Talking tech since 2003

So you want to speed up WordPress and make your site load faster than you can say “Flash Gordon.” I don’t blame you. We all know that in today’s day and age, instant gratification is important to many. Everyone expects fast loading pages, quick responses, and easy-to-find answers to our many, many questions. We must avoid the dreaded loading symbol! This article will provide you with plugins as well as tips and advice for how to speed up WordPress so that your site can run at its best and attract optimal traffic.

WordPress is a great Content Management System (CMS), there’s no doubt about that. We use it here at BestTechie (have been since 2006) and roughly 35 percent of the web uses it to power their sites as well. In 2020, that equates to 455,000,000 websites. That being said, while WordPress is an amazing CMS, it isn’t the fastest. In fact, right out of the box, WordPress sites load much slower than non-WordPress sites. This has been widely documented and is a reason why the partnership made in 2018 between Google and Automattic (the company behind WordPress) makes so much sense. Google has been building a dedicated team within the company to help advance WordPress by working towards improving performance and bringing the platform’s ecosystem up to current web experience standards more quickly via technologies such as Progressive Web Apps (or PWA).

Plugins to speed up WordPress

One of the keys to speeding up a WordPress install is to utilize a caching plugin, which will help your site by improving load time that then typically results in better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and increased conversions. Our favorite caching plugin (and what we use here at BestTechie) is WP Rocket because it offers a wide range of features and works extraordinarily well. Here are some of the key features we love in WP Rocket.

WP Rocket features

Multiple types of caching including page caching, browser caching, and the ability to preload the site’s cache. Page caching is what most caching plugins offer, this allows your server to quickly serve up a page/post without having to query it every time someone requests the page. Browser caching is a nice additional feature because it means that static files such as your site’s logo and CSS can be store within the visitors browser so if they visit another page, it makes loading that second page even quicker. Additionally, with WP Rocket you can configure DNS prefetching which allows you to reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve an external domain, this is extremely useful for loading Google Fonts, videos, ads, or any number of elements hosted elsewhere quicker.

Minification and Concatenation of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript means that WP Rocket will reduce the size/weight of those types of files which results in faster load times. WP Rocket can also be configured to eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content, which also will provide speed improvements.

Lazyloading content is easy to configure with WP Rocket as well. When you have content such as images configured to lazyload, they are loaded only as your visitor scrolls down the page, improving the load time of the page. This is a technique used by sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Yahoo to speed up the site and also make it appear more responsive. It’s also worth noting that in addition to images, WP Rocket can be configured to lazyload iframes as well (good for embedded YouTube videos, for example).

Easy and quick to install and setup. WP Rocket makes it extremely simple to speed up WordPress, with just a few clicks you’re on your way to a speedier site (no coding knowledge required).

WP Rocket starts at $49 for one site with a yearly license that includes all updates free of charge (so long as your license is active). It’s well worth the cost and I highly recommend it. I mean, you can see for yourself how fast BestTechie is, right?

I also recently came across another similar plugin called PageSpeed Ninja that I tested and was also really impressed with. It offers many of the same features as WP Rocket, however, it’s currently in beta meaning the plugin is not 100% completed and may be buggy, so use at your own risk. That being said, while in beta, the plugin is free to use. No word on what/if anything it’ll cost once it leaves beta. 

Image optimization

Another plugin you will likely want to take advantage of to help speed up WordPress is EWWW Image Optimizer. With more than 600,000 WordPress sites using this plugin already, here’s why it’s definitely worth considering adding to your site. EWWW Image Optimizer will increase your page speeds by way of image optimization, and as we discussed before, increased page speeds can result in better search engine rankings, and will also improve conversion rates (increased sales and signups). Additionally, the plugin will also save you storage space and bandwidth by optimizing images uploaded to your server.

Every new image uploaded to your server will automatically be optimized by EWWW Image Optimizer. Additionally, the plugin can also optimize all the images that you have already uploaded, and optionally convert your images to the best file format. Depending on your site, you can choose pixel perfect compression or high compression options that are visually lossless (I prefer lossless compression because many times the images are important to the content).

Changes you can make to speed up WordPress

In this section of the post I’m going to discuss some tips and things you can do server-side to improve your site’s speed. You don’t have to completely rely on others, as there is plenty of power in your very own fingertips to speed up your site.

Enable HTTP/2 and HTTPS on your server. HTTP/2 provides speed benefits over HTTP/1.1 and many browsers including Google Chrome and Firefox support it (however, they only support it if your site is also running HTTPS which is why I included it in my recommendation). There are also SEO benefits to using HTTP/2 as GoogleBot as added support for HTTP/2 so websites that support the protocol will likely see an additional rankings boost from speed. If you’re interested in learning more about HTTP/2 give this article a read. I should note that if you don’t have much (or any) server administration experience make sure you find a good web host who can assist you with these things.

Implement Redis caching on your server too. Redis is a data structure server that can be used as a database server on its own, or paired with a relational database like MySQL to speed things up. More specifically, the first time a WordPress page is loaded, a database query is performed on the server. Redis remembers, or caches, this query. So, when another user loads the WordPress page, the results are provided from Redis and from memory without needing to query the database making the site much faster to load. Once you have Redis installed and configured on your server you will need a WordPress plugin to interface with it, I like this one.

I hope that helps! If you have any questions, comments, or additional tips and recommendations that I may have missed feel free to leave a comment or tweet us.

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