21 Ways To Make Your WordPress Site Load in Less than 1 Second

2019-07-08T06:08:01+00:00

For years now, having a fast website was one of the key ranking factors. And recent Google updates (July 2018) bolster site speed as a key quality signal for both desktop and mobile rankings. This further solidifies speed optimization as a major part of SEO.

But it’s not just about Google rankings, a slow website can affect user experience as well.

A few extra seconds of loading time can have a huge impact on your visitors and sales. Studies show that a 1-5 second delay increases bounce rates by up to 90%. Furthermore, Amazon discovered that a 1 extra second could cost them as much as 1.6 billion dollars a year.

So loading time can impact your conversion as well as your revenue.

Take special care of your site speed if you want your online business to flourish. Don’t risk losing your visitors and revenue just because your site is slow.

Read on and find out how to make your site load in less than a second.

How to measure site speed

Site speed refers to how fast your site loads, in other terms how quickly users are able to see and interact with your content.

The average loading speed across all industries is 8.66 seconds. However people expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds, and the majority will abandon your site if it’s 3 seconds or more.

Chart showing the average loading speed across industries and countries

Benchmark your loading speed against others in your industry, to see how you stack up. This means you have to measure your speed first, then identify the culprits that are holding you back.

Use this article as a guide on how to optimize your site to give your visitors a split second loading time and a delightful user experience.

Take advantage of the following free tools to test your site speed and get recommendations as to what you need to optimize.

Google Page Speed Insights

The best place to start is using Google’s very own Page Speed Insights. It’s a free tool that lets you analyze speed and diagnose some issues that might be slowing you down.

Google Page Speed Insights

Plug in your site URL and see your page performance on both mobile and desktop devices.

Google Page Speed Insights report

You’ll also get suggestions on how you can handle issues hindering your site speed.

Google Page Speed Insights optimization suggestions

Make sure to address all of these issues. Click on each one to see details on how to fix the problem.

Optimization suggestion details

But don’t rely solely on this tool, it works by analyzing Google Chrome User Experience Report which may not have sufficient data. Instead, consider using a combination of the following tools as well, to get a much deeper insight into your speed performance.

Pingdom

Pingdom is the next tool I’d highly recommend using. Not only can you analyze your site’s performance but also monitor over time, and get granular insights and reports.

Pingdom

View file sizes, number of requests, loading times, etc., to help you understand what is slowing down your site and what you need to optimize.

The monitoring tool is great if you often make changes to your site structure and content so you can keep track of how they affect your loading times.

Unfortunately, this is a paid tool. But you can run an individual analysis for free and get similar insights as the one you’d get in the premium version. Insert your site URL and set the location from which you want to test from (it should be where the bulk of your visitors are from).

Pingdom website speed test report

Pingdom is said to be one of the most accurate tools for site speed, so definitely give it a go.

GTmetrix

GTmetrix is another free tool with the most robust recommendations on how to improve your speed. Insert your site URL into the tool and analyze to get a detailed report on your performance.

GTmetrix speed performance report

You’ll get a page speed score as well as the YSlow score. YSlow is a tool created by Yahoo! which analyzes web pages and why they’re slow according to their rules for high-performing websites. You can also use YSlow as a Chrome browser extension.

Apart from performance scores, you’ll get details which include the time it takes to fully load your page, total page size and the number of requests.

Scrolling down, you will find very in-depth recommendations as to what you should do to improve your loading speed.

GTmetrix speed optimization recommendations

Click on the arrows to expand each recommendation for more specifics as to what needs to be done.

Click to expand each speed recommendation in GTmetrix

You can also check the waterfall chart, which is a visualization of the loading process for your page.

GTmetrix waterfall chart

It also comes as a WordPress plugin so you can run your analysis directly from your WP dashboard.

Google Mobile Speed Test

Mobile has become a major part of internet browsing and shopping, with over half the traffic coming from mobile devices.

However, according to Google:

“The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. However, research also indicates 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”

22 seconds is the average time it takes to fully load a mobile page

Which is why it’s crucial to test your mobile speed as well. You can do that with another one of Google’s tools – Test My Site tool.

