14 Steps To Fixing A Slow Website On SiteGround Hosting (Leave Otherwise Since Their Servers/TTFB Aren’t As Fast As They Claim)

Siteground slow

While there are several ways to speed up your website on SiteGround using SG Optimizer and Cloudflare (among other optimizations), their hosting + TTFB aren’t nearly as fast as they claim.

You can check Backlinko’s Page Test or search the WP Speed Matters Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback (since Hristo and his affiliates are admins for several Facebook Groups and use this to defend SiteGround). They make bold claims about their UltrafastPHP, Google Cloud N2 servers, and SG Optimizer plugin. But don’t believe the hype since independent forums say otherwise. I left SG for Cloudways Vultr HF due to CPU limits and you can see what happened.

My suggestion – go through this tutorial which should improve both your load times and core web vitals. If you still have a slow TTFB or CPU limit issues, leave. There’s quite a big trend of people moving away from SiteGround not just to Cloudways, but other (faster) alternatives too.

 

1. Activate SiteGround’s Caching Layers

Dynamic caching, file-based caching, and memcached can all be activated in SiteGround’s Optimizer plugin. You’ll still need to login to Site Tools → Speed → Caching and activate the caching layers here as well. SiteGround’s community manager (Hristo) usually claims a slow TTFB is because dynamic caching isn’t working properly, so you can test this theory yourself.

Siteground optimizer caching layers
Activate multiple caching layers in SiteGround’s Optimizer plugin (and Site Tools)

 

2. Configure SiteGround Optimizer

There are several other settings in SiteGround Optimizer that can fix a slow website.

Since the plugin is free, configure it as best as you can, but also be open to trying a different cache plugin. SiteGround pushes their plugin but that doesn’t mean it’s the best (there’s a reason it only has a 4.4/5 star rating). If you haven’t tried FlyingPress, that’s what I use after moving from WP Rocket. I won’t get too far in the differences, but even just 2 features (delay JavaScript + lazy rendering CSS) make FlyingPress superior compared to SG Optimizer. Plus, the support that Gijo gives you (the plugin developer) is significantly better than SiteGround’s. They have a 14-day refund period so you can disable SG Optimizer (keep it installed), then use my FlyingPress guide. Otherwise, here are my recommended SiteGround’s Optimizer settings.

Siteground optimizer frontend optimization css settings
WP Johnny only recommends combining when CSS/JS sizes are small (check GTmetrix Waterfall)
Siteground optimizer frontend optimization javascript settings
Same concept as above, and enable defer JavaScript to fix “render-blocking resources” in PSI
Siteground optimizer frontend optimization general settings
Add third-party domains to prefetch (see screenshot).

Enabling the web fonts optimization setting automatically preloads self-hosted fonts and preconnects external fonts loaded from fonts.gstatic.com. However, it’s best to host fonts locally to prevent third-party requests from fonts.gstatic.com (learn more).

Siteground optimizer media settings
Google recommends 85% compression level and to use WebP (next-gen format)
Siteground optimizer exclude media types from lazy load
Consider removing Iframes/videos from excluded media types

 

3. Configure SiteGround Security

Blocking unwanted requests improves speed/security at the same time.

SiteGround’s security plugin can disable XML-RPC, move your wp-login page, limit login attempts, and has several other security features. It has solid reviews and is simple to set up. Just make sure to specify a custom login URL and use two-factor authentication in the settings.

Siteground security plugin

Siteground security plugin

 

4. Set Up Cloudflare Manually

Cloudflare can be activated in SiteGround’s dashboard, but you really should set this up manually by changing nameservers since this gives you access to Cloudflare’s full dashboard.

Sign up for Cloudflare (the free plan is usually fine), add your website, scan records, and Cloudflare will assign you 2 nameservers. You’ll need to login to your domain registrar and change nameservers to Cloudflare’s. If you registered your domain on SiteGround, it’s under Site Tools → Domain → DNS Zone Editor. Then see recommended Cloudflare settings below.

