Wordpress is the most widely used CMS in the world. Thanks to its ease of use and customizability, businesses opt to use it over other CMS’
However, it is not the fastest CMS around. And you need to have a fast website because website speed affects both SEO and usability...
Here are 16 Experts with their best advice on how to speed up your WordPress site:
Jordan Choo, Managing Partner, Kogneta
When working with our client's we typically see WordPress speed issues fall into two categories which are:
- Hosting Issues
This really comes down to a site's hosting provider not having the appropriate infrastructure to adequately support a site's traffic as a result the server response or TTFB (time to first byte) is extremely slow. To resolve this I always recommend switching to a cloud hosting provider that is dedicated to Wordpress. My go-to favorites are either WP Engine or Kinsta. Both have a blazing fast server and TTFB response times along with extremely helpful and responsive support staff.
- Too Many Plugins
The second issue that I see really dragging down a website's page speed is that there are too many plugins being used and as a result, it slows down the loading of a page. To help tackle this, we do a few things:
- a) We check to see if any plugins can be completely deactivated and/or removed from the site
Amanda Thomas, Partner, Konstruct Digital
At my agency, Konstruct Digital, we've been building WordPress websites for close to 10 years. WordPress is a fairly popular choice for websites because of its ease of use, and ability to enhance the platform with plugins. However, in the age where site speed is a SEO factor, and more importantly - a user experience factor, keeping your site running at top speed is critical.
When it comes to speeding up a WordPress site, I have two main tips to share, both at the "infrastructure" level.
- Your Hosting: how quickly your server can respond and process your WordPress website is the first important gatekeeper when it comes to site speed. If your server is slow to respond, or not tuned for Wordpress, right out of the gate you're going to be behind the race. Your $5 - $10/mo cheap shared hosting is not going to cut it here. These cheap providers make money by loading as many sites as they can on the same resources. That means you can end up with a "noisy neighbor" (another website that you might not be aware of) that sucks up a lot of your server's resources. If you're looking for an intermediate managed hosting solution, I'd recommend checking out WPengine or Kinsta.
- Your Theme: if you're not building your WordPress website's theme from scratch, it can be tempting to choose an all-encompassing theme with every feature under the sun. The challenge with these themes is that although it can make building and growing your website easy for non-developers, they can come at an enormous site speed cost. Typically with these robust themes, every time a page loads, it's trying to load all the code necessary to run any single one of the theme's features - even if that page isn't using it! While there are additional plugins you can install where you can control what resources are loaded on a per-page basis, that's really just a bandaid fix and you might end up with "plugin soup". Here's what I'd recommend:
- Roll Your Own Theme: build out your own theme using Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) or custom gutenberg blocks.
- Elementor + Astra: alternatively, if you'd still like to have a feature-rich page-builder solution, I've found the combination of Elementor + Astra (theme) to be fairly speedy compared to some of the competitors out there.
Once you have a solid site foundation as described above, don't forget the basics: (1) Always properly size images and make sure they are web optimized, (2) Use a caching plugin like WProcket, and (3) Consider using Cloudflare.
Dan Christensen, President, MorningDove Marketing
A lot can be said about optimizing a WordPress site for speed, though what we’ve found is that after caching and image compression plugins are installed, there’s still one very boring thing that really helps: resizing all your images manually.
We’ve been using ShortPixel on our sites, and typically we’re seeing it optimize images by 50-70%, but downloading the images from your site and re-uploading them to the exact size they need to be will show an even bigger increase in speed.
The time it takes, especially on a larger site may not be worth it, but for local clients, it’s one of the first things that can be done (and it can be done with a VA fairly easily as well). Typically with videos we simply upload them to YouTube and then embed them where they are needed on a given WordPress site, and we haven’t seen speed affected too much.
Brad Smith, Founder, Codeless
Here's a quick checklist common issues that sabotage your site:
- Reduce Average Request Count (Google recommends fewer than 50)
- Run a compression audit with GIDNetwork
- Use Gzip to transform website files into zip files
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) for large images
- Host other large files, like video, off-site (Wistia, etc.)
