How I Optimized My Slow WordPress Site For 100% GTmetrix Scores — 28 Tips For Speeding Up WordPress Sites (2020 Guide)

Have a slow WordPress site?

This post you’re reading has over 70 images, 470 comments (while showing Gravatars), uses external fonts, Google Analytics, social sharing buttons, and an embedded YouTube video. Yet, it can load in under 2s with a 2.56MB page size, 89 requests, and 100%/97% GTmetrix scores.

Everyone ranking for “slow WordPress” in Google has a bad GTmetrix report: WP Buffs, Themeisle, Torque Mag, and Search Engine Shop who uses 0 images and copies my keywords.

So thanks for choosing mine!

I’ll show you how to take your GTmetrix + PageSpeed Insights report and make WordPress-specific optimizations that improve grades/load times. I’ve already written popular guides on WP Rocket, slow plugins to avoid, and a list of 24+ speed plugins. This combines everything.

When in doubt, look at the WordPress optimization guide to see the most important factors. The most common fixes for a slow WordPress site are usually related to your infrastructure (theme, hosting, page builder, cache plugin, CDN, and plugins you’re using). While optimizing images and third party scripts can definitely speed up WordPress, most factors are site-wide.

For this, I recommend Cloudways or Kinsta (hosting), Astra or Oxygen Builder (theme + page builder), and WP Rocket (main optimization plugin). You will avoid 90% of speed issues and they’re all rated highly in Facebook polls. Comment with your GTmetrix report if you need help.

How To Speed Up A Slow WordPress Site

  1. Use Faster WordPress Hosting
  2. Rethink Your Theme + Page Builder
  3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin
  4. Upgrade To PHP 7.4
  5. Enable Varnish + Memcached
  6. Use A CDN
  7. Avoid 65+ Slow Plugins
  8. Optimize Third Party Scripts
  9. Google Fonts
  10. Google Analytics
  11. Google AdSense
  12. Google Tag Manager
  13. Comments + Gravatars
  14. Facebook Pixel
  15. Use A Fast Social Sharing Plugin
  16. Optimize Images + Videos
  17. Reduce Server Response Times
  18. Clean Your Database
  19. Remove Bloat
  20. Disable Plugin Usage Tracking
  21. Disable Plugins On Specific Pages + Posts
  22. Minimize Redirects
  23. Don’t Enable Yoast Indexables
  24. Utilize Plugins By Gijo Varghese
  25. Increase Memory Limit To 256MB
  26. Make WooCommerce Load Faster
  27. Block Bad Bots From Using Resources
  28. Identify Bottlenecks In Speed Testing Tools

GTmetrix (load times) should be your primary metric while PageSpeed Insights doesn’t even measure load times. Getting 100% in every single tool is not realistic unless you have a bare bones, static HTML site. Don’t obsess over scores – obsess over your actual load times instead.

2020-GTmetrix-Report

Watch My Video – it’s a 42 minute video, but I cover pretty much everything (timestamps are found in video description). You will learn a ton of good stuff on WordPress speed optimization.

 

1. Use Faster WordPress Hosting

Hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide.

Run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights and check if reduce server response times is in your report. Google recommends a response time of <200ms. You can also check your TTFB (time to first byte) in the GTmetrix Timings tab. If these are slow, so is your hosting.

Reduce Server Response Time

I would personally skip the shared crap and go with Cloudways.

They’re who most people recommend in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and #1 in most recent Facebook polls, especially since SiteGround increased prices and went downhill. I migrated from SiteGround to DigitalOcean on Cloudways and you can view the results below.

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways

I use them and you can check my GTmetrix report, or visit cwdoserver.com to see the speed of a $10/month Cloudways DigitalOcean test server I set up with an Astra Site. It loads instantly (for reference, stgrndserver.com is the identical Astra Site only on SiteGround’s GrowBig plan).

Do your research on EIG, SiteGround’s CPU limits, and look at Facebook polls, conversations, and migration results. Check your server response time in PageSpeed Insights and your TTFB.

2020-Hosting-Poll

Cloudways Response Times

Godaddy-to-DigitalOcean-Migration

VPS Cloud Hosting WooCommerce Poll

SiteGround-Alternative

Hosting Recommendations Facebook

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

Elementor-Hosting-Poll

Untitled

Vultr-Migration

WordPress Hosting Suggestions

SiteGround-Alternative-For-Beginners

VPS Cloud Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

I signed up for 15+ hosting accounts to test their speed. All domains in this video are live, which means you can visit them in real-time and click through their pages, use GTmetrix, etc.

