site performance plugins tools for website speed

The Complete Guide to Optimizing WordPress Site Speed in 2019

Constructing a WordPress web site appears easy sufficient, doesn’t it? You buy internet hosting, get a website identify, and set up WordPress. With so many nice themes and plugins readily available for WordPress users, you would realistically get the location built out, designed, and crammed with content in a number of hours.

For anybody who’s ever thought, “How hard could it be to build a website?”, that’s exactly what they envisioned. Nevertheless, this leaves out a crucial element of the website building process:

Site velocity optimization.

The following guide explores all the ways a WordPress website can and must be optimized for performance.

Why Does Site Speed Matter?

Many years ago, Kissmetrics revealed an infographic that demonstrated the high expectations shoppers have for websites. Specifically, a rising majority anticipated web sites to load in a matter of three seconds or less.

In the time since that knowledge was revealed, although, we’ve got case studies that show how critical this difficulty has develop into and what happens when an internet site fails to optimize for velocity or manages to exceed expectations.

Take the BBC, for example:

“At the BBC we’ve noticed that, for every additional second a page takes to load, 10 per cent of users leave.”

Pinterest, then again, has a terrific instance of what occurs whenever you improve website velocity:

“The result of rebuilding our pages for performance led to a 40 percent decrease in Pinner wait time, a 15 percent increase in SEO traffic and a 15 percent increase in conversion rate to signup.”

It’s not just information and social networks that may benefit from a lift in velocity either. Retailer Zitmaxx Wonen exhibits what happens when an internet site is particularly optimized for the cellular consumer:

“Zitmaxx Wonen achieved a maximum score of 100 on PageSpeed Insights, and a load time of 3 seconds on Test My Site… In addition to improving speed and accessibility, key business metrics have also improved since the launch of the updated mobile site: mobile conversion rates are up by 50.2%, while mobile revenue has increased by 98.7%.”

Once you improve the on-site expertise and enhance your engagement charges, your website’s search rating shall be immediately impacted as properly. In case you can reveal to Google that you’ve a well-built, well-written, and super fast web site, it’ll be enormously rewarded in search outcomes.

How to Measure Your WordPress Site Speed

For those who haven’t built your WordPress website but, there’s nothing to do exactly yet in terms of testing for website velocity. As soon as the location is completed, although, you’ll be able to run it via certainly one of a variety of instruments to see how properly you did to optimize performance.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of free web site velocity check tools you need to use to do this. Google, in fact, has its own, so it’s your decision to start there just to get a sense for how fast Google interprets your website to be.

This is Google PageSpeed Insights:

Just enter your area identify (or a page you think is operating more slowly than others) into the sector and click “Analyze”.

Google will then spit out a bunch of knowledge relating to how shortly your website loaded for Cellular and Desktop. Make sure to click on by means of each tabs to discover how properly your website performs in your totally different audiences.

Then, scroll down to see how you probably did in terms of optimizations.

PageSpeed Insights Analysis

Different website velocity testing tools will produce comparable stories. That stated, it’s nonetheless a good suggestion to run your web site by way of no less than two of them. Right here’s GTmetrix, for example:


In contrast to Google that splits out cellular and desktop speeds, GTmetrix splits out exams with outcomes and proposals from PageSpeed Insights and YSlow.

GTmetrix analysis

It’s also possible to verify the waterfall analysis to see which particular elements of your website are inflicting probably the most drag on website velocity.

Unnecessary to say, there’s so much to think about right here. Your aim, nevertheless, ought to be to find the location velocity testing tools that work greatest for you and that provide ideas in a means that make sense.

Optimize Your WordPress Site Speed in 2019

A variety of what those website velocity testing instruments advocate is going to appear to be technical jargon, which is okay. For many of those optimizations, you don’t really need to understand how to code the backend of an internet site.

With this record of 26 website velocity optimizations, you’ll see that the majority of this can be finished with WordPress settings, plugins, and dependable webhosting.

#1: Net Internet hosting

Earlier than you do anything, take a look at your website hosting. In case your web site isn’t sitting atop server infrastructure from a dependable website hosting firm, which may very properly be the supply of your website velocity points.

