7 Simple Ways To Improve WordPress Speed Performance

Here are a few down and dirty tips to make your WordPress site load faster.

You don’t need to know code to do any of this – it’s just a matter of configuring a cache plugin (W3 Total Cache), importing my pre-configured settings, deleting plugins you don’t need, and following my instructions. By the end your website should load much faster especially if you haven’t done these steps already (and even if you have, I bet you will learn something new).

I like to start with sitewide optimizations (things that affects the performance of your entire website) which is more efficient than doing things like optimizing individual pages and images.

Different websites have different bottlenecks which slow it down, so naturally the first step to improving WordPress speed performance is to find out what items are slowing it down…


1. Run Your Website Through GTmetrix

Run your WordPress site through GTtmetrix to see your page load time and which items are slowing it down. You can click on each item to see more details. This can help you find out which plugins, images, pages, and other elements of your site are slowing it down the most. Be sure to check both the Page Speed and YSlow tabs to see all GTmetrix recommendations.

New-gtmetrix-report. Png

  • Under 2 seconds = legit!
  • 2-4 seconds = nice
  • 4-7 seconds = meh
  • 7-10 seconds = ouch
  • 10+ seconds = really?


2. Configure The W3 Total Cache Plugin

W3 Total Cache can shave seconds off your load time especially when combined with MaxCDN and Cloudflare (which integrate with W3 Total Cache). Use my W3 Total Cache tutorial to configure the ‘performance’ tabs on the left of your dashboard once the plugin is installed, then setup MaxCDN and Cloudflare. My tutorial includes a pre-configured zip file of the same settings I use which you can import into your own W3 Total Cache plugin.


Here are the settings for the “General” tab but you’ll want to go through my full W3 Total Cache tutorial to get the most out of this amazing plugin. My tutorial has over 200 comments and has been used by 30,000+ people to make their WordPress site load much faster.



3. Configure MaxCDN With W3 Total Cache

MaxCDN’s content delivery network is a paid service ($90/year with my 40% off coupon) but significantly improves load times for visitors who are far away from your server (shared hosting only has 1 server so the CDN basically mirrors your site on multiple servers around the country/world). Here’s a tutorial for setting it up with the W3 Total Cache plugin…


4. Get Faster WordPress Hosting

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

What happened when I moved from SiteGround:

Siteground vs cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 500 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.


People who moved to Cloudways:

Cloudways response times


Siteground vs cloudways migration

Changed to cloudways

Siteground to cloudways migration

Cloudways performance

Cloudways google pagespeed

Cloudways digitalocean page speed

Wpengine to cloudways

Cloudways pingdom load times

New cloudways server

Cloudways pagespeed scores

Digitalocean pingdom report

Wp engine to cloudways

Cloudways love

Cloudways vs siteground post

Godaddy digitalocean migration

Cloudways facebook review

Recent Facebook polls show a large shift in people moving away from low quality hosts to Cloudways, LiteSpeed servers, Kinsta, GridPane, and A2 Hosting (click thumbnails to enlarge):
Recent Facebook polls show a large shift in people moving away from low quality hosts to Cloudways, LiteSpeed servers, Kinsta, GridPane, and A2 Hosting (click thumbnails to enlarge):

Ecommerce hosting poll

Moving from siteground

Hosting poll

Hosting recommendation

Good managed wordpress host

Web server poll

Elementor hosting

Siteground alternatives

Siteground alternative

Litespeed poll

Reliable fast hosting

Moving from wpx

Preferred web hosting

Favorite web hosting

Hosting provider claims

Web hosting france

Vps cloud hosting

Web hosting recommendations

This is a simple Pingdom test to measure TTFB + load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I installed the same Astra Starter Site on 16 hosting accounts (using separate domains) while measuring Pingdom load times for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals, as well as TTFB in various tools. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most accounts since it got expensive. Even when browsing through these 2 sites or running your own tests, you’ll see the difference.


Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in numerous Facebook Groups. It would mean a lot.


