If not designed and tweaked properly, WordPress can be a slow loading CMS. Heavy themes, old content and media, a slow web host, insufficient caching and other issues can bog WordPress down. However, you don’t have to live with a slow loading WordPress website. There’s lots you can do to make WordPress snap your website up within a few milliseconds. Let’s explore some of these options.
This is one major issue that can slow your WordPress site down. A slow web host leads to a slow website, so you want to make sure that the web host you choose is fast at rendering content. Hosting reviews is a great website to check to see how fast your web host is, and to find a new host that a lot faster. There are plenty of user reviews and ratings to help you with making your decision about which web host you will choose.
Your website’s configuration is the second thing you need to look at. Even if you decide to stay with a slow web host, there is much you can do to improve your website’s loading times through the way you configure your website. CDNs, HTTPS, caching and more can help your website seem faster than it is by default.
A content delivery network stores copies of your website’s pages on their servers – also called nodes – and delivers them lightning fast to anyone that requests those pages on your website. CDNs can also help make up for website down times by continuing to deliver your website content even when your website is down. CloudFlare offers their basic CDN caching service for free to everyone, and it’s a great place to start if you’re new to CDNs.
Another thing you can do to speed up the rendering time of your website is to purchase and install a secure certificate. Browsers load secure websites faster than websites without secure certificates because the browser knows it can trust a website that uses an HTTPS connection. HTTP connections require a lot more work on the browser’s behalf to make sure the connection is secure enough to load.
If you have access to cPanel, the Apache server has a compression feature built right in that reduces the amount of information the server must do to serve up webpages. This creates a smaller amount of data that the server must pass to the user’s browser. While this may affect the quality of your images, it should make no noticeable difference in your HTML content. It is recommended you turn this on at least for HTML content, and show caution in turning it on for images.
Another issue that may slow down your webpage rendering is other websites doing something called “hot-linking”, which is linking directly to your media instead of hosting it themselves. If you have access to cPanel on your hosting, you can prevent this as well by turning Hotlink Protection on.
While you’re in cPanel, make sure that the version of PHP you’re using is PHP 7.x. There have been vast speed improvements made in this latest version. It would be a shame to miss out on these because you’re using an older version of PHP.
While Apache’s image compression can severely impact the quality of the images you use in WordPress, you can fine tune the level of image compression in your image editing software so that quality isn’t severely impacted. This is highly recommended as it reduces the memory footprint of your image, resulting in faster loading times. Also, make sure you are using an image format like PNG that leaves a small memory footprint by default.
Third, you will want to make sure your WordPress configuration is designed for speed. WordPress isn’t speedy by default. It takes careful use of themes, code, media, and plugins to design the fastest WordPress website possible.
There are tons of WordPress plugins available that can cache your WordPress web pages. Caching is creating a static copy of your WordPress pages so that your web host’s server does not have to waste any time on processing dynamic content. WP Super Cache is a popular plugin that includes plenty of advanced features to fine tune your WordPress website’s cache. If you have simplicity in mind, though, another great plugin to use is WP Fastest Cache, which features a simple “on/off” function for turning caching on and off.
Believe it or not, keeping your WordPress website up to date can also drastically help with the speed of loading pages. When your WordPress, theme, and plugin versions are kept out of date, it can result in creating many errors in the page that slow its rendering down. It also leaves you more vulnerable to security threats, which can also greatly slow down your WordPress website.
Speaking of security, you will definitely want to make sure your WordPress website is as secure as possible from malware and hackers. Keeping it up to date is a great first step, but there is more you can do to help increase its security. Two highly recommended plugins that help increase the security of your WordPress website are Loginizer and Wordfence. Loginizer limits the amount of login attempts you can make in one session, which helps stop brute force attacks (attempts to guess your password by trial and error via automated software) in their tracks. Wordfence features a firewall that blocks known bad IP addresses and a malware scanner that helps scan your WordPress website for malware and removes it.
Front Page Content
Another tweak that can speed up your WordPress website is creating a static front page. By default, WordPress tries to load a list of blog posts, and this can take up much time. Additionally, this can prevent visitors from visiting your individual blog post pages, preferring to read them from the front page. All these visitors on the same page stacks up to longer page rendering times. To make sure visitors go to individual blog pages and don’t park on your front page, you can create a static front page to introduce visitors to your website. Then if they want to view your blog posts, they can click on a navigation link to get there.
Of course, once your visitors go to your blog, they will remain there unless your posts are in a summary view that prompts them to click on the individual post to read more. You can find the option to switch your blog posts to summary view in Settings > Reading.
If you have many comments on your WordPress website, you may want to consider splitting them into pages to help speed up the time it takes pages with many comments to render. By restricting so many comments to a page, the website does not attempt to load all the comments at once along with the blog post content. This option can be found in Settings > Discussion.
Another great way you can help make your WordPress website faster if you have any video content is to upload your videos to YouTube instead of WordPress. This takes much load off your web host for rendering and serving video content. It also greatly reduces your usage of bandwidth with your web hosting provider so you don’t end up incurring extra fees or being throttled.
Make sure that the theme you’re using doesn’t use a ton of code and is optimized for speed. Some WordPress themes may be attractive, but their heavy use of code can slow your WordPress website down. Here, simpler is better.
Sliders and Galleries
Some sliders and galleries are poorly coded and this results in slow page rendering time. If you notice your WordPress site is still running slow and you use a slider or gallery on the page, this may well be what’s slowing down your site. Opt for other plugins or remove them completely to speed up your WordPress site. Soliloquy is a fast slider plugin, and Envira Gallery is a fast gallery plugin you can use.