- Decrease Average Page Weight (Google recommends fewer than 500KB)
- Scale & crop images to exact dimensions before upload
- Use WP Smush.it or Compressor.io to compress image files
- Decrease Average Time to First Byte (Google recommends fewer than 1.3 seconds)
- Add caching plugins like WP Cache, Auto Optimize, WP Rocket, and more
- Use fewer plugins overall, but especially bad ones!
- Pay more for better managed or dedicated hosting -- it's the Achilles' heel of site speed
Tom De Spiegelaere, Director, Mango Matter Media
Speeding up a WP site has been covered so much by so many people, but still, I see people getting it wrong... either by choosing the wrong web host for the use-case or setting up their caching plugin in a way that breaks the site.
It's hard to nail down a single factor when it comes to speed, but if I had to, I'd say the web host would be it. Your hosting provider is the foundation, everything else (general caching plugins, WordPress itself, of course, the server stack, etc) is built on top.
If you make the wrong choice there, it's hard to get the rest right. Ideally, your host should already have a fully WP-optimized server stack with aggressive caching on top. We're a huge fan of managed WordPress hosts like Kinsta or Pressidium, as they know the platform inside out, and with their CDN's attached, speed really becomes a non-issue... if you can afford the price-tag.
Jonny Platt, Founder, SEOscout
Whenever I try to optimize a Wordpress site for speed I generally aim to get the server to do as much of the heavy lifting as possible.
There are obvious approaches such as ensuring you're sending the correct cache control headers on assets such as images, script files, and CSS. And of course, you'll want to ensure you're setup to gzip content before sending it to the browser
But my favorite technique to make a site really fly is to use the Nginx FastCGI cache, storing static copies of your site to a server without ever touching PHP or needing any special caching plugins - though nginx_helper is great to handle the purging of cache when you update your posts...
On it is own it's pretty good - but if you configure Nginx to store its static cache in a RAM disk (often the /run folder in Linux ) the performance gains are insane. We're talking sub-10ms load speed for your Wordpress pages. Couple this with your usual image and asset optimization and your site will fly.
Joe Davies - CEO, Fatjoe
My biggest tip for speeding up a Wordpress site is to make sure the hosting is top speed! This was a massive change for me when experimenting with speed on test sites. The winner for budget hosting was WPXHosting
This came recommended by Matthew Woodward, after I became frustrated with my current providers - I won't mention those. WPX are really helpful when transferring your websites to them, they handle the whole thing and ensure your site is up and running perfectly. As far as support is concerned, they are top notch. As well as nailing hosting, there are some plugins that work well, such as ShortPixel to compress images, and Autoptimize - a caching plugin. Ensure the theme you are using is really lightweight.
Eric Lituchy - CEO, Hunter Digital
At HUNTER our focus is on results-driven digital marketing. We understand the value of a fast loading website on conversion rates and always work with our clients to ensure their websites are fast and efficient.
When we build Wordpress sites we start with the foundation which is the hosting company. WP Engine manages the speed and performance of your server, plus we love their CDN (Content Delivery Networks) which are systems of distributed servers, that speed up website loading times and protect against issues caused by traffic spikes. CDNs store copies of static content throughout their networks, and then serve them up to users from the most geo-logical server locations.
Since they typically have servers all over the world, loading times can be sharply reduced. Additionally, we use Autoptimize, a 5-star rated plugin that improves site performance and EWWW Image Optimizer, which reduces the file size of your images without affecting quality. Our clients love this ‘recipe’ and the speeds they have seen since moving to HUNTER.
Chris Porteus - CEO, My SEO Sucks
Modern web users expect a lot from the websites they visit. To keep users happy, search engines favor pages that load quickly, are error free, and are responsive.
One of our key goals is making sure our client’s Wordpress websites are leveraging the latest technologies available to optimize page speed.
Using a variety of technologies such as compression, intelligent caching, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs,) server side optimization, and a variety of other techniques both old and new, we can improve user experience and boost search rankings.
Keeping your pages loading efficiently and speedily is a moving target. The web -- and the technologies it is built on -- are constantly evolving. With that in mind, it’s important to never rest on your laurels when it comes to optimizing your page speed.
To stay competitive, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of the latest developments in technology and new techniques that can be leveraged to make your every web page load in record time.
