4 Things you can do to speed up a slow WordPress site

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Author: Joshua Eastman

One of the most common questions people have about their WordPress site is “How can I make my WordPress site faster?”.

This is a a question with many answers some of which are pretty easy! So we will start with some quick easy tips to speed your website up and work towards to more complex and involved ways to get your site running as fast as possible.

Disclaimer: Back your site up before trying anything in this article. While we have used everything in here every site is different and they solutions (Like any troubleshooting) may get worse before they get better.

Your images are slowing your site down!

So you built your site, it looks amazing but when it comes to loading times you have some work to do. The most common cause of website performance issues is that you have uploaded a bunch of images that are way to big causing large download sizes for your page to load.

Luck for you this can actually be a semi-painless problem to solve (Or at least make a big improvement on).

1 – reSmush.it Image Optimizer

reSmush.it is a great utility. This plugin includes a bulk operation to optimize all your pictures in 2 clicks. This service is used by more than 300,000 websites on different CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Prestashop…).

Install this plugin as you would any other plugin on WordPress and in two clicks it will start compressing your photos! It is that easy. Even if this in not the reason your site is loading slowly it is something you should pay attention to and add to your regular regiment of good habits for managing your WordPress site.

2 – Compress JPEG & PNG images

Compress JPEG & PNG images is a plugin created by https://tinypng.com/.

We use this on every site we do and with great reason. This plugin (The free version) will resize 100 photos a month for free. All you have to do is install it and click bulk optimization. Once it is complete your site will run faster no doubt.

This plugin will automatically re-size images when you add them to the site, so once you install it you can set it and forget it until you are adding more than 100 images a month.

You need a caching solution

WP Fastest Cache

What is this plugin you ask? Well it sets policies so when people visit your site it allows files to bestored on their computer, this way if you have a lot of repeat customer they will load the site from their computer vs your website. It reduces server load and the amount of data they have to get from the cloud.

Suggesting a caching plugin is a tough one. These can REALLY MESS A SITE UP, like… really badly. So be careful if you start looking for other plugins here. The one we use on most of our sites is WP Fastest cache, it has never cause issues with functionality or other plugins which is more than we can say for any other ones out there unless you have extensive knowledge to get the settings just right.

How do I setup WP Fastest Cache?

Well here you have it… the universal settings we use on 50 plus websites. We have found this to be safe, reliable and minimally problematic on any website.

This is a good practice for getting your website running smoothly. If you haven’t done this, take time to do it. This will increase your page speed and help you get people to stay on your site rather than clicking back and going to the next google result.

You have way to many plugins

Plugins are what make WordPress great! But with anything good comes some pitfalls. If you are running a website that has 30 or more plugins there is most likely some bloat that needs to be removed.

The first thing to do (Other than backing your site up in case you really mess it up here) is to go to the plugins page on the back end of your website. If this page gives you night terrors you may want to reach out to a developer as messing around with this page can really destroy a website if you are not comfortable here.

Now it is time to start slashing some plugins. First off, if you have inactive plugins get rid of them. Keeping this page under control is crucial. Once you have uninstalled any you are not using it is time to start troubleshooting.

Under most circumstances disabling things on this page will not damage your site or cause any issues, but every site is different (Did i mention you should have a backup of your site by now?) Well here we go, the easiest way to troubleshoot this is to select all plugins and click disable.

If the site is still looking mostly correct? (Most likly hero images, sliders and some items on the site use plugins and will not be working after doing this) If your site looks mostly correct with some missing elements or even some code showing through take a look at the speed and see how much of an improvement you have. If you found your issue then it is time for the fun part.

The next thing to do is to enable each plugin one at a time and check to see if the speed issue comes back. Once you enable a plugin and see the speed issue again then disable everything other than that plugin. If the site runs slowly with that single plugin then you have found the issue.

If you do not see the issue come back then enable one plugin at a time with the one you have identified an issue with. If you keep that one active then enable another plugin and verify there is no issue, disable that one and move down the list. You may have two plugins that are butting heads. If you find the two that are causing problems than see if you can update the plugins or remove one if they are not both being used on the site.

Still having an issue?

Well, if you do not see a single plugin causing an issue and you have performed the steps above you have one of two issues remaining. The first is that your hosting solution is not great or poorly optimized for WordPress. The second is you have WAY TO MANY PLUGINS. Either way these issues start to get pretty tough to troubleshoot and depending on your hosting plan and company it may be worth talking to their support to see if they can guide you in a better direction.

You can always reach out to us if you need help troubleshooting, we are always happy to take a look at your issue for free and see if we can help you out!

Your Hosting Solution Sucks!

This one is fun… well this is actually really awful. The easy way to determine if your hosting solution is underperforming is to use a tool to look at site performance. These can get a bit overwhelming and are really used to tell if there is an issue not specifically what the issue. But we can see if your hosting solution is causing your issues without getting much more specific than that.

Pingdom Page Speed Test

This tool can be really helpful and really overwhelming. We are going to take a look at one thing on the results page of Pingdom. First Click Here to check the tool out.

Next put your websites address into the URL field and click start test. Don’t worry about test from we are trying to identify an issue which will be obvious from any location. Once you click start test you will see a huge amount of data on your site performance. You will see a bunch of grades which you should immediately ignore for what we are doing. Failing isn’t always bad here so again, don’t stress about the grades.

You want to scroll down to the “File Requests” Section as pictured below…

Well isn’t this confusing? Let’s make some sense of it. This graph shows you how long it took to load all of the files that make up your website (pretty neat huh?). We only need to look at one line to see if your hosting solution is definitively an issue here. The first line that just says your web address is the most important.

This line is simple… you type in the address and this is the amount of time you wait before the site starts loading anything. The yellow wait section shouldn’t be more than 1 second under almost any case. If you are looking at the wait time and seeing multiple seconds this is an issue.

What does this mean?

Well if it is in fact long than you have an issue. This tells us that your server is not configured properly for what you are using it for or that you just have a really slow crappy host. Wither of those are equally as likely. Call your hosting provider or feel free to give us a call and we can take a more in depth look at what the issue could be free of charge. Looking into an issue like this any deeper than this is something that takes a lot of technical knowledge and translation to figure out exactly what the issue could be.

What if none of this helps?

If none of this helps then you have to keep looking and learning to get your site running smoothly. This article shows about 8 years worth of experience in fixing most speed issues pretty quickly. If you want some help click that contact us page above and reach out! We would be happy to take a look free of charge and see what we can recommend you do from here! Anywho, I hope this article has been helpful. Feel free to post any questions you may have below!

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