Making WordPress Faster – Even If You’re a Complete Novice

Like most blogs and websites in the world, this blog is built on the infamous WordPress platform. It’s also currently hosted on a cheap GoDaddy shared plan, yet I’ve fine tuned it to make WordPress faster than most sites in the world.

That’s saying a lot, considering GoDaddy has in the past suffered from reliability and performance issues, and by nature, WordPress is a bit slower than some other competitive free Content Management Systems like Joomla or Drupal.

In our world of high speed internet connections, why is it important to increase the speed of your website?

When was the last time you picked up your cellphone to browse the internet? Besides a site being responsive, website speed is an absolutely crucial piece of ensuring your website stands out from your competitors.

A poll by Akamai of 1,000 shows that:

  • 47% of all shoppers want their website to load in less than 2 seconds
  • If a page takes more than 3 seconds to load – over 40% of visitors will bounce
  • If your website is too slow, 14% of visitors will just go someplace else

If that wasn’t enough, a study by Tag Man shows that a 1 second can actually lose 7% in conversion rates.

Simple math: If you sell $1,000 of goods per day, that means you’ll be missing out on $70 of revenue. That’s over $25,550 in sales per year you’re missing for a one second delay!

As you can see, making WordPress faster pays! So where do you get started?

Pro-Tip 1: Reduce Your Active Plugins

When first installing WordPress at many web hosting companies, they will bundle special features, and tools to help get you started.

The problem?

These plugins sometimes are there to serve you ads – rather than help your website.

Every single plugin is loaded Every. Single. Page. Load.

Each plugin requires processing time from your server – which can easily add up to many seconds of processing time.

If you are starting out with a new website – you should realistically have no-plugins installed. Yup – kill Hello Dolly.

If you already have an established website, a good way to verify if you *actually* need a plugin is to first De-activate it, measure impact, and then de-activate others.

Because so many plugins can affect different areas of your website, and other plugins themselves, I recommend keeping plugins disabled FIRST for about a month BEFORE deleting.

Pro-Tip 2: Stay Fresh and Clean With Updates

Keeping your plugins, WordPress Core, and themes up-to-date is not only important to take advantage of speed enhancements to aid in making WordPress faster, it will make your blog or website more secure as developers uncover new bugs.

Remember, always make a backup of your database and website files BEFORE making an update. Please. Please. Please. Feel free to reach out if you need help with this.

Pro-Tip 3: Enable Caching Features

Caching is a bit of an advanced topic – so I’ll keep it simple.

Your website’s template files don’t change too often. Nor does your “about us page,” amIRite?

Caching allows your web-server to save  these files in a much more accessible and easier to retrieve place – usually in memory.

(If you have time to only implement one of these pro-tips to makeWordpress  faster – THIS ONE IS IT!)

In simple terms, this makes your website faster – sometimes by a factor of multiples.  The most popular and what I’ve employed on this site is W3 Total Cache. The default settings are generally okay to use.

Pro-Tip 3.5: Enable Compression

Sometimes your web host offers some hidden settings inside the control panel.

Make WordPress Faster by enabling compression

If you’re on a Linux web host (most likely), contact your web host to enable compression. If you have cPanel (again, very likely) there is an icon called “Optimize Website.”

Simply select “Compress All Content.” this will allow your web server to do some more heavy lifting so that your visitors feel faster.

Pro-Tip 4: Find a New Web Host

Not all web hosts are alike. (Full disclaimer: I work for one). There are literally thousands of web hosting companies out there – and you generally do get what you pay for.

That bargain based provider may be leasing their equipment or just reselling a larger company.

Look for plans that are focused specifically for WordPress.

Those plans should should include things like Varnish, NGINX, CDNs. Don’t worry if you don’t know what those mean – just look to the specifications page and see that the plans they are providing do in-fact have those features.

Pro-Tip 5: Hire an Expert (Like Me) to Fix Your Template

Hopefully you’re not using the default WordPress template. If you are – get a new one! 🙂

Many website designers and developers don’t understand how quickly bloated code, useless includes, and duplicate files can slow down a website. Even when the description of a template you’re ready to buy from someplace claims that it’s SEO optimized, it might not be speed optimized (a real proven SEO element).

If you are quite familiar with how WordPress operates and functions, and have confidence in editing HTML, I recommend:

  • Looking at the functions.php for un-needed functions, PHP/Template calls
  • Examine what’s being called in WP_head and WP_footer – these can generally add tons of cruft with things like Emojis, includes, etc.,
  • Ensure that plugins, and template files are not calling different versions of JQuery; ensure it’s only called once


Pro-Tip 6: Minify Images, if You’re Extreme, HTML too.

When uploading images, make sure they are sized appropriately, and are the best format – both in your blog and on your template.

I have seen many instances where a HUGE image that is several megabytes in size is sized down to only a few hundred pixels.

I’ve also seen many instances where a jpg could be a gif, and a png could be jpeg.

A really great plugin to help with this is the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin.  This plugin will make WordPress faster by losslessly reducing image sizes.

Be sure to check out the settings – there are plenty of them to help significantly save precious KBs.


Making WordPress Faster…

…is an ongoing, never ending battle. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to help aid in making WordPress faster, but ultimately many of them will take trial and error.

The good news is that with these tips, no matter what your experience level, should help to provide a better experience for your visitors.

As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out, since I Make Marketing work.