Kris - CEO, Brainbox Labs
As one of the world's most popular CMS platforms, WordPress has a thriving development community. This is both a blessing and a curse. While there are millions of plugins creating unlimited functionality, this has created security vulnerabilities and performance issues.
While we are not suggesting abandoning WordPress (no one likes a quitter), we are recommending that a bit more attention is paid to protecting your websites and web applications from unwanted intruders. The simplest approach for new and existing sites is installing WordFence. It may seem as if it's too good to be true, but the people over at WordFence make WordPress security a breeze.
If you are developing a new site or web application, these are easy ways to keep your application secure right from installation:
- Limit the number of plugins
As a development company, we use a small set of plugins to create customizable content types in the CMS with advanced field options. These three additional (four in total including WordFence) plugins are all you need:
- Advanced Custom Fields Pro
- Custom Post Types
- Yoast SEO
- Default user and password
Always change the default "admin" account username and use a random 16-20 character password that includes numbers and special characters. Emphasis on "random" as hackers and malicious bots run through thousands of words and phrases in various formats attempting to guess your ‘admin’ user’s password.
- Stay up to date
Ensure that automatic WordPress and Plugin updates are turned on to ensure all security patches are taken care of while you are sleeping. There may be times when you need to complete updates manually if an update fails, but these are far less than automatic updates.
- Host on a trusted platform
For ease of use and website performance, we use WP Engine. This recommendation still falls in line with security as the alternative may be inexpensive unmonitored shared hosting, but at what price. Unlike WP Engine, on other shared hosting platforms, you run the risk of someone else’s WordPress site blacklisting the IP address you are all sharing.
The term "reach" is a concept I use with our team. If someone asks you to put your hand as high as you can, then, keep your hand where it is, they then ask you to reach a bit higher, what usually happens? You got it; your hand magically gets closer to the ceiling even though you were previously reaching a 'high as you can.' Why am I rambling? Because there is one easier win that will make you seem like a pro to your clients while protecting their site with seemingly no effort. Sign-up for a service called CloudFlare.
CloudFlare takes care of securing your website before the request even gets there. That's right; they block known methods of attacking sites before they even reach the homepage. They also have a WordPress plugin to make it even easier to implement.
All these techniques ensure your website or application is secure from 99% of malicious requests. The other 1% will have warning signs with WordFence and CloudFlare in the mix. And if you are using additional plugins, make sure they are maintained, well supported, and from a reputable developer.
Curt Storring - CEO, Floor 500
I've employed companies to boost the speed of our websites, and have seen great improvements from things like lazy loading images, compressing images, and making sure we're calling the fastest version of embedded items like videos, but the thing that I've seen have the most drastic impact across any site is choosing a faster web host.
Many people start with a host that's cheap and then run into loading problems as they grow. They'll spend time and money trying to implement all of these speed hacks, but never quite get to where they need to be.
Moving from a basic shared host to a managed Wordpress host like WPX hosting, or a dedicated server almost always gives me a significant increase in speed. Utilizing the newest version of PHP and a good CDN (sometimes provided by the host themselves) provide additional speed improvements.
Michael Costin - CEO, Local Digital
Speeding up a WordPress site is something I nerdily obsess over for our own sites and those of our clients. In fact, I’ve written about how improving Google PageSpeed Score leads to strong SEO results for a client, an interesting read if you’re into this stuff.
After going through the process many times, there are some surefire tips and tricks that can be deployed a fast loading site/
First of all, everything starts with your host.
Those cheap and cheerful shared hosting plans are simply not going to cut it.
You need your own VPS dedicated to your site, or, ideally a service like AWS or Google Cloud. This is the same infrastructure most of the major services like Netflix, Amazon, and Google run on, and it’s hands down the best option for a fast loading site. If the price is an issue then looking at a WordPress focused host like WPX Hosting is the next best thing.
The way you build your site is also very important. Lightweight code via optimized themes and the most efficient page builders possible is the way to go. Really, page builders should be avoided for a super-fast site, but the practicality of them means that’s not always possible. Combinations of themes like Astra with Elementor builder work well for the combination of a fast loading site but also a lot of flexibility with design.
