How to increase the speed of your WordPress site

How to increase the speed of your WordPress site?

Why should you want to increase the speed of your WordPress site?

Well, up front, no one likes to be slowed down, right? One of the best things you can do for your users speed up their experience on your site. Keep in mind that Google has confirmed several times that page load time plays a factor in search engine rankings, so speeding up WordPress will help your site move up the ranks.

A faster website means people are more likely to use it, stay on it longer and possibly share it more.

What is the WP accelerator playbook?

In this WP accelerator playbook, we’ll show you all the plays you need to know to speed up your WordPress website.

I’ve gone ahead and written step-by-step guides for each tip below so you can implement them very quickly. We’ve also created a handy checklist (including a print-ready version) which you can take with you and implement these tips as you go.

Before we start…

Bookmark

Before we start, don’t forget to bookmark this page. You might want to come back and do all of these things later.

Checklists

Download and print the checklist (print-ready version)

We’ve created this checklist to make it easy for you to get started. It’s designed to let you tick off each task as you go and keep track of your progress.

ℹ️ NO OPT-IN REQUIRED!

Play 1.1: Backup!

➡️ Back up your website before proceeding with this playbook.

⚠️ Important Note: Although this operation is not expected to have a significant impact on your website’s behavior and function, there is a slight risk that it might be incompatible with your current server settings, current theme, or plugins, resulting in the site being partially or totally unavailable.

Play 1.2: Checking your website performance.

Pingdom: 

➡️ Open a new browser window and go to https://tools.pingdom.com/

Pingdom website speed tester

➡️ Insert the page’s address that you want to test in the URL field. Click the green button to start the test.

ℹ️ Note: If you’re unsure which pages to test, start by testing the most important ones on your funnel. (For example, a homepage, sales pages, checkout page, and so on)

The top of the page provides a summary table with essential metrics you’ll want to examine:

➡️ Now save the URL of your test for future reference. It will be located in the address bar of your browser.

🔁 Repeat the process for each of your core pages.

Play 1.3: Using chrome built-in tool:

➡️ Open the page you want to test in incognito mode on Google Chrome.

(Ctrl + Shift + N on Windows or ⌘ + Shift + n on a Mac.) 

Select “Inspect” from the dropdown menu when right-clicking on the page.

Click on “Lighthouse” 

* If you don’t see any of the features discussed in this play, ensure you’re using the most up-to-date version of Google Chrome.

You may choose a device to test how your website performs on a particular device type:

➡️ Now click on the blue button: “Generate report…” 

You’ll then be able to view a performance report on how fast your page loads once you’ve completed your audit.

Important metrics to look for:

➡️ Scroll down to the timeline view. The timeline view allows you to examine how a potential visitor would see your page as it loads. In addition to the following numbers:

  • First meaningful paint: This is the time it takes for the page to load and begin displaying meaningful data. The shorter, the better. 
  • First interactive: This time is measured in milliseconds and indicates how long it took for your page to become marginally interactive, which means that at least some, but not necessarily all, buttons, links, and other interactive components were operational. The shorter, the better.
  • Consistently interactive: This is the time it took your page to be totally functional and interactive. The shorter, the better.

Play 2.1: Analyzing your website’s performance

⚠️ Important: It’s vital to determine if there’s a need to react after the basic pages have been evaluated. If you have a low-traffic website, you may not notice the performance benefits as much as if you have a high-traffic one and a server that is under heavy load.

➡️ Refer to the URL you’ve saved and open your Pingdom results page.

You’ll benefit the most from this playbook if your Pingdom metrics for your core pages are: 

Load Time: > 3s

Page Size: > 3MB 

Performance Grade: < C

Compare your performance against your competitors and some major websites: ⤵️

If you think your metrics are significantly off than they should be, or your competitors’ metrics are better, keep following this playbook. If not, will investing time or money in improving your page performance be worth it? I don’t think so.

Play 2.2: Examine your website’s performance reports in greater detail.

Open your Pingdom results page again.

➡️ Find your largest content:

Scroll down to “Content size by content type” and look for an entry that accounts for a significant portion of your total page size. Those are usually images or videos, in most cases.