Google mobile speed test

Run your site URL through the tool and see how long it takes your site to load on the 3G connection as well as an estimate on visitor loss due to slow speed.

Google mobile speed test result

Additionally, you can see how you stack up against other sites in your industry.

Industry speed comparison in Google mobile speed test

And lastly, you can check out recommended fixes to help you speed up your site for mobile.

Google mobile speed test recommended fixes

It’s a pretty neat tool to raise awareness of your mobile loading speed, but take the results with a pinch of salt. It may not be the most accurate tool, and even Google admits it should only be used as a guide.

Google mobile speed test disclaimer

Use Google Analytics to find slow loading pages

Ultimately, you can use Google Analytics to check load times, and recommendations for your top viewed and slowest loading pages.

Use our guide to install and set up GA for your WordPress website.

To check your page loading times in Google Analytics go to Behavior reports and navigate to Site Speed > Speed Suggestions.

Google Analytics speed suggestions

This is a useful method to uncover the slowest pages on your site. However, in terms of recommendations, you’ll get the exact same suggestions as in Google Page Speed Insights tool.

How to make your site load in less than 1 second

Earlier in the article, we talked about the caveats of slow websites. Now consider the benefits of increasing your speed.

Walmart found that for every 1 second of improvement in their site speed, they saw an increase of 2% in their conversion rates.

Firefox reduced the average load time by 2.2 seconds and got a surge in downloads by 15.4%.

Chart showing how Firefox loading time reduction resulted in a 15,4% increase in conversions

Not only will a slow site hurt your business goals, but also improving your speed will significantly boost your conversions and sales.

It’s critical to make your site as fast as it can be, so use the following 21 tactics to supercharge your site loading time.

1. Avoid Shared Hosting

Shared hosting provided by services such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, Hostgator and others is less than optimal if you want to have a fast site. You do get pretty cheap hosting (starting at $3/mo), but these providers have to cut costs somehow. They usually do this by cramming multiple sites on one server which then have to compete for server resources.

This issue usually manifests in high “time to first byte” (aka TTFB). TTFB is the time that a browser has to wait until it can download the first byte from the server. Google strongly recommends keeping your TTFB bellow 200ms.

If your TTFB is higher than 200ms, that’s how you can tell if your server is to slow and you need to switch to a dedicated server or a VPS (virtual private server).

How to measure your TTFB?! You can again use GTmetrix and switch to the timings tab.

TTFB on a dedicate server

TTFB on a shared server

The only way to fix high TTFB would be to switch to a dedicated or managed server.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Shared hosting is great for hobbyists who want to have a website but don’t want to invest more than a couple of dollars.

However, business site owners should get a VPS or dedicated hosting because of the speed (among other things)

2. Reduce HTTP requests

Every time someone visits your website, their browser requests files that make up your page, from your server. This is called an HTTP request. The files may include HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, images, icons, and others.

Browsers make a separate request for each file necessary to render your page. If you’re site consists of a lot of images, animations and dynamic content, there will be multiple HTTP requests which can take a long time to execute and download.

That’s why you need to remove all the files your site doesn’t need to reduce the number of HTTP requests.

GTmetrix’s waterfall chart will show you all the different requests being made for your page.

GTmetrix waterfall chart

You can a breakdown of each request, their size and how long it takes for it to be loaded.

So, fewer files mean fewer requests which in turn means faster loading times.

To reduce the number of HTTP requests you can:

    • Delete and optimize images – Images are the obvious culprit, they can enhance your content but having too many of them can hurt your speed. They take the longest time to load, so take your time and think about which images bring value to your site and which don’t. Decide which ones to keep and which ones to scrap. Then simply remove those that do not contribute and optimize the rest (which we’ll talk about later)
    • Minify and Combine HTML, CSS and JavaScript files – Another type of files that your site needs to load are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Although you shouldn’t remove them, you can still combine and minify them. This will not only reduce their number but also reduce their size, boosting your page speed. “Minification” means removing any characters, like comments, formatting, white space and new lines from HTML, CSS and JavaScript files that aren’t necessary for the code to execute. You can do this with WP Rocket or free plugins like Fast Velocity Minify or Autoptimize. Combining means taking files of the same type, and merging them into one. For example, 3 CSS files and 4 HTML files can be merged into two, which results in only 2 HTTP requests instead of 7. You can combine files using WP Rocket.