Each website is identical except for it’s hosting (same Astra Starter Site, SSL, no caching, no CDN, and the same 6 plugins). I also used WP Hosting Performance Check and KeyCDN to measure the most popular options. The results align with what most people are saying in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group which I recommend joining to get real, unbiased opinions.

#1. DigitalOcean On Cloudwayscwdoserver.com was the fastest, is who I use, and are very popular in Facebook Groups (especially as an alternative to SiteGround). DigitalOcean is also the only host mentioned in the WordPress Optimization Guide. Cloudways was #1 in most recent Facebook polls and people who migrate usually see significant load time improvements. They use PHP 7.4, Maria DB 10.3, Memcached, Varnish, Nginx, and Redis. Pricing starts at $10/month with no strict CPU limits or renewal prices like on other hosts. The community manager is very helpful and they do free migrations. You can get 25% off your first 2 months with the promo code OMM25.

#2. Kinstaknstaserver.com had similar speeds as DigitalOcean on Cloudways only they are more expensive starting at $30/month. Known for being capable of handling many concurrent visitors. People consistently recommend Kinsta in Facebook Groups, Twitter, and in migration results. Even though they’re not always #1 in Facebook polls (likely because not everyone can pay $30+/month), they are great for high traffic sites.

#3. WPX Hostingwpxserver.com is also very quick, but Cloudways and Kinsta are slightly faster. Starts at $20-$25/month and is who Matthew Woodward recommends.

#4. A2 Hostingatwoserver.com usually outperformed other shared hosting but is not nearly as fast as cloud hosting (just cheaper). I use A2 for my girlfriend’s restaurant website and it’s decently fast with good uptimes. A2 (and all shared hosting) is only sufficient for smaller websites with low traffic/plugins. Otherwise, use cloud hosting.

#5. SiteGround – has gone downhill with many complaints about their renewal prices, price hikes, CPU limits, and support isn’t as good as it used to be. SiteGround shifted to Google Cloud hosting (instead of shared) which is supposed to be faster, but load times and TTFB on stgrndserver.com were usually above 1s. Their SG Optimizer plugin should help, but I still wouldn’t use them. You’re better off on Cloudways DigitalOcean.

Affiliate Disclaimer – I would seriously appreciate you using my affiliate links which means I earn a commission at no expense to you. This would help me make GoFundMe donations ($6,000 so far)! I try to base my recommendations on tests, Facebook polls, and conversations I see on a daily basis in the 30+ WP Facebook Groups I’m active on.

 

2. Rethink Your Theme + Page Builder

Most people are using Astra Themes.

The only problem with Astra is that most of their themes use page builders. Even Elementor adds a lot of scripts that can mildly slow down your WordPress site (you can check these in Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters). That was my biggest complaint when I had my site redesigned in Astra (I even went themeless). My StudioPress theme was slightly faster with 0 extra scripts.

It really depends on what you want; if you like Astra + Elementor for designing your site and don’t mind a slight decrease in speed, that’s what I would recommend. If you’re a speed freak like me and only want the fastest stuff, I wish I would have stuck with StudioPress and Genesis.

studiopress-themes

Here were my extra CSS and JavaScript files added by Elementor:

Elementor-Scripts

I recommend either Astra or Oxygen Builder.

Astra-Themes-Facebook-Poll

 

3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

As far as GTmetrix scores go, your cache plugin has the biggest impact.

WP Rocket is the most popular cache plugin (it’s also what I use) mainly because it comes with more speed optimization features than any other cache plugin. This not only results in better GTmetrix scores, but also means you don’t have to install a bunch of extra plugins on your site.

Get 10% off WP Rocket by signing up for their email list on their coupons page. Then check my recommended WP Rocket settings for optimal GTmetrix scores/load times.

With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 7 extra plugins to get these features when WP Rocket has them all built-in. Otherwise you will need to research which features your cache plugin comes with, then install these plugins if it doesn’t support them.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

What About SG Optimizer? If you’re on SiteGround, use their SG Optimizer plugin (instead of WP Rocket) with these SG Optimizer settings. It’s free and comparable to WP Rocket (you will still need heartbeat control and database cleanup). This plugin is only for SiteGround’s hosting.

