say 1925×750. Generally speaking, the image resolution will be something like 5000×3550. You don’t need this.

Before you’ll upload the images on your server, I highly suggest to use a photo editor software. Personally, I recommend GIMP. It is an Open Source program, very useful for this kind of tasks.

After you’ve edited the pictures, it is a good possibility that you’ve didn’t resize them enough. Don’t worry..It is a normal thing. For this, WordPress comes again with various plugins. I recommend WP Smush It  or WP Compress. Smush it have also a Premium version, but the Free one works also great.

2. Image format

The best image format right now, supported by WordPress, is WebP. So, what is WebP?

WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP was developed with the goal of providing both a balance between quality and size, so that large images can load faster. Using WebP, webmasters have been able to save space, reduce page load times, and provide a better user experience for mobile devices.

WebP is a modern image format created by Google in 2010. Its goal is to provide both a balance between quality and size so that large images can load faster on mobile devices which have slow connections or old browsers. It was initially introduced as an option for Chrome OS in 2013 but it has been made available to all users of Chrome since September 2015 (via an update).

The biggest issue with WebP is that Safari browser still not recognize this kind of format. And, yes: A big part of your audience is using Safari browser.

Since the WordPress 5.8 update, WordPress (finally) made the decision to implement the WebP format. Read here more about WordPress 5.8: WordPress Tatum

Anyway, WebP isn’t the latest format. You may already heard about the Avif format. It is the newest format and you can save a lot from the website size by using this format. Unfortunately, WordPress is not supporting Avif yet.

You can read more here: Avif vs WebP


GZIP Compression

How to gzip wordpress
WordPress GZIP Compression

The smaller your website size will be, the faster your customer’s device will load it. And, in ourdays, more than a half of internet “players” use mobile devices, so I suggest you to put some effort in delivering a small size WordPress website.

Usually, the GZIP compression will reduce your website size with about 55%-68% of your website size. If your website size is lower, it will load faster.

There are a lot of Free GZIP WordPress plugins on the market. You have the free option of choice what you want.


WordPress Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is a word which describe the following action: Each time someone copy an image from your website and paste it on it’s own website, he will use your hosting resources, not it’s own resources. This means that the bandwidth and memory of your website will be affected. Not very much from just 1 image, but when we talk about 1k images, that is bad.

The good part of Hotlinking is the SEO backlinks you can get from that websites. But it is not guaranteed.

To protect your website images and avoid the hotlinking, add those lines in your WordPress .httaccess:

<<< COD >>>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?EXAMPLE.com [NC] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?feeds2.feedburner.com/EXAMPLE [NC] RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L] >>>COD<<<

I’ve excluded Feedburner’s images, to let them to appear correctly in your live feeds( Facebook, Twitter, etc ).


WordPress Caching

1. What is WordPress Caching?

WordPress caching is a technique that improves the user experience by loading static resources such as images and scripts from the server cache. Anytime you will update your website content, the Server Side Cache will bring only the tiny code new inserted, and keep the old version in the same size and structure.

Many web hosting providers offer a built-in caching service like Memcached or Redis, but WordPress can also use those systems as well. For this, you have to insert the following command, inside the wp-config.php:

define('WP_CACHE', true);

To be fair, the command above does absolutely nothing except makes WordPress check if wp-content/advanced-cache.php is present and then loads it to allow page caching.

WordPress has a built-in object cache. It can works without defining WP_CACHE, but it’s non-persistent, meaning that the content of this cache will be discarded when the web browser or system shuts down.

Nevertheless, it’s still useful to use the WordPress built-in object cache if you don’t want to install another plugin for caching purposes.

2. What are the best WordPress caching plugins?

There are a lot of great plugins, some of them free and some of them premium. Below, I will mention a list with the free ones:

a.WP Super Cache

b.W3 Total Cache


JS and CSS Minification

If you’ve already taken an WordPress Speed test with Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdoom and so, you’ll may be warned that you must minify the JavaScript and CSS files. This means that you must reduce the JS and CSS calls to decrease the server response time. This will also help you to save the Bandwidth usage of the server.

There are a lot of way to minify. You can do it manually ( which I highly recommend ) or by using a WordPress cache plugin. My second recommendation is to use LiteSpeed plugin. A third recommendation is Autoptimize – A good plugin I’ve worked with in the past.


WordPress Files and WordPress Database in the Same Data Centre

The proximity of the files and codes is highly recommended, so you should make sure that both of them are hosted in the same place. This will increase your WordPress Performance and provide a great user experience.

To find if the Files and Database are stored on the same Data Centre, you can ask your Hosting Provider. On my WordPress Hosting Awesome Server, I keep the Files and the Database in the same location, so my customers websites’s performance is very good.


Don’t Forget to Cleanup Your WordPress Database

Deleted unnecessary data from your website database will keep the size of it very low, and your Database performance will be optimal. This action can also reduce the backup size of your
website.

***Reaminder*** – Everytime you do actions to your WordPress website, DO A BACKUP! You’ll thanks me later.

Most of the time, you will clean the unused drafts of your posts, but you can also get rid of spam comments, spammy fake users, etc. . WordPress Database Cleanup will, made it right, will boost your WordPress speed.

 


How to test my WordPress Speed?

First of all, you should take a look on the current speed of your website. Don’t forget that that the speed may differ from post to post, or page to page, as it depends of multiple factors:

  • What is your hosting server’s configuration? It is good enough for your site?
  • What WordPress theme are you using? It is a light one or a bloated one (a heavy theme)?
  • How many plugins are installed? How many are activated? How many of them are you actually using on the website?
  • How many content do you have in that page/post.
  • How many media content do you have there.
  • What kind of media content it is: Image or Video.
  • The size of that particular page;
  • How many requests it generates;
  • Are you using any caching solution for that website?

In order to find what is your WordPress Speed, you can use those websites:

The homepage of a website is usually used as a benchmark to test the load time. To check the speed of your WordPress Website, the following four tools are used extensively online and may be a good point from where you can start:

  1. WebPageTest.org
  2. GTmetrix
  3. Pingdom.com
  4. PageSpeed Insights (Here you can find important factors about what is actually slowing your website)
  5. Web.dev

 

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