➡️ Scroll down the report to the “File Requests” section and sort by “Body File Size,” you will be able to see on the top of the files impacting the page size the most.

We can now determine if we truly need to have this file on this page.

And have we already done everything possible to improve this file, or does it still have room for improvement? If so, write the file name down.

When you don’t need the file, remove it.

Play 2.3: Searching for tools and scripts that you haven’t used in a long time

Scroll down the report to the “File Requests” section, analyze the names of the files and the domains and see if you can recognize some tools or scripts that you might not be using anymore. 

For example: If you encounter a request for http://euc-widget.freshworks.com (See below) on your website, the tool is likely loading it. If you’re no longer using the device, go ahead and delete it for both performance and security reasons.

Make a list of those, and have your developer remove them from your website or do it yourself. If you’re using Google Tag Manager to deploy your tool’s scripts, this task is generally much more straightforward.

Play 2.4: Finding bad response codes: 

➡️ Scroll up to the “Response codes” section of the report and look for response codes that aren’t “200 OK,” if all of your response codes are “200 OK,” you can skip to the next play.

If you’ve got other response codes, scroll back down to look for colored dots other than green on the left in the “File Requests” area. (🔵 or 🟡 )

When the response code is:

➡️ 301/302/307 Redirects

Determine if connecting to the ultimate destination is feasible and avoid a redirect.

➡️ 404 Not Found:

This resource is not being loaded, most likely because the file no longer exists or there is a typing error. If the resource is no longer required, you should eliminate this request from the page.

Play 3.1: Decrease your homepage size by showing fewer blog posts upfront

ℹ️ Note: Depending on your WordPress theme, the steps below may differ slightly. It’s also possible that you aren’t displaying blog entries on your homepage, and/or your theme does not allow you to do so. If that’s the case, there’s no sense in going through this process—just move on to the following section of this playbook.

➡️ Log in to your WordPress admin.

➡️ On the sidebar, click on “Settings” ➡️ “Reading.”

➡️And Locate the field labeled “Blog pages shows at most.”

Edit its value to suit your needs. The fewer blog articles you have on your front page, the faster it loads, but readers will also need to use pagination or go to your homepage links to find them. As a result, reduce the number down until you’re comfortable with it.

Play 3.2: Auditing your WordPress Plugins

⚠️ Important: This play should not be taken lightly for either performance or security reasons. You should do this check at least once every four months to ensure that your system functions correctly.

➡️ Log in to your WordPress Admin Panel. 

➡️ Go to “Plugins” in the sidebar 

➡️ Click on the “active” link on the top to only show the active plugins.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: For security reasons, you should remove any inactive plugins that you are not utilizing and do not anticipate using in the future.

➡️ Scroll through the list and search for plugins that you’re positive you aren’t using anymore or that you can get rid of without harming your website’s essential functions. When you find them, just tick the checkbox on the left.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: Make sure you 1000% understand what the plugin does before removing it. Ask your developer or website administrator for advice if you’re not sure.

➡️ After you’ve checked all of the plugins that you don’t use, go to the top and choose “Bulk Actions” from the dropdown menu. Select “Deactivate” from the dropdown menu. Finally, click “Apply.”

After you’ve deactivated the plugins you don’t need anymore, look for out-of-date plugins on the “Active” list. A beige background and a prompt update to the most recent version will identify outdated plugins. Select “Update Now” from the dropdown menu.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: Although the majority of new versions include performance enhancements. For security reasons, you should update plugins regularly.

Revisit your website after removing and updating the plugins to verify that everything is still functioning as intended. Check out your main pages (sales sites, checkout, forms) to ensure everything is working correctly.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If you have any problems, go ahead and re-enable any plugins you may have previously disabled; this should resolve the issue. To isolate the problematic plugin, turn it off one by one and check if your problem resurfaces after each re-enables.

If re-enabling your plugins doesn’t work, you may always revert your website to a prior backup.

