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.

I have a confession though.

I used to be a SiteGround fanboy. But after they increased prices twice, failed to fix CPU issues, and the constant complaints about their slow TTFB, I migrated to DigitalOcean on Cloudways and this happened. You can still get “OK” load times on SiteGround – but they’re not the fastest.
Join the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters Facebook Group to get unbiased opinions!

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 should give you better GTmetrix scores and load times. But if you still have a slow server response time, TTFB, or CPU issues, consider using who most people recommend in Facebook Groups. I left SiteGround and my load times are now 2x faster.

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.

Time To First Byte

Does SiteGround Have A Slow TTFB?
Yes, it is very possible your SiteGround server has a slow TTFB and server response time. Optimize your site as best you can, but if it’s still an issue, don’t rule out SiteGround because there are many affiliates, Facebook admins, and support staff who want to protect their brand and won’t take accountability. Even with CPU limits, they will likely tell you it’s “something else.”

Many 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

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.

SiteGround-PHP-7.4.1

 

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.

Google Fonts GTmetrix

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.

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

 

7. Activate Cloudflare In SiteGround

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

Cloudflare SiteGround cPanel

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.

http://*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 <?php tag:

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 65 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

 

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.

External Scripts

 

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. Move To Cloud Hosting (Not From SiteGround)

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

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 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, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

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.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

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.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

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

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