Hi, I’m Sheila, a technology consultant, web designer, project manager and author.I help heart-centered business owners, the lightworkers of the world, with technology. I build websites and make technology work for them, so they can spend more time focusing on growing their business and doing what they love.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link. I only recommend what I use and love. 🙂

 

It seems your WordPress site is slowing down and you don’t really know why. You haven’t done anything different that you’re aware of, yet your site is taking longer and longer to load.

WordPress is amazing and frustrating at the same time. I often describe that I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress. Here are some things to start with to get your site back on track.

First, Run Several Site Analyzers and See What They Tell You

Before you know where to focus, you need to know where the problems are.
If your site’s load time is over 3 seconds, you should be looking at some performance improvements.

GTMetrix

You can create an account for free and have a report sent to you each week.

Second, Pay Attention to Your Plugins

Plugins are the lifeblood of WordPress, yet they can bring your site to it’s knee’s.  Literally!  Just this week, I upgraded a plugin on a site and completely took down the site.  The infamous white screen of death in WordPress.  I also recently had a site go down due to a plugin that hadn’t been updated in years.

Some guidelines around plugins:

  • Delete any plugins you know you aren’t going to use like Hello Dolly or Akismet.
  • Deactivate any plugins not in use and delete them!  Even deactivated plugins consume resources in the WordPress database and should be removed.
  • Don’t update plugins as soon as the new releases come out, unless you like to be the first to try.  (Always know how to get to your site via FTP in case a plugin shut’s down your site.  The only way to get your site back up is to rename the directory via FTP).
If you have a feeling that a plugin is causing your speed issue, install a plugin called Query Monitor. It will show you in the toolbar while you are logged into your site how long pages take to load.  If you click on the Display in the top menu bar and click ‘Components’, you can see which plugins are taking the longest to load.  Sometimes it ends up being an old plugin that you didn’t even know was a problem.

Third, Optimize your Images!

If the site analyzers above showed that your page size is high, then you likely have images that have been loaded in full resolution and are too big. The easiest way to solve this is to use a plugin like ShortPixel or WP Smush. After extensive research, I recently installed Short Pixel on a site and significantly reduced the image size and page load size. You can start for free and their cost is very reasonable if you have a site with a lot of images. This can be a huge win, especially if you have large images.

https://shortpixel.com/h/af/YYVFXQI494927

My Recommendation: Short Pixel. Not only is the logo adorable, their compression rates are at the top in the reviews.

Short Pixel

Not only is the logo adorable, their compression rates are at the top in the reviews.

Fourth, Know your PHP version and Have it Upgraded if it’s Less than 7.0

PHP is core to WordPress and the themes and plugins in use. If your hosting provider has not yet upgraded your environment, you could still be on an old version of WordPress, especially if you’v had your site for a while or if you use GoDaddy.

Install this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/display-php-version/

The version will now display in your WordPress Dashboard. If it’s less that 7.0, contact your hosting provider and get it upgraded. People have seen speed increases by as much as 30% just by having the PHP version upgraded.

Before updating a major component like PHP, be sure to Backup Your Site so that you can recover if something goes wrong.

Fifth, Consider caching.

Caching in WordPress is done through plugins. Caching allows your site’s pages to be stored in their simplest format to be loaded fast when a user visits your site. It speeds up your site and reduces the load on the servers that your site is running on.

The best and most well-rated WordPress caching plugin is WP Rocket. I have recently switched to this plugin and have experienced significant performance improvements on the sites I’ve installed it. It also has built-in CDN support, so you can optimize it with your bonus of Cloudflare below.

Other options are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. In addition, SiteGround, WP Engine and Bluehost offer built-in caching servers.

WP Rocket

Yes, it’s a fee, but it’s the best one. Don’t you want the best for your site?!?

Bonus, Consider a CDN.

A CDN is a content delivery network that allows your website to be preloaded onto really fast servers in the simplest format to load on the web. There are many CDN’s available, like MaxCDN, StackPath, Cloudflare or Sucuri. My favorite way to do this is with a service called Cloudflare. It’s integrated the CPanel of the major hosting providers like SiteGround, Dreamhost, Bluehost or A2Hosting. The other benefit of Cloudflare is that you benefit from an extra layer of security in front of your site. They provide a basic firewall of blocking bad traffic so that it doesn’t have an opportunity to get to your site. You get a faster site as they cache your site on their servers and you get security and if your site is ever under attack. You can just login to Cloudflare and turn on ‘Site Under Attack’ and they will put a delay on your site which stops hackers immediately. I’ve used it several times with hacker bots trying to guess WordPress passwords.

Recommendation: Cloudflare. You can just turn it without any configuration and it works.

Cloudflare

You can just turn it without any configuration and it works.

Summary

Speed is a tricky thing in WordPress. It may only take one action and you’ll find a significant improvement. Be patient and try things one at a time and see what helps. After one of them, run the site analyzer again and see what’s improved. Then try the next thing.

Read more about the most important things to do with your WordPress Site:

  1. Back it Up
  2. Secure It
  3. Get Visible

Not sure you want to tackle speeding up your website? That’s OK, I can help you with my Fix Your Website Now package.

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link. I only recommend what I use and love. 🙂