How To Speed Up WordPress Blog ~ My site is 3x faster!

15 ways to boost blog speed and speed up wordpress blog

Over the years, I’ve visited many blogs. Some lovely blogs, like DIY, recipes, and travel blogs. Then I’ve found some blogs that were just… well.. S…L….O…W…. Really really slow. I thought it was my computer or maybe the ads. I hate to have to admit it, but if a site doesn’t load in a few seconds, I just close the tab and move on. Long load times are just annoying.

Everyone HATES a slow blog. Follow these 15 easy tips to speed up your site. #BloggersWanted Click To Tweet

Then I did a little research out of curiousity and ran a speed test on Pingdom… 

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 6.19.00 PM

Yeah, that’s 5.65 seconds. And it showed me how my site scored compared to others. They (the internet and blogging guru dudes) say that a blog’s load time needs to be under 2 seconds to retain visitors. I was at almost 3 times that! Now I’m sitting pretty at a much faster number and rating. Read on to see how I did it.

What is page load speed?

Your load speed is the amount of time it takes your page to fully load. So from the moment a visitor clicks to visit your site until all images, ads, and text have been loaded.

Why is your site’s speed important?

As a blogger, you want visitors to come to your blog and stay awhile. You know, visit. If they can’t get your page to load quickly, they aren’t likely to stay long. Not only do you want your visitors happy, you want Google happy. You’ve heard SEO is important, well site speed factors into that Googly algorithm too. You want all the search engine juices and ranking you can get.

How to speed up WordPress blog:

  • Use a plugin to manage your cache. I use W3 Total Cache. For a detailed explanation on how page chaches work, check out this post on WP Beginner. My basic understanding is that the cache can hold things that your site always has, so when a visitor revisits your page, they don’t have to wait as long for the page load because it already has things saved.
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN). I use CloudFlare’s free option. They have a super simple guide to get you set up and it only takes a few minutes. A CDN takes all the static files on your site (things like images, javascript, & CSS) and then delivers it to the visitor from a server as close to them as possible. So instead of my site loading from New York City for a visitor from Germany. Now my site will load those static items from a server near them, which speeds things way up!
  • Optimize images. This took me forever! Images can take up a lot of space on your server and don’t need to be any larger than the space you’re putting them in. My blog posts measure 590 pixels and I found so many photos as wide as 1200 pixels. To fix this all in one go I used a free plugin, WP Smush It. The plugin can bulk optimize all your photos at once, smushing the file size without loosing the quality of your photos. You can spend one afternoon a month letting it run, then deactivate the plugin in between. When I ran this last week, it reduced my file size by 10%
  • Revamp your homepage. I’m honestly still working on this step. There are quite a few things you can do to speed up just the home page:
    • Display excerpts only instead of full posts.
    • Limit the number of posts displayed on the home page. I’ve heard 5 is the magic number.
    • Remove widgets from the home page and only include them on post & pages. Some themes have this option built in, I use a free plugin to manage which widgets display and where, it’s called Display Widgets. It makes it super easy to select pages and even categories to exclude.
    • Cut down on plugins. Yeah, I know, I just suggested several plugins, but I also recommend condensing what you do have. Deactivate plugins you only use occasionally and ditch anything you haven’t touched in a month or more.
    • Keep it minimal. This just makes things load so much faster and it looks nice too.
  • Optimize your database. Your database can fill up with tons of unnecessary files. Things like post revisions, spam comments, drafts, etc. I have one page that had 50 revisions. That’s basically like having 50 copies of the same page taking up valuable space. WP Optimize is a great freebie that can take care of all that junk in one go.
  • Adjust the comment system. If you remove the Gravatar images from the comments, that makes for less images your site will be loading, which means faster load time. That can be especially helpful if you get a ton of comments. I haven’t done this *yet* because I like seeing people’s faces!
  • Lazy load images. This plugin will load images as a visitor scrolls down your page. So when they first visit a page they aren’t bogged down by a long load time, the plugin just laods the images that are visible and need loading. I’ve gone back and forth with this one. Some people swear by it, but I’m still undecided. Mostly because the best one hasn’t been updated in awhile.
  • Invest in a better theme. I’m currently using a theme from Creative Market, but previously I was using Genesis. I’m one that likes having lots of features in my theme, Genesis didn’t offer that so I left. Now my new theme has tons of built in things I missed with Genesis. Now if speed and SEO is more important to you than features, go with Genesis.
  • Compress your scripts. This sounds difficult, but Autoptimize makes it so easy! Just check off a box and hit process. It’s done in minutes. Compressing your scripts makes your site super light weight and fast.
  • Move javascript to the footer. Widgets like Twitter timeline, Facebook like box, and Google Plus follow are javascript and can cause lag when loading your site. If you have to have it, move it the footer. Sponsor networks sometimes use javascript for their badges, so move those down too.
  • Reduce server clutter. Check your server for previous backups. You only need one, so delete the older ones and free up some space.
  • Reduce redirects. If you have a link that redirects to another page (not linking pages but automatically taking a visitor to a new page), it will slow down your page. You can use Broken Link Checker to check your site for.. wait for it… broken links. Then you can go through and fix things. Easy.
  • Analyze your plugins. You can install a plugin to rule all other plugins. Okay, not really, but it will tell you which plugins are using the most of your precious resources and slowing things down. P3 Plugin Performance Profiler by GoDaddy is free and fast. Plus it makes nice little pie charts showing exactly what’s going on.
  • Change your social share bar. If you have a plugin for social shares, opt for one that isn’t javascript. I love my CSSC Pro, but I’ve heard good things about Floating Social Bar. It only has a few social networks and it doesn’t load scripts at page load.
  • Use Google Libraries. This is similar to using a CDN to deliver content, but instead uses Google libraries of often used codes. You can get the free Google Libraries plugin here and check out WPBeginner’s guide for it here. It’s just a simple install, but I immediately saw an improvement on my site speed.

