Do you want to speed up your WordPress site? Fast loading pages improve user experience, increase your pageviews, and help with your WordPress SEO. In this article, we will share the most useful WordPress speed optimization tips to boost WordPress performance and speed up your website.


Unlike other “X best WordPress caching plugin” lists or generic “X tips to speeding up WordPress” tutorials, this article is a comprehensive guide to WordPress performance optimization.
We include everything from why speed is important, what slows down your WordPress site to actionable steps that you can take to improve your WordPress speed immediately.
To make it easy, we have created a table of contents to help you navigate through our ultimate guide to speeding up your WordPress site.
Table of Contents
Basics of WordPress Performance
Why Speed is Important for your WordPress Site?
How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed?
What Slows Down Your WordPress Website?
Importance of Good WordPress Hosting
Speeding Up WordPress in Easy Steps (No Coding)
Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
Optimize Images for Speed
WordPress Performance Optimization Best Practices
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives
Split Comments into Pages
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Don’t Upload Videos Directly to WordPress
Use a Theme Optimized For Speed
Use a Faster Slider Plugin
Use a Faster Gallery Plugin
Fine-Tuning WordPress for Speed (Advanced)
Split Long Posts into Pages
Reduce External HTTP Requests
Reduce Database Calls
Optimize WordPress Database
Limit Post Revisions
Disable Hotlinking and Leeching of Your Content

Why Speed is Important for Your WordPress Site?

Studies show that from 2000 to 2016, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds.
What does this mean for you as a website owner?
You have very little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your website.
A slow website means users will potentially leave your website before it even loads.
According to a StrangeLoop case study that involved Amazon, Google, and other larger sites, a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.


On top of that, Google and other search engines have already started penalizing slower websites by pushing them down in the search results which means lower traffic for slow websites.
To sum it all up, if you want more traffic, subscribers, and revenue from your website, then you must make your WordPress website FAST!

How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed?

Often beginners think that their website is OK just because it doesn’t feel slow on their computer. That’s a HUGE mistake.
Since you frequently visit your own website, modern browsers like Chrome store your website in cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing an address. This makes your website load almost instantly.
However, a normal user who is visiting your website for the first time may not have the same experience.
In fact, users in different geographical locations will have a completely different experience.
This is why we recommend that you test your website speed using a tool like

Pingdom.

It is a free online tool that allows you to test your website’s speed from different locations.

After you run your website speed test, you might be wondering what’s a good website speed that I should aim for?
A good page load time is under 2 seconds.
However, the faster you can make it, the better it is. A few milliseconds of improvements here and there can add up to shaving off half or even a full second from your load time.

What Slows Down Your WordPress Website?

Your speed test report will likely have multiple recommendations for improvement. However most of that is technical jargon which is hard for beginners to understand.
However understanding what slows down your website is key to improving performance and making smarter long-term decisions.
The primary causes for a slow WordPress website are:
Web Hosting – When your web hosting server is not properly configured it can hurt your website speed.
WordPress Configuration – If your WordPress site is not serving cached pages, then it will overload your server thus causing your website to be slow or crash entirely.
Page Size – Mainly images that aren’t optimized for web.
Bad Plugins – If you’re using a poorly coded plugin, then it can significantly slow down your website.
External scripts – External scripts such as ads, font loaders, etc can also have a huge impact on your website performance.
Now that you know what slows down your WordPress website, let’s take a look at how to speed up your WordPress website.

Importance of Good WordPress Hosting

Your WordPress hosting service plays an important role in website performance. A good shared hosting provider like BlueHost or Siteground take the extra measures to optimize your website for performance.
However, on shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. This means that if your neighboring site gets a lot of traffic, then it can impact the entire server performance which in turn will slow down your website.
On the other hand, using a managed WordPress hosting service give you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting companies also offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website.
We recommend WPEngine as our preferred managed WordPress hosting provider. They’re also the most popular one in the industry. (See our special WPEngine coupon).
For enterprise WordPress hosting, we recommend using Pagely because they’re the best in business.

Speeding Up WordPress in Easy Steps (No Coding)

We know that making changes to your website configuration can be a terrifying thought for beginners, especially if you’re not a tech-geek.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone. We have helped thousands of WordPress users improve their WordPress performance.
We will show you how you can speed up your WordPress site with just a few clicks (no coding required).
If you can point-and-click, you can do this!