Minify and combine files in WordPress

  • Fix Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS files – Browsers load your page from the top down. If you have render-blocking JS and CSS, the browser will stop loading everything else on your site until it has fully loaded that CSS or JavaScript file. You can check for these in Google Page Speed Insights.

Google Page Speed Insights suggestion to eliminate render-blocking JavaScrip and CSS

You can fix this issue using plugins like W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket or Autoptimize.

Eliminating render-blocking JS and CSS in WordPress

Reducing your HTTP requests is one of your top priorities when it comes to boosting your site’s speed performance.

Be mindful though, messing around with JavaScript and CSS may break your site, especially your theme, if not done properly. So if you’re not 100% confident in doing this by yourself, get some help from a web developer.

3. Utilize browser caching

You’ve seen how reducing the number of HTTP requests and downloads can impact your speed. But would it be possible to avoid those downloads altogether?

Yes!

By utilizing browser caching you can evade downloading files…at least some of them.

Brower caching means that when users visit your site for the first time, static elements of your website will be stored on their hard drive, in the cache memory (temporary storage).

So next time that user visits your site, their browser will load the page without having to send HTTP requests for those files.

For WordPress users, utilizing browser caching is pretty simple. You can install and activate W3 Super Cache and enable caching.

First, you should enable page caching by going into the settings and checking the page caching box.

Enable page caching in WordPress

This will reduce the response time of your site and give you a speed boost in itself.

Then enable browser caching (which we just talked about) to allow files to be stored on user’s browsers. As a result, returning users will have your page loaded much faster.

Enable browser caching in WordPress

You should also enable object caching to speed up dynamic elements of your site. This will significantly improve your speed performance if you have a dynamic site (which most WordPress websites are).

Enable object caching in WordPress

However, you should only use this if you’re on a VPS or dedicated server.

Object caching is a very resource-intensive process, and if you’re using a shared server, it may consequently slow your site down.

In the case of shared hosting, you should keep this box unchecked.

4. Reduce server response times – fix DNS lookup

DNS (domain name system) is a server that holds IP addresses and their associated hostnames. Whenever a user tries to access a URL, the DNS server will translate that into an IP address which indicates site’s location online.

A DNS lookup, in that case, is when the DNS server searches for the right IP address in its records.

DNS lookup visualization

You can check the time it takes for a DNS lookup in GTmetrix waterfall chart.

Check DNS lookup in GTmetrix waterfall chart

This should be as short as possible. Your DNS lookup time is a part of your TTFB, and it should be under 200ms.

What to do if your DNS server is too slow?

Well, you can switch to a faster DNS provider. You can check out a list of the fastest DNS servers compiled by DNSPerf.

Chart showing the best DNS providers

It’s refreshed every month so you’ll always have up to date charts of the best DNS providers available. One of the most trusted and the one I’d recommend is Cloudflare. It’s powering over 39% of managed DNS domains which makes it the largest networks in the world.

Cloudflare offers DNS caching, which means lookups won’t have to be done for every single page load. Instead of contacting the server, IP information will be served from the DNS cache until it expires. It can reduce the amount of DNS lookups and allow for faster loading times.

You can set the expiration time, also known as TTL (time to live) according to how often you make changes to your site. Longer TTLs mean less frequent DNS lookups.

Set your desired TTL in Cloudflare

You could also take advantage of DNS prefetching. This means that your browser will perform DNS lookups in the background making the process faster. You can do this using WordPress resource hints to add custom URLs and domains for DNS-prefetch, preconnect, prefetch or prerender.

5. Enable CDN

Another way to boost your speed is by using a CDN or Content Delivery Network.