From there, I always like to make sure images are well optimized. The human eye can’t really tell too much difference between super high quality, large file size, slow loading image, and a more compressed, smaller file size, faster loading image. As such, always make sure that you resize the pixels of the image so that it’s only as big as it needs to be dimension wise for the page it’s going on. Then, save it as a JPG for smaller file size, and if you’re saving in Photoshop I always opt for level 5 of the quality setting as it seems to be the best combination of quality and filesize.
I like to run a plugin called ShortPixel on the WordPress installation too. This will detect media files being uploaded then do what it can to compress them down to the smallest file size possible.
Making sure you have a caching plugin running also helps ensure a fast loading site. Check out options like W3 Total Cache. Within most cache tools you can choose various levels of caching, compression, code minification, and more – all things that will incrementally improve your page speed. Another plugin I like to use is perfmatters. This allows you to get rid of lots of little aspects of WordPress that combined can slow down the site.
Gary Simpson - CEO, The Wave Digital
Hands down my favorite way to speed up a Wordpress build is by using WPRocket, hosting on a lightning fast server like Digital Ocean, and ensuring the theme isn't loaded down with element bloat and unnecessary plugins. Also, compressing images, using a CDN (Content Delivery Network), reliable and fast hosting as mentioned above, optimizing your database (can use a plugin like WPOptimize), minimize HTML/CSS, and also DNS prefetching.
Another advantage of using CDN is that it can potentially give you up to a 50% reduction in bandwidth usage across your site and server. Setting up a CDN can take your and/or your dev just a few minutes, but it can have massively positive implications on your site speed and health of the site overall.
Utilizing all these various tactics can drastically increase the speed in which your site loads and helps with SEO as well as user experience. Everyone hates a slow website.
Chris Sloane - CEO, Heaviside Group
The best thing you can do to speed up a Wordpress website is to pick the right theme in the first place.
There are more themes out there than you can reasonably count. Many have attractive functionality, or look similar to what you want, or have a nice price. But I think those are not necessarily the most important things to consider.
Wordpress is a very programmable and extensible platform, and so the ideal solution is to pick a theme that is fast, light, and well supported. I won't make a specific recommendation, but there are themes that perform very well here.
I'm not talking about the huge themes with 85,000 features you'll never use - those are typically bloated and slow and it's very difficult to speed them up to the degree that you might want to.
Take a fast and light theme, style it with CSS to look like that theme you had your eye on, and install a minimal plugin set to get the functionality you want and you're set. Then the things you normally do to improve page speed will work very well and you'll end up with a speedy site.
Paul Leary - Founder, Are you on Page 1
- Choose a solid web hosting provider
If you can stay away from shared hosting as they usually perform badly in peak times of day causing slower speed which can, in the long run, lose you money from potential sales. Finding a dedicated server to host your Wordpress site is a must if you want ultimate performance. SiteGround and DigitalOcean are good options.
- Use a lightweight WordPress Theme that still has an awesome performance like Avada and
- Be sure to compress images before uploading to your website or use a plugin like Optimole, WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer. Keep in mind that most plugins strip Exit data from the photo which is not the best option for SEO purposes.
- Be sure to Minify JS and CSS files as these are usually the main culprits of slow websites.
- Use a caching plugin for better user experience.
- If people are visiting your website from various locations around the world, think about using a CDN.
- Deactivate or delete unused plugins as they are unnecessary lag on the site.
Kevin Hilton - CEO, Multi Layer Media
When it comes to website speed, images that are too big (especially on mobile) are normally the main offenders on slow loading websites. It can sometimes be a struggle to get the right balance between images that look great but also load quickly. One service we are big fans of is optimole.com. If you have a Wordpress website, then this for us is a must have service as it compresses all your images significantly and serves them via a CDN to further improve load times. It also makes sure the right versions of images are served to match your visitor’s browser and device.
It’s free for up to 5000 monthly site visits, allowing you to explore the features free of charge on smaller websites, it then has very reasonable monthly price points that scale depending on the number of visitors your site receives.
There are other alternatives out there and you can always use software to optimize images yourself, but we find for the price Optimole makes the process so much quicker and easier.