GoDaddy is known for domain registration, not hosting. iThemes called them out for packing too many people on the same server (which is how they cut costs). They’re also slow to release newer PHP versions, and of course, the CEO kills elephants and was boycotted for supporting SOPA. Even Forbes wrote an article titled “5 Reasons You Should Leave Godaddy.” They also blacklist all cache plugins and force you to use their own built-in caching system, which doesn’t hold a candle to top cache plugins like WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, or even W3 Total Cache.
You can run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. Google recommends a server response time of <200ms. Anything over 200ms is considered slow, and you can identify GoDaddy’s slow servers as the main problem.
Bottom line – I encourage you to look elsewhere for a new hosting provider. Even outside the controversy, their hosting is infamous for being slow. The WordPress Hosting Facebook Group constantly bashes GoDaddy for it, and their hosting was rated poorly in many Facebook polls.
I use SiteGround’s WordPress hosting who is also used by Yoast, recommended by WordPress, and was rated the #1 host in many Facebook polls. Lots of people have already migrated from GoDaddy to SiteGround with faster load times. I’m on their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan and have 100% GTmetrix scores with 200ms server response times. They also do free migrations.
Regardless, these tips will help speed up your WordPress site. Comment with any questions!
When you’re done, hopefully your GTmetrix report looks like this:
This video should help (timestamps are in the video description):
1. Check Your Server Response Time
Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. This either means your hosting company uses slow/outdated technology or your plan doesn’t include enough server resources. To fix this, you either need to upgrade plans on GoDaddy (managed/VPS) or switch to someone like SiteGround whose speed technology is 10x faster. As you can see in the Tweets below, this is a common issue with GoDaddy clients.
2. Upgrade To PHP 7.2 In GoDaddy’s cPanel
Upgrading to PHP 7.2 can make your site 2-3x faster. Most WordPress users run outdated PHP versions since GoDaddy (and other hosts) won’t upgrade you automatically since it can break your site if you’re running incompatible plugins. That’s why whenever GoDaddy releases a new PHP version (which they’re often late to do) you should upgrade as soon as you can.
How To Upgrade To PHP 7.2 On GoDaddy
- Login to your GoDaddy cPanel
- In the Software section, click Select PHP Version
- Change to PHP 7.2
- Check your website for errors
- If you see errors, run PHP Compatibility Checker to make sure plugins are compatible
- If you still see errors, revert to an earlier PHP version
3. Minify Files With Autoptimize
If you run your site through GTmetrix/Pingdom you will usually see recommendations for minify, Gzip, others. Install the Autoptimize plugin and simply enable the options in the main menu. If you plan on using StackPath (step 13 which is $10/month which comes with a 30-day free trial, but is a recommendation in WordPress’ optimization guide), enter your CDN URL.
If you’re using Google Fonts, these can also result in GTmetrix errors:
If you see them, go to the Autoptimize “Extra” settings and select “combine and link in head”:
4. Clean Your Database With WP-Optimize
Install the WP-Optimize plugin then click ‘WP-Optimize’ (left in your dashboard). Running it deletes your trash, spam, post revisions, trackbacks, and garbage files. Since these are constantly accumulating, make sure you schedule WP-Optimize to run every 2 weeks or so.
5. Setup Cloudflare’s CDN
Cloudflare is a free service which improves both your website speed and security. It improves speed by hosting your WordPress site on multiple data centers around the world which acts as a CDN (content delivery network) and reduces the geographic distance it takes for your content to travel. You will need to sign up for a free plan, change your nameservers to Cloudflare’s, then tweak a few settings in your Cloudflare dashboard. Instructions are below.
1. Sign up for Cloudflare’s free plan add your website, and run the scan. Cloudflare will walk you through a set of pages until you reach a page where Cloudflare assigns you 2 nameservers.
2. Login to your GoDaddy account and in your product list go to Domain → Manage DNS → Nameservers → Change. Click “custom nameservers” and add the ones Cloudflare gave you:
3.Go to the Cloudflare’s speed settings and copy these:
4. In Cloudflare go to the caching settings and Purge Individual Files → Purge Everything.
This is all you need to do. It can take up to 72 hours for Cloudflare nameservers to propagate.
6. Optimize Images
We’ll use GTmetrix for this. Run your site through GTmetrix and in your report you’ll see images can be optimized 3 ways. GTmetrix only shows unoptimized images for a single page so start by optimizing images that appear on multiple pages (logo, sidebar and footer images), then run your most important pages through GTmetrix and fix individual images on those too.
There are 3 ways to optimize images in GTmetrix:
- Serve scaled images – resize large images to be smaller
- Specify image dimensions – specify a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS
- Optimize Images – losslessly compress images using Imagify
Serve Scaled Images – GTmetrix tells you which images are too large and the dimensions they need to be resized to. Find the image, crop or resize it, upload it to WordPress, then replace the old image with the new one. Follow your “image containers” and create a cheat sheet (below). You can manually check for large images by right clicking an image → copy image address then go to that URL where you should see if it’s too large. Never use the drag to resize feature in the visual editor since this only resizes the displayed image (not the actual image).