Each time a user visits your site, their browser sends a request to your hosting server. When you have high traffic periods (which are great for your business), there will be a massive number of requests sent to your server which can get congested, and cause lag and slow loading times.

You can circumvent this by using a CDN to mitigate the bottleneck caused by hoisting your site on only one server.

A CDN will host your site on a vast network of servers spread out globally. When a user visits your site, the request will be routed to the nearest server which will then fetch and load your site much faster.

Users from different locations around the world will be able to access your site much faster, due to the reduced latency and lag.

If your hosting provider doesn’t offer CDN, the most popular solutions are Cloudflare and StackPath.

To enable third-party CDN in WordPress, you can use plugins such as CDN Enabler. You can easily link your content to the CDN URL, and it will automatically be copied to your CDN provider.

Enable CDN in WordPress

You can also use plugins like WP Rocket, WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache to enable your CDN.

StableWP provides (type of CDN) CDN as a part our (name) package.You can learn how to set up your CDN with our detailed guide.

6. Minimize redirects

Redirects are a normal occurrence on any website. They are often a necessary way to deal with broken links.

When you change or remove pages, you may need to create redirects to help users (and crawlers) navigate to the correct URL. If you have Yoast SEO plugin installed (which you should), you can easily create redirects for all broken links on your site.

Redirects in WordPress

You can also use other free plugins like Redirection and Simple 301 Redirects.

But having too many redirects can cause additional HTTP requests which can, as I mentioned already, hurt your site speed. In our example, GTmetrix lists too many redirects as a primary issue that affects our loading times.

Minimize redirects suggestions in GTmetrix

Google (and myself) suggests to eliminate redirects entirely, or at the very least minimize their number.

Although eliminating redirects may not always be possible, especially for sites that restructure and change their content, there are a few things you can do to minimize their number.

  1. Don’t create unnecessary redirects. Redirects are there for a reason, they’re a good tool to deal with broken links or outdated content. However, they do increase your loading times, so use them only when it makes sense. You should use redirects in the following situations:
    • When you update your content – you can redirect outdated content to your fresh, updated version
    • When you overhaul your permalink structure – in this case, you need to redirect your old internal links to updated URLs
    • When you’re in a middle of upgrading an existing page on your site – you can redirect to a temporary page until you fish updating
  2. Never require more than one redirect to any of your resources. Never link to pages that you know have redirects in it. Otherwise, you’ll create something known as redirect chains. “A redirect chain is a series of redirects that go from one URL after another, forcing people and search engines to wait until there are no more redirects to step through.”
  3. Remove redirects whenever possible. Check the recommendations in GTmatrix to see which redirects should be dealt with. You can also look for any legacy redirects in your .htaccess file. Make sure you understand why these redirects exist and how they would affect your other links and redirects. Then remove or update those not needed. You can do this manually or in bulk using a plugin called Better Search and Replace.
    Better search replace plugin in WordPress dashboard
    If you have a secure site, you can use HSTS to remove the SSL redirect.
  4. Clean up redirect chains. To remove redirect chains, you have to edit your .htaccess file and point all of your redirected pages directly to the most recent version of that page.
  5. Don’t have more than one redirect for your top level domain. You can check how many redirects you have used the free Redirect Mapper tool. You can then modify your redirect rules using Redirection plugin.

7. Enable Gzip compression

Compressing your web resource files can significantly reduce their size and enable faster loading speeds.

The industry standard is using Gzip compression to reduce strings of similar code in your files to make their size smaller. Modern web servers compress files to Gzip format before sending then to browsers, which upon reception decompress these files and use them to render your site. This can reduce your response size by about 70%.

You can check if you have Gzip enabled using the Check Gzip Compression tool.

GZIP compression checkup

If you don’t have it enabled in your hosting server you need to take care of this asap since this can shave off precious seconds off your loading time.

You can enable gzip compression with W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket.

If you still keep getting the recommendation to compress a certain file in GTmatrix you will have to enable compression within your .htaccess if your server’s running on Apache or nginx.conf file if it’s using NGINX system.

Enable GZIP compression suggestion in GTmetrix

Mind you that Gzip compression is mostly used for HTML, CSS and JavaScript files and is not necessary for images, music, and videos since they’re already compressed.

