5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

How to speed up your WordPress blog

Slow loading sites are a pain! Your users don’t like it and Google doesn’t either. If you want to improve your WordPress site speed for SEO, you’re in the right place.

My speed test results

In this blog post, I’m going to go over how I was able to get this speed test result:

WP speed test results

For now, let me go over why you should really care about how fast your blog loads.

Why your site speed matters

There are two reasons why your new blog needs to load fast.

  • User experience

First and most importantly, user experience. You will lose a lot of traffic because people just don’t want to wait longer than 2 seconds for any page to load.

Here is a graph (source) to illustrate how the bounce rate (people leaving) jumps up at the 2 second mark and continues to increase after that.

How site speed affects bounce rates.
  • SEO

The speed of your blog is a ranking factor (among many other SEO ranking factors) in Google search results. We’ve known this since 2010 when it was first announced by Google (source).

Then in 2018, another site speed update for mobile sites was announced (source).

And to serve as proof Google uses site speed as a ranking factor, Neil Patel analyzed the data on 143,827 URLs to see if site speed really matters.

In the chart below, we see how the pages at the top of the search results load faster than the others. (source).

Site speed test results data

So, it is imperative to have a fast-loading blog because slow sites just won’t get their share of valuable Google search traffic.

How to test your website speed

When you run a test, use a blog post (not the homepage) to test your site speed – since those will be the major entry points into your website.

How does your blog stack up? Here are a few tools to test your site speed.

Use these tools for what they are: tools to help you identify problems with your site speed. Don’t waste your time trying to get a good letter grade score.

You can really lose days of productivity trying to get a better score (while not really improving site speed).

While keeping total page load time is important, pay special attention to these two other metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to Interactive (TTI).

These two are visual metrics that are important to providing a good user experience.

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Why your WordPress blog is so slow

So, how did your site fare? If your blog is slow, we need to identify the problem first and then fix it.

Your blog could be slow for a few different reasons. Each of them will need to be addressed if you want to have a fast loading blog.

I’ve split up this blog post into the most important (and common) causes of a slow blog (in order) and how to fix them.

Let’s boogie.

1. Move to a faster host like WPX

If you are using a host that overloads their shared servers with too many sites, your blog is going to be slow. There’s just no way around it.

While there are some optimizations you can make (see the rest of this post for suggestions!), if your host is slow, you need to switch hosting companies.

I recommend new bloggers start with BlueHost. They are very affordable and offer great support for newbies. The downside is, of course, blog speed.

Bluehost crams a ton of sites into each server and that obviously causes a major slowdown.

If you want to speed up your blog, you’re going to need to switch to a faster host like WPXHosting. They are one of the best blog hosts and the one I use!

While WPXHosting is still shared hosting, they keep far less websites on each server to ensure your site is always fast.

While this hosting company costs more than Bluehost, Dreamhost, HostGator, etc., it is by far the fastest host I’ve ever used and worth every penny.

2. Switch to a lightweight theme like Astra

Many free WordPress themes are not properly coded. For example, there may be too many PHP calls and sloppy code which slows down your site.

The solution is to get a WordPress theme that is optimized for speed., such as Astra.

While Astra does have a free version, I recommend upgrading to unlock all of its’ features. Plus, when you pay for Astra, you are paying for the developers to constantly improve both the speed and features of the theme.

Here are the blog themes I recommend for improved site speed:

  • Astra (Lightweight theme)

Astra is fast because it isn’t a visual builder, but rather a very lightweight theme, with load times clocking in at 0.5 seconds (source).

  • Divi (visual blog builder)

Divi recently rolled up some performance improvements that improved site speed by 50% (source).

Thrive Theme Builder has an entire Site Speed section with custom speed optimization settings to use with their theme (source).

This fast-loading, ultra-light blog theme is easy to set up and is my #1 recommend theme for WordPress.

3. Optimize & compress your images with Optimole

The faster your images load, the faster your website will load. Oftentimes the problem of a slow-loading website are huge images that haven’t been optimized or compressed.

Uploading full size images to your blog is only going to cause the weight of your pages to be heavy. The answer isn’t having small, bad quality images but rather having images that are well optimized.

One of the biggest ways you can improve your site speed is by optimizing your images with Optimole.

Using an image optimization plugin like Optimole is a MUST if you want a faster-loading blog. With Optimole, your images are compressed, scaled, served as lightweight Webp images, hosted on a CDN, and lazy-loaded to make sure your images aren’t the culprit of a slow website.

Optimole compresses your images in real-time in the cloud. It then resizes your images on the fly based on the user’s device, browser, and screen size.

4. Cache your blog with WP Rocket

If you’re not already using a caching plugin, you need one. When you cache your blog, the plugin generates static html files (lightweight) of your blog posts, which are loaded by making a bunch of PHP calls (not lightweight).

