Like any other software, WordPress sends requests to your server and the browser downloads the files. That’s what can cause problems with a huge number of HTTP requests, especially, with low-quality hosting. The result will be a slow website that visitors will never visit again.
At the same time, Google itself uses your page loading time as a ranking factor, and that’s a big problem for websites that have no optimizations.
WordPress needs optimized web hosting, and it’s not an option to learn how to speed up a WordPress site. The goal is to be able to handle all the traffic, without affecting the loading time, and that’s only the first step. Then, you need to follow some basic tips to make your blog faster, and better user experience.
15 Easy Steps to Speed Up WordPress Sites
1. Choose a WordPress optimized web hosting
As I said earlier, WordPress is a PHP and MySQL combination. That means lots of requests to the server, and the database itself should be hosted in a solid environment, for better performance.
When it comes to WordPress hosting, the speed and caching system is the first step, I recommend the WP Engine managed WordPress hosting as the only service to speed up your site naturally, without doing anything other than creating content.
It’s a premium hosting provider that takes care of the technical settings, caching, and speed of your site. In other words, WordPress hosting experts will optimize the site for speed and page performance, and that’s included in your service.
This hosting works exclusively on WordPress sites. That’s why they optimized their servers for that and created a custom infrastructure that no one has.
If you’re hosting with this service, then, forget all the other tips, simply because you will get a fully optimized hosting that takes care of the speed and the security.
On the other side, if you need cheaper hosting, but with alternative quality, then, I recommend HostGator, it’s one of the fastest shared WordPress hosting options with professional customer support.
2. Use a clean and optimized theme
There is no optimization if you have a theme that loads slowly for many reasons, including poor coding, the framework itself, and many other factors. I always recommend one of these premium WordPress theme sellers, for their superior quality and secure code.
Those themes are built with the latest search engine recommendations, especially, from Google. The Schema markup is a new service, used by search engines to understand the content.
3. Use a content delivery network (CDN)
The CDN will serve your pages from the nearest location of your visitors. The biggest CDN companies have thousands of servers around the world, and they save a copy of your website. So, when users get that copy, the loading time will be reduced significantly, and users will love the browsing speed.
I recommend MaxCDN for their awesome services and fast servers that make any site loads lightning fast. By the way, popular companies and websites like, Nissan and Pinterest, are using this service and that’s proof of trust and professionalism.
4. Caching your WordPress pages
This is only needed when you’re not using WP Engine because they have a custom and advanced caching system. That’s why they’ve disabled all the other caching systems, they have the best of the best.
Anyway, if you’re hosting with other services, and especially, on shared hosting, then, make sure to install the WordPress Super Cache plugin or the W3 Total Cache.
5. Leverage the browser caching of static assets
Even if you’re using one of the fastest WordPress hosting providers, you can help web browsers to leverage the cache for static assets. Some web hosts work well, but they don’t add this configuration, so, I highly recommend it for bloggers and WordPress users.
You can save lots of time and bandwidth, by making your web page static content, cached in the browsers. That means also, a real improvement in the loading time. When the visitor loads your web page, the browser will save the static elements, such as the header image, the icons, and even, images.
All you have to do is to add the following code to your “htaccess” file.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/html "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 1 month"
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Then, save the file and you will see an improvement in the performance of your site. Even if it is just a second or less, that has a big impact on the site loading time and ranking in search engines.
The only way to do that is when creating the theme. The developer should combine all the CSS files together, and create a single file. That way, all the style-sheet requests from any page will be sent to that file, and that will save the loading time.
7. Enable Gzip compression
When you compress the WordPress content, such as HTML, text, and images, you will be able to offer a better user experience, and most importantly, you will reduce the total number of HTTP requests to your server.
You can notice that by testing your site performance before and after enabling the Gzip compression from your cPanel. Just login to cPanel and find the icon “Optimize Website”, and you will get the page to compress all the website content, or, just files, from your choice, such as texts and HTML only.
8. Database optimization
If you look inside your database tables, you will notice lots of unused data, and space that you don’t need. When you deactivate plugins and delete them, their data can still be saved in your WordPress database. And that’s what makes the page load slowly.
