WordPress Speed Optimization without Coding: 16 Simple Steps16 min read12/07/2019
Speeding up a WordPress site is a widespread issue among bloggers worldwide. WordPress is a great content management system that provides non-coders with flexibility, wide functionality, and customization. Unfortunately, its simplicity has the other side of the coin: a WordPress website may be slower than sites developed from scratch or even the ones built with other CMS, for example, Opencart. However, there exist effective methods that will help you speed up a WordPress site.
How fast your website loads impacts both user experience and webpage position in Google search. Speed has been a crucial ranking factor for desktops since 2010. It became even more important with the Google Speed Update released in 2018 when Google turned towards the mobile-first index. Furthermore, 53% of mobile users will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Use our simple tips on how to make your WordPress website faster and stop losing your traffic.
Website display optimization
Compared to website builders like WIX, WordPress is as simple but it still allows you to manage your file system, edit site code, and control how a browser displays your website. This ensures rich capabilities you can use to increase your WordPress site speed.
Step #1: Enable caching
By default, browsers download the same page every time a user visits it. Therefore, it spends the same time to load what’s already known as like it’s totally new data that includes text, styles, scripts, images, and video. It’s like you’d read the same book every time you need to retell somebody the plot of the story. Let user browsers save already visited pages in their cache memory so they could instantly display these pages by rendering them from cache.
This will significantly improve your WordPress site speed in Google Speed Insights, a tool that provides tips on reducing site loading time. With caching enabled, you will improve user experience and user behavior as a result, thus decreasing your bounce rate. This will directly influence your WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since user feedback has been a ranking signal since 2011. The good thing is you can use a caching plugin instead of coding to enable caching on your website.
The official WordPress repository contains a lot of plugins for caching. Their effectiveness varies from vendor to vendor, so you should try a few of them to find the most suitable for your theme.
The most popular WordPress caching plugins:
- WP Super Cache (over 2,000,000 active installations)
- W3 Total Cache (over 1,000,000 active installations)
- WP Fastest Cache (over 1,000,000 active installations)
- LiteSpeed Cache (over 600,000 active installations)
- Hyper Cache (over 30,000 active installations)
All of them do their job well, but a particular plugin may work better on your site. I would recommend WP Super Cache since it has wide settings configured by default and its developers are the Automattic team that has greatly contributed to WordPress.
Step #2: Shorten your code
No matter which platform a website has been built with, it’s just lines of code interpreted by a web browser and displayed in the view users see it. The shorter this code is the faster a browser interprets it and displays a site. How can you make your website code shorter without damaging functionality, content, and styles? You can optimize the code by removing extra spaces and unrequired explanations that have no impact on your site.
Instead of manually reviewing numerous website files stored on your server and optimizing the code, you can use a plugin that will do it in an automatic manner. Install and activate the Autoptimize WordPress plugin. It will minify scripts, styles, and HTML code making your webpages lightweight and faster to load.
Step #3: Enable AMP
No matter how light your webpages are, it will take more time to load them on mobile devices than on desktops because of the less bandwidth and slower processors. That’s why you should display smartphone and tablet users lighter webpages with simpler styles. Moreover, mobile devices have smaller displays, so it makes sense to compile what’s really important instead of making a mobile web browser render all additional blocks and animations.
This is where Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can come in useful. This is a technology that implies simplifying your webpages for those users visiting your site using a mobile device while desktop users see a full version of your webpages. More specifically, your WordPress blog post will have no a sidebar, header, menus, or blocks like Similar Posts, Previous Post, and Next Post. Instead, it will contain your text styles with standard font, site title without a logo, images, and blank footer with your site title.
In other words, AMP means the same main content without additional styles. It may look like all your theme configuration has become worthless, but no dramas. One way or another, a mobile-friendly website with a responsive design won’t look the same on mobile devices as on desktops.
Images play a crucial role in your website speed. The larger image resolution is and the higher its quality is, the larger its size is and, as a result, the longer it takes for a browser to load a webpage with images. That’s why you should pay attention to the size of your media files on your server.
Step #4: Optimize your images
The key to the proper image optimization is ensuring a balance between quality, resolution, and size. The right approach would be using images with that level of quality users can notice. In other words, no need for using images with the full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels since users, who may use displays with the resolution of 1366×768 pixels, won’t notice the difference.
The other aspect you should manage is image quality. By reducing it, you can significantly decrease the image file size. Cutting quality by 10% or 15% can lead to the 100% file size economy. Make sure your images aren’t larger than your site visitors need them to be. Before uploading media files to your WordPress media library, edit their resolution and quality using such image editors as Adobe Photoshop and Paint.Net.
