Have you ever experienced your WordPress site being slow? In this post, I will give you some tips on how to optimize a WordPress site for speed.
How to Measure Site Speed?
There are many tools available for measuring site speed. Some of the most popular ones are GTMetrix and Pingdom. These tools will analyze the content of your website and assign it a grade based on the results, along with optimization tips to achieve a better rank.
Causes of Slow Website
One of the most common causes for slow page load times is your web hosting provider. If you are running your site on a shared hosting, you may occasionally encounter slowdowns when accessing your website. Shared hosts give you as little as they possible can, sometimes less.
If you are running a commercial website or a website with a large amount of visitors, it is extremely important for your website to load as fast as possible.
See my other post titled “Why you should avoid GoDaddy Hosting!”
Some free WordPress plugins are poorly programmed and may cause slowness and compatibility issues with other plugins on your website. When choosing which free plugins to use on your website, I recommend to only choose from the most popular and recently updated plugins, as well as freemium plugins (that offer additional features for a payment). Sometimes authors of free plugins stop updating their plugins, which leaves your website vulnerable to exploits and may cause your website to break in a future WordPress update. Use paid plugins whenever possible, as this ensures better support, compatibility and future updates.
Click here to read about recommended paid WordPress Plugins!
Another common cause for slow page load times is the content of your website. For example, if you have a site that 1,100px wide and upload an image that is 2000px wide, that will heavily drop your page speed score because your website is loading an image that is 2x the size it should be.
How to Optimize a WordPress Site for Speed
Now that you know what are the causes for a slow website, you’ll already know what needs to be addressed.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
CloudFlare is one of the most commonly used CDN providers. They offer a free lite plan that offers basic content delivery across the world and basic protection against DDoS attacks.
Install a Caching Plugin
W3 Total Cache
This plugin is a must have in my opinion. Not only is it free (or freemium), it is extremely powerful and customizable. For a beginner this plugin may seem very complex to configure, as the most effective settings depend on your hosting configuration. In rare cases, it is also possible to mess up your configuration and break your website, so always take a backup of your website before installing and configuring this plugin. W3 Total Cache can also be integrated with a CDN, so you can take advantage of advanced CDN options right from your WordPress dashboard.
While not essentially a caching plugin, WordFence offers a caching engine called “Falcon Engine”. This feature is very easy to activate from the plugin settings. and I recommended this for beginners and simple websites with little traffic. Falcon engine should not be used if W3 Total Cache is installed.
Only upload images that are no larger than the actual size they appear on page. Prefer to upload images using an optimized JPG format, unless you have a valid reason to use any other format. PNG files are generally very large in file size and best used for small graphics, while GIF is good for small graphics and animations.
Got Questions or Comments?
Now you know how to optimize a WordPress site for speed.
If you have additional comments, tips or questions, comment below!