How to Improve Site Speed: A Technical Guide

Did you know that WordPress powers around 54% of the websites listed on Google and Yahoo? WordPress is a widely used website content management system (CMS).

You must be able to identify your site’s problems if you use WordPress and want to appear at the top. The major issue that website owners face is slow site speed. WordPress sites that load slowly will frustrate visitors and harm search engine results.

Before we start discussing the reasons for slow speed we should know that Why should you go for a WordPress site?

Before we start discussing the reasons for slow speed, we should know that:

Why should you go for a WordPress site?

According to one survey, nearly half of people who visit websites that take more than two seconds to load leave. Hence, the major reason to speed up your WordPress site is to encourage visitors to remain longer.

The second reason is the potential customers. Customers are dissatisfied when you utilize WordPress to manage an e-commerce business. You might also blow your current opportunities.

The ranks are the last but not least. Your search engine ranking may suffer if your WordPress site speed not enough and takes a long time to load. It also affects the company’s ROI (ROI).

Why Does Your Site Need To Be Fast?

Well, think of it this way – when you go to a site and it doesn’t load what do you do?


Yup, that’s what most people will do. The internet has no patience. Since the lovely demise of dial up (does that show you how old I am?), readers are no longer willing to wait around when there are millions of other resources out there.

So if you have a slow site that people leave right away, this increases your bounce rate (or doesn’t even log as a visit). Google and other search engines look at the bounce rate, time on page, and pageviews on your site. They want to know that your site has the best user experience so they send readers your way!

Ranking in search engines in the best and most secure way to improve your site traffic (with SEO).

Google also may crawl your site less if your site runs slow (it takes up their resources), which means if you make improvements it could take longer for Google to see them! So start NOW!

If you also use Pinterest, there’s also a huge chance that if people are clicking on your pins but automatically returning to Pinterest they (Pinterest) will give your pins less priority. So it’s alllllll about traffic and user experience!


How To Test Your Site Speed

There are a few different sites you can use for free to test your site speed. One of the most common is to use GTMetrix (a second is WebPageTest). Just enter your domain URL in the search box and it will run a report of the different factors for site speed.

Prepare yourself because a lot of what they will report will look like gibberish unless you are a website developer. But, it will show you where you need improvements and if you need hep from someone that CAN decipher the findings. for example you can contact with me.

But keep reading because there may be tools and resources you can use on your own to solve most of the issues that may pop up.

Methods To Optimize Your Site Speed

There are a ton of ways that you can optimize your site. Unfortunately, there are a million and one things that could cause your site to be slower. Let’s look at the most common:

Please remember to back up your site before you make any major changes to your site for optimization!

Blog Hosts

No blog hosts are built the same!

Choosing a host is a very important decision.

You not only want to choose a host that offers great customer service and an easy interface but you need to understand the difference between the types.


Blog (or Business Website) Theme

Your theme is the look and feel of your blog so you want to choose something that matches your brand and audience.

However, your number 1 goal should be to choose one that is lightweight and fast (which includes some tech-side things like number of HTTP requests).

Below is a list of themes to check out with a small size and small number of requests (too many will greatly slow down your site) – list updated in 2023:

Know another lightning fast theme? Share it in the comments at the end of this post for others to check out!

TIP: Once you have added a theme, the theme will upload a bunch of images to your site. After customizing your theme, try to go through your Media library and delete any image you don’t need.

Read More: The Ultimate Small Business Website Design Checklist

Page Builders

I call this one out because I see so many bloggers using their page builder (like Elementor) for their posts…no!

First, if you ever decide to change your page builder you will likely have to rebuild every single post you create using a page builder!

Second, using a page builder for your posts can dramatically slow down your site leading to a higher bounce rate and less people reading your blog.

Think ahead to when you have hundreds of blog posts…only use a page builder for pages, not posts!

Depending on your page builder, you will also need to do some further optimizations. No, you will never get a page to load as fast as an optimized Gutenberg page, but you can optimize to an acceptable load time!


For the less technical people this is somewhat hard to explain. But, let’s give this a go:

A page on your site makes a bunch of different requests (processes) to make your page display correctly to your visitor. This takes time to do.

But what if a server can remember all of those requests (processes) and have your page display even faster?

That’s exactly what caching does – it basically takes a screenshot of your page rather than process it over and over and over again for every visitor.

Here are a couple of plugins that can help your website cache:

  • WP Fastest Cache (free)
  • WP Rocket (paid): this is by far my favorite and I recommend it to everyone. You will see it mentioned more than once on this page since it can do so many things without needing to code!
  • NitroPack (paid): this is a WP Rocket alternative (I have never used it)

A word of warning – when using a caching plugin you will want to make sure to clear the cache when you make any major changes to your site (adding a plugin, etc). This will clear the “snapshot” to ensure your visitors will get the most up to date page displayed (either of these plugins will show you a notification when you should clear your cache).

Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

This is a lot like caching that we just discussed, but it also allows for greater security and faster loading across the world (depending on the company and where they own servers).

What a CDN does is cache your site on their servers so it can load quicker no matter where the visitor may live.

Setting these up can be a little tricky so feel free to contact a developer if you are confused. Plus, many blog hosts partner with Cloudflare (the CDN I personally use) so can also help!

Image Optimization

While written content is the master of all blogs (unless you are a vlogger), images are a very important part of this visual interwebs we use (lol).

But having huge images on your site can slow down your site.

Not only do you want to make sure you size your images for the usage, but you also want to compress them down as much as possible without losing image quality (nobody likes a grainy photo!).

Tip: if you use something like Canva or photoshop, you can export your images at the right size AND make sure to use jpg rather than png wherever possible (the files are smaller).

There are 2 plugins that I have personally used for compression: WP Smush is completely free and is what I first started with. It compresses your images automatically following upload (though it does have a file size limit – it will not optimize files over a certain size).

My preferred plugin is ShortPixel (paid).

And you only pay for the images that you optimize (no monthly fee – you purchase a number of images and it’s very affordable).

Keep in mind that when you upload in image to WordPress it will make 4+ copies of that image (correct size, thumbnail, etc.) that all need to be optimized.

Even after using Smush on a very old site of mine, I ran a test of optimizing the entire media library (yes, you can optimized all your images with a click of a button). Here is the reduction in size of my entire media library:

73% file size reduction using ShortPixel on a media library
While I have never used it, I know many bloggers that swear by TinyPNG to compress images as well before uploading them to their site (which is great for not having another plugin, but it does add an additional step to your process).

Lazy Loading Images

What a strange name to give this…

Lazy loading just means that your site will display your page before it completes loading of all your images (which can generally takes the longest).

There are many plugins out there that can help with this…including WP Rocket!

If you use a free caching plugin that doesn’t include lazy loading, you can always use the Lazy Load plugin (free) by BrainstormForce (the makers of WP Rocket).

Store Large Files & Videos Externally

Every little bit of weight you add to your site is going to slow it down. But if you think about how bogged down your site will be if you upload massive (or even small) videos to your site, you realize how important it is not to host (save) those files directly on your website.

Here are examples of assets you should store externally:

  • Videos
  • Digital products (ebooks, opt in downloads, etc)

Yes, you can even load in huge background images from an external source (though depending on your set-up this may or may not help your load time).

For digital files you can use things like DropBox or Google Drive.

For videos, you can always use YouTube (free) or a video hosting service like Vimeo (who I personally use).

If you are interested in Vimeo, use this link to get 25% off!

Avoid Social Feeds

Yes, yes we all want people to follow us on social media and maybe take a peek at our beautiful feeds…but any widgets you place on your site that show your live feed can affect your site speed…a LOT.

So instead try to do a mock image of your feed (screenshot or otherwise) and provide a link or button to follow you. You can update this image regularly or seasonally to match your feed.

Limiting Plugins

You’ve heard it before (I’m sure), but the more plugins you have on your site the slower it MAY be.

It’s less about the number of plugins than how heavy (large file size) or resource heavy they are.

I know one big blogger who blogs about WordPress and he miraculously has 53 plugins on his site! I would never recommend that many since every plugin can also open up your blog to more security risks.

We all want our sites to have ALL THE THINGS (myself included – I struggle with this on all my sites), but having too many plugins will greatly impact your site speed.

If you have a lot of plugins or use your site for multiple uses like a blog, shop, courses, and services, think about separating out your site into subdomains (subdomain. yoursite .com). In case you hadn’t noticed, this is how I keep my site speed up on Kit Blogs!

Plus, avoid large plugins or resource heavy plugins like Jetpack, SumoMe, and WooCommerce (though this can be optimized, especially if you place your store on a subdomain).

Disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks

These capabilities notify the external site that you are connecting to its content. It is a typical approach for link building in search engine optimization (SEO).

It provides you with the opportunity to get a link back from the sites to which you want to connect. Despite the fact that this tool has several advantages, many company owners advise against using it since they believe it wastes server resources.

DDoS attacks and spammers may abuse the condition. Instead of employing trackbacks, they recommend evaluating it using tools from outside the site.

Allow GZIP compression on your site speed

GZIP, a file compression technology, is a tried-and-true approach to speed up a website.

It should be used to transmit and receive data via the Internet. The major advantage of this file compression technique is that it reduces file size by 70%. Also, compression time is much less than with other instruments.

When you utilize GZIP on a WordPress site, the content consumes much less bandwidth, allowing the site to load much quicker.

There are several WordPress plugins that may be used to enable GZIP compression. You should utilize this strategy if your website is hosted on an Apache server by adding the new codes to your .htaccess file.

Make use of the most recent PHP model version

PHP (hypertext pre-processor) is an open-source programming language that is utilized on all WordPress sites. The server-side scripting information is kept and executed on the server that hosts your website.

Keep an eye out for updates while using PHP. When you update your site at the proper moment, your site speed will increase.

PHP 8.2, the next version of this programming language, is a significant improvement over PHP 7. You must manually update to a newer model if you are using an older one.

If you don’t know what model you’re using, you may check it up in the hosting site’s documentation area. You might also speak with the support personnel about this.

WordPress database optimization

As the owner of a WordPress site, you should be aware that the WordPress database will get full after a few years of usage. Some of the provided information may be out of date and no longer usable.

In this scenario, you should improve your WordPress database. That would allow you to remove any unnecessary material while also increase the site speed and page speed.

If you’re not sure how, try the WP-Sweep plugin. It would assist you in cleaning up things like poor tags, deleted posts, and changes, among other things. The WP-Sweep plugin assists you in building your database in the most efficient manner possible with only a few clicks.

Remove broken social sharing buttons and widgets

Several SEO professionals believe that including a lot of social sharing buttons boosts conversion rates. It is typically true, but it is not always the case.

In actuality, adding worthless social networking buttons and widgets to your site hinders its performance, much as adding unneeded plugins.

That may result in an increase in the number of requests for information from the database of your WordPress site. It may be difficult to deal with them on your site, which may cause it to slow down your site speed.

As a result, choose the appropriate widgets. Search for social buttons and widgets that are relevant to your industry or company.

Little Improvements Add Up

Here are some other smaller things you can do on your site that don’t seem like a big deal, but when you place them all together they can have a huge impact. Here are a few to consider:

  • Sliders: these may look great but can really slow down your site. If you decide to keep using them, make sure to optimize your images.
  • Featured Images: in addition to optimizing your images, many recommend disabling your featured image (though still add it to your site for use on your Archive and social sharing). How you do this depends on your theme. Then, upload the image after 2-3 paragraphs in your blog post so it’s “below the fold” as much as possible (meaning you won’t see the image when you first land on the blog post). This increases the apparent load time of your site.
  • Image Types: while it’s great to have high quality images on your site (and fun to play with when there’s a transparent background!), but always, always, always use jpg rather than png. jpgs are smaller and help with site speed. There are some newer image types you can research, but jpg is the most widely used.
  • Gravatars: the built in avatars used for post comments is Gravatar, which is yet another type of resource that must be loaded onto your site. Consider turning this off under Settings > Discussion and deselect “Show Avatars”.
  • Ads: yes, this is NOT a small thing, but ad networks can be HUGE resource hogs. Many SEO experts suggest avoiding joining networks until you reach the levels for Monumetric or Mediavine and then do what you can to optimize.
  • Avoid Related Posts Plugins: while these plugins SEEM useful, you have very little control over what is recommended and they are bad for site speed. Just manually add links to the bottom of your post to content that relates to the topic.
  • Avoid Redirects: Yes, we will all have redirecting URLs from deleted blog posts, moved content, or something else. But the more redirects you have on a site (or on a single URL) the slower your site may become (well the page or post someone is trying to access). There can even be instances where a single URL is redirected multiple times which is bad juju for speed.
  • Minify CSS: yup this is jargon but CSS can really bulk up over time (Content Style Sheets) which tells your site what to look like. Another function of WP Rocket.
  • Delay parsing of JavaScript: ok this is different than CSS – it’s more about the sequence of events when a page is loaded. You will likely see this come up in your site speed test. Another thing that WP Rocket can handle.

In Conclusion

Isn’t it annoying how many things can slow down your site? Arg!!

And it can be quite confusing when you see the reports generated on your site. But, take advantage of existing tools or hire a developer to help you out. Site speed should never be ignored to not only rank in SEO but improve your readers’ experience.

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