How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site (The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide)

Did you know that human attention span has declined from 15 to 8 seconds in recent years?

We’ve become more impatient, more distracted, and thus have more expectations towards the quality of services we use. 

And when it comes to websites’ loading speed, time really is money. Why does it matter for you as a site owner?

In short—you have a few split seconds to encourage your visitors to stay rather than bounce away before your page loads.

Let’s dive deep into data to answer the following question.

Why is WordPress site speed important?

WordPress speed optimization is crucial for several reasons:

  • Research indicates that websites loading more than 2 seconds often results in approximately 47% of visitors bouncing off the website. That’s almost half of the people that could otherwise be interested in your website!
  • Google (and other search engines) rank pages with higher loading speed higher. Google even created their own tool—PageSpeed Insights, to help websites’ owners conduct the audit and improve it.
  • Ecommerce space reports that 1 in 3 shoppers leave a site if they have to wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load.

Next to your WordPress site security, the website load time is one of the critical factors that can either make or break your success.

How to test your WordPress site performance?

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of improving your page load speed, let’s quickly go through 2 free options for testing how your website is performing right now.

  1. PageSpeed Insight – Google’s native tool that informs how your site is performing and what you can do to improve it. Consider using PageSpeed Module to implement changes right after your audit.
  2.  – an independent app that allows you to test your speed depending on the location and browser.

Of course, there are several factors you need to take into account when measuring your website’s overall performance and comparing it page by page. They include:

  1. Type of content (dynamic vs. static)
  2. Number of generated requests
  3. Size of a given page

Now, let’s finally see how you can boost your WordPress page speed and reap the benefits right away!

wp rocket banner

8 ways to speed up WordPress site (that actually work!)

Here’s what you can do when your website is loading too slow.

1. Choose a different web hosting provider

One of the most common reasons for the poor performance of your site comes down to hosting. For example, choosing a shared hosting provider might seem like a good idea when you are on a tight budget, but it will result in slow loading times during peak traffic hours.

That’s why you must do your research and choose the best web hosting provider from the start. It’s better to pay more upfront than later on stress and deal with your website crashing down. 

Check out these tips to make sure you choose a web hosting provider that offers excellent customer service if you encounter issues with setting it up.

Read more: WordPress Hosting: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

siteground web hosting

2. Use a light theme

Next, let’s talk about picking WordPress themes that aren’t just pretty but also light and quick to load.

Drop the idea of a theme or framework with a lot of elements and features that you do not plan to use—it will slow your site down. Sure, sliders, widgets, or social icons are appealing and eye-catching, but if they bring you little to no value, consider keeping your site clean and simple instead.

Take a look at the Colorlib library of WordPress themes to choose the one that will both fit your business and be light-weighted.


Image source: Colorlib

You can also have a quick chat with Colorlib customer service to get suggestions for picking the right theme for yourself.

3. Optimize images and videos

Another factor influencing your WordPress site’s speed is the number and size of images, videos, and animations you use.

Of course, the tricky part is to reduce their size without compromising the quality. Depending on the element you have to re-size, you can use tools like Photoshop or WordPress plugins.

One of the top-rated (free) plugins to help you our is WP Smush, but here is a shortlist of other plugins and tools you can use;

  • OptiMole
  • EWWW Image Optimizer
  • 10Web Image Optimizer
  • Lazy Load for Videos
  • Imsanity

Once your files are optimized, your website will pick up the speed. If you use videos in your content a lot, consider investing in a comprehensive, all-in-one tool such as Clipchamp instead of plugins. It will allow you to optimize your video content much more effectively and speed up your WordPress website significantly. 

Also, don’t forget to optimize for mobile to ensure a smooth experience for all users, no matter their device.

4. Get rid of unused JavaScript and CSS

This step will either require your technical skills or asking a developer to help you out.

If you audited your website’s performance using PageSpeed Insight, you can notice that it mentions removing or minifying JavaScript and CSS to improve the speed (and overall SEO performance).

remove javascript

Image source: Own

You can either do it manually (if you are WordPress-savvy) for small changes, such as moving your code or script to the footer section of your website, or consider hiring a developer to fix it for you.

5. Cleanup WordPress database

One relatively simple fix that could significantly influence your site’s speed is to remove old data from your WordPress database. It will allow you to reduce the size of your backups and free up space.

You can start by deleting irrelevant or spam comments, pingbacks, trackbacks, old posts’ drafts, unnecessary plugins (and their data), and themes. 

To start, you can install a plugin such as WP-Optimize and take a look at the WordPress Optimization Guide to see why it’s a recommended step.

Read more: How to Fix WordPress’ Error Establishing a Database Connection

6. Check your plugins

Next, let’s talk about plugins. 

Sure, it’s great to invest in UX by adding a live chat, a responsive mobile design, or showcasing your products in a 360-degree view. But do not forget that each additional plugin adds up the weight of your site. 

To make it clear: inactive or deactivated plugins do not slow down WordPress. But consider looking for faster and lighter plugins’ alternatives to the ones you are using.

wordpress plugins

Image source: WordPress

It’s ideal if you find a plugin that serves several purposes, for example, using an all-in-one chatbot plugin that can replace live chat, imitate a pop-up, and serve as a lead generation tool. 

7. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks

Another quick (but important!) fix is to disable pingbacks and trackbacks. Essentially their function is to inform you whenever your website or a page received a link. 

Yes, tracking your links is crucial, but there are several independent tools such as Nightwatch or SE Ranking that can alert you about incoming backlinks.

You see, every time someone links to you and your pingbacks and trackbacks functionality is on, the back-and-forth request gets generated from WordPress. This can put pressure and an unnecessary strain on your server’s resources.

You can disable that in settings under the “Discussion” section.

wordpress discussion settings

Image source: WordPress

If you are constantly bombarded with spam comments, consider ticking off the right to leave comments under your posts to avoid unnecessary “noise.”

8. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Finally, the mysterious CDN—Content Delivery Networks.

What is it?

CDN is a geographically distributed platform of servers that minimize delays in loading web page content. It’s done by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. 

Translating that into human language means that your data is essentially stored in various so-called “points of presence” (PoPs) around the world. 

Here’s a simple visual representation of how CDN works:


Image source: Kinsta

As a result, all visitors, no matter their location, can access your WordPress content without slow loading times. 

Using CDN is a common practice that significantly impacts your website’s performance. A few WordPress plugins, such as CDN Enabler or WP Rocket, will automatically link your assets to the CDN, hassle-free!

Key takeaways: How to improve your WordPress site’s speed

All in all, in the case of your WordPress website—time really is money. This means optimizing your site, especially its loading speed, should become your top priority next to other website optimization strategies.

Choosing a reliable web hosting provider, using the right tools and plugins, as well as constant monitoring of your site’s performance, does not have to be complicated. 

On the contrary, by following the steps outlined above, you will be able to significantly speed up your WordPress performance in no time!

Good luck!

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