Belongings you need to search for when evaluating the standard of your webhosting plan are:

  • SSD storage
  • PHP
  • Apache
  • Server-side caching
  • Nginx
  • Load balancing

Another thing to search for is the place their server amenities are situated.

Take, for example, managed WordPress internet hosting from Flywheel:

Flywheel Servers

They’ve numerous knowledge facilities everywhere in the world. Some hosting corporations, nevertheless, aren’t as transparent about the place websites are served from, which might be problematic if the server is just too distant from your goal customer. It’s not just a heavy website that may harm velocity; physical distance can, too.

So, in case your net host doesn’t have info out there about where their servers are situated or you’re nervous that your website is being served from one too distant, attain out to their help. They could give you the chance to put you on a greater plan or transfer your website to a better server.

#2: CDN

Now, in the event you discover that your webhosting is ok sufficient as is, however website speeds are still hurting, your subsequent move is perhaps to purchase a content delivery network (or CDN). Actually, in the event you’ve constructed an e-commerce website and you’re hoping to attain a worldwide viewers, this shouldn’t be a debate. You most definitely need a CDN.

A CDN is kind of like website hosting, except that it can’t stay by itself. You have got to layer a CDN on prime of a website hosting server. It then magnifies your server network, so you not have to fear about vast distances separating your visitors from where your website lives on the server.

So, let’s use the example from Flywheel. There are seven server places from which an internet site may be hosted, in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Here’s what happens if you add a content delivery network like the one from Cloudflare on prime of that:


Your web site then lives in over 165 knowledge centers concurrently — and on all continents. Which means someone making an attempt to buy your merchandise in Russia wouldn’t have to wait anymore for a server in Singapore or Amsterdam to deliver your web site. The distance would enormously shrink and your international clients would see your content material exponentially quicker.

Earlier than you go researching a CDN, although, examine together with your website hosting firm to see if you will get one added to your plan. Many shared hosting plans embrace a free CDN add-on choice. And most hosting corporations will at the very least supply a CDN as an improve whereas additionally taking good care of installing it for you.

#three: Caching

Discover how there’s a number of emphasis positioned on the bodily distance between hosting servers and visitors. Nevertheless, that’s not the only factor that slows down an internet site’s loading occasions.

Your web site accumulate numerous information over its lifetime. Information for page content material. Information for every image. Information for all the code. And so on. The bigger an internet site turns into, the more processing energy is required to handle all of it.

This is the reason caching is a vital course of for every website.

What caching does is save a static HTML copy of an internet web page and deliver that to visitors as an alternative of the handfuls or a whole lot of information it might otherwise have to process. As you possibly can imagine, this accelerates loading occasions in your guests’ browsers an excellent deal.

Plus, so long as the content remains unchanged, the cached web page will continue to be sent to guests’ browsers over a set time period. For those who’ve built an internet site that doesn’t change each day, caching is incredibly useful in retaining speeds excessive.

When it comes to how to implement this, you’ll need two tools:

1. Your website hosting plan wants to embrace server-side caching. If there’s no mention of “cache” or “caching” in your options listing, it’s time to discover a new one.

You may also want to see in case your host provides Varnish caching. This can be a caching mechanism that lives on the HTTP-level, so it really works like a reverse proxy. Principally, it evaluations visitors before it has a chance to hit your net server and scales up your assets to guarantee you possibly can correctly handle all of it.

Useless to say, this is actually useful for e-commerce web sites and others with giant quantities of visitors.

2. A WordPress caching plugin will deal with the opposite forms of caching:

  • Browser – This encourages your visitors’ particular person browsers to maintain a replica of the online page in case they return to it.
  • Web page – This caches an internet site on a page-by-page foundation. When individual pages change, the cache clears and begins once more.
  • Gravatar – If your weblog accepts feedback from Gravatar customers, the loading of their avatars takes time, so one of these caching stores that content material for repeat commenters.
  • Object, Fragment, Database, and Memcache – There are items of knowledge behind the scenes of your web site that profit from caching as properly. Some plugins offer you full control over these caching choices.

