Are you frustrated by your slow WordPress site? Do you routinely receive emails from your user base complaining about the site speed? Fortunately there are many ways to speed up a WordPress website. There isn’t one magic bullet to solve all problems, but a combination of the below will get your site up to speed in no time.
First, find where you stand
Before diving in, it is a good idea to determine just how slow your site is. There are many tools out there to help give you an objective view. Some examples include GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. These tools will give you some information regarding your site’s performance. Some of the information may appear to be quite arcane and it is best to have a developer go over the results with you. It is also fun to compare your site with some of your personal favorite sites, and you may be surprised by how closely your site matches them.
WordPress Hosting is a big factor
Before even diving into your WordPress site, consider your hosting environment. If you are on a very “budget friendly” hosting plan, you may have a very low ceiling for performance. It is best to have a hosting environment optimized for WordPress, and one that has a support staff willing to make changes to your environment to suit your needs. For example, all WordPress websites should be using PHP 7 for a variety of reasons. If your current host is using PHP 5 and is unwilling to upgrade your site, you should plan to find a new host ASAP.
Consider using a content delivery network for your WordPress site
Much like server infrastructure, a content delivery network (CDN) can vastly increase performance without changing anything about your site. Setting up a CDN is relatively easy and typically does not cost much. The upside is a faster WordPress site regardless of where your visitors may be. For more information about CDNs visit our discussion about them.
Use a WordPress caching plugin
The next step in speeding up your site is to use a caching plugin. There are a large number of plugins out there, so you should definitely do your homework before committing to one. If possible, use a development site and experiment with different plugins and configuration settings to see what works best for your site. Our favorite is LiteSpeed caching, but it assumes your hosting service is set up to accommodate it.
Evaluate your WordPress plugins and themes
Not all plugins and themes are created equal. Some may be rather inefficient and will take up a lot of resources no matter what else you are doing to speed up your WordPress site. While replacing plugins and especially themes may be drastic, there are cases where that is the best option. If you are struggling to improve your speed and nothing seems to be working, you may want to have a developer audit your theme and plugin selection.
Keep up the good work with a WordPress performance plan
If you finally have your site’s speed to a satisfactory level, don’t quit there. The best way to make sure your site is in optimal health is to systematically check the site on a monthly basis. We strongly recommend a disciplined Security and Performance plan for all our clients. It keeps the site from falling back into bad habits.
The best plan is a combination of all of the above. If you are struggling on your own, don’t hesitate to contact us for an appraisal of your site.