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
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
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
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
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.
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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
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
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. Upfront 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.
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.