8. Optimize images and galleries

Your images are usually the largest files on your website, which is why they can mean the difference between slow and fast websites. You need to take special care of them and make sure to optimize them in a way that preserves their quality yet allows for faster loading.

To illustrate how much impact images can have on your speed, just look at this example. Over 40% of content and over 56% of size is made up of images.

Content size report in GTmetrix

Images are a necessary part of your content but they can also be a huge burden for your load timings. However, you shouldn’t remove them, rather optimize them.

In GTmetrix you can get three types of recommendations relating images:

  1. Serve scaled images
  2. Specify image dimensions
  3. Optimize images

Content optimization suggestions in GTmetrix

To serve scaled images, expand the recommendation and check out which images need to be scaled and what is the recommended size.

Recommended image size for scaling images

WordPress is scaling the image automatically to the appropriate size set by the height and width parameters of the content. Still, the image is loaded in full size and then adjusted, using up precious resources and slowing down your site.

So, before uploading your images, resize them to the corresponding size in an image editor such as Paint, Photoshop, or an open-source app like RIOT. Set the height and width in the editor to the recommended size and then upload to your WordPress site.

Scaling images in Windows Paint

Next, you should specify the image dimensions recommended by GTmetrix report.

Suggested image dimensions in GTmetrix

Check out the correct dimensions, then locate the image and set the right height and width.

Lastly, you should compress your images to save file size as well as loading time. This is the image optimization suggested by GTmetrix.

Image optimization suggestions in GTmetrix

You can losslessly reduce the size of your images with a free plugin like WP Smush Image Compression and OptimizationWP Smush plugin in WordPress dashboard

You can set it to automatically compress your images on upload and set the desired size to be optimized. Also, strip the image metadata to reduce the file size further. And finally, resize the images if they exceed your set height and width.

Smush image optimization configuration

You should also consider the image format you’re using. PNG files are bigger, they have more detail and are great for simple images without too many colors. JPEG images are significantly smaller in size but lose a bit of quality compared to PNG, and are great for complex images with many colors as this format can save you a ton of loading time.

If you want to add multiple images to a post in form of a gallery, use light and fast gallery plugins like Envira or FooGallery.

9. Avoid CPU hogging plugins

Certain plugins can be a real drain on your CPU resources, slowing down your site and hurting your user experience.

Some of these plugins may run in the background tracking your traffic like WordFence, while others may be running scans, collecting statistics like Monster insights, or plugins that have extensive functionality like Jetpack or Yoast SEO. Either way, they can be a real resource-hog and may slow your site down.

You can detect these plugins using GTmetrix waterfall chart. Hover over each request to check what it is. If you find that it belongs to a plugin and it has high loading times or if it reoccurs multiple times in the chart, these are a hallmark of a CPU heavy plugin.

CPU heavy plugins in GTmetrix waterfall report

In this example, the video lightbox plugin appears twice in the chart with a total of 559ms.

You can also use Plugin Performance Profiler or P3 to check for CPU intensive plugins. This tool was developed by GoDaddy, but it’s for some reason abandoned by their developers. Not to worry, this plugin still runs well even on new versions of WP.

Plugin Performance Profiler plugin for WordPress

Consider if this is an essential plugin for your site or if you can remove it without affecting your user experience. Also, research if there’s a more lean plugin substitute that can do the job well without slowing down your site.

If it’s a feature-packed plugin, consider disabling the functionality that you’re not using.

Disable unused features in Yoast SEO plugin

You can also use WP Disable plugin to disable emojis, gravatars, embeds and other resource-heavy elements that are not necessary and may be impairing your page speed.

10. Disable unused plugins

While we’re at the subject of plugins, the general rule of thumb is – less is more!

As mentioned, plugins can be real resource drains which is why you should keep your plugin collection lean. Only install plugins you’re actually planning to use.

For those plugins you’re not using don’t just deactivate them, uninstall them altogether. You can always install them if you ever decide to use them again.