That is an example of caching controls from W3 Complete Cache:

W3 Total Cache

Activate your plugin, configure the cache settings you need to use, and then depart it to do its job. There’s nothing to manage here.

One of the different advantages of utilizing a WordPress caching plugin is that they sometimes embrace different efficiency optimizations. We’re going to speak about them subsequent.

#4: Minification

All the code that sits behind your website takes up area and processing power on your server. Whereas writing lean and clean code is essential for protecting a WordPress website as light-weight as potential, you possibly can only go to date with it.

Fortunately, many WordPress caching plugins embrace an choice for minifying your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript information.


This effectively compresses your information down to a more affordable measurement.

#5: Combine Code

Compressing the dimensions of your JavaScript and CSS information isn’t the one factor you are able to do. You can too mix your whole JavaScript information and all your CSS information right into a single file. WP Quickest Cache is a caching plugin that makes it very easy to do this.

Combine Code

#6: Gzip Compression

One other type of compression known as Gzip compression.

Gzip Compression

As an alternative of just taking a look at your code, although, Gzip compression compresses content information.

In case you have an internet site that updates steadily, these kinds of compression and file mixture methods help improve loading speeds even if the web page can’t be cached in the mean time.

#7: HTTP/2

As it seems, the unique HTTP protocol (now often known as HTTP/1) wasn’t as environment friendly as it might have been. In recent times, HTTP/2 was released as an enchancment to HTTP/1:

“HTTP/2 enables a more efficient use of network resources and a reduced perception of latency by introducing header field compression and allowing multiple concurrent exchanges on the same connection… Specifically, it allows interleaving of request and response messages on the same connection and uses an efficient coding for HTTP header fields. It also allows prioritization of requests, letting more important requests complete more quickly, further improving performance.”

As increasingly more shoppers and businesses flock to the online, it’s turn out to be completely important that we all make the change to HTTP/2.

That stated, there isn’t actually anything you can do to make this change, aside from work with a hosting company that mechanically locations its web sites on this modern and quick protocol.

Bluehost is one such host that does this:

Bluehost HTTP:2

#8: Server Tech

There are a selection of items of know-how and software in your server that require regular upkeep.

PHP, as an example, is the scripting language used by nearly all of web sites immediately. In accordance to W3Techs, 79% of the online presently makes use of PHP:

PHP Usage

Like different net applied sciences, although, it’s not sufficient to use any previous model of PHP. Your WordPress website should all the time use the newest and biggest version of PHP. This ensures that you simply’re taking advantage of your efficiency optimizations.

When you’re not sure of which version your WordPress website runs on, examine inside your management panel for details. For example, Bluehost not only offers a snapshot with this info, its WordPress management panel lets users improve if they’re not utilizing the newest version of PHP.

Bluehost PHP Versions

Apache is an internet server software program commonly used by net hosts. Like PHP, it needs to be updated to hold server performances high. This, nevertheless, you don’t have management over. As an alternative, you’ll want to ensure you’re working with an internet host that prioritizes the optimization of its Apache servers.

For example, Bluehost lately knowledgeable clients that it was doing just that:

Bluehost Apache

One different piece to maintain up to date is your server database know-how.

In case your website is on shared or cloud hosting, you in all probability gained’t give you the option to upgrade your MySQL or MariaDB. You need to a minimum of have the ability to affirm which model your WordPress website is using though. If the knowledge isn’t out there in your management panel, reach out to your hosting help and inquire about upgrading the tech.

#9: WordPress Updates

With the hosting stuff out of the best way, it’s time to take a look at what extra you can do inside WordPress to velocity up your website.

The first place to begin is by making a system for managing your WordPress updates.

WordPress Updates

As you possibly can see in the picture above, your WordPress dashboard will let you already know as soon as updates can be found to:

  • The WordPress core
  • Put in plugins
  • Installed themes

There’s various causes a developer may push an replace out for his or her WordPress software. It might be to fix a bug or safety situation. It could possibly be to add new options. Or it could possibly be to improve performance problems. Both means, you need to have a course of in place that ensures you keep on prime of issuing these updates once they’re ready. WordPress will maintain probably the most crucial safety updates for you, however it’s your duty to handle all the relaxation.