After doing a mixture of the steps above, I was able to speed up WordPress blog substantially. Just check out my latest speed test!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.15.52 PM

Your turn! Run a speed test on your blog, then try some of the tips above. How did it improve?

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  • Amanda Nel
    April 18, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Oh my word Jenn. I will have to read this late at night with no distractions because I seriously have to attend to this and must wrap my head around it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Carrie Bowers
    March 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

    These were some GREAT tips! Thank you! I was able to shave several seconds off my time! Thanks for linking up with us at Friday Funday and we hope you come back next week!

  • Kathleen @blueeyedbabies
    March 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Great tips! I needed them ????

  • Heather @ Simply Save
    March 11, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I am already using a few of these but this post gave me some more things to consider. Thanks for the info!

  • Anna
    March 11, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Great tips, Jenn, thank you! I’d add that slow hosting can play a role too. I think did almost everything from your list before (except CDN) but my slow hosting just didn’t give me a chance to improve my site’s loading speed significantly. After I switched hosting company to faster one, I got my website loading speed two times faster, by default. So I still think hosting is important, sometimes we should start from there.

  • Jamie @ Medium Sized Family
    March 9, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I worked on this on my own blog recently. Smushing my photos took me a long time, too. But you found some more tips that I hadn’t read before, so thanks for sharing these! And thanks for linking up at the Friday Funday Blog Hop #FFBH!

  • janice Wald
    March 8, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    HI Jenn,
    I don’t pay close enough attention of these things. Thanks for the suggestions. Congratulations on being nominated for the Leibster Award.

  • Irem
    March 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Thank you so much for this article! My friend said that my pages load a bit slowly and that it was getting annoying at some time. This article gave me a lot of insight on how to fix that!

    Thank you and have a great day!

  • Melanie
    March 6, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    This is such a great article. It’s going on my bookmark list. I have like 50 plugins on my site and half of them I don’t even know if they work. My theme only allows widgets in the side bar and it doesn’t have a footer. I love the theme and am too scared to mess with it. I just want a freaking footer! But I digress. I’m going to totally add all of these to my site too. You’re my hero!

  • Debbie
    March 6, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Hi Jenn, you’ve just reminded me that I really need to check my load speed again! You have offered some valuable tips. I found reducing image size and deleting revisions made a big difference to load times. I did loosely look into CDN , but wasn’t sure about it, but after reading this I will check it out again.


    • Jenn
      March 6, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Cloudflare is a super simple CDN and it’s free unless you want all the bells and whistles. Good luck!

  • GiGi Eats
    March 6, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Caching used to be a HUGE issue on my site and made my site load SUPER SLOWLY – another issue: ADS! When I took all but one ad network off my website – BAM the load time went from 45 seconds to 3 – 5 seconds!

    • Jenn
      March 6, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Hey Gigi! So true, ads can really bog down a page. I hate those ones that take up the whole page… but let’s not get started on that 😉

  • sue
    March 5, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Jenn thank you! I found this post very helpful as I think I’m overloaded with plugins that i probably don’t need and it was interesting to move the FB and twitter to the footer. Thank you again really informative post.

    • Jenn
      March 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      You’re welcome, Sue. I completely agree, check out your plugins and try to condense. It’s always fun to try out new ones, but some can really slow things down on the frontend.

  • Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
    March 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Wow this is really interesting and helpful! I need to look into all of these things bc that is really not my strong point at all. Thanks!

    • Jenn
      March 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can. It seemed really slow and I’d noticed some blogs were even slower and just left all together. Didn’t want my peeps doing the same. And it was simple enough (ha! Simple) that I wanted to share 🙂 hope it helps when/if you try to optimize your blog.

  • Joy @ Yummy Seconds
    March 5, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for sharing Jenn. Pinning to share. I like the new design of your website. Have a lovely day.

    • Jenn
      March 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Thank you, Joy! I’m enjoying the change so much 🙂

  • Nicole @ The Professional Mom Project
    March 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    These are super helpful – thank you! I just installed W3 Total Cache and I’m going to check out some of the other plug ins that you mention. I’m also looking for a new more user friendly theme so hopefully that helps as well.

    • Jenn
      March 4, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole. Glad I could help 🙂 I highly recommend Creative Market for themes. I love my new theme!