Also, consider deleting poorly built or outdated plugins and replacing them with better optimized and up-to-date plugins.

Don’t forget to take care of plugins that have the same functionality. You don’t need two caching plugins or two different social sharing plugins. They can diminish your speed for no good reason, so pick the one that performs better and remove all others.

Many WordPress experts also recommend using fewer plugins for the best results.

Last but not least, use simple plugins that do a single task rather than comprehensive all-in-one plugins that do everything. If they’re not optimized well enough, they will be struggling to do all the complex tasks by themselves.

The exception being reputable tools such as Yoast SEO, WP Rocket and others.

11. Consider using AMP

If you have poor loading speeds on mobile devices, you may consider using AMP.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is Google very own project aimed at boosting websites loading times on mobile.

Websites that make use of AMP have near-instantaneous loading times, which leads to more engagement and higher rankings.

They way it works is by stripping away most of the elements of your site and leaving only the essentials. This striped off version can then load many times faster than your regular mobile site.

Basically, all you’ll have left is text and a few images, which can bear no resemblance to your original site design. You should definitely read this post by MOZ before you decide if AMP is right for you.

AMP is perfect for bloggers or websites which heavily rely on textual content.

You can enable AMP using Automattic’s (creators of WordPress) own plugin. If you want to keep some of your design, you can couple it with Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP plugin.

AMP Yoast SEO plugin

Play around with it, and check if what you get fits your goals. If not, you can always revert to your regular mobile version of your site.

12. Avoid having ads on your site

Using advertisements from Google AdSense or other advertising networks can also slow your site down.

Ads require multiple resources requests from external servers in order to be shown. In some cases even hundreds of them as described in this article by Search Engine Land. And we already talked about how important it is to reduce the number of requests.

Having ads will drag your loading time, users will have a bad experience, Google won’t like increased bounce rates and low-speed signals from your site, so you’ll end up in a downward spiral.

And what’s the point, over 40% of laptop users and 15% of those on mobile, use adblockers.

Usage of AdBlockers by device

If you do want to make some extra revenue with your site, I suggest using affiliate links – they don’t use up any additional resources, they can’t be blocked, and they’re much more personalized leading to higher conversions and more money for you.

13. Use fast social sharing buttons

Social sharing buttons are great for promoting your content and offers. They make it so easy for visitors to share a post they like on social media, to get you that coveted viral effect.

However, most of them are stylized and use too many elements which can also be a drain on your resources and a cause of slow pages.

You should definitely consider replacing them with something simple and lightweight such as Sassy Social Share.

It has great reviews, it’s frequently updated and completely free. Sassy Social Sharing buttons are lightweight, responsive and customizable, so you get pretty much all the functionality in a much smaller package.

Fast social sharing buttons plugin for WordPress

14. Use a lightweight theme

When creating a WordPress website you want it to work well and look pretty. However, often times people sacrifice one for the other.

Many fancy themes are slow because they are poorly coded and optimized, and have a ton of unnecessary features built in.

If your site is slow even from the start, when you didn’t have all those plugins and content, there can be one of two reasons for this:

  1. Either your server is slow, or
  2. Your Theme is the bottleneck

Redesigning your site is something no one likes, but you have to do it in this case, otherwise, your entire business will suffer.

When choosing a theme, make sure it’s:

  1. Lightweight and fast
  2. Responsive and mobile-ready
  3. SEO friendly
  4. Customizable
  5. Use HTML5
  6. Secure, and
  7. Reliable (meaning developers will continue to update and support it)

You can find a pretty comprehensive list of 20+ fastest WP themes on CodeInWP.

15. Optimize above the fold loading (lazy loading)

When users land on your page they typically have to wait for the entire page to download before they see anything. This can pose a problem if your pages have a lot of content below the fold like images or videos.

What lazy loading does is it prioritizes content above the fold, since it’s the first thing users see when they land on your page. When visitors scroll down the content will load as it comes into view.

This way they won’t have to wait for the entire page to load, significantly boosting the loading speed.

You can easily enable lazy loading in WordPress with plugins such as a3 Lazy Load and Lazy Load by WP Rocket.

