16 Quick Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site Right Now

Do you remember the last time you went to Disney World or some other amusement park, local event, or festival? You’re excited to go, thinking about all the different food you plan on eating and rides you want to go on… but then you get there and the line just to get into the place is wrapped around the block.

What even is that? You’re not paying good money to wait in line for an hour only to have to wait in more lines when you get in!

Now, imagine how your visitors feel when they get to a website only to encounter the same thing. Only this is online and the expectation is that there should be absolutely no wait. No waiting to access your site. No waiting to see your images or videos. No waiting to open that new blog post they’ve been dying to read.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks here.

If we’re talking consistent speed enhancements, there are a number of things you need to do to speed up your WordPress site. That said, if you’re looking for a quick fix and you know there’s something currently plaguing your site’s load times, then here are 16 quick tips to speed up your WordPress site right now.

16 Tips to Speed up Your WordPress Site Fast and Easily

You can never have a site that runs too fast. (Can you imagine anyone ever complaining about that?) That’s why these tips are always good to keep around since they won’t take much time at all to implement and can easily be done on top of other speed/performance enhancement tasks you regularly do.

1. Use a Caching Plugin

Hummingbird plugin

When building WordPress sites, a caching plugin is one of the first ones you should install. It will cut out the need for your server to send the same information over and over to browsers that they already have (that is, so long as your site doesn’t change too often). So, if a caching plugin has somehow fallen through the cracks, then this is the easiest quick (and permanent) fix you can put in place to speed up your site.

I’d recommend you start with the Hummingbird plugin from WPMU DEV.

2. Add a CDN

Updated: 12/20/2018 – Smush Pro now includes WebP compression, automatic image scaling and 10GB of CDN storage on our 40 Tbps servers with 45 share points around the world.

Is Google Analytics telling you that your site has gone global? If you’re beginning to reach people located in far-flung locales, then it’s high time you got your site running on a CDN to ensure that you’re delivering the fastest loading speeds to every single visitor regardless of where they’re located.

3. Compress Your Images

Smush Pro Plugin

Image compression is something you should never do manually when there are plugins like Smush Pro to do it for you automatically. Once the plugin is installed, it never hurts to run a regular scan on your media library to ensure that all images have been good and smushed.

Plus, the free version of Smush was voted the best plugin in the free WordPress.org repository in 2017. It doesn’t get any better than that.

4. Be Lazy with Your Images

If you have an image-heavy website, but traffic is kind of slow right now, you may need to give those images a break. Of course, the tips above will help ease some of the weight from having that many images on your site, but you still may want to consider lazy loading. Lazy loading will keep your site from populating those images up until the very moment your visitors scroll to them, sparing your server the unnecessary strain.

5. Simplify the Design

Are there any elements of your WordPress site that may be a bit excessive? If so, think about ways to create a more minimal and streamlined experience with fewer animations, images, or maybe even widgets (you could always ditch that sidebar!)

6. Prevent Image Theft

There are a number of ways to prevent unauthorized users from stealing images from your site. Did you know, however, that hotlinking isn’t just bad for copyright purposes, but also for your site’s speed? Whenever someone uses an image from your site simply by linking to it, they’re putting all the strain on your server instead of their own since yours hosts the image.

You can use your SEO plugin to disable hotlinking and prevent that from happening.

7. Delete Videos

Obviously, I’m not saying that you should get rid of the video content on your site. However, if you’ve uploaded actual video files to your site in the past, I’d suggest you pull them down, upload them to your preferred video service provider (like YouTube), and embed them instead. It’ll put less pressure on your server and speed things up.

8. Use Blog Excerpts

WP Reading Settings

Of course, the goal of having a blog on your WordPress site is to regularly publish content to it. However, with every new piece of content you add to your site, there’s more data you’re adding to the server. That’s not to say that you should blog less frequently; instead, you should find ways to lighten up your blog a bit.

