Speed up your WordPress website – The Ultimate Guide (Overview)

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speed up your wordpress website

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Speed for your WordPress website is critical. You can lose 7% of your website traffic every 1 second it takes to load your homepage.

Don’t let it happen to you

Picture yourself late at night in bed on your iPhone, and you are picking through how-to websites on how to fall asleep faster, and you get to a very promising headline, but you click the link, and you see a white background with a loading bar at the top. What do you do?

I know what I would do!

You go back to your search results and look for other websites.

How do you think the owner of that website feels that they didn’t get the opportunity to sell you their miracle method for falling asleep faster because their website took too long to load?

This is a direct impact on your business, and it happens a lot. If you want to take control of how to fix this for your website, keep reading. Otherwise, you can take advantage of Bauertech’s services to improve your website speed.

Start with your web host

Most people don’t realize this because web hosts have become so good at marketing bad products. But a lot of web hosts are actually just regurgitated from one single conglomerate. And what’s worse is that conglomerate cares nothing about website performance.

You need to start with your web host. Picture your website stored as a book on a bookshelf within a library. Would you rather be the only book on the shelf? Or have thousands of other books jammed into your shelf, forcing the person looking for your book to take forever to find it?

Cheap hosting will do nothing but cost you the speed of your WordPress website.

In my early and naive years, I had many clients come to me with the cheapest GoDaddy or Bluehost web hosting plan paying only $50-$100 per year and expecting to see 1-2 second load times.

To paint a picture, I pay $50 per month for Cloudways leveraging a Digital Ocean server and then pay an additional $20 per month for Cloudflare Pro CDN to obtain my subsecond load time!

I know it’s harsh to hear sometimes, but if you aren’t going to invest in your business website, especially if it is your only source of income, I don’t recommend following this guide as it requires further investment in both time and money.

How do I know if my web host is causing my website slow down?

You can run a free test for your website at GTMetrix.com. Simply enter your website URL into the search bar and click Analyze.

Once your report is done running, you can review the performance tab. On this tab, your web host is mostly responsible for time to first byte delays and contributes to speed index time. If those two items are high/red, you likely have a problem with your web host.

Skim the excess to speed up your WordPress website

One of the most surprising things that I hear from my clients is that cleaning up unused plugins and themes impacts the load time of their website.

Of course it does!

Think of your website as a computer; if you have too many applications installed, it’s going to take longer to turn on your computer. Every time someone visits your website is like turning on your computer.

Do your website a favor and keep your plugins and themes clean. Consolidate plugins with duplicate purposes and remove any that are not being used.

This is one of the easiest steps to speed up your WordPress website, it just takes a little discipline to keep up-to-date on it.

Cleanup and optimize your database

WordPress is a content management system. Every page, post, picture, everything is served through a database. So you can imagine that with any extra data, tables, or incorrect information, your website will be slow.

This is the one process that you can do with a free plugin. I recommend WP-Optimize. Add this plugin and follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Optimize menu.
  2. Make sure to install UpdraftPlus to capture a backup of your database prior to optimization.
  3. Check all boxes except for drafts and click Optimize. (This process will take around 15 minutes.)
  4. Go to the Tables tab
  5. Any table that has the “remove” next to it, validate that you do not have the plugin referenced installed, then click remove.
  6. Then deactivate and remove the WP-Optimize plugin.

This process will speed up your WordPress website. Our next step is looking at the use of scripts and stylesheets across your website.

Speed up your website by eliminating unused CSS or JS

WordPress plugins are developed independently, and sometimes, a plugin is not designed for speed performance. For example, Contact Form 7, one of the most popular contact form plugins for WordPress, loads its scripts on every page and blog post even if the contact form is not displayed on the page or post. That’s an extra 100kb per page that doesn’t need to be loaded.

Another example of this inefficiency is WP-Emoji. Even if you aren’t using emojis on your post or page, it loads the emojis for you. Eliminating this saves another request.

How can I eliminate unused CSS or JS to speed up my WordPress website?

There is a service plugin that has continually impressed me with its improvements. It will make the task of eliminating unused CSS and JS from your WordPress website very slick.

I would still recommend only proceeding with this next step if you are familiar with the backend design of WordPress CSS and JS.

This work will require a license of the Perfmatters plugin.

You need to enable the options one at a time, being sure you check after each setting for the impact on your website. Most settings are safe; some are not.

I would then enable the Script Manager and review each page’s CSS and JS. The easy yet time-consuming way of doing this is disabling a script or stylesheet and then reviewing the change on the page for any impact.

This is a 10,000-foot view, and there is too much here to cover in a single post. I am working on a post series that goes into each of these steps in greater depth.

The next important step is configuring caching and other optimizations captured using one of the best WordPress performance plugins: WP Rocket.

Install the best WordPress performance plugin

Some web servers offer caching services built-in, but caching alone is not what will speed up your WordPress website. WP Rocket is a premium plugin that provides tons of value for all of my clients, and you can now value from it as well!

A detailed guide for WP Rocket deployment is coming soon.

WP Rocket will help you in the following areas:

  • Minify your CSS and JS resources
  • Defer render-blocking JS
  • Lazy-load your images, videos, and iframes
  • Preload Pages, Fonts, and Links (on hover)
  • Prefetch external DNS domains
  • Combine JS and CSS into a single file

Optimize images in bulk

One of the other things my clients rarely realize is the size of their images matters. WordPress doesn’t have a built-in optimization process. And the platform makes it so easy for you to load any size picture and display it in any size.

On average, I save about 75% in image size on every website that I work on. That is lowering the amount of data that loads on every website I work on.

You can optimize your website images by using the best image optimization plugin out there: Imagify. It offers bulk optimization of 1GB of images for only $10. This takes care of most websites.

Watch your load time drop!

This post contains affiliate links for Bauertech’s recommended WordPress plugins, you pay no extra, but I earn a commission if you purchase the plugin using my link.

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