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How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website in 20 Minutes

speedup-wordpress

Ranking in the top spot in Google is the ultimate goal. While the search giant has clearly stated that there are over 260 ranking factors taken into account, one of the most important ranking factors is the website page speed.

Given the fact that 20% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress, it is imperative for us to share a guide on how can you optimize a website installation for performance and high speed.

Before we proceed here is a before-after effect of these optimizations on a test WordPress website (as measured on Pagespeed Insights).

pagespeed-insights-slow

Before optimization.

pagespeed-insights-fast

After optimization.

As you can see that the difference is massive, you can also achieve this high page speed score and make your WordPress website extremely fast.

We are sure you want to learn how exactly did we optimize this example website for such impressive speed improvement. Here is a complete guide of improvement and changes we made to this website.

Start by deleting unused plugins 

Unless you have a fresh WordPress installation, your website probably has a bunch of plugins installed. Among these, there might be a few plugins that you have not used in a while. Plugins add some sort of code to your WordPress that loads every time your website is accessed by a user. Having unused plugins means unnecessary load time. Your first step towards optimizing your WordPress website is to remove any unused plugins.

Switch DNS providers to Cloudflare

At the most basic level websites are nothing more than files on hard drives (servers). Each of these files has an IP address. When you access a website, you are actually asking the browser to open a certain IP address. While naked IP addresses are hard to remember, domain names are much easier for humans to memorise. This is why domain names are mapped to IP addresses using DNS or a domain name system. A simple way to look at it is to think of the entire Internet and web network as a phonebook. Whenever you enter a domain name in the address bar of the browser, a DNS lookup occurs that finds the correct IP address of the domain.

cloudflare-dns

Many people are not aware of the fact that their websites use the free DNS providers that the registrars offer. These DNS services are usually slow. If your WordPress site is also using the free DNS provided by your registrar, it’s time you switch to a faster DNS provider like Cloudflare.

While the speed offered by Cloudflare DNS service is premium, there is no charge for using their free plan. Here is a complete guide on how to use their DNS service for free.

Try a caching plugin

Caching is a web technology that is used to store temporary files such that they can be delivered to users faster without loading the entire files again.

For a WordPress website, you can implement caching in 2 ways:

Browser Caching: this method stores the most common website files like logo and CSS on the user’s hard drive so these files are not loaded again when the same user visits your website.

Server Caching: this method creates a full static version of a web page on the server to serve to a new visitor and avoid rebuilding the entire site.

wp-rocket-caching

For WordPress websites, there is a plug-in available called WP Rocket. It is one of the most powerful caching plug-ins for WordPress websites available so far. Enabling caching for a website using this plug-in is straightforward. All you have to do is buy the plug-in, install and activate it. It implements basic server and browser caching on your WordPress website by default. If you are using a responsive website and want to enable caching for mobile devices, you can do the same from cache settings.

However, if you are not willing to pay, then you can try the W3 Total Cache plug-in which is a free alternative to WP Rocket.

Minify webpage code

Website code contains whitespaces and comments for readability. While this is a helpful implementation for coders, it increases the code file and hence the loading time. Minification is the process of removing whitespaces and comments from your code to reduce the overall page size.

minfied HTML

To make your WordPress website faster you can minify CSS and JavaScript.

If you are using WP Rocket plug-in then you can go to the setting and tick the checkboxes to minify CSS and JavaScript files.

Autoptimize is a free alternative that you can install and activate to minify your WordPress code files.

Keep in mind that minification is known to break web pages which is why you should always test your website before deploying live changes.

Combine CSS and JavaScript files

It is not uncommon for WordPress websites to have multiple JavaScript and CSS files. Themes and plug-ins have some common CSS and JavaScript files.

Depending on the server setup of your WordPress website, you can combine these files to speed things up.

With HTTP/1.1, JavaScript and CSS files are loading consecutively. It means that 2nd file is loaded only when the first file is completely loaded. This brings down the speed of the website.

However, with HTTP/2, files are loaded concurrently. This implies your WordPress can load multiple CSS and JavaScript files at the same time giving a boost to the website speed.

If your server is using HTTP/1.1, then combining files to reduce their number and speed up the website makes sense. If the setup is HTTP/2, then CSS and JavaScript files are already been loaded concurrently and you can skip this step entirely.

http1-http2

The Key CDN’s tester can tell you what version your Web server is using.

If your WordPress website is running on an HTTP/1.1 server then we highly recommend you combine JavaScript and CSS files.

WP Rocket comes with an inbuilt option to combine JavaScript and CSS files. If you are using Autoptimize, then also you can use the option to combine files from the setting.

Keep in mind, that combining CSS and JavaScript files can sometimes break your website. This is why you need to double-check all functionalities before you deploy changes. If you are combining JavaScript and CSS files after enabling caching on your website, make sure to clear the cache beforehand to check these changes.

Did we help speed up your WordPress website?

Now that we have shared the basic guide to speed up your WordPress website in less than 20 minutes, we would like to know how your experience has been.

If your website does not show drastic improvement in speed after following this guide, it is nothing unusual. Every WordPress configuration is different and there can be a number of factors for slow speed. Heavy themes, slower hosting or too many third-party tracking scripts can slow down your WordPress website even after these improvements.

However, we are pretty sure that most WordPress users will benefit from this guide.

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