Sample cheat sheet:
- Logo: 150(w) x 37(h)
- Sliders: 1950(w) x 550(h)
- Sidebar Widgets: 319(w)
- Blog content body: 600(w)
- Featured images: 200(w) x 200(h)
- Carousel images: 225(h)
Specify Image Dimensions – refer to your GTmetrix report and expand these items to see which images need this. Locate each one in WordPress, then specify the dimensions (width/height) which GTmetrix will tell you. The visual editor takes cares of this automatically so you usually have to do this with images that are in widgets, page builders, and other places.
Optimize Images – losslessly compress images using Imagify or Kraken (both are free until you reach the monthly limit). While there are other completely free plugins that offer unlimited compressions, do NOT use these since they have bugs, won’t work, or will break your images.
- Install the Imagify Plugin
- You will be prompted with instructions
- Sign up for Imagify and enter your API key
- Set your compression level (normal, aggressive, ultra)… I use aggressive
- Imagif’em all (bulk compresses all images on your site)
- Once your limit is up, buy a plan or wait next month to reset your limit
When you’re done, run your pages through GTmetrix and make sure all 3 items are 100%.
7. Avoid High CPU Plugins
The following plugins taken a long time to load. Many of these are in GoDaddy’s list of blacklisted plugins because (especially stat and related post plugins) consume a lot of CPU.
You can also use the GTmetrix waterfall tab to see your slow plugins…
Either delete these or find a faster plugin that does the same job. For example, the Revolution Slider plugin can cause speed issues while Soliloquy Slider barely adds to your load time. JetPack and social sharing plugins can cause speed issues. Delete WordPress Importer, Hello Dolly, and other plugins you don’t need. If you only use a plugin at certain times (like Broken Link Checker), fix your broken links then delete it. Yoast generates a sitemap for you so you don’t need Google XML Sitemaps. Insert your Google Analytics tracking code directly into your footer instead of using a plugin. Or use a Facebook widget and Twitter widget without using a plugin. Less plugins means faster load times and less potential errors on your website.
- Deactivate and delete ALL plugins you don’t use
- Diagnose slow loading plugins using the GTmetrix waterfall tab
- Replace slow plugins with lightweight plugins (see next 3 steps)
- Turn off all plugin settings you don’t use (just like you disabled unused WordPress settings via WP Disable, individual plugin settings can also add to your load time)
8. Avoid Google Maps
These kill your load times. Try to only use one on the contact page, or take a screenshot of the map (since a photo is quicker to load than an embedded map) and use an “Open In Maps” link.
9. Avoid Advertisements
Just like Google Maps require your site to pull resources from external websites and add a TON of requests to your GTmetrix/Pingdom report, advertisements are pretty much the worst thing you can do to your load times. Forget about using Google AdSense and start using affiliate links (they’re not only more profitable but they will also keep you load times down).
10. Use A Fast Slider/Gallery/Social Sharing Plugin
Meta Slider – free minimal slider plugin with great reviews.
Envira Gallery – $29 lightweight gallery plugin you can use to replace NextGEN Gallery and Essential Grid which are slow. Envira has a free version but it doesn’t come with albums, tags, social integration, gallery templates, deeplinking, pagination, ecommerce, image proofing, etc.
FooGallery – free popular lightweight gallery plugin with great (5 star) reviews.
Sassy Social Share – lightweight social sharing buttons with over 100 social sharing and bookmarking services and customizable icons.
DVK Social Sharing – alternative plugin that supports Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
11. Disable Unused Settings With WP Disable
Install the WP Disable plugin which helps you turn off unused settings in WordPress core (which consume CPU) and has other options to speed up your WordPress site. Tips are below.
- Disable ALL SETTINGS you don’t use
- Scheduling spam deletion is a good idea
- Emojis, Google Maps, and Gravatars take a long time to load
- Pingbacks and trackbacks aren’t usually worth the extra resources
- Set post revisions to 3-5 so you have backups, but you don’t need hundreds
- Other options in the “request” tab can further your improve your load times
12. Lazy Load Videos
A single video usually adds 2-3 seconds to your page load time. The Lazy Load Videos plugin makes it so videos are only loaded once readers scroll down the page and it becomes visible.
Light YouTube Embeds – another option is to only load videos once people click the play button. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel (and you will need some coding knowledge), but I followed this light YouTube embed tutorial. You will basically paste some code into your web template, paste some more code into your CSS, then embed each video using a “div” code. If you need help you can have my developer do this for you, but it does make a huge difference.
13. Setup StackPath’s CDN
StackPath’s CDN hosts your site on 31 data centers around the country/world which reduces the geographical distance between your server and visitors. Both Cloudflare and StackPath are CDNs, but more data centers = faster content delivery. It’s $10/month with a 30-day trial.