5. Delete Unused Plugins + Find Slow Plugins With P3

The more plugins installed on your site, the slower your WordPress speed performance will be. Too many plugins (or 1 large plugin) can be the main culprit of your slow load times. Installing Plugin Performance Profiler and running a scan tells you which plugins are slowing down your site. Go through each plugin and consider deleting it, replacing it with code (eg. using a widget instead of a Facebook plugin), or find an alternative lightweight plugin.

Here’s what the scan looks like…

P3 performence profiler


6. Optimize Images

You can break this down into serve scaled images, lossless compression, and specifying image dimensions (all of which are high priority items in your GTmetrix report). Serve scaled images means you need to resize large images to be smaller (GTmetrix provides you with these dimensions). Lossless compression is done through the Imagify Plugin – definitely the best plugin for this as the completely free ones can break your images. Specifying image dimensions means you need to specify a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS, which GTmetrix will tell you. See the image optimization section of my YouTube video to learn all this.


7. Use A Faster WordPress Theme

If your WordPress theme comes with tons of built-in features (shortcodes, styling, theme options…) you may consider migrating to a theme that loads faster. GTmetrix doesn’t tell you to change your host, migrate to a faster theme or anything like that, so you will need to look into the theme for this. But if your site was slow from the start, this could be why.

I use a WordPress theme built in the Genesis Framework (recommended by WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg), and you can view a list of my recommended WordPress themes which are SEO-friendly, responsive, HTML, and secure. It’s a pain, but worth it long-term.


Wrapping It Up

If your WordPress speed performance is still slow, check out my main WordPress speed tutorial which is more thorough. Or if you don’t want to deal with this, I offer WordPress speed optimization services (I actually use my developer for this who you can hire on that page for $40/hour through freelancer.com). I’m investing more time helping clients with WordPress SEO consulting so instead of the $700 I would charge, you can pay my Bangladesh developer $200 who is cheaper. He has helped me optimize my site (and client sites) to load 400% faster.

Bdkamol freelancer

Please share this article if you found it helpful. I would appreciate that!


Tom signature



About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

9 thoughts on “7 Simple Ways To Improve WordPress Speed Performance

  1. I’ve always found P3 Plugin to be useless at analysing performance issues.

    I use Query Monitor to figure out where performance issues originate and then there are typically two common problems – either too many queries because of a faulty/badly coded plugin, or because of queries running too slowly due to lack of indexes in the database.

  2. Hi Tom,

    I totally agree with the GTMetrix, i have been using GTMetrix to check the speed and issues in the website. Though, i have couple of concerns:
    1. When i check the Speed on GTMetrix then it shows minify the CSS, so how can i minify that?
    2. Same problem goes with the Images, i tried to optimize the images but when i compress the images, the quality of the images get reduced so how can fix that issue?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hi Pooja,

      1. Your cache plugin will fix all minify items, use WP Rocket if can drop $39 as it’s the best (I have a tutorial for it), otherwise WP Fastest Cache/W3 Total Cache are free.
      2. The optimize images (“lossless” compression) is tricky. I use Imagify and there are 3 levels of compression: normal, aggressive, and ultra. I found aggressive to fix the items in GTmetrix but there will be a very slight decrease in quality… no way to get around it. You can try the normal too, but these will still show in GTmetrix.

      Let me know if those work for you, glad to help anytime!

  3. Hi Tom,

    I did use GTMetrix. Very helpful. In this article you suggest that I can edit images within WP. Wouldn’t it just be easier to either optimize within WP or use a plugin like SmushIt?

    1. It could be easier to optimize in WordPress but I never reduce images using the 90%, 80%, 70%, etc feature. I don’t think this properly scales images because you’ll notice they will start loading slow. Instead I go to media–> edit image–>scale. I’ve heard good things about Smush.it but it caused an error on my site so I don’t use it. If you have success I’d definitely like to know!

  4. Hi Tom,

    I just discovered you site. As a site owner who has never been much of a tech. I have learned what I needed to know, except when it comes to speed. So, I have a question. How do you find images that need optimization? Other than this, I really appreciate the help.

    1. Hi Devin, try going to https://gtmetrix.com/, run your site and see the “optimize images” section. You’ll see the top results are probably the most critical. Gtmetrix will also give you a new “optimized version” for each image which you can use. Hope that helps.

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