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Best ways to speed up slow WordPress sites - 11 fixes

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Looking for easy ways to fix and optimize WordPress performance to make your site speed load faster?

Our how to fix a slow loading WordPress website to speed it up tutorial got your back!

Improving speed to make your website page loading time faster has a lot of benefits.

These benefits will lead to WordPress SEO improvement, a conversion rate that's high, hosting services savings, a faster admin panel, and many more.

The tips in this tutorial will present you with simple WordPress speed up optimization solutions you can implement to fix your slow site to speed up and increase its page loading time such as:

  • Upgrading to a specialized and fully managed WordPress hosting(recommend WP Engine & Kinsta)
  • Optimizing image size
  • Removing web fonts or optimizing them
  • Replace bloated plugins
  • Improving speed by enabling & optimizing cache properly
  • Boosting speed by switching to a free fast lightweight theme
  • and much more.

These are WordPress optimization techniques and tweaks we have tested and used to fix and speed up many slow websites.

Fix & Increase your WordPress Site Loading Time with 11 easy Speed improvement techniques.

1. Measure your WordPress loading time

To make your WordPress site faster you need to measure its loading time to see what is causing it to load slowly.

You can achieve these by using website testing tools like Gtmatrix, Webpagetest.org, Pingdom, etc.

These tools will give you insights onto what speed issues you need to fix.

2. Optimize third-party fonts

You need to remove or optimize web fonts like Google Fonts in your WordPress site if you are using them.

If you want to fix and increase your WordPress site loading speed you have to implement this optimization technique.

A lot of themes like Divi, the default WordPress themes, and others have these Google Fonts installed by default.

Google fonts and web fonts look nice but they are resource-intensive (one of the heaviest third-party scripts to load).

For example, with Google Fonts, a WordPress site stylesheet will make a lot of requests to fonts.googleapis.com and fonts.gstatic.com to download the fonts each time people load your web pages.

A request is typically generated for each font that your site uses.

Even though Google has a Google Font API that is cached, the problem is that the expiry time is low. So the cache is useless.

All these extra requests take time so this is why it impacts your WP speed performance.

The best solution is to use System fonts( this website is using them) aka Web Safe Fonts.

They are faster than any web font including the cached Google Fonts because they are on every user's device by default.

Because of this web browsers don't need to make any trip to download them before displaying the website.

Important: You will read or hear about the option to host the web fonts locally on your server, combine them with some plugins, and use plugins to extend some of the fonts expiry time.

None of those options work as good as just removing the web fonts. We usually see between 300 to 1 second shave off from fully load time whenever we remove web fonts.

3. Implement advanced image optimization

Another important tip is to optimize your image.

Using a lot of images in a WordPress site that was not size optimized (resizing and reducing pixels) will eventually create speed issues for your WordPress pages.

There are several ways to resolve this.

Option 1: You can use ShortPixel Image Optimizer to bulk optimize your images. We love it because it does the most size reduction.

Note: We found it to be the best plugin in resizing and compressing an image to the lowest size but it is a heavy plugin.

It creates a lot of wp_options and tables. And it impacts a WordPress loading time(go figure) negatively.

The trick is to delete it after using it and delete the leftover tables & options from your database using Advanced Database Cleaner Pro.

To resize future image uploads, try using one of these super lightweight plugins, Imsanity, or Resize Image After Upload by ShortPixel. Just search for them in the WordPress plugin directory.

Option B: You can also optimize your images using offline tools like PicResize to resize and ShortPixel.com to compress.

This option will require you to re-upload the same images after optimizing them offline. If you have a lot of images this is time intensive.

To do this without losing the same image file name which may impact that image's ranking in the search engines, make sure to use Enable Media Replace plugin(this plugin replaces an image or file in your Media Library by uploading a new file in its place without you losing the original file or image title and URL).

4. Get fully managed WP hosting

A how to optimize a WordPress site with slow loading time tutorial won't be complete without mentioning how a bad hosting server or plan might be the root cause of WordPress website speed issues.

WordPress when not hosted on a fast and secure server usually leads to all kinds of security and speed issues.

So consider looking into fully hosted WP hosting providers like WPENGINE or Kinsta.

WordPress needs special hosting care, especially, for beginners or those who don't want to spend time dealing with technical stuff.

The above-mentioned companies only host WordPress sites and have premium tech and customer support teams.

They host their client's sites on higher tier(premium) Google Cloud Platform containers that are super fast and more secure.

Super Important: A lot of hosting companies including Siteground claim to be on Google Cloud but most using the cheaper and lower tier that's slower and not robust like premium cloud platform used by WP Engine & Kinsta so be aware of that.

5. Fix & improve database bloat

Most WordPress sites use relational database management systems like MySql or MariaDB to store all the site's data and contents.

The problem is that some of the database storage can get bloated easily or not work properly. This will affect performance and server speed.

By deleting, optimizing, and repairing some of the tables stored improves speed.