You can (and should at least test out) using both Cloudflare and StackPath since while Cloudflare is free, StackPath uses SSDs (solid state drives) with 10 GB connections and their support team was able to improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%. That said, make sure you contact their support to make sure it’s configured optimally, then retest your site in GTmetrix. If you see an improvement, keep it. If not, cancel your free trial. But it’s for sure worth testing.
Step 1: Sign up for StackPath with a free 30-day trial to see how you like it.
Step 2: go to the StackPath dashboard, click the CDN tab, and create a StackPath CDN Site.
Step 3: Copy your CDN URL and paste into the Autoptimize settings from step 3.
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 see it has to do with your CDN, contact StackPath’s support team who should be able to help you fix these. They have outstanding support.
14. Host Google Analytics Locally
CAOS is a plugin that fixes “leverage browser caching” you’ll often see in GTmetrix and other speed testing tools. Just install the plugin, enter your Tracking-ID and the plugin does the rest.
15. Find Your Slowest Loading Pages
You can use Google Analytics to find the load times (and recommendations) for your top viewed pages and slowest loading pages. Login to Google Analytics and on the left, go to Behavior → Site Speed → Speed Suggestions. Click the ‘Page Speed Suggestions’ to see recommendations, though I would say GTmetrix recommendations are usually better.
16. Keep WordPress Software Updated
Update WordPress core, theme, plugins, and framework if you use one (eg. Genesis).
Switch To SiteGround (#1 Host In Facebook Polls)
SiteGround is consistently rated the #1 host in Facebook polls and are worlds better than GoDaddy. They’re also used by Yoast, myself, and recommended by WordPress. Another great option is Kinsta who is fast, but pricey. If you have slow server response times in PageSpeed Insights, look at people who migrated from GoDaddy to SiteGround and posted their results. You’ll notice how nobody goes from SiteGround to GoDaddy because it is a huge downgrade.
I use their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan which comes with 4x more server resources than shared hosting. Click through my pages to see how fast they load, check out my GTmetrix report, or see people who migrated and posted new load times. They also do free migrations.
Here are the Facebook polls on what people think is the “best” hosting:
They’re recommended by WordPress:
A few threads:
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 their features page:
People usually migrate because their speed technology can cut load times in half:
Read My Full WordPress Speed Guide
If you’re looking for more tips to make your WordPress site load faster, check out my WordPress speed guide which has 400+ comments and has helped multiple people optimize their site to load 400% faster. I’ve already gone over many of the tips but if you’re still struggling with a slow WordPress site on GoDaddy, I’m always updating it with new goodies.
Get Help From My WordPress Speed Optimizer
Pronaya is a WordPress developer I found on freelancer.com who lives in Bangladesh and specializes in WordPress speed optimization (yes, he’s better than me). I have worked with him for over 5 years and he’s the one who helped me optimize my site to load so fast and multiple client sites to load 500% faster. He’s $40/hour (projects usually run $300 – $400) and he has a perfect 5 star review on his freelancer profile. I have worked with over 20 overseas freelancers and he’s the one I always turn to for advanced WordPress speed and development.
How to hire Pronaya – sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDkamol. Make sure the “online users” option is turned off, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Serious inquiries only, and please do not tell him you expect a 100% score when you’re using slow hosting, bloated WordPress theme, and tons of plugins. Please review my WordPress speed guide and make sure you’re on good hosting and minimize plugins at the least (thank you!!!).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is GoDaddy the problem?
Probably, they overcrowd their servers and were rated poorly in 40+ Facebook polls. Most websites hosted on GoDaddy have problems with slow server response times which you can measure in Google PageSpeed Insights.
How do you check for slow server response times?
Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights. Your server response time should be <200ms.
What are some quick ways to improve load times on GoDaddy?
To improve load times on GoDaddy, upgrade to PHP 7+ in your GoDaddy account, install the Autoptimize plugin, setup Cloudflare's free CDN, clean your database with WP-Optimize, and use an image optimization plugin. Be sure to avoid plugins that consume high CPU and show multiple times in your GTmetrix report.
Can you use a cache plugin with GoDaddy?
GoDaddy blacklists almost all cache plugins. This is because they use their own built-in caching system which isn't as good as some cache plugins like WP Rocket.
Why does GoDaddy overcrowd their servers?
They do it to cut costs. GoDaddy is known for being 1 thing (cheap) and are for beginner website users. Most experienced users join Facebook groups and do more research before choosing a low quality host.
What is the best speed testing tool?
GTmetrix is the best tool for getting specific recommendations to improve speed, and finding specific images or plugins that need to be optimized. Google PageSpeed Insights is primarily good for measuring server response times.
So…. did it work?
Let me know your new Pingdom/GTmetrix scores in the comments! Or if you need help fixing GoDaddy’s slow WordPress hosting, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help with whatever I can. If it’s related to a plugin/tool I mentioned, keep in mind they also have their own support :)
Please share if you liked this tutorial – I’d appreciate it!
Oh, and here’s the founder of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons: