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Over the years and by helping numerous bloggers and business owners with their websites I’ve come to find a few things that are notorious for slowing down a WordPress website.
The first place to look is your hosting and plugins and move on from there. Be mindful of the size and quantity of the images you’re uploading and what external scripts (I’m talking ads!) that you put on your website.
Today I don’t take on speed optimization projects anymore.
It’s not something I ever really enjoyed and I’m certainly no expert at getting the greatest speeds, but I did create a free challenge that includes a lesson on speed optimization. Be sure to join the challenge by clicking the image at the bottom of this post 🙂
1. Your (terrible) web host
This should be the very first place you look. From my experience, GoDaddy is the slowest web host around followed by the popular BlueHost. Most other shared hosts like HostGator and Dreamhost will probably be about average.
The hosting I recommend to all my clients (and use myself) is SiteGround. They have several levels of caching built right in but overall their servers are just really well optimized. Most people see a significant boost in speed when switching over.
There are several reasons why I love SiteGround, like the great support, free SSL and migrations, caching and speed, and the great up-time. There’s a reason why everyone recommends them!
If you’re interested in managed WordPress hosting then WP Engine is a great choice. While it’s a bit pricey, you’re going to need some heavy-duty stuff if you are getting lots of traffic and need your website performing at its best.
2. Too many (bad) plugins
The next thing you should check is your plugins. While you should try to limit them and only use the one’s you absolutely need, you can probably get away with using quite a few. What you have to be weary of are large or poorly coded plugins.
I like to use the P3 Profiler plugin to scan a site and see what plugins are doing the most damage. Most high-quality plugins will not have a major impact on the size of your website. Just be sure to remove it too once you’re done testing.
There is one specific plugin you should watch out for though…
3. Jetpack plugin for WordPress
It’s a very common plugin and WordPress almost wants you to install it. On top of that, most users coming from WordPress.com are accustomed to using Jetpack on their sites. But it’s humongous and bloated.
Unless you’re using multiple features of it and absolutely must have it on your website, then delete it! There are plugins specifically built for social share buttons, related posts, and opt-in forms that outperform Jetpack.
4. Huge and unoptimized images
Another big thing I see on client websites are full-sized images being scaled down. This can be necessary in some cases but it almost always triggers a warning on a speed test. When an image is inserted at full-size but then scaled down through code, the full-size is still be loaded.
So this means you could have a 1200×1200 sized image but it only appears as 600×600 on your website. Although we’re only seeing the 600px sized image the server and visitor still have to load the image that’s twice the size!
That’s why it’s best to upload the image in the size you plan on displaying it. Luckily most speed tests will tell you exactly which images are being scaled so you can replace them or update the code.
Speaking of images, don’t upload ginormous pictures! I try to keep my file size at or below 300kb and don’t upload images larger than the width of my website (because they’ll just be shrunk). Optimize your images before uploading for the best results then use a plugin like EWWW Image Optimizer to get the most out of your media files.
Speed it up
If you want all my best tips for speeding up your WordPress website then join my free challenge, Uplevel Your WordPress. In the 5 day challenge I teach you how to keep your website running smoothly and make sure it stays safe and protected.
There’s also lessons on cleaning up your website, setting up automatic backups, and securing it from hackers. If you’ve got your website up and running but need to make sure it stays that way, then join right now!
If you’d rather just someone come in and work their magic on your website, then I totally recommend Alexei at WP Speed Guru. For a super affordable price he can come in and make some tweaks to your website so that it loads faster and runs better. He also offers DIY and consulting services if you’re more hands on.