Tips to Speed Up a WordPress Site and Reduce the Loading Time

In WordPress by Fathi ArfaouiLeave a Comment

As 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 an 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 in user experience.

Steps to optimize WordPress for speed

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 than creating content.

It’s a premium hosting provider that take cares of the technical settings, caching, and speed of your site. In other words, WordPress hosting experts will optimize the site for speed and the pages performances, 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 a cheaper hosting, but with alternative quality, then, I recommend Liquid Web or Bluehost VPS. Both, are good and comes with professional customer support.

Use a clean and optimized theme

There is no optimization if you have a theme that loads slowly for many reasons, including, the 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.

Use a content delivery network (CDN)

The CDN will serve your pages from the nearest location of your visitors. The big 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 website like, Nissan and Pinterest, are using this service and that’s a proof or trust and professionalism.

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.

Leverage the browser caching of static assets

You can save lots of time and bandwidth, by making your web page’s 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 ##

ExpiresActive On
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 text/x-javascript "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 improved in the performance of your site. Even, if it’s just a second or less, that has a big impact on the site loading time and ranking in search engines.

Minify CSS and JavaScript

This is a very important optimization step to achieve. Unfortunately, it’s not easy if you can’t edit your theme files and combine them. My advice is, never install plugins to minify your CSS and JavaScript files, that will never work, and you just waste your time and add plugins that never help.

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.

The same thing applies to the JavaScript files. If you have a theme that is not optimized yet, then, make sure to combine the above files together if you have some CSS and HTML knowledge. If you don’t have an idea about that, then, ask someone who can help, or even, hire a developer for a professional work.

How to Speed Up a WordPress Site

Enable Gzip compression

When you compress the WordPress content, such as HTML, text, and images, you will be able to offer better user experience, and mots 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.

I’ve created a complete tutorial on how doing that. Just read: how to compress a website using Gzip in cPanel.

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 still be saved in your WordPress database. And that’s what make the page loads 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.

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.

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 into 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 include. Then, delete the plugin that you’re not using, it’s just a waste of time and disk space.

Fathi Arfaoui: A Physicist, Blogger, and the founder and owner of Trustiko.com. He shares Business, Blogging, WordPress, Web Safety, and Blogging tips to build better websites and blogs. Also, he shares online marketing strategies and recommendations.

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