One of the ways you can do this is under WordPress’s Reading Settings. You can:

  • Limit the number of blog posts that show up on the blog page.
  • Limit the number of posts in your syndication feed.
  • Only display the blog summary and not the full post.

9. Disable Comments

Blog comments can also contribute to the sluggishness of a website, which is why some people actually turn off WordPress comments completely. Of course, it’s up to you to decide whether or not comments feeds are causing too much strain and, then, whether your blog would do just fine without them.

10. Rein in Social

You need to give people a way to share your content on social media, but that doesn’t mean you need a plethora of WordPress plugins running concurrently to add social capabilities to your site. Just find one reliable and lightweight social media plugin that does everything you need and go with that. This way, you’ll have fewer plugins as well as fewer social media icons and data counters strewn about your site slowing things down.

11. Fix Broken Links

Broken Link Checker Plugin

Every time someone arrives at a broken URL, not only does it create a bad user experience, but it also sends an unnecessary request to your server. Use the Broken Link Checker plugin to ensure that you’re made aware of bad links on your site and that visitors are automatically redirected to working URLs.

12. Clean Up Your Files

WP-Optimize Plugin

There are a number of areas on your WordPress site where you may have files just chilling out, taking up space, and forcing your site to slow down as it accommodates them. Things like:

  • Unused plugins
  • Unused themes
  • Unwanted widgets
  • Old images and videos in your media library

Schedule time once a month to go through and do a clean sweep of unnecessary, outdated, or excessive files. You can use a plugin like WP-Optimize to keep your database clean, too.

13. Cut Back on Revisions

While it would be wonderful to create a page or post, publish it, and then have that be it, there’s always a reason to edit your content more than once. However, with every new save, more data is added to your server. So, what you need to do is cut down on the number of revisions stored in your database (not on how many revisions you can actually make). There is a WordPress plugin called Revision Control that can help with this.

14. Use Faster Plugins

When was the last time you updated your plugin set? If the same plugins have been sitting on your WordPress site for a year, it may be time to look around to see if there are newer, more agile options you can swap out that can accomplish the same thing.

15. Replace Your Theme

If you’re currently mulling over the decision to switch to a new WordPress theme and your site’s speed has left something to be desired, now might be the perfect time to make the change. Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder can help you develop websites in a flash while also ensuring that you’re building a high-quality website.

16. Limit HTTPS Server Requests

In general, anything you can do to limit the amount of HTTPS server requests that get sent between your visitors’ browsers and your server is ideal. The fewer files your server has to deliver, the faster a website will load on your visitors’ screens. Be sure to read up on how sprites, CSS minification, and more can help.

Wrapping Up

Remember that amusement park analogy from before. You can’t reasonably expect visitors to patiently wait for your site to load after more than a few seconds when they don’t even know if the payoff inside it is worth it. They may assume that the long wait is indicative of even more waiting once they get inside (or any otherwise shoddy experience), so don’t give them a reason to abandon your site before they’ve had a chance to see or interact with it.

When you have time, don’t forget to check on these often-forgotten WordPress page speed problems. They might take a little longer to fix, but the list is worth keeping on hand so that you’re constantly reminded to keep an eye on the short- and long-term speed fixes you can make on your site.

Brenda Barron
Over to you: What is the one essential speed-enhancing WordPress plugin you use on every single client website and why?

14 Responses

  • The Exporter

    Thanks for the article – Nice

    “Upfront can help you develop websites in a flash while also ensuring that you’re building a high-quality website.”
    Unfortunately especially Upfront is very very slow – so DIVI would have been a much better example as it is much faster then upfront, Beaver Builder or Elementor but still slower like a site which does not use a frontend editor.

    Some points which really can speed up your site you have forgotten:
    1. Use a server with SSD and not one with HD Drives
    2. Use a server with lots of memory 32GB up
    3. Update your server to newest version i.e. Ubuntu 17.10 much faster than 16.04LTS
    4. Update PHP to newest version – more speed with PHP 7.0 but even more with PHP 7.1.8+
    5. Use Cloudflare or similar service or set up a proxy. Cloudflare is great and has lots of more features i.e. security, but causes sometimes headaches when fixing stuff ;-(
    6. use AMP on Mobile
    7. use some AMP principals also on your desktop site!