You will have two choices in this case.

The first is to manually make the update from your WordPress dashboard like so:

Manual Update

Or you should use a device that automates the process for you. There are WordPress plugins like Straightforward Updates Manager that enable you to automate all updates.

Automatic Updates

Simply watch out. While it might save you time from having to verify on updates and do them your self, there is a small risk that a future update might forestall sure features from working or break your website totally. When you can, it’s greatest to handle these by yourself.

#10: WordPress Theme

The high quality and measurement of WordPress themes might be problematic for WordPress, too. While WordPress does vet the standard of code before it permits a theme to present up in its repository, there’s a cause why plugins and themes are often up to date.

WordPress Theme Repository

Now, until you’re a skilled coder or theme developer, it’s unlikely that you simply’ll give you the option to poke around the theme to assess its quality. Nevertheless, you should use two issues to allow you to make this judgment.

The first is consumer critiques. They’re out there in the WordPress repository as well as in theme marketplaces like ThemeForest. Seize a handful of evaluations and see if anyone has had issues with the theme slowing down their website. In that case, find another one to use.

Also, take a look at what comes with the theme. For instance, there are some premium themes that come jam-packed with templates, plugins, builder instruments, and add-ons from third events. In the event you don’t have a use for them, you shouldn’t install a theme package deal of that measurement in your server. It’s a waste of area and a drain in your assets. So, select correctly.

#11: Cellular-friendly Design

Nowadays, it’s near unimaginable to find a WordPress theme that isn’t responsive in design. That stated, you continue to have a duty to your cellular users to customize your website in a approach that’s mobile-friendly.

Should you go back to the velocity testing software, you’ll see that the identical website will register totally different scores for desktop and cellular. That’s because cellular can’t deal with web sites the same method the larger screens on desktops can.

As such, if you would like to make sure that speeds are excessive throughout all units, you’ll need to create a customized design strictly for cellular customers. This means chopping down on nice-to-have-but-not-necessary design parts or sections (like pop-ups or advertisements), decreasing the numbers of photographs used, and making pages shorter.

When you can’t do this with WordPress alone, you can do this when you use a page builder device.

As an example, this is where Elementor provides designers the option to cover certain parts from cellular customers:

Elementor Responsive

In addition, page builders give you the capacity to check your designs in cellular previews:

Elementor Mobile View

This provides you an opportunity to take the website for a spin as a cellular consumer and see if there’s any part of the web page that doesn’t load shortly or if the length itself is too much for such a small display.

#12: WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are great as a result of they help even the least tech-savvy consumer construct advanced features into an internet site. However plugins endure from comparable efficiency issues as themes, which may make it tough to use them.

WordPress Plugins

Right here’s what you need to do to affirm your plugins gained’t harm velocity:

  1. All the time examine the evaluations of any plugin you want to use. Again, if there are recognized efficiency issues, plenty of individuals could have chimed in already.
  1. See how many people have put in the plugin. If there are beneath 5,000 customers, you might want to find a extra established alternative. This doesn’t mean that newer plugins aren’t value making an attempt out. Nevertheless, it’s an enormous danger to take in the event you don’t understand how the plugin affects website performance.
  1. Solely use the plugins you completely want. If any of them overlap in terms of performance, eliminate one among them. The fewer plugins you’ve put in, the higher.
  1. Take a look at your net host’s listing of banned plugins. Here’s a snippet of Kinsta’s listing:

Kinsta Banned Plugins

Typically plugins seem on these lists because the host know the plugin to be dangerous or outdated they usually don’t need users to unknowingly taint their web site with it.

There are also some plugins that tend to be an enormous drain on web sites due to how many exterior scripts they call (e.g. plugins for external analytics or social media have issues with this).

There are different occasions when a plugin will do the same actual factor that your webhosting does, which makes the plugin pointless.

So, see what your net host says when you’re on the fence a few plugin.

#13: Unused Software

Schedule time in your calendar a couple of occasions a yr to assessment your record of themes and plugins.