WP Engine + GoDaddy – these hosts have their own built-in caching system and blacklist you from using cache plugins. In this case, use Autoptimize to optimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I also have configuration tutorials for WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and Swift Performance, but I definitely recommend WP Rocket as your one and only caching plugin.

 

4. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

Login to your hosting account (or use the Display PHP Version plugin) to see which PHP version you’re currently running. WordPress stats show most users are running outdated PHP versions when PHP 7.4 is available on many hosting accounts. Upgrading is as simple as finding the PHP Version Manager (or similar) in your hosting account, then upgrading the latest version of PHP.

PHP-7.4

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

Some hosts are quick to release new versions (SiteGround, Cloudways, Kinsta), while others don’t make an effort to stay current in technology. Another reason to avoid EIG and GoDaddy.

*Check your website for visible errors since non-maintained plugins may not be compatible. If you do see errors, you can always revert back to an earlier PHP version.

 

5. Enable Varnish + Memcached

Many cloud hosting providers support Varnish + Memcached. Login to your hosting account and activate them. If you’re using Varnish, be sure to enable the Varnish addon in WP Rocket.

Hosting-Application-Services

 

6. Use A CDN

Most people use Cloudflare or RocketCDN (from WP Rocket).

RocketCDN uses StackPath’s data centers and offers it at a lower price than if you buy directly from StackPath. Both are great CDNs, but there are a few major differences between the two.

Cloudflare vs. RocketCDN

  • Cloudflare is free, RocketCDN is $6.99/month
  • Cloudflare cannot serve images from their CDN, StackPath can
  • Cloudflare has 200+ data centers, StackPath has 45 data centers
  • Cloudlare’s data centers are likely not as high-performance as StackPath
  • Cloudflare has a dashboard you can login to and tweak, RocketCDN does not
  • Cloudflare’s dashboard has extra features like page rules, Rocket Loader, Railgun
  • Cloudflare requires changing nameservers (some hosts also have an option to activate Cloudflare directly from your account), StackPath’s set up is automatic with WP Rocket

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

Ensure Cloudflare Compatibility With WP Rocket – WP Rocket and most other cache plugins ask for your Cloudflare Zone ID, Global API Key, and your Cloudflare account email. Add them.

WP-Rocket-Cloudflare-Add-On

Configuring The Cloudflare Dashboard – if you’re using Cloudflare, login to your dashboard. There are a few things in here that aren’t available if you set up Cloudflare through your host.

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

Setting Up RocketCDN Or StackPath – the easiest way to set up RocketCDN is with WP Rocket. If not using WP Rocket, you will need to sign up for a StackPath account through their website then follow instructions for creating a CDN site. They will assign you a CDN URL which most cache plugins (including Autoptimize) have a field for. Or use the CDN Enabler plugin.

Make Sure Your CDN Is Working – every CDN should show 100% in GTmetrix YSlow except Cloudflare’s CDN. To make GTmetrix detects Cloudflare, you’ll need to sign up for a GTmetrix account → User settings → “add your hostname to YSlow CDN Hostnames.” You can also use Cloudflare’s Claire Chrome Extension to see if it’s working. GTmetrix always detects StackPath.

CDN GTmetrix YSlow

 

7. Avoid 65+ Slow Plugins

You can find your slowest plugins in the GTmetrix Waterfall tab or Query Monitor.

Slow WordPress Plugin

Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact forms, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. These can be identified using Query Monitor or GTmetrix Waterfall.

  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 (use Dr. Link Check)
  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. Essential Grid
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

 

8. Optimize Third Party Scripts

Third party scripts are anything that create requests from external websites.

These include Google Fonts, Analytics, Maps, AdSense, Tag Manager, embedded videos, social media widgets, Facebook Pixel, Gravatars, or even like buttons from your social sharing plugin. Some can be optimized to have no impact on GTmetrix while AdSense/Tag Manager are harder.

The next sections (7-16) show you how to optimize specific third party scripts that may be giving you errors in your GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights reports.

Step 1: Learn Which Third Party Scripts Are Slowing Down Your Site
Look at reduce DNS lookups in GTmetrix YSlow or third party usage in PageSpeed Insights.

