How To Fix SiteGround’s Slow WordPress Hosting (15 Ways)

SiteGround Slow

Have a slow WordPress site on SiteGround?

To fix a slow website on SiteGround, use their SG Optimizer plugin to enable PHP 7.4, memcached, and optimization of Google fonts and images. Next, activate Cloudflare in your SiteGround cPanel and clean your database with WP-Optimize. This should help quite a bit.

However, SiteGround’s TTFB has gotten much slower.

They had the slowest TTFB reported by Backlinko (and in my own test), and there have been many complaints in the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters Facebook Groups about their TTFBs, CPU limits, and declining service. I migrated to DigitalOcean on Cloudways and this happened. You can still get “OK” load times on SiteGround – but they’re not the fastest.

I even set up an identical Astra website on stgrndserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig, one is hosted on Cloudways DigitalOcean. Visit the websites, click through their pages, and perform your own tests – one is definitely faster than the other.

My suggestion – go through this tutorial which should give you better load times and scores. But if you still have a slow server response time, TTFB, or CPU issues, consider leaving them. There is a huge trend of people moving away from SiteGround to other (faster) cloud hosting.

Quick tips to load your site faster on SiteGround:

  • Upgrade to PHP 7.4 in your SiteGround account
  • Install SG Optimizer and test each individual setting
  • Activate Cloudflare’s CDN and configure the dashboard
  • Set up page rules and enable hotlink protection in Cloudflare
  • Install the WordPress Heartbeat Control plugin
  • Block unwanted bots from Wordfence’s live traffic report
  • Combine and optimize Google Fonts using the OMGF plugin
  • Losslessly compress images using SG Optimizer or another plugin
  • Avoid resource-hungry plugins, page builders, and third party scripts
  • Upload images that have been cropped/resized to the correct dimensions

 

1. Check For Slow Server Response Times

Servers are controlled by your hosting. If you have a slow server response time in PageSpeed Insights, you know the problem. You would think SiteGround’s move to Google Cloud servers would make it faster (or even their $80/month cloud hosting) but that is not always the case.

Reduce Server Response Time

TTFB can be checked in the GTmetrix Timings tab.

OMM TTFB

Does SiteGround Have A Slow TTFB?
Yes, Backlinko reported SiteGround has some of the worst TTFBs. It has also been reported many times in Facebook Groups. SiteGround was also one of the slowest hosts in my speed test.

Some WordPress Facebook Groups list Hristo (SiteGround community manager) as an admin, and they forbid anyone from talking bad about SiteGround. That is partially why Gijo started his own WP Speed Matters Facebook Group where these complaints aren’t moderated. This is something to know if you turn to Facebook Groups for help. When in reality, there are many complaints about SiteGround’s slow TTFB (especially on their $80/month cloud hosting plan).

This is why I left SiteGround as a customer (and one of their main affiliates). Seek the truth.

SiteGround Cloud Hosting Speed

SiteGround Reports

SiteGround TTFB GTmetrix

SiteGround TTFB KeyCDN

SiteGround WebPageTest

SiteGround Server Response Time

WordPress Hosting Server Response Time Test
Cloudways DigitalOcean is the fastest host in speed tests (including Pingdom tests) and who I use/recommend

 

2. Configure SG Optimizer’s Settings

These are the SG Optimizer settings I recommend (basically, enable everything).

You shouldn’t need WP Rocket when using SG Optimizer. Just know that SG Optimizer lacks a few features you will need other plugins for (database cleanup, heartbeat control, preloading fonts, and optimizing third party scripts like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel). After you configure SG Optimizer, test your GTmetrix report to see remaining errors and focus on those.

SG-Optimizer-SuperCacher-Settings

SG-Optimizer-Environment-Optimization-Settings

SG-Optimizer-Frontend-Optimization-Settings

SG-Optimizer-Media-Settings

The next few steps also relate to SG Optimizer but need further explanation.

 

3. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

Login to your SiteGround account (or SG Optimizer) to upgrade to PHP 7.4

PHP 7.4 is considerably faster especially if you’re currently running an older PHP version. It’s a good idea to make sure your theme + plugins are compatible. If they’re not, you will likely see visible errors on your site and need to remove those plugins, or revert to an earlier PHP version.

