Speeding up your WordPress site is one of the easiest ways to improve engagement.
By making your WP site load faster, you’ll find your visitors reading more articles, commenting more, and even completing more checkouts.
Not to mention, Google has verified that their Core Web Vitals are used as a ranking factor, so optimizing your site can even help you rank higher and get more traffic.
I’m sure you’re excited to start, so here’s tactic #1 to speed up your WordPress site.
1. Choose a faster host
Switching to a faster host is the most effective way to improve your site’s performance.
With faster hosting, your site will connect more quickly and deliver all of its resources faster. In other words, you can stay on a low-quality host and optimize your site as much as possible, and it still won’t be that fast. On the other hand, if you switch to a higher-quality host, your site will load quickly, even if you haven’t done the best job optimizing it.
Generally speaking, “shared hosting” is slower than “managed hosting.” Some examples of shared hosting are Bluehost, Host Gator, and GoDaddy.
Managed WP hosting is much faster because you get dedicated resources for your site rather than sharing resources with dozens of other sites (hence the shared hosting name). Furthermore, there are hosts with more advanced infrastructure that can guarantee you better performance.
We use Rocket.net to host this site and recommend them to anyone looking for optimal WordPress performance.
2. Optimize your images
The next most important thing you can do to speed up your site is to optimize your images, and there are three ways to optimize them.
To speed up your images, you want to:
- Compress them
- Serve them with a CDN
- Resize them based on the visitor’s screen size
We use and recommend Optimole, which implements all three of these optimizations automatically.
The most powerful feature of Optimole is the way it serves perfectly scaled images. For example, imagine you add an image to a blog post that is 1000px wide, and let’s say the content area in the post is only 700px wide. It’s going to be scaled down to fit into the 700px space, but the image file itself is 1000px, making the file size unnecessarily large.
Now imagine someone visiting that same post on a mobile device, and for them, the content area is only 350px wide. Your 1000px wide image is way oversized and loads much slower than a 350px version would.
Optimole detects the exact size the image needs to be, generates a compressed copy of the image at that size, and then delivers that copy to the visitor. This means that you can add the 1000px wide image to your post, and when someone visits on a mobile device vs. a desktop device, they get a perfectly optimized 350px wide copy.
In terms of image optimization, this is perfection. Every visitor gets the most optimized images based on their device.
3. Stop loading analytics scripts
These resources slow down your site to the point that Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool warns you to optimize it!
For a long time, this was simply the cost of collecting analytics data, but there are now much better solutions available so you don’t need Google Analytics at all.
This is one of the reasons why we developed Independent Analytics.
Independent Analytics is a WordPress plugin, so it runs entirely on your site. This means that it doesn’t load any external files at all. In fact, it doesn’t load any local files either. It simply makes a REST API request to your own site to save the visit data, and that’s it.
This approach makes Independent Analytics a much more performant choice than Google Analytics and won’t impact your ability to score a perfect 100 score in PageSpeed Insights.
4. Add caching
Caching is a necessity for all WordPress websites.
Every time someone visits your site, WordPress needs to generate the page they’re viewing. This process takes time, and if you think about it, it’s incredibly redundant. Why use all these resources to regenerate the same page repeatedly? What if you generated the page once and then saved a copy to show to visitors?
Well, that’s exactly what caching does. It essentially delivers saved copies of your pages to visitors so that WordPress doesn’t have to generate each page from scratch every time someone visits.
Caching is one of the biggest performance boosts you can give your site, and it’s incredibly easy to implement too.
There are loads of free and paid plugins available to add caching, such as:
We like the WP Rocket plugin because of its additional optimizations, but any of these plugins can work well for your site.
5. Use a CDN
CDN stands for “Content Delivery Network.” It is essentially a network of servers located around the world, and the reason for their use might surprise you.
Believe it or not, your website loads slower for visitors who are geographically far away from your server. A CDN is a network of servers located all around the world that save cached copies of your site. This way, when someone visits your site, your site will be delivered from the closest CDN server, which shouldn’t be too far.
We use Rocket.net for hosting, which comes with built-in Cloudflare integration, but if your host doesn’t include this, you can signup for a free Cloudflare account to take advantage of their CDN and DDoS protection.
6. Minify your files
You’re probably familiar with image compression, but this may be the first time you’ve heard the term minification. Well, it’s not too different from image compression.
Minification is a technique for compressing text-based files, namely, CSS and JS files. Minification reduces the number of characters in the code via algorithmic optimizations and removes whitespace. This process considerably decreases the file size.
And just to be clear, decreasing the file size of a file means it can be transferred from your server to the visitor faster i.e. it makes your site load faster.
There are many performance optimization plugins that can implement file minification automatically for you. We like WP Rocket, but the Autoptimize plugin is also good.
This final performance optimization technique is also rather technical but easy for you to implement.
Basically, by delaying the JS files, your site appears to load faster, even though the total load time stays the same.
Once again, there are plugins that handle this optimization technique for you automatically, such as WP Rocket, which has a simple checkbox you can click to enable it.
Start optimizing today
Some of these techniques are very technical and might sound intimidating.
But thanks to the large network of WordPress developers, there are user-friendly plugins to implement every tactic without needing to understand the underlying technology.
If you’re interested in switching to Independent Analytics from Google Analytics, you can download a copy for free here:
You can measure your site’s performance before and after making the switch to confirm the improvements in load times.
If you have any feedback, you can post in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!