Change-cloudflare-nameservers

Cloudflare has several settings that can improve speed:

  • DNS – one of the fastest and most reliable DNS providers on dnsperf.com. Simply changing nameservers means you’ll be using Cloudflare as your DNS.
  • CDN – go to your DNS settings and change your website from DNS only to Proxied. Required to use APO, Argo, firewall, and most Cloudflare features.
  • TLS 1.3 – fastest TLS protocol (recommended setting min. TLS version to 1.2).
  • Bot Fight Mode – block spam bots which are logged into your firewall events.
  • Early Hints – early preload/preconnect hints which improves server wait time.
  • Crawler Hints – tells crawlers if content is updated to prevent wasteful crawls.
  • Page Rules – here’s a screenshot of 3 common page rules for WordPress sites.
  • Firewall Rules – another screenshot of 4 common firewall rules for WordPress.
  • HTTP/3 With QUIC – delivers website from faster HTTP/3 (use a HTTP/3 test).
  • Hotlink Protection – stops websites from copying images and using bandwidth.
  • Zaraz – offloads third-party scripts to Cloudflare (Google Analytics, Ads, others).
  • Paid Features – APO can give you a fast TTFB from anywhere in the world (see next step). Argo avoids traffic congestion and routes traffic using faster network paths, and other features like load balancing, SXGs, and TCP Turbo can also help.

 

5. Upgrade To PHP 8

Login to Site Tools → Devs → PHP Manager, then upgrade to PHP 8.

Even though SiteGround says their Ultrafast PHP can improve TTFB by up to 50%, it’s a bold claim and you probably won’t get anywhere near that type of result. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to keep your PHP version updated as long as your theme and plugins are compatible.

Siteground php 8. 0. 1

 

6. Replace WP-Cron With A Real Cron Job

SiteGround has a tutorial on this, but it’s easy. Open your wp-config.php file and disable WordPress cron by adding the code before the line: /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */

define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true);

Login to Site Tools → Devs → Cron Jobs. Create a cron job using the code to execute twice per hour. As SiteGround says, “replace /home/customer/www/yourdomain.com/public_html with the actual path to your WordPress application’s core file.” This can also help reduce CPU usage.

cd /home/customer/www/yourdomain.com/public_html; wp cron event run --due-now >/dev/null 2>&1

Siteground cron job

 

7. Avoid SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting

If your website is slow on SiteGround, the last thing you should do is upgrade to their cloud hosting. I have used it and can tell you it probably won’t make your site faster or fix CPU issues.

You may think upgrading from GoGeek to cloud will help, but that’s not the case. There are several reports in Facebook Groups that SiteGround’s cloud hosting is much worse than their shared hosting with the same old CPU issues and 503 errors.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Siteground cloud hosting 503 errors to wpx

Siteground cloud hosting time to move

Siteground cloud hosting problems

 

8. Avoid Hitting CPU Limits

SiteGround’s CPU limits are a mess. These are found on SiteGround’s features page. If you exceed them, SiteGround will send you an email warning and can take down your website. Coming close to CPU limits can also lead to a slower website since your server isn’t relaxed.

SiteGround’s go-to suggestions are disabling WordPress heartbeat, blocking bad bots, and using Cloudflare. While this may help, I (and countless other people) left SiteGround for this reason. I wrote the #1 Google ranked tutorial on reducing CPU in WordPress and still wasn’t able to fix it. Either way, I recommend following that tutorial so you can avoid it in the future.

Siteground cpu limits

 

9. Remove Unused Database Tables

SiteGround Optimizer cleans your database, but WP-Optimize lets you go through your actual plugin tables and delete crap left behind by old plugins. If you install/delete plugins constantly, you’ll probably have quite a few tables which you can remove. Also be on the lookout for certain plugin features/modules causing bloat. For example, I noticed several Rank Math modules were adding bloat, so I disabled things like analytics, internal link suggestions, and even SEO analysis.

Rank math database bloat

 

10. Finish The Last 10% With Perfmatters

Perfmatters has many optimizations SiteGround Optimizer doesn’t:

  • Remove unused CSS (1-click button).
  • Remove unused JavaScript via script manager.
  • Limit post revisions + increase autosave interval.
  • Delay JavaScript (often used for third-party code).
  • Preload critical images above the fold (or other assets).
  • Add missing image dimensions to fix “explicit width/height” PSI item.
  • Host Google Analytics locally and anonymize IP for GDPR compliance.
  • Optimize Google Analytics tracking code to be smaller with less requests.
  • Rewrite URLs to be served from a CDN URL (not needed for Cloudflare).
  • Host fonts locally and serve them from a CDN URL (not needed for Cloudflare).
  • Instant page (downloads a page in background when visitors hover over a link).

Besides WP-Optimize, it’s usually the only speed plugin I’d install on top of your cache plugin.