Enable lazy loading in WordPress

With a3 Lazy Load you can enable lazy loading for images, videos, iframes and HTML5 videos.

You can also follow this tutorial on how to have a light YouTube embed which downloads a video only once the user clicks on the play button.

16. Keep WordPress and your plugins up to date

Something that sounds obvious but doesn’t get the attention it deserves is keeping everything up to date, WordPress, your theme and your plugins.

Newer versions come with patches that can fix stability, security as well as speed. Sometimes bugs or other vulnerabilities may be what’s holding back your site from loading faster. Optimizations may come in updated versions that use resources better and increase your loading speed.

Always check for updates on your WordPress dashboard. There’s a reason why they appear so prominently, it’s because keeping things updated is critical for your site speed, security, and functionality.

Keep your WordPress up to date

The “Updates” option in the side menu will show you if you’re running the latest versions of WordPress, theme, and plugins.

Check for updates in WP

Make sure that your WordPress is updated regularly. You can also check the current version you’re running in the “At a glance” box of your dashboard.

Check WordPress version

I know you may be tempted to enable automatic updates and be done with it. However, I’d advise you against it because it can be risky and may bring your whole site down if not careful.

17. Limit crawlers/spiders

Search engine crawlers like Googlebot and others are known to use a lot of resources when indexing your site. You can limit their crawling rate to match when you actually make some changes to your site and when it makes sense to crawl it again.

Other services like Ahrefs also have their own crawlers which may slow down your loading times, so you can also set a limit for them to keep it at an optimal rate.

Spammers and other bots might also visit your site for nefarious reasons, and you want to block and keep them away.

WordFence plugin has this feature built in. You can set crawl rate limiting rules that can prevent Googlebot and other crawlers from hogging your CPU resources.

Limit crawling in WP

With this, you can block search engine crawl spiders, but also spam bots and even humans with suspicious behavior.

You can also set a crawl rate limit for Googlebot in your Google Search Console to keep it from slowing down your server.

Limit crawl rate in WP

18. Technical optimization

Other minor coding issues can cause great performance problems. One them can be having redundant code on your site.

These are remnants of deleted page elements which are then left unused but still take up processing power to load.

You can find them in Google Chrome’s Developer Tools.

Access developer tools in Google Chrome

Just make sure you’re on the page that you want to investigate. Then select “more tools” and choose “coverage”.

Coverage in Google Chrome developer tools

Run the scan and look at the results, check the code assets and their unused bytes.

Unused bytes in coverage report

Click on each bar and closely inspect for unused pieces of code. The lines of code marked with red color are those which are unused and should be trimmed down.

Check for unused bytes in your site code

Another common error you may get in GTmetrix is “avoid CSS @import”.

Avoid CSS @import suggestion in GTmetrix

This means that some of your CSS files are imported from inside other CSS files. This can pose a problem because it can cause files to load sequentially (one has to wait for the other) instead of in parallel (at the same time). This wastes times and round trips and makes your web page load slower.

Use the free CSS Delivery Tool to find those troublesome files within your site.

CSS Delivery Tool

Avoid calling those CSS files using the import method. Instead, copy and paste the imported CSS into the original CSS file. You can also do it by adding the following code:

CSS code

If you keep getting the “add expires headers” error in your YSlow tab of GTmetrix, even after you enable browser caching you need to add a bit of code to your .htaccess file.

Add expire headers suggestion in GTmetrix

Expires headers are used by web servers to tell clients how long a component can be cached.

In case you do get this in GTmetrix, insert this piece of code into your .htaccess file:

< IfModulemod_expires.c >
ExpiresActive on
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType image/ico “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 60 days”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 60 days”
</IfModule >

You might also keep getting a message to “remove query strings from static resources”.

Remove query strings from static resources GTmetrix suggestion

Some servers may not be able to cache query strings, and by removing them, you can improve your caching and galvanize your site performance.

You can remove them with a plugin like by Little Buzzy.

The other way is adding some code into your WP Theme’s functions.php file.