If you’re on GoGeek, use their Ultrafast PHP.

SiteGround PHP 7.4.14

 

4. Enable Memcached

To enable memcached in SG Optimizer, you will need to first activate it in your cPanel’s SuperCacher settings. Once that is done, you will see the option to activate memcached in SG Optimizer’s SuperCacher settings. This will help especially with speeding up database queries.

SiteGround memcached

 

5. Combine Google Fonts

There’s a lot more to font optimization than enabling it in SG Optimizer.

  • Number of fonts
  • Number of font weights
  • Number of font icons
  • Combine font files
  • Use browser resource hints
  • Prevent layout issues during font load

Step 1: Enable “font optimization” In SG Optimizer.

Step 2: Check your number of fonts and their load times in GTmetrix.

GTmetrix Font Files

Step 3: Consolidate font types, weights, and icons. If you can get away with just a couple weights (such as 400 and 800) then replace font icons with SVGs or CSS, that is a great start. You may also want to test other plugins like OMGF or SHGF to see if you get better results.

Step 4: Use browser resource hints (preload, prefetch, preconnect) to make fonts load faster. You can do this using a plugin like Perfmatters or Pre* Party Resource Hints, or do it manually.

Step 5: Prevent layout issues during font load and ensure text remains visible. Sometimes when loading fonts, you will see the text isn’t visible or layout issues with your site while fonts are loading. The Swap Google Fonts Display plugin ensures text remains visible during font load.

 

6. Optimize Images

Large, unoptimized images can also cause a slow website on SiteGround.

If you see serve scaled image errors in GTmetrix, it means you’re uploading images that are too large and they need to be cropped and/or resized to the correct dimensions (which GTmetrix provides you). Specify image dimensions means you need to add a width + height to the image’s HTML. Optimize images means losslessly compressing them using SG Optimizer’s image optimization (backup your images first in case you see a loss in quality). Lazy loading can also be done in SG Optimizer. Finally, PageSpeed Insights recommends serving images in next-gen formats which means you need to use a plugin to convert and serve images in WebP format.

GTmetrix Image Optimizations

 

7. Activate Cloudflare In SiteGround

Cloudflare’s free CDN can be activated in SiteGround’s dashboard.

SiteGround Cloudflare Activation

Go to your actual Cloudflare dashboard to utilize the features from Cloudflare, since even SiteGround’s advanced Cloudflare settings lack options that are provided in the CF dashboard.

  • Speed: enable Brotli and Rocket Loader.
  • Scrape Shield: enable hotlink protection.
  • Firewall: block bad bots from Wordfence’s live traffic report.
  • Page Rules: set up page rules (below are 3 I recommend).

Page Rule 1: Cache Everything And Force HTTPS – cache your website aggressively.

https://*yourwebsite.com/*

Always-Use-HTTPS-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Secure The WordPress Admin And Bypass Cache – sets security level of the admin to high and bypasses Cloudflare’s cache in the admin, since you don’t want CDNs (or apps + performance features like Rocket Loader) running inside the admin.

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin*

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Decrease Bandwidth Of WP Uploads – since the content in your WP Uploads folder does not change frequently, increasing Edge Cache TTL to a month can save on bandwidth, since the WP Uploads folder cache won’t be refreshed as often.

yourwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads*

WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

 

8. Avoid Hitting SiteGround’s CPU Limits

SiteGround’s CPU limits are a mess.

If you exceed them (these are found on their features page), they will send you an email and shut down your site. Even after increasing prices and moving to Google Cloud, SiteGround says “We don’t have plans to increase other limitations at this point.” So how can you reduce CPU?

SiteGround usually suggests disabling WordPress heartbeat, blocking spam bots from Wordfence’s live traffic report, and using Cloudflare. While this may help, SiteGround’s CPU limits have always been harsh. Say you accidentally install a high CPU plugin and CPU spikes? SiteGround will shut down your site. Too much traffic at one time? Shut down. This is a pain.

I call it “doing the dance with SiteGround’s CPU” and it’s something you’re going to have to live with on SiteGround. Even after upgrading my server to GoGeek → cloud hosting → upgraded version of cloud hosting ($120/month) I was still getting CPU emails. This is really why I moved.

