Hi friends and welcome back to the blog! Today I want to share with you the top 8 ways to speed up your WordPress website!
While this post does not come highly recommended, unlike others, it is one that I think many just do not even know they need – because website speed correlates with traffic and user retention (so it is super important).
Think about it: have you ever visited someone’s website or blog and, because of how long it took the blog to load, exited out prematurely? If so, you have contributed to someone’s high bounce rate! And high bounce rates are indicators that something is either off with your website speed or your content is just not good.
I’m guessing that for most of you who have high bounce rates, it’s the former of the two (I know you have some awesome content out there).
Well, today, I’m going to tell you exactly how you can increase your website’s loading speed, overall speed, bounce rate, user retention, and user on-page time with 8 simple steps. These will take you about one working day to implement, so make sure you set aside a good day to tackle them all – it’ll be worth it. Now, let’s get to it!
The Top 8 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
Proof that These 8 Steps Work (My Own Success with Them)
For starters, let me just tell you a few things about my site. I have a blog (obviously) and started it in October of 2019. I haven’t always paid attention to my bounce rate and site speed, but recently, I was cued in on the fact that these two are super important for user retention – and decided to look further into it.
I found that I had a very slow site – very slow. I also found that my bounce rate was in the 80’s! That’s awful! You want your bounce rate to be (ideally) around 35-45%, but even up to 65% is fine (especially for bloggers). But 80-90%? Way too high.
I also noticed that my site loading time was very high at 16 seconds. When I saw this, I knew right away why my bounce rate was so high – and why I didn’t have very many returning visitors and why the visitors I had were not staying on my site very long. (Loading speed is super important, just like bounce rate!)
I started researching how to lower all of these numbers and found out that there were actually some very simple steps I could take to lower them.
After implementing the steps you are about to read, my bounce rate dropped to 60% within two days, my website became faster, my loading speed went down to 1.6 seconds, and my user retention and on-page time started increasing! All from these 8 steps I’m about to share with you!
So, let’s get to them:
1. Switch to SiteGround Hosting for Better Website Speed
The very first thing I did, after a lot of research and questioning professionals in the field of blogging, is I decided to switch from Bluehost hosting to SiteGround.
The reason for this is because SiteGround had a much better system set up to handle my blog and to ensure that the speed was always at its best – Bluehost did not do this (and my past numbers show that).
Also, SiteGround is world renowned for their amazing customer service and they have a very good price for their annual fee. It was only $71 for an entire year compared to the $130 I paid with Bluehost. That’s a win in my book!
To switch from Bluehost to SiteGround was really not that hard. I simply contacted SiteGround via their online chat, told them I’d like to switch, and they walked me through every single step. Once everything was set up with SiteGround, I cancelled Bluehost and my site took about 2 hours to come back up fully functional. (Those were 2 pretty scary hours, but this is totally normal when switching hosts – I couldn’t wait to see my site again & the customer service representative assured me that downtime is normal when switching hosts).
As soon as I was fully switched over to SiteGround, I noticed immediate improvement in my site speed, my loading time, my bounce rate, and user retention. It was amazing! I also noticed that people started staying on my site longer as well. Pretty cool, right?
One more thing I want to mention about SiteGround & why I recommend switching to them as the first step in increase your WordPress website’s speed: they have their own plugin, SG Optimizer, that is pretty much like 8-10 plugins in one.
2. Image Optimization
For some of you who may already be with SiteGround (or aren’t exactly ready to make that move), there are a few other things you can do on your own to increase your website speed on WordPress.
For starters, image optimization will do just that.
Think about it: how many images do you have on your website or blog? I’m assuming quite a lot! Most of us do.
Well, in order for WordPress to work at its best level, images must be optimized for best performance.
I won’t get into all the details here because it’s really just a lot of internet lingo – but I will say that you need to make sure your images are optimized. This will greatly improve your website’s speed and performance if they are.
To do so, head down to number 7 and check out the plugins I recommend for image optimization, plugin recommendations number 2 & 3.
3. Decrease Amount of Ads on Your Homepage
I know this is something a lot of you may not want to hear – but let me tell you: ads slow down your site performance – immensely.
For a lot of you, ads are a huge part of your income. For those people, I recommend sticking to a maximum of 2 ads on your homepage. For all others (who are not counting on ad income at the moment), I recommend 0-1 ad on your homepage.
I took down ads from my homepage (all except for one in the right sidebar) months ago – and noticed my website performance got so much better when doing so.
So, if you can, take down some ads in order to increase your WordPress website speed.
4. Defer Offscreen Images & Lazy Load Pictures
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the terms above, to “defer offscreen images” or “lazy load pictures” means to simply tell your website to wait until a user has scrolled to a picture before loading it.
Think about it: do images on your site really need to load all at once? Definitely not. Unless they’re magicians, your users only have the ability to see a certain number of images on your site at a time – they have to scroll down (or up) to see more.
So, by lazy loading or deferring offscreen images, you free up space for your website’s speed to perform at its best.
I have a plugin I recommend for this, and it’s plugin number 3.
5. Perform Regular Site Maintenance (Updates)
This one is such an easy one! Perform regular maintenance on your WordPress website by updating things when they need to be updated.
WordPress is awesome in that they give you a little red number in your dashboard whenever something needs to be updated. Click on that little red number, find what needs to be updated, and update it! Easy peasy.
This really couldn’t be much easier – but by not keeping up with updates, you are risking the chance that your website speed is lowered and not performing at its best.
So, update friends. Update regularly.
6. Keep Your Theme Simple & Lightweight
This is the one that will probably upset more people than any other tip in this article – keep your WordPress website theme simple and minimal and lightweight.