This can be achieved with Advanced Database Cleaner Pro.

There're free ones but they are not as robust as the above-mentioned plugin.

However, it doesn't matter which database cleaner you use, if you don't know which files to delete and optimize you will break your website.

You read that right. Consider getting an expert to help you with this.

6. Enable WordPress caching

Another solution is to enable caching or improve the settings of an existing one.

They help to make a site load faster by storing certain elements in the cache so that when you go back to the site it will load faster.

When you enable cache in the server and browser with the right time expiry your site will definitely load faster.

You can use plugins like WP Super Cache to do this.

But if you are with companies like WP Engine and Kinsta, you won't need a plugin since they do all caching on their server(complete server cache is usually better).

Please note that some managed WordPress hosting companies like WPENGINE and Kinsta doesn't require a plugin for caching.

They do all caching on the server level which is best.

7. CDN for faster loading time

Just enabling CDN is not a substitute for a no or badly-optimized WordPress site.

It is a band-aid if your site's theme or plugins are bloated, bad hosting server, the database is not cleaned and optimized regularly, etc.

However, CDNs are helpful, especially for websites with a lot of traffic and/or get traffic from all over the world.

Some of the CDN providers to consider using are, Cloud CDN and KeyCDN.

8. Use fast lightweight plugins

WordPress plugins are awesome but will cause all kinds of performance issues if you install the wrong ones.

Besides speed problems, they also cause security issues.

Most plugins are badly coded for speed. Especially the premium and popular plugins are bloated.

They are popular because of heavy promotion by a lot of affiliate marketers(there's nothing wrong with affiliate marketing, it is just that a lot of them only mention tools that will pay them commission even if they suck).

So make sure that you delete slow plugins and replace them with fast lightweight ones.

How do you achieve this?

You can achieve this by using tools like Plugintests.com and WPhive.com.

These two websites above will let you know the weight, memory, and speed impact of any plugin.

So use them to test existing plugins on your site. If you see any plugin that loads 100 ms> and says 200> kb weight during your test, try finding a lightweight one.

Just go to the WordPress plugin directory and look for plugins similar to the one you need to replace and use the websites mentioned above to test to see which ones are faster and lighter.

Important: With most premium plugins, the best way to test them is to use the Query Monitor plugin( great plugin but one of those your need to know how to use and deactivate it after using because it slows down your site if you leave it activated) since they won't be on the plugin repository.

We recommend that you only use the best free or premium plugins for WordPress speed fixes.

Make it a habit to stay away from slow and slowest WordPress plugins.

9. Boost speed with a fast theme

Want to know another way to increase your website speed? Change to a fast lightweight theme.

A lot of WordPress themes are badly coded and bloated including the popular and premium themes.

A lot of these theme weight sizes are huge(reducing your site's total weight size is really what matters) which will impact your website performance.

To fix this, we recommend that you switch to the default WordPress themes, GeneratePress, Neve, etc.

GeneratePress and Neve don't add Google Fonts by default which is awesome.

The above-mentioned themes only make about 5 to 8 requests max which is great for speed.

10. Fix admin speed issues

If your WordPress admin panel is not fast it could lead to your entire website load time not performing well.

So make sure to optimize your admin panel too to boost speed.

You can learn how to do this by reading, WordPress dashboard is very slow.

11. Update WordPress PHP

Updating to the latest PHP version could improve your WordPress speed.

So make sure that your site is running the latest version.

Note, talk to your host before doing this as host companies need to have the correct server setting for each PHP upgrade.

Optimize & speed up your WordPress site with a pro

The 11 WordPress speed improvement tips listed above are not the only solutions that help optimize a WordPress for better performance.

There are more ways.

Also, some of the solutions take time to implement properly for long-term results.

This is why we recommend that you consider a WordPress performance optimization service from an expert to help you implement the fixes.

There are many companies out there to consider including Online Business Consulting ;)

Frequently asked questions( FAQs):

Q: Why is my WordPress site so slow?

A: The causes of your WordPress site being slow are:

  • Slow web hosting server
  • Slow admin area
  • Hotlinking
  • Slow DNS
  • Bloated theme
  • Flash contents
  • 404 error pages
  • Uncompressed pages
  • Bad theme or plugin setting
  • etc

We sincerely hope that the tips mentioned will assist in improving and speeding up your WordPress website load time.

If the above performance fixes are applied correctly you will see a speed improvement which will help with your website SEO, visitors conversion, etc.

If you have questions about this guide or need help boosting your WordPress website loading time, contact us so we see how to work together.

Emmanuel Okeke

A Los Angeles resident who loves to write awesome guides on SEO, WordPress speed/security, content strategies, business and personal finance, digital and growth hack tools, legal stuff, etc, that are helpful to businesses, solopreneurs, bloggers, and consumers.

What I write about is based on tests, extensive research, and 11+ experience as a former Senior digital & content marketing consultant with a division of Thomson Reuters and running a successful digital marketing agency...[Read full bio]