WordPress speed optimization guide

Do you know that over 33 percent of the internet is now powered by WordPress?

Talk about ruling the market!

While this is a great statistic for a newcomer to trust WordPress for their website, it also means that customisations are endless. Thousands of plugins, integrations and pages exist, all guiding you on choosing the best experience based on WordPress.

In this case, one needs to make sure that their choice does not turn into a nightmare. Adding unlimited features to the site results in slow loading time, and loss of traffic. Load times above 1-3 seconds are considered harmful for your website. Slow websites are not acceptable in today’s ecosystem, and they pose multiple threats to your business/blog. You must know the fundamental rules of troubleshooting and getting the site back on track.

Speedy site matters:

So, while WordPress has a reputation for turning heavy and slowing down your site, it does not have to be this way forever. Since WordPress is a CMS that is easy to get and website hosting is as cheap as $7 a month, people tend to go overboard with a lot of plugins (54k+ free plugins!) and themes that affect page load times.

However, there is no use spending time and effort on a site which turns away potential customers before a page even loads. No marketing or promotion can solve this grave issue. Having a fast website has so many benefits,

The most common ones being:

  • When the site loads fast, the bounce rate decreases
  • People want to visit your website again if they has a smooth and fast loading experience
  • Faster websites make people want to explore your pages more and make more transactions
  • Google analyzes the speed of your site and pushes your site higher in search rankings
  • User experience is a very importance feature of a website, which is enhanced by a fast website

Factors that slow down a WordPress site

In order to troubleshoot the load speed problem of your WordPress website, you need to find out what is causing the lag. Once you diagnose the problem, you can take performance optimization measures.

Here are some common reasons behind slow loading times:

An outdated plugin or theme:

This is the most common reason behind the slowing down of your website in WordPress. Make sure that all of your plugins and themes are updated often and running without errors. You can do it manually or rely on a team member to complete this task.

Site hosting:

Another common issue is website hosting. There are so many cheap hosting providers out there, making it difficult for a new site owner to choose the best one.

Since web hosting plays the most important part in speed optimization of your website, you should do some thinking before finalizing a host. Look for a provider with a great uptime record, that is the safest bet. Don’t go with companies that shy away from showing their past records.

Don’t go with hosting plans that have a low bandwidth and file size, as it slows down the website loading speeds because of little resourced on their web servers.

Image sizes:

This is a fact that site owners often overlook: poorly optimized images with large sizes slow down a website. These large files take long to load, and often annoy the end user because they keep buffering. You can change this error by compressing the image or changing the file size.

The best way to avoid future lag is to check image sizes before you are going to upload them, and make all editors follow the same route.

Some tips to optimize images include:

  • Use an editing software to keep the file sizes in check. PNG format is lighter than JPEG, so go for that format.
  • Don’t perform the hasty task of uploading heavy images and then scaling them with HTML, the browser will load initial file size
  • Don’t use too many images if not necessary
  • There are many plugins out there that can optimize past images and other media on your site.

Doing a speed test

While these thoughts linger on your mind and you think you have got the reason figured out, it is time to perform a speed test on the site. A WordPress speed test will give you a clear breakdown of what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed. You can either use a plugin or a third-party tool to find out site speed.

Here are some tools you can use to find out the speed of your WordPress website:


The first tool to try is the speed test on Pingdom website. Since many browsers store a copy of your website locally, many tests often turn out to be incorrect as the speed varies. Pingdom tests the speed of your website through algorithms that test your site from locations across the world. it gives the closes accurate result.

PageSpeed Insights:

Google has its own information hub for almost all queries around the web, and site speed is one of them. Google Developer’s Pagespeed Insights tool will test your website across multiple platforms, like desktop and mobile.

Once you have an analysis and a clear report, you can adopt measures to solve the loading issues.

How to speed up your WordPress site

Now, it is time to get to business. Keep in mind that speed optimization is a series of steps that you take, and not just a one-off command. Based on the latest speed optimization tips for 2019,

Here are the ways you can reduce load times:

Use a light theme:

You must have understood by now that catchy design is not above great user experience. If that gorgeous theme is the culprit behind slow loading times, you have to get rid of it or get the closest lightweight alternative.

Confused on how to pick a lightweight theme?

Here are some things you should check before clicking ‘install’:

  • Are theme files sizes small or large?
  • Is their HTML code optimized?
  • Is the theme bent towards minimalism or maximalism?
  • Is the theme based on Bootstrap or Genesis?

Don’t worry if you don’t know some terms mentioned above. You can consult with a technology expert or your in-house IT team to find these answers.

Reduce external HTTP requests:

Some plugins and themes come packed with lots of external scripts that call many resourced like JavaScript, CSS, fonts, etc.

Check the source code of your website, and if there are some scripts that you or your technical team cannot identify, it needs to be fixed. End as many external HTTP requests as you can to speed up the site. External requests are the culprit when they take too long to respond and even worse when they timeout. Eliminate this situation by getting rid of these scripts.

AMP Pages:

AMP pages are a necessity of 2019 and beyond. They are the new buzzword in SEO arena, and they matter for the speed of your site. These pages are meant for mobile, and once you have AMP, a page will load on mobile devices in milliseconds!

Higher load speeds and AMP pages are a surefire way to get into the good books of Google. Moreover, they also bring you more traffic from mobile users.

Cache your site:

Caching is a process that creates a temporary version of your site on a local server, so instead of loading repeatedly, the data is received from the local server. Another tip to greatly reduce load times is to cache the site. Browser caching can significantly improve the loading speed of your website.

A caching plugin is a must-have on all your sites, so you should look for a good caching plugin to support your WordPress website.

Some popular caching plugins are:

  • WP Rocket
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Super Cache

Use a content delivery network (CDN):

Traffic arrives on your website from all over the world. This global traffic means that load times will also be different. in order to have a load speed that is almost uniform across locations, you can use a CDN. A content delivery network makes copies of your website on servers around the world.

So, if a user visits the site from their country, a copy from the nearest server will load on their device, significantly reducing load times. Look for the CDN that suits your requirements and go for it. This tip only applies to websites that have a massive global appeal.

Last tip: internet connection

After you have gone through your speed test report, look for tips from above mentioned points to improve load speed. But, what if users still complain about slow loading times? We might have a last tip for you: maybe it is time to improve your internet connection?

Faster internet = faster load times, and just like every website is unique, this is also unique to every website owner.

All the points mentioned above will contribute towards WordPress speed optimization in one way or the other. If you still have questions or queries about your website’s loading speed, mention them in the comments section below.