Play 4.1: The WordPress WP ROCKET Plugin 🚀

⚠️ IMPORTANT: Installing a performance optimization plugin like WP Rocket might have a significant impact on your website’s performance, but it can also cause it to break down. Make sure you’ve done the following steps before proceeding:

  • You’re working on a local development environment (for example, a staging version of your website)

or/and

  • You’ve done everything possible to back up your website and have a recovery plan in place.

If you do not have access to a local development environment but are willing to accept some downtime until you restore your data from your most recent backup, you may continue the play at your own risk.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: This playbook attempts to cover the most effective cache settings for most websites, but no two websites/servers are alike. Contact your web designer or hosting service if you’re having difficulties with your cache plugin.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: Before continuing, make sure you aren’t using any cache plugins since they might interfere with this plugin. To do that, go back to play 3.2 of this playbook and search for any plugin that mentions the term “cache feature.”

➡️ Go to WP rocket

➡️ Click on the big orange button and pick a license. (Starting from $49)

➡️ After your order you can instantly download the plugin. (Don’t open or unpack the file!)

➡️ Go to the admin area.

➡️ Go to plugins ➡️ Add new.

➡️ Click on “upload plugin”.

➡️ Upload the plugin file and click on “install now”.

➡️ Then go to the sidebar and click on “settings.”

➡️ And click on “WP Rocket.”

Here you’ll find the dashboard of WP Rocket.

➡️ Now open your website in a new tab.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: It’s best to check one box at a time and immediately check if it’s breaking or slowing down your site. This way you know exactly what causes the website to fail and which option you should not use. (Possibly due to a conflict with one of your plugins and/or theme.)

➡️ Now go to file optimization.

➡️ Check the box of minify CSS files and scroll down to click on save.

➡️ Check on your website if everything is still working. Click on different links and options to ensure everything is working correctly. If not simply uncheck the option and move one.

➡️ Repeat this process on all the options in the file optimization section.

➡️ Now do the same with “Media” and “Database”.

Play 4.2: Installing an Image optimizer plugin

Now that you’ve installed a cach plugin and have optimized all your files. It’s time to optimize your images. Images are the biggest reason for slowing down website loading time.

➡️ Go to image optimization.  

➡️ Click on the green button to instal imagify.

ℹ️ NOTE: After clicking the green button, the Imagify plugin will be installed on your WordPress site. Imagify is from the same developers as WP rocket and therefore work well together.

➡️ Go to settings

➡️ And click on Imagify

➡️ Create an passwords and get API key..

➡️ Fill the API key in the input field and click on the blue button.

After this you’ll see the dashboard of Imagify.

➡️ Pick an optimization level.

➡️ Scroll down and click on “Save & go to bulk optimizer.”

➡️ Click on.”Imagif’em all”.

Now wait until finished, (DON’T CLOSE THE PAGE)

ℹ️ NOTE: Users on the free plan can optimize up to 100 images each month. If you have more than 100 photos when you begin, a “One-Time” option may be appropriate for you. The free plan will suffice if you don’t expect to add more than 100 photos per month.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If you reach your monthly upload limit by including thumbnails, you may want to choose to turn off that feature.

✅ And that’s it!

The changes you’ve made to your website should now be visible, including any modifications to the images and CSS. Your photos are now optimized, and your pages and posts should load faster. You should see a percentage next to the success notification indicating how much image reduction has occurred on average.

5.1: Re-Testing your pages:

Take the tests you have completed on your pages in the first play (1.1) of this playbook again and compare the results to see how much your page performance metrics improved after applying all or part of these optimization plays.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If you’re re-certifying, make sure you pick the same server locations for your new tests.

That’s it! If you’ve implemented all the plays of this playbook, you should already have gained a considerable performance improvement. 

Note:If you’re still not happy with the speed if your WordPress site, try the following things to further optimize your website/

  • Implement, or ask a developer to implement, a CDN;
  • Consider upgrading your web hosting plan or move to a faster WordPress dedicated web host like kisna(Now FREE cloudflare enterprise plan on all their hosting plans!)
  • Consider switching to a lighter WordPress theme, or redesigning your website with performance in mind;
  • Hire a web developer to take your page-performance efforts even further;