WordPress Plugin List

Are there any which might be put in, however not activated? Until you will have plans to use them tomorrow, they shouldn’t be sitting there, taking over area in your server.

Inactive plugins and themes additionally require updates simply as your lively ones do. So, that signifies that when you fail to replace them when there’s a recognized performance or safety flaw, you can be placing your website at risk.

To keep this from occurring, go in and delete any plugins or themes you’re not utilizing.

#14: Database

Whereas we’re with reference to cleanup, your database might use some cleansing too.

Each time you install a brand new plugin or theme, add a new consumer, obtain a brand new comment, and so forth, your database logs it. And each of those information add up. To keep your net server from having to course of each one in every of these, it is best to hold your information clean.

Whenever you work on your scheduled plugin and theme cleanup, make a while for this as nicely. All you could have to do is set up a database cleanup plugin like WP-Optimize.


It should go through and clear out unused or unnecessary knowledge while also optimizing the remainder of your database for velocity.

#15: Unused Content material Information

Another place that’s going to need ongoing cleaning is your content:

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Media
  • Comments
  • Tasks
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Merchandise

When was the final time you appeared via your content material?

Delete Unused Content

There may be previous drafts you gained’t ever publish. Or really previous, outdated content that serves no function at this time. Feedback, classes, and tags can get especially messy in the event you don’t control them.

Customers fall into this class as properly. Go through your consumer record and ensure solely the people who ought to have access to the location still do. The relaxation may be deleted.

#16: WordPress Blog

Upon establishing a brand new installation of WordPress, there are a selection of default settings for the page the place you display your posts (your weblog or house web page). This is how WordPress units it up for you:

Default Reading Settings

If left as is, your posts web page will turn out to be excessively lengthy as each of the 10 posts would wish to load in full.

As an alternative, you must regulate these settings to an inexpensive amount. A limit of 5 to 8 submit summaries would work properly.

#17: Submit and Page Revisions

Each time you hit the “Save” button on a page or publish, it saves a replica of the previous model in your server. You’ll be able to override this setting and put a restrict on what number of revisions are saved, however it requires some coding in the wp-config.php file.

Should you’re not snug doing this, you should use your database optimization plugin (WP-Optimize or WP-Sweep) to clear out extra revisions every couple of months.

#18: Comments

Usually, comments in WordPress aren’t prolonged discourses. Nevertheless, it’s not likely the dimensions of the comments that issues to performance. It’s the quantity of feedback each of your posts receives.

Comparable to how you employ the Studying Settings to break up long publish pages, you want to use the Dialogue Settings to break up lengthy feedback sections:

WordPress Comments

By default, WordPress will depart remark boards open for 14 days and store 50 comments on every page. That’s an excessive amount of.

Update the timeframe to hold comment submissions underneath management — this may also encourage readers to touch upon subjects which are timely as an alternative of ones which are previous and out of circulation.

Scale back the full numbers of feedback allowed per page to 10.

One final thing to do right here is disable pingbacks and trackbacks. These are notifications you receive when somebody shares a hyperlink to your weblog on their web site. They could appear crucial, however they only add extra knowledge to your server. As an alternative, set up a Google Alert if you would like to keep on prime of who’s mentioning your model or web site.

#19: Picture Resizing

Pictures are one of many worst offenders when it comes to compromising website performance. But they don’t have to be.

The first thing to do to get your photographs beneath control is to resize them earlier than uploading to WordPress.

Image resizing will scale back the size of your picture to one that higher matches your web site. That method, in case your website routinely sizes pictures to 150 px, 300 px, and 1024 px extensive, you gained’t be losing processor power on resizing.

Media Settings

You need to use any number of instruments to do this. Your design software program may help, although free picture resizing instruments work simply as properly.


ResizeImage is an effective one to attempt. It also permits you to compress your photographs and convert them to other file varieties.

#20: Picture Compression

Picture compression, then again, shrinks down picture file sizes. This manner, the server can more efficiently process and ship the picture to your guests’ browser screens.

You possibly can definitely run photographs by means of an internet image compressor device, however there are a selection of picture optimization plugins for WordPress that may automate this for you.

