Getting slow server response times on GoDaddy?
Here’s how to fix slow server response times on GoDaddy: upgrade to PHP 7.2, activate Cloudflare’s free CDN in Bluehost’s cPanel, and install a few speed plugins (Autoptimize, WP-Optimize, Heartbeat Control, Blackhole For Bad Bots, WP Disable, CAOS Analytics, CAOS Fonts, and ShortPixel). Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through these. You should also avoid high CPU plugins which consume server resources, and optimize images. Not only will these make response times faster, but they will also improve scores and load times in GTmetrix/Pingdom.
Disclaimer: GoDaddy is known for being cheap (not fast) which is reflected in your server response times. WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to see what real, unbiased people are saying. Most people with a serious (eg. business) website are using SiteGround, Cloudways, Kinsta, or WP Engine. I use SiteGround who was the #1 host in 25+ Facebook polls and have 200ms response times, 100% GTmetrix scores, and a .4s load times in Pingdom. As you grow, you need better hosting, and GoDaddy isn’t it. Do your research and consider someone else.
1. Test Server Response Times
Run your site through Bitcatcha and check your server response times:
You can also use Google PageSpeed Insights:
As long as you’re hosted with GoDaddy, you’re not alone. Any $3.95/month hosting plan won’t get you great response times. Follow my guide and if they’re still high, you know the problem.
2. Upgrade To PHP 7.2
Upgrading to a higher PHP versions makes your site significantly faster (and more secure).
But many WordPress users still run outdated PHP versions.
Step 1: Check your current PHP version using the Display PHP Version plugin.
Step 2: Run the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin to make sure your plugins are compatible.
Step 3: Upgrade to PHP 7+ in your GoDaddy cPanel (higher versions are faster).
Step 4: Test your website for errors. You can also revert to an earlier version if need be.
To setup a CDN (content delivery network), see the CDN section.
4. Clean Database
Your database can accumulate junk files like spam comments, deleted comments, post revisions, trackbacks, pingbacks, expired transients, and other things you do not need.
Install the WP-Optimize plugin, select everything you don’t need, and delete them (taking a backup beforehand is always recommended). It also has an option to schedule ongoing database cleanups (once every 1-2 weeks is good, and keeps your server response times fast).
The WordPress heartbeat API consumes server resources by showing real-time plugin notifications in your dashboard, and when other users are editing a post. This is something you don’t need, and disabling (or at least limiting the heartbeat API) will save on server resources.
Install the Heartbeat Control plugin, then limit to 60 seconds, or disable it completely.
6. Block Spam Bots
When was the last time you checked if spam bots were hitting your site?
If you haven’t, chances are they could be consuming a LOT of unnecessary server resources. When I checked on my own site, the same 2 bots (compute.amazonaws.com and linode.com) were hitting my site constantly – about every 3 seconds. I was blowing my server resources on literally nothing! You never know if this is happening to your site, unless of course, you check.
Step 1: Install Wordfence.
Step 2: Go to Wordfence’s Tools settings and view your live traffic report. Watch your report for a solid minute or two, taking note of any bot that looks suspicious. Create a list of all the spam bots, then Google their hostnames to see if other people are reporting them as spam.
Step 3: Go to Wordfence’s Blocking settings and add the spam bots here. Use asterisks to make sure you’re blocking all variations of that bot, otherwise this may not be effective.
Step 4: Go to your Wordfence Blocking log and you will see those bots getting blocked.
You can also use the Blackhole For Bad Bots plugin which blocks most common spam bots. It has a perfect 5 star review, and works by creating a hidden rule on your site. If bots disobey that rule, they will be blocked immediately. Googlebot and the “good bots” are whitelisted.
7. WP Disable
Some features of WordPress aren’t located in the dashboard, but are still active on your site. Most people don’t need them and they can consume server resources. WP Disable lets you go through these features and disable ones you don’t use. You probably don’t need most of them.
8. Avoid External Resources
Gravatars, Google Maps, AdSense, social sharing plugins, comment plugins, and other external resources can destroy server response times. Your GTmetrix report will usually show these. While it’s best to avoid these all together, sometimes you can’t. I left common solutions below:
- Gravatars – use WP User Avatar, Harrys Gravatar Cache, FV Gravatar Cache, Optimum Gravatar Cache. You can also disable Gravatars completely, or break comments and enable nested comment in your WordPress Discussion settings.
- Comment plugins – use the Disqus Conditional Load plugin.
- Social Sharing plugins – best to use a lightweight plugin for this.
- Google Maps – only use this on pages you absolutely need a Google Maps.
- Google AdSense – use Cloudflare Rocket Loader which helps with dynamic content.