In this case, you have to use a plugin called WP-Optimize, it will optimize the database tables and you can delete the spam comments as well, and the automatic draft from posts and pages. All you have to do is to install and activate the plugin, then start a scan, and you can even schedule the automatic cleaning.
9. Disable Hotlinking
This WordPress performance optimization step is very crucial for blogs with lots of syndicated content across multiple platforms. In fact, spammers can scrap your blog posts and add them to their sites and directly load images and files from your site and not their own. So, hotlinking is really some kind of image theft that can increase the number of requests to your web servers, slows down your WordPress site, and of course, uses lots of your monthly bandwidth quota.
To disable hotlinking in WordPress, you can use a plugin for that, just type in the plugins directory search box, disable hotlink and you’ll find many options.
10. Image optimization
You need to compress your images before uploading them. That can be using any software. Next, make sure to use a small size of images and avoid large files. At the same time install the “Smush.it” plugin that will compress all your images on the upload progress, and even manually later.
That will not only save the disk space in your database but also, it will reduce your WordPress website loading time in general.
11. Use Lazy load for images
If you have a food blog or you’re one of the popular fashion bloggers, then, chances are, you already have a lot of photos on every page. No matter if you’re using a good web host or a dedicated server, without lazy loading, your images add lots of sizes and decrease your blog performance in web browsers and even in Google crawling.
Years ago, lazy loading was not recommended as Google won’t crawl these photos, however, things changed now and crawlers can read them.
The easiest way to enable lazy loading for images in WordPress is by Using the Jetpack tool for that. If you don’t have JetPack, you can use any other plugin, and please test your site across multiple devices to tweak the settings correctly.
12. Avoid using too many plugins
The more WordPress plugins you install, the more requests your server will receive. That means lots of hard work on caching, and the loading time will be affected directly.
I’m not saying disable all your plugins, WordPress itself was built to use plugins for better performances. But, make sure to minimize the total number of plugins as you can. If you’re using two different plugins, and you can combine their functions in just a single one, you will reduce the loading time.
The JetPack plugin from WordPress is an example, it’s a free and all-in-one plugin that comes with CSS customization options, social media buttons, and much more in one single tool.
Use that plugin and delete the plugins that are built, especially for a single job that the JetPack plugin includes. Then, delete the plugin that you’re not using, it’s just a waste of time and disk space.
13. Disable WooCommerce
Don’t be surprised if you find that your actual WordPress theme comes with Woocommerce features enabled or at least exist as files. These files reduce the site loading time and add lots of PHP requests to your servers. I used a theme that sends 23 Woocommerce requests with every web page loading, so, imagine how it can be when you remove all that waste of time and space.
If you don’t need WooCommerce, just start by disabling the plugin, many themes come with Woocommerce and if you want to install the demo content, it will bring all the details you never need.
If your theme does not require Woocommerce, then, that’s better, just browse its files and remove the folder name with Woocommerce on it. Then, compress them and upload them again. If your site won’t work because of that, ask your developer or the theme author and ask them if it’s possible to remove all the unused Woocommerce functions in WordPress. That’s how to speed up your WordPress blog if you don’t sell items or services online.
14. Use Summary instead of full text on the homepage
WordPress has a bad default feature that shows all the page content on the homepage. So, for someone who blogs and writes regularly, his blog will be full of text and the homepage will be too long to read and scroll. That’s what makes WordPress load so slowly, and luckily, it’s easy to fix the problem. Under Settings, you’ll find the menu Reading, click on it and then, check the box Summary and not Full Text as the following screenshot.
15. Break Comment into multiple pages
If your blog has lots of comments, then, that’s great, but what if that’s what makes WordPress load slowly? In reality, Hundreds of plugins in WordPress can make the page performance too bad, so it’s better to break comments into multiple pages. WordPress has a feature that you can use under Settings and then, Discussions. and check the option Break comments into pages.
Why Bloggers should speed up WordPress?
Stats from Google show that speeding up a website by just one second can decrease the conversion rate, page views, and customer satisfaction. So, it’s an option these days to have a super-fast WordPress website that users enjoy using and Google can easily crawl.