    Kind regards
    Andi

    • Design Lord, Child of Thor

      These are great suggestions for website owners with a serious budget. For sites of smaller size and traffic, this would not only be overkill, but impossible. I don’t think I’ve even come across a hosting service offering 32gb and up!

      I think that Upfront can be pretty good to create lightweight layouts, and while Divi can too, it can also bloat the page in a hurry. Your absolute best theme option for performance would be to build your own, but since that’s rarely an option, you just have to manage your customizations well. I think doing your best to keep the layouts simple during the design phase, and trying to avoid using a bulky page editor like Visual Composer, is going to be more effective than trying to shop around for the “fastest” theme. Although finding one with SEO/Schema/Snippet elements baked in is a bit of a win :)

  • The Bug Hunter

    Good post!
    For “11. Fix Broken Links” I would just like to add, that the “Broken Link Checker” plugin is actually a pretty resource hogging piece of code, that can slow down your site as long as it is activated.
    Nevertheless it can help the sites speed to enhance the less it contains broken links. So I would rather recommend to use the “Broken Link Checker” plugin only for this purpose and deactivate and delete it after using it.
    Alternatively you could use an external broken-link-checking-service, e.g. “Integrity.app” for Mac or Web-based solutions such as brokenlinkcheck.com or http://www.backlinktest.com/deadlink.php ;-)

    • Staff

      Hello, Sushling.

      Nothing worse than your resources being gobbled up for no good reason. I must say that I do prefer an online resource to check. Too many plugins can cause trouble besides eating into your server resources.

      Thanks for letting us know that it is a resource hogging and for sharing other online resources with us.

      Cheers,

      Michelle

      • The Exporter

        Could you define too many plugins a bit more! What is to many.

        Take in example the WPMUDEV Plugins and setup a Multi site for multiple customers which you like to manage easily. What plugins would you put into that site. – I am pretty sure that very fast you will have about 40 – 60 plugins up and running!

        Perhaps give an example of a working Multisite Installation for 50+ customers who like to run their websites inside your multisite under their own domains or as a subfolder/subdomain. So you need to manage the sites, the customers, the spam, the speed, the images, the broken links, the comments, your own branding, the commerce part to sell your site and merchandizing/additional products, …
        some of those customers want to run simple blogs, others a directory or property site with a nice slider (sliders use a lot of energy and speed!) and of course some want to do ecommerce selling their products and put in another customer who is an NGO which needs an event calendar and a doctor/lawyer which would need to manage appointments. In short in a proper Multisite with even more than 100 or 1000 customers you have fast a full set of 100 and more plugins up and running, so how do you manage that.

        Of course you should not forget that every customer want to have its own design up and running. So what would be the best way to speed that realistic Multisite setting up?

        Kind regards
        Andi

  • Design Lord, Child of Thor

    Thanks for this article.

    I especially suggest cleaning up the unused images, plugins, etc… However, I have been having an issue where the WordPress media uploaded gives an HTTP error and ends up uploading the same image multiple times. This makes the task of cleaning up my media library especially strenuous. Anyone else ever encountered this or know of a fix?

  • New Recruit

    Great article a lot of hosting companies like WPEngine are starting to ban plugins like broken link checker because the strain it puts on the servers. A good option would be to use a site like https://ahrefs.com or other web-based tools.

    Most web hosting allows users to upgrade to PHP7 in many cases you just have to ask :) Like @andi said there’s lots of great affordable option their it’s worth checking this post https://www.softwarefindr.com/best/cheap-wordpress-hosting/.

    For me the biggest culprit in slowing down my site is images! Smush is great for combating this, but you should also try optimizing it before you upload to your WP site.

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