9. Delete Unused Plugins + Themes
- Delete unused plugins
- Avoid robust, bloated plugins
- Disable CPU-hungry plugin settings (eg. ongoing backups, notifications, statistics, etc)
Deleted unused themes (which can leave behind junk) in WordPress > Appearance > Themes. It’s best to use lightweight themes (eg. from StudioPress) and rely on plugins to only add the functionality you need. Otherwise, all those features can cause bloat and slow response times.
10. Avoid High CPU Plugins
You can also use GTmetrix Waterfall to find your slowest loading plugins:
11. Use Lightweight Plugins
If you discover certain plugins are slowing down your site, either need to delete them, or replace them with a more lightweight plugin. Below are a few solid lightweight plugins, however you might need to do some research depending on what functionality you need.
Backup – UpdraftPlus.
Comments – Disqus Conditional Load.
Analytics – Google Analytics and Search Console should be plenty. Just make sure you’re hosting Google Analytics locally (using WP Rocket, CAOS, or WP Disable).
Page Builders – WordPress Page Builder by MotoPress, but no page builder runs faster than the native WordPress Editor. Combine this with the Duplicator plugin and you shouldn’t need a page builder (including page builders built-in to WordPress themes). Unless your team absolutely refuses to learn a little HTML (the easiest coding language), avoid page builders.
StudioPress Plugins – lightweight plugins for the Genesis Framework.
A CDN (content delivery network) hosts your website files on multiple data centers around the world, reducing the geographic distance between your server and visitors. It also offloads resources to those data centers, lightening the load on your own server (which improves server response times). A CDN is also recommended in the WordPress optimization guide.
Step 1: Sign up for Cloudflare (the free plan is fine), add your website, then Cloudflare will run their scan. You will go through a set of pages until you see your 2 Cloudflare name servers.
Step 2: Change your name servers to the ones Cloudflare assigned you.
Step 1: Sign up for StackPath (30-day trial, then $10/month).
Step 2: In the dashboard, click the CDN tab, then create a StackPath CDN Site.
StackPath will generate a CDN URL:
Step 3: Copy your StackPath CDN URL and paste it into Autoptimize in the “Main” settings.
Step 4: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click Purge Everything…
Step 5: Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow.
If you expand items in GTmetrix and are related to your CDN, contact StackPath’s support who should be able to help you fix these. They did this for me and have outstanding support.
- WP Rocket CDN tutorials
- Excluding Your CDN On Pages With SSL
- How To Setup WP Rocket With StackPath
- How To Setup WP Fastest Cache With StackPath
- How To Setup W3 Total Cache With StackPath
- How To Setup WP Super Cache With StackPath
Step 6: Whitelist StackPath’s IPs in your hosting account (you may need to contact your host).
13. Local Google Fonts
If you’re using Google Fonts and have font-related errors in GTmetrix, you need to host fonts locally. This can be done using the Self-Hosted Google Fonts plugin which automatically downloads all Google Fonts you’re using, and adds them to the CSS. No configuration required.
You can also try the CAOS Fonts:
14. Local Google Analytics
Just like the previous step, you also want to host your Google Analytics tracking code locally using the CAOS Analytics plugin. Again, this is automatic and no configuration is required.
15. Image Optimization
There are 3 primary ways to optimize images in GTmetrix, however I recommend checking out my full tutorial on optimizing images in WordPress – because there are over 20 different ways.
Serve scaled images – means you need to resize large images to be smaller. GTmetrix will show you which images are too large and the correct dimensions they should be resized to. Simply locate the image on your website, resize it to the correct dimensions, upload it, and replace the old image with the new one. I recommend creating a cheat sheet of your most common images (sliders, widgets, footer, fullwidth blog images) so you can crop/resize them to the correct dimensions before uploading it. Start with images that appear on multiple pages.
Specify images dimensions – means you need to add a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS. To do this, locate the image, view it’s HTML, and add the width/height (which GTmetrix will provide you with). The HTML is very easy and you don’t need to know code (see below):
Optimize images – means you need to losslessly compress them (I use ShortPixel). Once installed, configure the plugin settings and set the compression level to lossless. Next, grab your API key from the ShortPixel website and enter it into the plugin. Head to your Media section and optimize a few images. If you’re happy with the quality, you can start optimizing images in your media library, or they have an option to bulk optimize all images on your site.
16. Retest Response Times
Well, we covered everything, and then some. Retest those server response times!
17 GoDaddy Sucks: Get Better Hosting
Except, GoDaddy sucks and you still might have slow response times. Do your research!
I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my fast loading pages. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), GoDaddy, and other hosts who pack too many people on the same server. There have been plenty of people who migrated and posted results on Facebook and Twitter. Tweet after tweet, post after post, poll after poll after poll, faster hosting will fix slow response times. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.
SiteGround has 3 plans:
Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.
You can see this on the features page…
I hope this was helpful. If you have questions, drop me a comment.