If your website already contains a lot of unoptimized images you will need too much time to edit and reupload them, then you can use a plugin for mass editing. One of the suitable image optimizers is the Kraken.io WordPress plugin. It requires no complicated configuration. The only thing you need is to choose the image optimization method: lossy (lower image quality but smaller file size) and lossless (larger image quality and file size).
Step #5: Use WebP
WebP is a modern image file format that can be about 30% smaller than PNG and JPEG. Furthermore, WebP supports transparency like PNG. However, such web browsers as Safari and Mozilla Firefox don’t support WebP. To avoid the problem of absent images on your webpages for iOS users, you should ensure your site to display JPEG copies for those using iPhones and iPads. To implement WebP on your WordPress website without coding, you can use a plugin.
How to implement WebP in WordPress:
- JetPack. JetPack by Automattic has an option of image optimization implying creating WebP copies of your existing JPEG images. The plugin shows WebP graphics for those browsers supporting this file extension and provides a Safari browser with a JPEG or PNG image initially stored in the WordPress Media library.
- Optimole. Created by Themeisle, WordPress theme developers, the plugin works in the same way as the above-mentioned JetPack’s feature. However, a free Optimole package allows optimizing up to 1GB of images while Pro plugin version users will be able to convert 10GB of JPEG images to WebP per month.
- WebP Express. This is a free WebP converting plugin that supports different ways of WebP image delivering. Coupled with the Cache Enabler plugin, WebP Express can deliver cached webpages containing WebP images.
- ShortPixel/EWWW Image Optimizer + Cache Enabler. If you have already installed an image optimization plugin like ShortPixel or EWWW Image Optimizer, you can additionally install Cache Enabler to deliver cached webpages with automatically created WebP images.
Step #6: Enable Lazy Load
Web browsers typically display a webpage once they render all content on it. With many large images on the page, it can take more than five seconds to load it. However, users don’t see the content at the end of the page when they just open it. They first need to scroll down to the end. That’s why you can make a user web browser load enough content per each screen instead of loading all content at once.
It’s called lazy load which refers to smooth content loading. When a user explores content above the fold (a part of the page visible without scrolling), a web browser loads the content below the fold, thus reducing the time for page rendering and delivering proper user experience. As a result, with lazy load, it takes much less time to display a visible part of a page while users notice no difference when it comes to scrolling webpages completely loaded at once.
To implement lazy load in WordPress, you can use one of the available plugins. For example, a multipurpose plugin JetPack has such a feature. If you don’t need all the capabilities of this solution, then you should install a dedicated plugin like Lazy Load by WP Rocket, Lazy Load, or Lazy Load Optimizer. Just pick the one that has been tested with your WordPress version.
WordPress core optimization
WordPress speed optimization is a constant process rather than a one-time operation. It means you should do your best to make your website function fast as long as you own it. Some configurations require a single intervention to make them work on a life-time basis, while other measures need regular control. In short, you should always monitor your website for issues capable of affecting its speed.
Step #7: Use post excerpts
WordPress can display the full text of your posts on a homepage and archives like categories, tags, months, and authors. This dramatically increases the time needed to load a particular webpage. In addition, it can lead to duplicate content appearing on your site where an archive page content replicates post text. This can affect your SEO. That’s why you should use post excerpts instead of full text on a homepage and archives.
To set the use of excerpts on these pages and make WordPress faster, go to Settings – Reading and opt-in Summary in the field “For each article in a feed, show”. Then click on the Save settings button. By default, WordPress displays the first 55 characters of your posts as a means of an excerpt. However, you can change this limit in a few different ways. The simplest one is fulfilling an excerpt text field with your custom text when editing a post.
Step #8: Split Comments into Pages
Comments on your site allow you to estimate the overall post engagement rate. Since meaningful comments expand your keyword list and enhance your content, they can improve your SEO. However, if your posts get too many comments which sometimes can be irrelevant, this can lead to your posts loading slower. That’s why you should ensure WordPress to split a number of comments into separate pages, thus web browsers will load a limited number of comments along with a post.
You can do it in the Settings – Discussion menu. Just enter the needed number of comments instead of the # sign in the field “. If your visitors need to read the other comments, they can visit the next page. In this case, comments on the second and all other pages will still add value to your main post page due to the proper pagination configuration.
Step #9: Optimize your database
While managing your WordPress website, you may accidentally create unused content stored on your server. Over time, such content as draft posts, trashed tags, unlinked images, and empty categories with no posts overload your database and, as a result, affect your site performance. Furthermore, you will need more time to find a certain archive in your admin panel.