SiteGround CPU Limits

Their CPU limits can be found on their Features page:

SiteGround Server Resources Comparison

Obviously they want to you upgrade, but this might not even fix your issue:

SiteGround Cloud Hosting Down

 

9. Disable WordPress Heartbeat

This can be done using the Heartbeat Control plugin or by adding code to functions.php.

Heartbeat consumes server resources by showing you real-time plugin notifications, when other users are editing a post, and other things that most people can disable to save resources.

Heartbeat Control

To disable the WordPress Heartbeat API without a plugin, go to Appearance > Theme Editor, then edit the functions.php file of your theme. Next, paste the code right after the

Disable WordPress Heartbeat Manually

add_action( 'init', 'stop_heartbeat', 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script('heartbeat');
}

 

10. Avoid Resource-Hungry Plugins

Are you running infamously slow plugins?

This includes WooCommerce, Elementor (and many page builders), JetPack and WPML. It also includes many types of plugins like portfolios, sliders, live chat, backup, statistics, related posts, social sharing, and calendar plugins. Always use lightweight plugins from reliable developers.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 73 Slow Plugins

Find Your Slowest Plugins – use GTmetrix Waterfall (or Query Monitor) to find your slowest loading plugins. Query Monitor causes high CPU so make sure you delete it once you’re done.

Slow WordPress Plugin Waterfall

 

11. Block Unwanted Bots Hitting Your Server

SiteGround often blames CPU overages on bad bots.

When spam bots hit your server, they consume CPU with no benefit.

You can find them using Wordfence’s live traffic report. Install Wordfence and view the report for a couple minutes to look for suspicious hostnames. Googlebot and others are OK, but if the same suspicious bot is constantly hitting your server over and over, you might want to block it. When in doubt, search Google for the bot’s hostname to see if other people reported it as spam.

Live-Traffic-Report-Wordfence

There are a few options for blocking bad bots:

Cloudflare Firewall Rule To Block Bad Bots

View your blocking log to make sure it’s working (and see if it affects CPU usage in SiteGround).

Cloudflare-Firewall-Events

 

12. Optimize Third Party Requests

Third party requests are anything that pull requests from outside websites.

I have done extensive testing on numerous methods throughout the years to figure out how to use third party scripts without affecting GTmetrix. Here are the best solutions I came up with.

  • Google Fonts – see the Google fonts sections in this guide.
  • Google Analytics – use the Flying Analytics plugin to host GA locally.
  • Google Maps – only use on necessary pages (contact and localized pages).
  • Google Tag Manager – generally should only be used for large, unoptimized sites.
  • Google AdSense – try the Flying Scripts plugin to delay loading, but best to avoid.
  • Gravatars – use the Flying Scripts plugin to set a timeout for the keyword “Gravatar”.
  • Facebook Pixel – only way I know is to enable the Facebook Pixel addon in WP Rocket.
  • Discuz – use Flying Scripts to set a timeout for the keyword “Discuz” and adjust settings.
  • Embedded Videos – use SG Optimizer, or the WP YouTube Lyte plugin to lazy load videos.

Prefetching – view the “Reduce DNS Lookups” section in GTmetrix YSlow to see which third party scripts load on your site (also shows up in PageSpeed Insights under reduce the impact of third-party code). Copy URLs and prefetch them in Perfmatters or Pre* Party Resource Hints.

Third Party Usage

 

13. Selectively Disable Plugins On Specific Pages

Asset CleanUp and Perfmatters let you selectively disable plugins.

Both let you selectively disable plugins, scripts, and styles from loading on certain pages/posts. This results in fewer HTTP requests since plugins usually aren’t always used on the entire site.

Examples:

  • Disable WooCommerce features on non-eCommerce pages
  • Disable slider plugin on content without sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on content without rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on content without a contact form
  • Disable AdSense or affiliate links where they aren’t being shown
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)
  • Disable WooCommerce scripts, styles, cart fragments on non-eCommerce pages

Step 1: Install the Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters plugin.

Asset CleanUp plugin

Step 2: Edit a page or post and selectively disable unused elements from loading on the page:

Disable WordPress External Scripts

 

14. Finish The Last 10% With Perfmatters

There are lots of “miscellaneous optimizations” that don’t really fall under the main categories of speed optimization. I’m talking about disabling autosaves, pingbacks, trackbacks, limiting post revisions, DNS prefetching, preconnecting, and removing bloat from your WordPress site.