 

11. Optimize Core Web Vitals

There are 3 parts to core web vitals:

Largest Contentful Paint – find your LCP Element in PageSpeed Insights which is usually a background image that appears throughout your website, but it can also be a video or block element. If this is an image, optimize it with compression, preloading it, using WebP, serving it from a CDN, and excluding it from lazy load since background images appear above the fold.

Largest contentful paint wordpress element - image

Total Blocking Time – defer JavaScript in SiteGround Optimizer and remove unused CSS/JS with Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp. Autoptimize and Async JavaScript are also worth trying. You can find elements causing high blocking time in your “avoid long main-thread tasks” and “reduce impact of third-party code” report in Lighthouse (it can also be from third-party code).

Main-thread blocking time

Cumulative Layout Shift – elements on your website are shifting while your website is loading. Use Google’s Layout Shift Debugger to see a GIF of your layout shifts. These are usually caused by fonts, animations, CSS, or images, iframes, or advertisements without specified dimensions.

 

 

12. Consider Cloudflare APO

This is the main reason my TTFB is fast in KeyCDN no matter where you test it. It mostly helps with TTFB but can also help with metrics like LCP. It’s easy to set up with my APO instructions.

If you don’t want to pay $5/month for APO, you can set up a cache everything page rule or use the WP Cloudflare Super Page Cache plugin, but these aren’t the exact same as APO (i.e. the purging in APO is different and APO uses Workers KV Storage).

Keycdn ttfb performance test

 

13. Find Bottlenecks In Speed Tools

Do you want to optimize core web vitals, TTFB, DNS, long scripts/styles, fonts, or third-party code? Use these tools to find your biggest bottlenecks so you know what needs to be optimized.

KeyCDN’s Performance Testmeasures TTFB in 10 global locations. Also shows timings for DNS lookups, connection, and TLS (which I’ll also cover). You may notice the further away the testing location is from the server, the higher your TTFB is, so use a data center close to visitors.

Keycdn ttfb performance test

PageSpeed Insights – measure core web vitals like LCP, blocking time, and CLS. Check for long main-thread tasks and use Google’s layout shift debugger to create a GIF showing layout shifts.

Omm core web vitals

GTmetrix Waterfall Chart – still my favorite tool. Check for long tasks and whether they’re being loaded by specific plugins, third-party domains, and a breakdown of CSS/JS/fonts/images.

Omm gtmetrix waterfall chart

Of course, I’m not using SiteGround, WooCommerce, and I pay for several things (Cloudways Vultr HF, FlyingPress, Cloudflare APO). But this is what a well-optimized site should look like.

 

14. Leave SiteGround

Is SiteGround’s TTFB Slow?

I think so. Backlinko reported SiteGround had some of the worst TTFBs and many people mention it in Facebook Groups – even though SiteGround constantly attempts to hide it.

Backlinko ttfb test

Siteground-slow-ttfb

Siteground bad ttfb

Godaddy siteground eig speed

Siteground cloudways ttfb

Siteground ttfb cloudways

Siteground cloudways speed

Siteground no value

Most hosting recommendations are garbage and I suggest joining the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters group to get unbiased feedback because let’s be honest, we’re all affiliates.

I use Cloudways (Vultr HF) who has always given me a fast TTFB and great GTmetrix results even on huge posts. You can click through my posts (most of them are very long) and they will load instantly. LiteSpeed is also popular which you can get through NameHero or A2 Hosting. I like NameHero’s Turbo Cloud plan which includes more RAM, NVMe storage, and is still cheap.

Both have different setups. On Cloudways, I use WP Rocket + BunnyCDN. On NameHero or A2, you would use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin + QUIC.cloud CDN. They’re both great setups and should give you a fast TTFB, especially if you use my WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache guide.

You can read my Cloudways review or NameHero review. NameHero is easier (cPanel, A+ support, email hosting) while Cloudways is a little “techier” but gives you better control of your server and has way more data centers in the US, India, UK, etc. Cloudways has monthly pricing with a free migration while NameHero has a 30-day refund policy and also does free migrations.

 
I switched from SiteGround to Cloudways in 2019. My response times were 2x faster, I was paying 1/2 the price of what I was on SiteGround, and had no CPU issues or high renewal prices.

Cloudways shoutout

When in doubt, check recent Facebook polls and migration results (view more here).

Cloudways promo code omm25
25% off 2 months of Cloudways with code OMM25 (or use their coupons page for 30% off 3 months)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my website slow on SiteGround?

A slow website on SiteGround can sometimes be fixed using their SG Optimizer/Security plugin, Cloudflare. However, there are many complaints SiteGround's slow TTFB.