External-Scripts

Common third party domains taken from Github:


//maps.googleapis.com
//maps.gstatic.com
//fonts.googleapis.com
//fonts.gstatic.com
//use.fontawesome.com
//ajax.googleapis.com
//apis.google.com
//google-analytics.com
//www.google-analytics.com
//ssl.google-analytics.com
//www.googletagmanager.com
//www.googletagservices.com
//googleads.g.doubleclick.net
//adservice.google.com
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com
//tpc.googlesyndication.com
//youtube.com
//i.ytimg.com
//player.vimeo.com
//api.pinterest.com
//assets.pinterest.com
//connect.facebook.net
//platform.twitter.com
//syndication.twitter.com
//platform.instagram.com
//referrer.disqus.com
//c.disquscdn.com
//cdnjs.cloudflare.com
//cdn.ampproject.org
//pixel.wp.com
//disqus.com
//s.gravatar.com
//0.gravatar.com
//2.gravatar.com
//1.gravatar.com
//sitename.disqus.com
//s7.addthis.com
//platform.linkedin.com
//w.sharethis.com
//s0.wp.com
//s1.wp.com
//s2.wp.com
//stats.wp.com
//ajax.microsoft.com
//ajax.aspnetcdn.com
//s3.amazonaws.com
//code.jquery.com
//stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com
//github.githubassets.com
//ad.doubleclick.net
//stats.g.doubleclick.net
//cm.g.doubleclick.net
//stats.buysellads.com
//s3.buysellads.com

Step 2: Add Domains To Prefetching
Take the external scripts from your GTmetrix report and add them to WP Rocket (Preload → Prefetch DNS Requests). Prefetching and other browser resource hints makes them load faster. If you don’t have WP Rocket, you can do this with Perfmatters or Pre* Party Resources Hints.

Prefetch-DNS-Requests

Step 3: Use Flying Scripts To Delay Loading Them
The Flying Scripts plugin delays loading JavaScript until the timeout period you set in the plugin. It’s the only plugin that let me show Gravatars without them impacting my GTmetrix report, but this can also be done with other third party scripts. Just enter the keyword of the script into the plugin (eg. discuz) and set a timeout period. I also recommend checking out Gijo’s speed plugins.

Flying-Scripts

Don’t forget to see the next few sections which will help you better optimize external scripts.

 

9. Google Fonts

Here are 4 steps for optimizing Google Fonts and Font Awesome.

Optimize Fonts With WP Rocket Or SG Optimizer – both WP Rocket and SG Optimizer have an option to optimize Google Fonts. This combines your fonts to create fewer HTTP requests.

Optimize-Google-Fonts

Host Google Fonts Locally – use the OMGF plugin to host fonts locally. The plugin will automatically download your fonts, create a stylesheet for them, then include it in the header.

Preload Fonts – grab the URLs of your font files in the GTmetrix Waterfall report and add them to WP Rocket’s “preload fonts” option, or in OMGF. This helps browsers download fonts faster.

Preload-Fonts

Be Minimal With Fonts + Weights – be minimal with the number of fonts and weights.

 

10. Google Analytics

Hosting Google Analytics locally will fix the leverage browser caching issue for Google Analytics in GTmetrix. For this, I use the Flying Analytics plugin since WP Rocket’s Google Tracking add-on still showed errors. Insert your Google Analytics Tracking ID (the UA code) into the plugin, then use the “Minimal Analytics Inlined” method which only adds a measly 1.4KB.

Flying-Analytics

Plugins to host Analytics locally: WP Rocket, Perfmatters, Flying Analytics, CAOS.

 

11. Google AdSense

Google Adsense is one of the most difficult scripts to optimize and you shouldn’t expect a good GTmetrix report with it. You can try enabling Cloudflare’s Rocket Loader which defers loading of JavaScript until after rendering, but affiliate links are way faster and usually more profitable.

 

12. Google Tag Manager

GTM should usually only be used for large, unoptimized sites.

If you absolutely need it, use a good Google Tag Manager plugin and be minimal with tags, but that’s about all you can do. I don’t use GTM on my website (my load times are more important).

Google Tag Manager Speed

 

13. Comments + Gravatars

I use 3 plugins for comments which you’ll see zero errors for in GTmetrix.

  • wpDiscuz: commenting plugin.
  • Flying Scripts: delays loading of Gravatars.
  • WP User Avatar: use a custom, optimized photo as the default avatar.

Step 1: Configure wpDiscuz to load faster.

Comment thread displaying → initiate AJAX loading after page and lazy load comment.

Disqus-Comment-Thread-Displaying

General → disable “use WordPress native AJAX functions” and enable combine/minify JS/CSS.