The Perfmatters plugin (by Kinsta) takes care of this last 10% of speed optimization:

perfmatters features

 

13. Get Faster Load Times On Cloudways

Most hosting recommendations are honestly garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback from knowledgeable people who’ve been around the block. I won’t tell you to switch hosts if you don’t need to, so run your website through Lighthouse and check for slow server response times (TTFB) over 600ms.

If your TTTFB is slow, many people in Facebook groups (including myself) use Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically their DigitalOcean or Vultr High Frequency plan. Sure, it’s $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed, TTFB, and core web vitals – not being cheap.

Take a look at conversations, migration results, and polls posted in some of these Facebook groups. Or look at Backlinko’s PageSpeed Test where he found SiteGround has a slow TTFB. You already know GoDaddy and EIG brands (Bluehost and HostGator) are obviously not good. Hosting affects TTFB, LCP, and other web vitals which will be a ranking factor as of May, 2021.

Here are 22 people who moved to Cloudways and posted their results (click image to enlarge):

Cloudways Numbers
Another Happy Cloudways Customer

Recent Facebook polls taken on “the best hosting” (click image to enlarge):

Moving from SiteGround
eCommerce Hosting Poll

I use Cloudways DigitalOcean who is #1 in most recent Facebook polls.

Cloudways Shoutout

Not saying hosting is everything, but it helps.

2021 PSI Report

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. No caching or CDN (with same plugins) are being used since I’m strictly comparing the server. 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 those 2 sites or running your own tests, you’ll see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

I use Cloudways because:

  • My TTFB is consistently under 200ms.
  • Free migration service made it easy to try them.
  • They continuously update their speed technology.
  • Multiple caching levels (Redis, memcached, Varnish).
  • Support is great as reflected in their Trustpilot reviews.
  • Free SSL, staging, bot protection, cron job management.
  • Monthly pricing with no long-term contracts or high renewals.
  • They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions.
  • Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
  • Their community manager answered my questions when signing up.
  • Launching a server yourself and using their migrator plugin is also easy.
  • Ain’t nobody got time for shared hosting when trying to pass web vitals.

 

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I seriously appreciate it. I try to support my recommendations with real, unbiased evidence. I also make donations ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would help. It’s easy to request a free migration and promo code OMM25 gets you 25% off the first 2 months.

This video should also help quite a bit:

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my website slow on SiteGround?

To speed up a slow SiteGround website, enable most settings in SG Optimizer including PHP 7.4 and optimization of fonts, images, database, caching, minification, and heartbeat. Activating Cloudflare's CDN and prefetching third party scripts in SG Optimizer will also speed up a slow loading website.

Why is SiteGround's TTFB slow?

SiteGround TTFB can often be slower than other cloud hosting providers, simply because their servers aren't as powerful. To improve TTFB on SiteGround, make sure SG Optimizer and Cloudflare and configured properly while avoiding high CPU plugins. Monitor CPU usage in Site Tools and lower the CPU amount consumed by your site, theme, and plugins.

Why is my CPU usage high on SiteGround?

SiteGround's mysterious CPU usage limits aren't normal. Even when upgrading to an expensive cloud hosting plan, Facebook Groups members have reported CPU overages. Configuring SG Optimizer, Cloudflare, and using lightweight themes and plugins will help, but this is really a plan by SiteGround to get you to upgrade.

SG Optimizer or WP Rocket - which one's better?

Since SG Optimizer's big updates, it now has nearly every feature of WP Rocket including the most recent heartbeat control, database cleanup, and prefetching third party scripts. SG Optimizer also uses NGINX caching and is faster than WP Rocket's file-based caching.

Will upgrading SiteGround plans fix my slow website?

In theory, yes. Higher SiteGround plans include more server resources which make your website load faster. But often, even upgrading plans will not fix a slow SiteGround website.

 

Still Have A Slow Website On SiteGround?

I covered nearly every major factor from the WordPress optimization guide, so you should have a much faster website. And if you don’t, chances are you outgrew SiteGround and need a more powerful server (cloud hosting) – but not with them of course. If you still have questions, leave me a comment with your GTmetrix report URL and I’ll take a look.

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom 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.

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