Why is SiteGround's TTFB slow?

There were a lot of complaints about SiteGround's slow TTFB after they moved to low-tier Google Cloud machine. They've since moved to N2 machines, but their TTFB is still not the fastest. SiteGround's Optimizer plugin combined with Cloudflare's APO should help.

How do I reduce CPU Usage on SiteGround?

CPU limits are a common issue on SiteGround. You can try fixing them by optimizing your site with SiteGround's Optimizer/Security plugin. Cloudflare also has several feature to reduce CPU usage like crawler hints, bot fight mode, and hotlink protection.

 

Still Struggling? Send Me Your GTmetrix URL

I’m glad to take a look at your report (please do not send me your website URL or I probably won’t publish it due to spam). You can also view my full WordPress speed guide which should have a few extra tips, but I tried to cover nearly everything on this tutorial. Hope this helped!

Cheers,
Tom

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.

20 thoughts on “14 Steps To Fixing A Slow Website On SiteGround Hosting (Leave Otherwise Since Their Servers/TTFB Aren’t As Fast As They Claim)

  1. There TTFB is appalling. This is nothing short of ripping customers off. The issue points to them either overcrowding servers, throttling performance or old technology.

  2. There ttfb really does lag behind others. Dissapointing and something they need to address in the future. The NGINX cache is probably an issue along with slow servers. Looks like they are trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes with the caching instead of investing in better servers.

  3. Hi Tom,

    Very interesting article and I have added some of your tips and procedures relating to CloudFlare and the Cron Jobs via SiteGround and seeing improvements.

    I do have a number of observations and these seem to highlight a lot of coyness on the part of many of the players in this game of smoke and mirrors and perhaps a little dishonesty; not one of these players want to put their hands up and say, yes, I must do better, that issue you are observing is our fault.

    On themes, I use Divi and yes it is a bit of a beast but on testing it has come to my attention that there isn’t any difference between it and the lightweight Kadence Theme based on blocks. Both as basic installs (no other plugins installed) start well and then go downhill equally, once you start adding all the necessary plugins required for the site type (WooCommerce, Toolset, etc.).

    I’ll add that any improvement of page builders’ load time is welcome and I note the Oxygen theme you mentioned and how it does layout. On top of this I do believe that the Divi Theme is ging on a diet this year and some of this relates to shortcode removal, hopefully the areas relating to layout structure. Dare I say it, maybe Divi will be re-written to be based on the block editor? That would be novel. I keep going back to Divi, after looking at alternatives, because the alternatives, block based or otherwise, just don’t afford a good experience in terms of workflow.

    On the hosting side of things with SiteGround, I do note the TTFB is flagged in GTMetrix on an initial test and then on subsequent runs improves, due to caching of course. I have tested with various caching plugins, SG Optimiser and W3 Total Cache with not improvements. I was sceptical at first but after trying out WP Rocket on one of my sites I was surprised on how well it improved on GTMetrix results. The initial run was still not great with the TTFB but when applied the configurations in your article, things improved again, Where I was seeing initial C and D scores and 3 seconds LCP, on the first GTMetrix run, now I am seeing B and a 1.3 second LCP consistently. Reduce initial server response time is still being flagged with SiteGround though.

    My Last observation is cynical and a bit sceptical of al this speed metrics. Between all the testing options (GTMetrix, Pingdom, Lighthouse via Chrome) none of them is consistent and all vary in their reports. At the same time, for all intents and purposes, when I eyeball the sites I have made and watch them load, perceptually they all load fast enough and despite all the tweaking, I see little difference each time.

    I look to the likes of Google and I question their agenda on all of this. Look at any of their pages and there’s not much to look at visually. Very boring indeed and I wonder where those of us who build sites with some sort of visual flair are left. And don’t start me on Google’s documentation the covering services they provide; really good UX?

    1. That is one of the most accurate descriptions of what’s going on in these industries now.

      Google wants good core web vitals but none of their sites have great scores. They want good UX but most of their documentation is all text and usually not practical at all for WordPress. Everyone is saying their service (hosting, builder, cache plugin) is the best/fastest but it’s just not true.

      Those are all interesting but seemingly very true observations. As a blogger trying to give people accurate info, it’s honestly been very difficult to make sense of it all.

  4. I joined Siteground because they are supposed to be the best, fastest, as you mention in your other blog. Now, from the same person I read I have to move away. I have a lot of miss information here.