I know, I know, that’s no fun – right? Well, kind of – but also, do you really need a website with so many gadgets and tricks and flashy happenings? Probably not.
And you know what? Those types of themes slow your site down so much it’s not even funny.
Opt for a website theme that is more minimal and simple – it will help keep your WordPress website speed up and performing at its best.
I have the “Ashe” theme and I love it. Enough customization so that I can make it my own – but simple enough to not slow down my site. Win-win.
7. The Best Plugins to Increase Site Speed & Performance
I’ve already mentioned some of these plugins – but let me go over the rest of them too.
These are the plugins I recommend for optimal site performance and the best website speed for your WordPress website.
Remember – by going with SiteGround hosting, you get SG Optimizer which includes the functions of all of these plugins in one – so the work is done for you. Definitely a better choice – but it’s ultimately up to you!
1. SG Optimizer
Again, you can only get this plugin if you are hosted by SiteGround, but I’ll tell you what’s awesome about it anyway.
SG Optimizer is the “bee’s knees” when it comes to plugins to boost your website performance – so seriously consider going with SiteGround so that you can get this plugin and never have to worry about it again!
2. PageSpeed Ninja
This is the best plugin you can get for optimizing images with Gzip compression – one of the newest recognized formats for images.
The Gzip image compression ensures images are uploading and presenting themselves at the maximum level of performance – which does the same exact thing for your website.
Get this plugin and get it today – that is, if you don’t already have SG Optimizer.
Smush is one of my favorite plugins for all things images and image size and lazy loading images and optimization of both.
Smush is seriously awesome – they do so much work so that you don’t have to.
I love their bulk optimization option. Smush Pro is even better (and I highly recommend for only $7 a month).
Great plugin. Much needed if you don’t have SG Optimizer.
4. WP Hummingbird
Again, if you don’t have SG Optimizer, you will need WP Hummingbird.
It’s basically everything you need for increasing your website speed in one.
Get this plugin today, if you don’t already have SG Optimizer!
5. WP Super Cache
I don’t know much about caches – in fact, I know very little!
I do know, though, that certain things with caches will slow down your site speed a lot – and that is why it’s been recommended to me (prior to going with SiteGround hosting) to get WP Super Cache.
WP Super Cache generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
Basically, this means that WP Super Cache will help speed up your website. Trust me on this one and, if you don’t already have SG Optimizer, get this plugin today!
8. Test & Check Your Website Speed
The last tip on my list of 8 tips to increase your WordPress website speed is to actually test your website speed!
Who knows – maybe you are doing everything right and your website is running like the well-oiled machine you want it to be! You never know.
But, just in case it’s not, I highly recommend you test your website speed and performance before doing anything else.
Also, it’s great to test your website speed once you make changes (although I highly recommend you give it 24 hours before testing after changes have been made).
I have two favorite places to go to to test my website speed and performance.
1. Pingdom Website Speed Test
I love Pingdom for testing website speed and performance. Why do I love them so much? Well, it’s simple: not only do they test your website speed and performance, but they give you exact steps to take to fix the issues they find with your website.
Very user friendly and very beginner-friendly. Highly recommend.
GTmetrix is my second favorite place to go to test my website speed. I love that they give you a graded score for your website speed and also give you a rundown of issues with your site and how to fix them.
Though they are not as user-friendly as Pingdom, I do recommend GTmetrix for more experienced website and blog owners.
Well friends, those are my 8 tips (and top 5 plugins) on how to increase your WordPress website speed.
I hope you found these useful. Remember – my number one recommendation is to go with SiteGround for hosting – this will fix 99% of your website speed and performance issues, I promise.
Please share this post with others in the blogging and tech world so that they can reap the benefits as well!
If you are new here, welcome! My name is Leslie and I am the writer and founder of Leslie W. Blog. You can read more about me here.
I write a lot on mom & toddler things, but also on stepmom & business topics as well.
Some of my recent business posts that you may be interested in are:
- 31+ Opt-In Freebie Ideas to Grow Your Email List
- The Blogger’s Ultimate Guide to Facebook Groups for Business
- What is a Sales Funnel & Why You Need One Right Now
- How to Actually Make Money Blogging – 4 Actionable Steps
If you haven’t already, please head over to Leslie W. Business Babes and sign up for my email list there so that you can officially become a Business Babe and get notifications whenever I have a new post! You will also receive free resources & guides to help you within the blogging and social media business.
I have a Facebook Group just for my business babes – it’s called “Ladies’ Lifestyle Bloggers Link-Up” and I’d love for you to join! Come on over and join today!
That’s all for today friends, thanks so much for joining me! Thanks for reading and as always, take care.
Resources to Start and/or Maintain Your Blogging & Social Media Business
- Leslie W. Business Babes | Resources
- Ladies’ Lifestyle Bloggers Link-Up Facebook Group
- This Blog Post (the blog post you should read before starting your blog)
- WordPress (where I design and post my blog – aka my website site)
- Start a Blogging Business 5-Day Crash Course (course I took prior to the BBO course to launch my blog)
- Blogging Blastoff 2.0 (THE BEST course you can take prior to or right after launching your blog)
- SiteGround (my self-host platform)
- ShareASale (a great affiliate marketplace in which to get started)
- MailerLite (my email service)
- Canva (the graphic design site I use)
- Adobe (another graphic design program I use)
- Yoast (the SEO service I use)
- Ell’s Pinterest Course (must-do course for driving blog traffic through Pinterest – the number one way to drive blog traffic)
- Tailwind (how I automate my Pinterest pins)
- Tube Buddy (SEO for YouTube)
- Tailwind Tribes (I pay extra to be able to pin more)
- USM Premium (the best Social Media Plugin for your blog)