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8 Essential Ways to Improve the Page Loading Speed of your WordPress Website

8 Essential Ways to Improve the Page Loading Speed of your Wordpress Website

WordPress can be such a wonderful tool for building websites, and the recent change to Gutenberg means they are slowly starting to come away from the blogging platform it was originally created for, in favour of being a drag-and-drop system which anyone can use to build anything! As a result, the popular Content Management System *can* become a little bit clunky and a tad slow if it is not taken care of, so here are eight top tips which can help to make sure that your WordPress install remains rocket-fast!

Streamline Your Plugins

Often users have the habit of installing too many plugins on WordPress, some of which may not even be needed. If you install a plugin and it turns out to be not quite what you want – don’t leave it there, delete it! Similarly, if there are default plugins which came with your theme, have a look to see if you are using them, and if not – you should get rid! Often plugins can make a site clunky, and there is also more chance of a site slowing down due to incompatibilities between them. Therefore the less you have, the better chance your site has of being the speed you desire!

Use a Caching Plugin

“Caching” is a method of storing data for quick recall. When you get the sellotape out of the cupboard to wrap your Christmas presents, you don’t put it back in the draw where it lives after you finish each present – you just put to one side, because you know you’ll need it again moments later. Same goes for caching.  WP Fastest Cache is a great plugin which creates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. On a normal visit, as PHP and MySQL has to render what is shown on your screen upon every click, this means your system required RAM and CPU. The caching plugin prevents this continuous rendering!

Optimise Your Install

WordPress is amazing for rolling files back, easy media management, and much more besides – but all this data is stored in your database, which is in danger of ballooning in size if it isn’t maintained.  WP Optimize is an effective tool for automatically cleaning your WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency. It also removes all unnecessary data including binned, unapproved, spam comments and stale data.

Smush Your Images

When you upload images to your WordPress install, you need to be careful that your image sizes are not too big,  which can often be the case if you’re loading them in directly from a digital camera. Large images are one of the primary ways that page loading times can be so slow, therefore using plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimisation will reduce the size of your images when you upload them – plus you can even go back through your previously uploaded files and compress them too.

Use a Content Delivery Network

A “content delivery network”, or CDN – are a network of servers located around the globe. They can host and deliver copies of your WordPress site’s content such as images, CSS, JavaScript, and video. The main benefits of having your WordPress installation on CDN are scalability, reliability and performance. The longer the distance between a server and your browser, the longer the latency will be. Cloudfare is a good and free CDN that you may want to check out!

Host in the Relevant Country

If you do not want to use a CDN, then you should at least make sure your website is hosted in the country from where most of your visitors will originate. The location of your server can affect load times, sales and even SEO. According to Google, 53% of visits on a phone are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It’s not worth the risk, therefore do ensure your server is in the same location as you – not least because also, you’ll be able to contact their customer service at hours that suit YOU!

Prevent Hotlinking

Hotlinking is the process whereby a third-party website links to your images. They haven’t downloaded a copy themselves in order to display the media to their visitors, they are merely loading the picture directly from your server – therefore the people that see the image will not even be seeing your website at all!  If a site linking to you is hotlinking to a media file that is large in size, it will be eating up your bandwidth and not their own. Similarly, if the external website is popular, this could churcn your server drastically!

To prevent Hotlinking, you can place the following code in the .htaccess file, which resides in the root of your WordPress directory. If you do not know how to do this, you might want to instead use this Htaccess Editor Plugin.

It is worth noting that this code should be added and not replaced to anything that is already in the .htaccess file. Similarly, it is worth noting that you need to whitelist any site that you want to access your images, so it makes sense to include your website (of course), as well as the social networks (who will often pick up an image from your website for their preview). However you can also add any other sites to whitelist, but duplicating the penultimate line of code and simply changing the URL!

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ - [F]

Lazy-load Your Images

When you access a website, undoubtedly there will usually be scrolling – but what’s the point in loading the images that are below the “fold” of the page where they are not in your viewport yet? Why not load them as soon as you start scrolling? The fridge light doesn’t stay on 24/7, however it turns on when you open the door, and the same philosophy works for images that are not being utilised at that exact moment.  A plugin called BJ Lazy Load will help your site load faster by replacing all your post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and content iFrames with a placeholder – loading the content as it gets close to enter the browser window when the visitor scrolls!.

Eradicate 404 Errors

404 (or “Page Not Found”) errors are generally very costly on WordPress sites. Anytime your site receives an access to a page that doesn’t exist, your server has to load up the 404 page on WordPress.  Therefore, if you have a page which has links to 3 images that are no longer there, it’s actually loading WordPress 4 times – 1 for the initial page load, and 3 for the 404 pages.  It’s good practice to eradicate the 404’s, or you can download a plugin such as WP Speed 404 which can help sort the issue for you!

If you’ve found any of the advice below helpful, then you may wish to check out my Youtube Channel, where I’m posting regular hints and tips about making WordPress a better experience! Whilst day-to-day I am primarily creating websites for local clients with my Bournemouth Web Design business, my passion is to teach and give advice to budding web newbies, making sure they realise that creating a site really isn’t as difficult as they think!



I am fanatical about providing useful web experiences, via bespoke websites which engage, inform and entertain. I have been making websites since a young age, and am a keen supporter of AFC Bournemouth.

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