Enter code in your functions.php file

IMPORTANT NOTE: Editing your WordPress source code can break your site if not done correctly. If you’re not comfortable doing this, contact a web developer before doing any of this!

19. Use external hosting for videos

Say you want to add a promo video or a tutorial to your page. Video content is awesome, and the future of internet belongs to videos with predictions that 80% of content consumed will be video by 2019.

Instinctively you may choose to upload videos directly to your WordPress server. But hold on just a moment, that may not be the optimal solution.

Video format takes up a ton of space on your server, and may also drain your bandwidth.

Just imagine if multiple visitors try to watch the video at the same time, your host server will have to deliver that huge video file to all of them at once. If your server bandwidth is not optimized for video hosting, users may experience that frustrating buffering we all know and hate.

Video buffering

Also, if you’re a shared hosting server, you have limited space available for your files, and a few videos can quickly use up all the space allotted to you.

What’s the solution?!

It’s simple, host your videos on platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia.
These are great video hosting platforms optimized just for holding and serving your video files.

Once you upload your video the o platform of your choosing, simply embeds it onto your WordPress page. And with Gutenberg, it’s easier than ever. Just select the appropriate embed block, choose the file and publish.
Embed videos in WordPress

With YouTube and Vimeo, you get the added benefit of exposing your videos to a huge audience which may discover your video and consequently your website and business.

20. Limit/disable WordPress revisions

WordPress by default collects and saves all your content and revisions for future use. It may be useful sometimes if you decide to revert to the older version of a post.

However, once you have tens or hundreds of posts with multiple revisions each, you can see how those numbers quickly add up. And for your server this can be a hassle, it has to go through a large database of revisions to find and serve the right one.

That’s why you need to manage and optimize your revisions.

First up, if your site has been around for a while, you likely need to delete some old, expandable revisions. You can do this with a plugin (much like everything else on this list). I recommend WP Optimize or WP Sweep.

Limit revisions in WordPress

Use it to clean up revisions, draft posts, trashed items like posts and comments, etc.

In the settings tab, you can manage your revisions and schedule maintenance. You can set the limit as to how long you want to keep your revisions and how often you want to run automatic cleanups.

WP Optimize dashboard settings

Alternately, you can have your developer configure a revision limit or disable them in WordPress wp-config.php file.

Disable revisions

Disable revisions code

Limit revisions

Limit revisions code

Another thing that may be slowing your site down is Heartbeat API. This is a feature released in WordPress 3.6 and it allows for better session management, revision tracking and autosaving.

It can come in very useful as an autosave feature, in case something unexpected happens so you don’t lose all your progress.

Autosave feature in WordPress

However, it can get pretty CPU intensive and take up a huge chunk of your server resources, slowing down your site.

Luckily, you can disable it or set a longer autosave interval (heartbeat frequency) to save up resources. Install the Heartbeat Control plugin and set the desired pulse.

Heartbeat control in WordPress

21. Optimize Databases

WordPress doesn’t only keep your revisions in its database. It also stores posts, comments, pages and other forms of textual and encrypted data.

Over time your database will get cluttered with too much data which may not be necessary for you to keep. These can be trashed files, posts, comments, spam folder, revisions, etc.

You might not notice these, but they can also slow down your loading speed since servers have to go through a lot of information to get to what they want to serve.

You can clean this up, in the same way, I described for revisions. Use a WP-Optimize plugin to easily get rid of files cluttering up your database and schedule regular maintenance to keep your database clean and lean.

You can go proactive and set limits for your database in wp-config.php with a few lines of code.

Code to set limits to your database

Conclusion

Page speed is a critical part of your On-page SEO. A fast website will get you ranked on top in Google. Not only that…

Delight your visitors with lightning fast user experience worthy of your brand. Excellent website UX spells trust in the eyes of your potential buyers. Never again lose a customer simply because your site is too slow.

Use the tricks from this article to optimize your performance and turbocharge your site. But don’t just set and forget!

Constantly monitor and gauge your speed to make adjustments before it becomes a problem.

If you need any help or advice, drop a comment below and we’ll make sure to help you in the best way we can!

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