Here’s an example of what the free Smush plugin can do:


#21: Lazy Loading

For those who’ve ever hung out taking a look at a warmth map or display recording of your web site, you might be stunned by how few individuals truly make all of it the best way down your pages. When you’ve got pictures on the backside, although, your server continues to be going to take time to load them which may find yourself being a waste of assets if nobody sees them.

That’s what lazy loading is for.

Primarily, your server stops loading all image belongings the second somebody arrives on an internet web page. As an alternative, it only masses them as the customer scrolls down to these elements of the page; thus, conserving your assets and rushing up loading occasions.

The WP-Optimize plugin has a setting that permits you to flip this on.

#22: Hotlinks

It’s all the time great when someone likes your website sufficient to hyperlink again to it. What’s not so nice, although, is once they like your photographs a lot that they determine to pull them immediately from your server.

To make clear, this doesn’t imply somebody right-clicked a picture out of your website and saved it to their drive. Or that they took a screenshot. Which means they’re using a link to the image file in your server to load it on their very own web site. So, every time somebody views the online web page the place that hotlinked image lives, your server has to do the work of loading it; not theirs.

To stop this from occurring, disable hotlinks using your safety plugin.

#23: Movies and Audio Information

Video and audio belongings have a tendency to be much heavier than pictures. Though your web site won’t use as lots of them, they will still trigger critical points in your website velocity in case you don’t add them to a web page correctly.

In contrast to photographs that can be uploaded as media, all video and audio information must be stored on an exterior drive.

Probably the most widespread methods to do this is to add movies to YouTube or Vimeo and them embed with a shortcode on the web page. This manner, when the web page masses, your server doesn’t have to fear about pulling that video asset up. The video storage service does all the work.

With drag-and-drop builders — including WordPress’s new Gutenberg editor — all you’ve gotten to do is add a block for video or audio and then present a link:

Elementor Video

#24: AJAX Cart Fragments

There are a selection of the way in which our plugins create additional work for the server. As already talked about, plugins like analytics and social media make regular requests to exterior providers which requires your server to work repeatedly to process those updates.

The similar factor occurs if you depart AJAX cart fragments enabled in WooCommerce.

WooCommerce AJAX

When enabled, customers instantly see their new merchandise added to the cart icon in the nook of the location. Whereas it’s a nice function to have, e-commerce websites with plenty of activity and sales are going to put their servers into overdrive in the event that they depart them on.

As an alternative, turn off the AJAX cart fragments and allow the redirect choice. This manner, your buyers gained’t be confused if the new item doesn’t show up in the cart. They’ll be redirected to the cart page where they will see it for themselves.

#25: Consumer Knowledge

Whether or not your website gathers consumer knowledge from e-commerce gateways, contact types, reservation tools, or something else, it’s a good idea not to store that consumer knowledge in your WordPress website and server.

This is true both for the efficiency aspect of issues as well as the safety piece. By protecting consumer knowledge in a distant and secure location, you’ll conserve area in your server whereas additionally protecting it out of hurt’s approach if a hacker have been to find their approach inside your website.

#26: Security

There’s another means in which safety and efficiency intertwine.

When talking about Varnish caching, I famous how it worked as a reverse proxy. Safety firewalls work in an identical method. They sit on prime of a server and website, reviewing customer requests as they come in. If a famous hacker is detected or the firewall otherwise suspects the intent to be malicious, it’ll block that consumer from ever getting to the server or web site.

Your brute drive safety measures do something comparable, except that they hold dangerous users from getting into the login web page of your website.

Either approach, it’s these kinds of safety protections that scale back the quantity of dangerous guests from touching your website. As this dangerous visitors is decreased, your server has extra power to deal with the great guests, which, in turn, improves your velocity.

Speed Guidelines

It’d look like a variety of additional work to do to optimize a WordPress website for velocity (especially after spending all that time designing it), nevertheless it’s not as dangerous because it seems to be. With a small handful of tools, a dependable net host, and a repeatable process for efficiency optimization, you ought to be in a position to implement all of those website velocity fixes in little or no time.

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