That’s why you should always keep your database in order. You can manually navigate through your admin panel in the search for all unused content and remove it once detected. Browse your pages, posts, categories, tags, authors, media file, and spam comments. Feel free to delete what wastes your server memory. As a means of an alternative way, you can use the WP-Sweep plugin that will automatically scan your site and list unused content.
Step #10: Use a suitable theme
Themes can significantly influence WordPress speed. Unfortunately, you will never know how optimized a particular theme is until you install it. That’s why you understand that the theme choosing process can’t be fast. Sometimes, you will need to try up to ten themes until you find a suitable one that would match your design preferences, code, and optimization requirements.
So pick your perfect theme wisely. Create a list of good-looking themes from reliable developers. Don’t upload themes from unknown third-party websites. Then install, activate, and configure themes one by one and test their speed using Google Pagespeed insights. Those themes with premium versions created by well-known teams typically are fast enough. Some of them even offer the lazy load feature by default.
Step #11: Use as few plugins as possible
It’s hardly possible to create a WordPress website without adding extra functionality using plugins or custom code. However, many installed plugins can affect your site performance. Avoid using multi-purpose plugins like JetPack if you don’t use all the available functions since it forms extra load on your server. Prefer simple ones aimed at a single task. Before installing each plugin, think whether you really need the features it provides.
Website delivery optimization
The typical scenario of managing a website is storing all content in your database and delivering it through your server. However, this approach has nothing in common with making WordPress faster. You should address this with the proper website content delivery optimization.
Step #12: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
User location influences how much time it takes to load your site for particular readers. If your hosting provider is located in the U.S., then your server is most likely to be situated in the U.S. That’s why American users will experience faster loading times than readers from Poland. To ensure the same loading times for users from all over the world, you should use a content delivery network (CDN).
CDN is a network of connected servers located in different countries. These servers store your site static files that include images, styles, and scripts. When users visit your website, the system determines their location and triggers the closest server to display content, thus reducing content delivery times. In addition, CDN decreases the load for your initial server.
You can use both paid and free CDN services. To connect to free ones, you can use special plugins that provide such a capability. For example, above-mentioned JetPack and iThemes Security plugin offer a free content delivery network service. You just need to install and activate one of these plugins and then enable the corresponding feature in the plugin settings menu.
Step #13: Link to video and audio content instead of uploading it
Video and audio files usually are large. If you use many videos on your site, you may quickly reach your server memory limit. Moreover, playing video and audio files through your server costs you bandwidth which may affect your WordPress site performance. That’s why you should embed videos on your website using links rather than upload these files to your media library.
How to embed Youtube video in WordPress:
- To embed Youtube videos in WordPress, open a necessary video.
- Click on the Share button below it.
- Choose the Embed option.
- Copy the script
- Open your WordPress text editor in the code view mode by selecting the Edit as HTML option.
- Paste the copied code wherever you need.
When switching back to the visual text editor, you will see your video embedded in your post. Embedding videos will allow you to use Google’s bandwidth instead of yours, thus improving your site performance,
Your server should be powerful enough to quickly process user requests to compile your website. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a backend developer to ensure your server to be fast. Just address wisely to cybersecurity measures and choose the right hosting provider that strives to deliver the best customer experience.
Step #14: Secure your website from hackers
Another factor that influences your WordPress site performance is the number of users that visit your site at once. The thing is that hackers can create an extreme load on your site to make it function slowly or even completely block its work. That’s why you should protect your WordPress website from hackers to avoid slow loading times.
To secure your site from brute force attacks, malware injection, and other hacking attempts, you should use a cybersecurity plugin, for example, Sucuri Security or iThemes Security. These free dedicated plugins provide reliable protection from cyber threats. They also offer premium features like two-factor authentication that adds another security layer against hackers. The JetPack plugin also has the cybersecurity feature aimed at protection from hacking attacks.
Step #15: Choose a suitable hosting provider
If your website is self-hosted rather than stored on free WordPress.com servers, then you should make sure the company you’ve chosen is reliable and provide powerful servers capable of processing numerous requests quickly. Otherwise, you should turn towards another company.
Step #16: Use the latest PHP version
WordPress runs on the PHP programming code. The PHP version your server uses directly depends on the speed of your website. The latest version 7.3 is much faster and secure than previous PHP versions If you’ve chosen the right hosting provider, then they’re likely to take over ensuring your server to be up-to-date. However, you should also control it on your own. Contact your hosting provider and ask them for updating your server if necessary.
Now you know how to increase WordPress website speed. Before implementing all these methods, check your WordPress website load speed using Google PageSpeed Insights. Then repeat this operation once you make all these 16 steps to compare the results. You will be surprised how simple these measures are and how effective they are at the same time. Feel free to share your results in comments below.