    1. Hey Simon, IMO they used to be really good up until last year when they made all these changes to prices, reduced support, Site Tools, cancelling accounts, etc. Last year, I stopped supporting them (as did many others)… I believe that’s when Backlinko’s test also came out finding SiteGround’s TTFB is now very slow. A lot has changed with them in a short time and I did my best to change my content to reflect that.

  5. Hi Tom !

    Great and clear information for me who just experienced a very slow website last 2 days. I went through all topics and it helps me to check all setup.

    Nevertheless, my slow down was due to WP cron job consuming lot of CPU. It was solved by deactivating it and installing Siteground cron job which make a hudge difference coming back to a good GTmetrix score. After, I improved the score with your #5 advice (Combine Google Fonts).
    I think cron 
    Thank you Tom .

    Nota : for information about this Siteground cron job , see : tutorials/wordpress/real-cron-job.
    It take five minutes and it is very easy todo for a non-system guy like me

  6. Yes. That SiteGround Optimizer thing Condenses (“minifies”) all your scripts and StyleSheets into a different script and style sheet.
    Any changes you make won’t be there until a day or two later and it will
    totally screw up your web site’s performance, and make your web site a miserable experience.

    You’ll also notice that your facebook pixel somehow is installed on some third-party web sites you’ve never heard of, based in Eastern Europe.

    DO NOT USE that SG Optimizer thing. Simply UN-INSTALL IT and REMOVE IT.

  7. Hi been reading through but am just not sure what’s my best option i have 50 ish sites and i use Avada theme on all of them and its a bit bloated but been fine for last 7 years on site ground then as you said things have gone down hill big time. my speeds are garbage now in google insights and gt Metrix am not sure what’s happened. Now the question is where do i go with 50sites using like 1tb of disk, 12g of ram and 3 CPU., But around same as siteground where i pay about £120 a month.

    1. I would personally try Cloudways or Gridpane. Both should be cheaper/faster than SiteGround. For example, for 12GB RAM + 3 CPU on SiteGround you would pay about the same amount (about $135) at Cloudways but would get 16GB RAM + 6 CPU. SiteGround’s cloud hosting is pretty bad, I was using them as well. Otherwise, you may want to post your question in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and get some feedback there. Lots of knowledgable people.

  8. Thanks for the great information – some real good advice for people like me. I will note however that in the time since publishing the performance of sitegrounds seems to be better than Cloudways. (I tested both of your sites on Google PageSpeed and GT Metrix)

    1. Ahh here’s why.

      I had the SG Optimizer plugin configured on the SiteGround test server (they made some updates and I have a tutorial on configuring the SG Optimizer settings) so I used the test server temporarily just to update my tutorial with newer screenshots. I just deactivated SG Optimizer so now the sites have the same environment. Sorry for the confusion.

  9. Hey Tom,

    Great article, I stumbled upon it because I have recently decided to purchase and upgrade a few sites from gogeek shared server to sitegrounds VPS (8gb ram / 4 core) but I find that the sites are not much faster (considering the huge price difference) and the TTFB is painfully slow now.

    i have another site on Cloudways which is significantly faster. Only downside is that I don’t find cloudways support to be as good as sitegrounds. Would you have any suggestions on where I could find cloudways speed but similes support to siteground?

    thanks in advance for your help!

    1. I would take a look at Kinsta or GridPane. I think both only offer phone support but they’re supposed to be good for both. Liquid Web has great support but speeds aren’t as fast as the others.

  10. Hey Tom,

    Thank you for this post, gotta say I am a bit confused as it seems different from previous ones you made…so no more recommendation to use siteground and now we shouldn’t use SG optimizer + WP rocket?

    1. Hey Kevin,

      Sorry about the late reply.

      Nope, no more recommending SiteGround and I’m in the middle of updating my tutorials to reflect that – I’m just 1 person trying to update 100+ posts, but am getting to it. I just made an update to this post.

      Since SiteGround’s big update to SG Optimizer, I now think it’s a good replacement to WP Rocket since it has many more features.

      But as for SiteGround, they have increased prices (again), have strict CPU limits, and better, faster, cloud hosting options are available for a lower cost. There is a huge shift of people moving away from SiteGround (usually to Cloudways) because of these complaints – especially if you look in Facebook Groups. I already migrated this site over and am very happy.

        1. Honestly, not a noticeable difference in SEO but could definitely tell it was faster when browsing through pages and measuring it in tools like Search Console. My site was already well optimized though. Paying 1/2 the price ($100 less than on SiteGround) was noticeable.

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