Install a WordPress Caching Plugin

WordPress pages are “dynamic.” This means they’re built on the fly every time someone visits a post or page on your website. To build your pages, WordPress has to run a process to find the required information, put it all together, and then display it to your user.
This process involves a lot of steps, and it can really slow down your website when you have multiple people visiting your site at once.
That’s why we recommend every WordPress site use a caching plugin. Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2x to 5x faster.
Here’s how it works: Instead of going through the whole page generation process every time, your caching plugin makes a copy of the page after the first load, and then serves that cached version to every subsequent user.

As you can see in the graphics above, when a user visits your WordPress site, which is built using PHP, your server retrieves information from a MySQL database and your PHP files, and then it’s all put together into a HTML content which is served served to the user. It’s a long process, but you can skip a lot of it when you use caching instead.
There are a lot of caching plugins available for WordPress, but we recommend using the WP Super Cache plugin. Check out our step by step guide on how to install and setup WP Super Cache on your WordPress site. It’s not difficult to set up, and your visitors will notice the difference.
Note: If you’re using a managed WordPress hosting provider, then you don’t need a caching plugin because they take care of it for you.

Optimize Images for Speed


Images bring life to your content and help boost engagement. Researchers have found that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content.
But if your images aren’t optimized, they could be hurting more than helping. In fact, non-optimized images are one of the most common speed issues we see on beginner websites.
Before you upload a photo directly from your phone or camera, we recommend that you use photo editing software to optimize your images for web.
In their original formats, these photos can have huge file sizes. But based on the image file format and the compression you choose in your editing software, you can decrease your image size by up to 5x.
At WPBeginner, we only use two image formats: JPEG and PNG.
Now you might be wondering: what’s the difference?
Well, PNG image format is uncompressed. When you compress an image it loses some information, so an uncompressed image will be higher quality with more detail. The downside is that it’s a larger file size, so it takes longer to load.
JPEG, on the other hand, is a compressed file format which slightly reduces image quality, but it’s significantly smaller in size.
So how do we decide which image format to choose?
If our photo or image has a lot of different colors, then we use JPEG.
If it’s a simpler image or we need a transparent image, then we use PNG.
The majority of our images are JPEGs.
Below is a comparison chart of the file sizes and different compression tool that we could have used for the StrangeLoop image used above.

As you can see in the chart, the image format you use can make a HUGE difference on your website performance.
For details on exactly how to optimize your images using Photoshop and other popular editing tools, without sacrificing quality, see our step by step guide on how to save images optimized for web.

WordPress Performance Optimization Best Practices

After installing a caching plugin and optimizing your images, you’ll notice your site will start loading a lot faster.
But if you really want to keep your website as fast as possible, you’ll need to use the best practices listed below.
These tips aren’t too technical, so you don’t need to know any code to implement them. But using them will prevent common problems that will slow down your website.

Keep Your WordPress Site Updated


As a well maintained open source project, WordPress is updated frequently. Each update will not only offer new features, but also fix security issues and bugs. Your WordPress theme and plugins may have regular updates, too.
As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins updated to the latest versions. Not doing so may make your site slow and unreliable, and make you vulnerable to security threats.
For more details on the importance of updates, see our article on why you should always use the latest WordPress version.

Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives


By default, WordPress displays the full content of each article on your homepage and archives. This means your homepage, categories, tags, and other archive pages will all load slower.
Another disadvantage of showing full articles on these pages is that users don’t feel the need to visit the actual article. This can reduces your pageviews, and the time your users spend on your site.
In order to speed up your loading times for archive pages, you can set your site to display excerpts instead of the full content.
You can navigate to Settings » Reading and select “For each article in a feed, show: Summary” instead of “Full Text.”

For more details on the pros and cons of displaying summaries, see our article on
full post vs summary (excerpt) in your WordPress archive pages.

Disable Hotlinking and Leaching of Your Content


If you’re creating quality content on your WordPress site, then the sad truth is that it’ll probably get stolen sooner or later.
One way this happens is when other websites serve your images directly from their URLs on your website, instead of uploading them to their own servers. In effect, they’re stealing your web hosting bandwidth, and you don’t get any traffic to show for it.
Simply add this code to your .htaccess file to block hotlinking of images from your WordPress site.
#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?wpbeginner.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]
Note: Don’t forget to change wpbeginner.com with your own domain.
You may also want to check our article showing 4 ways to prevent image theft in WordPress.
Some content scraping websites automatically create posts by stealing your content from your RSS feed. You can check out our guide on preventing blog content scraping in WordPress for ways to deal with automated content theft.

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