This lightweight html is then served to your visitors. And as you would imagine, loading a static html page rather than a dynamic PHP page reduces calls to the server and instead spits out your content incredibly fast.

While there are many (good) caching plugins to use, I recommend WP Rocket.

With just a few clicks you can see an instant speed improvement as the plugin performs speed optimizations such as caching, minifying and compressing files, database optimization, lazy-loading images, and more.

The only downside is that it costs $49, so I would only recommend this if you are going all-in on SEO and want to speed up your blog the easy way. I say “the easy way” because this plugin really is an all-in-one solution, so you don’t need hardly any other speed optimization plugins.

WP Rocket is the set it and forget it way to speed up your WordPress blog. It’s by far the most beginner-friendly speed optimization plugin.

5. Use a CDN like Cloudflare

What is a CDN? A Content Delivery Network is a platform of geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide a faster delivery of online content by reducing the distance between the user and the server.

So in basic English, if a user in the east coast of the US goes on your blog (and your server is on the west coast), your content will load from the east coast server. This physically shorter trip alone makes your page load faster (source).

My host has their own CDN, but if yours doesn’t, I recommend using Cloudflare.

Cloudflare is free, and aside from being a CDN, they also have additional features like blocking bad bots and spammers from entering your blog in the first place.

Bottom line, use Cloudflare and your blog will load faster.

Best plugins to speed up your WordPress blog

While the items I’ve outlined here make a big impact in your site speed, there are further optimizations you can do to speed up your blog.

While I’m on the topic of WordPress plugins, make sure to only use plugins you actually need, and make sure they’re highly rated and recently updated. If you have too many resource-heavy WordPress plugins that are not well optimized, your blog speed is going to suffer.

Here are some of the best WordPress plugins that make additional tweaks to WordPress and speed up your website.

When we talk about page speed, we’re really talking about the time it takes for meaningful content to appear on the screen. The overall time it takes for the entire page to load is less important.

So to get that “above the fold” section to load faster, there’s a few optimizations that are needed.

Here are a few optimizations this plugin can perform:

– Combining multiple scripts into one file to decrease the number of calls to the server.

– Lazy loading images, so they are only loaded when the user scrolls down the page.

– Defers and moves scripts to the footer, allowing your content to load first.

– Minifies scripts, styles and HTML code to decrease their file size.

The W3 Total Cache plugin has been installed in over a million WordPress blogs. It’s popular because it works.

If you use (and implement fully) the features of this plugin, you may not need many of the others on this list since this app does a lot of the same things.

We’ve talked a lot about optimizing your images and files in order to improve your WordPress blog speed.

But what about the database?

Your WordPress blog calls on the database to display your posts, comments and your theme’s settings, to name a few. Is your database fully optimized?

With this plugin your database will be automatically cleaned so that it runs at maximum efficiency. Cleaning consists of removing unnecessary data such as trashed and spam comments, pingbacks and trackbacks.

This plugin also cleans up post revisions. When you edit your blog posts, revisions are created as you continue writing your post, sometimes dozens of them!

I currently have 50 revisions of this blog post as I continue to add/remove/update plugins from this list. Trimming just the revisions alone can remove thousands of entries from your database.

What I use to have a fast-loading blog

Here are the exact tools I use to get my blog to load fast:

WordPress blog speed: The bottom line

Don’t go crazy trying to score an A grade on any website speed test!

While having a fast blog is important, there are better uses of your time than trying to shave off a few milliseconds of your page load time.

Optimizing your blog for speed can be a set it and forget it type of thing. Take the time to set up your blog for maximum efficiency right now – then let the plugins do their job after that.

Which of these plugins do you use? Are there any I missed that should be included in the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

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  About > me

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger and side hustle expert behind Do Six Figures. With 20+ years of experience building profitable websites and making money online under his belt, Edwin is now obsessed with helping people find their perfect side hustle and make serious money online.

8 thoughts on “5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog”

  1. Great share, Edwin. Website speed and user experience is one of the most important SEO factors in 2019 and every blogger should start focusing on it.

    Thanks for sharing the list of amazing plugins.

    1. Yes it is! It’s no coincidence the sites at the top of any Google search result all load extremely fast.

  2. Hi Edwin, thanks for sharing this piece. I’ve been working on my site to decrease the page load time. I have WP Optimize, use a cache and also WP Smush (free) to optimize images. I don’t see any significant difference in image optimization so I use an online tool be an smetool site to reduce image size before uploading. Do you think Shortpixel will do a better work in terms of image size reduction?

    1. I’d mess around with the settings on wp smush or shortpixel to see how much you can optimize before the image starts looking fuzzy.

      Honestly, if you already have your images under 100KB already I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      1. Ow, that’s great cos the online tool I use is able to reduce most images to below 100kb. Searching online, I saw EWWW Image Optimizer. I’ll give it a try. Will let you know what I discover after comparing. You can visit my site to review some pages and let me know what you think. Cheers

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