Disqus-General-Settings

Styles and colors → disable “load font awesome CSS lib.”

Disqus-Load-Font-Awesome-CSS-Lib

Step 2: Delay Gravatar loading with the Flying Scripts plugin.

Speed-Up-Comments

Step 3: Upload a custom, optimized photo using WP User Avatar.

WP-User-Avatar

Retest your GTmetrix report and your comments should load much faster with no errors.

 

14. Facebook Pixel

Use the Pixel Caffeine plugin and host Facebook Pixel locally in WP Rocket.

Facebook-Pixel-Browser-Caching

 

15. Use A Fast Social Sharing Plugin

WP Rocket did a test on the fastest social sharing plugins.

The Grow by Mediavine plugin (Social Pug) was rated the #1 fastest social sharing plugin. It’s also what I use and saw no difference in my GTmetrix report. You can see a preview near my comments section; the buttons look nice, can be loaded before and after the content, and has options for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, email, print. You can also do a floating bar.

 

16. Optimize Images + Videos

There are several ways to optimize images. The first 3 items are in GTmetrix, the last 2 are from PageSpeed Insights. Speed testing tools only show you unoptimized images for the single page you test (keep that in mind when fixing serve scaled image or specify image dimension errors).

  • Serve scaled images – resize large images to be smaller.
  • Specify image dimensions – add a width/height to the image’s HTML.
  • Lossless compress – use an image optimization plugin to compress images.
  • Lazy load images + videos – delays load of images/videos until they’re visibly seen.
  • Serve images using next-gen formats – use WebP/SVG format instead of JPEG/PNG.

image-optimization

Serve Scaled Images – resize large images to be smaller. GTmetrix tells you the correct dimensions. Just click the image in GTmetrix, resize it to the new dimensions, and replace it. Never use the ‘drag to resize’ feature in the visual editor since this only resizes the displayed image (not the actual image). It’s best to resize to the correct dimensions before uploading it.

Serve-Scaled-Images-GTmetrix

Create a cheat sheet so you can use the correct dimensions before uploading images:

  • Slider images: 1903(w) x 400(h)
  • Carousel images: 115(h)
  • Widget images: 414(w)
  • Full width blog post images: 680(w)
  • Featured images: 250(w) x 250(h)

Specify Image Dimensions – means you need to add a width + height in the image’s HTML or CSS. This usually only happens for hand-coded HTML and plugins that don’t take care of this for you. Get the image dimensions from GTmetrix, locate the image, then add the width and height.

Specify-Image-Dimensions-WordPress

Optimize Images – losslessly compress images (also known as “optimize images” in GTmetrix). The best way to compress images is when you’re editing them (eg. in Photoshop or GIMP) since you will likely see a loss in quality with image optimization plugins, even if you select “lossless compression” in the settings. Otherwise, ShortPixel or Imagify are decent options. These plugins can also be resource-intensive and slow down your WordPress website temporarily.

Lazy Load Images + Videos – in your WP Rocket Media settings, enable lazy loading of images, videos, and replace the YouTube iframe with a preview image. These will make images and embedded videos load significantly faster, as they’re often the heaviest element on a page. If you’re not using WP Rocket, try A3 Lazy Load (for images) and WP YouTube Lyte (for videos).

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

Serve Images In Next-Gen Formats – most image optimization plugins have an option to convert images to WebP format, or the WebP Converter For Media plugin has great ratings.

Serve-Images-In-Next-Gen-Formats

 

17. Reduce Server Response Times

I want to clarify a few things about server response times.

Most hosting providers let you monitor CPU and RAM (memory usage). If you notice these are very close to exceeding your limits, this will put stress on your server. The whole goal is to make your server “relaxed” by giving it enough server resources to accommodate your site’s resource consumption (from high CPU plugins, traffic, WooCommerce, etc). If you notice you’re almost hitting your limits or exceeding them and getting 503 errors, it means your server is stressed.

Cloud-Memory-Increase

That’s why it’s so important to look at how many server resources come with your hosting plan. Any host that says “unlimited bandwidth” is lying (just check their terms and conditions page and they will mention their CPU limits). Especially if you anticipate high resource consumption, make sure your hosting plan includes enough resources to properly accommodate your site.

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

 

18. Clean Your Database

Use WP Rocket or WP Optimize to clean your database.

Ongoing cleanups keep your database optimized and removes transients, spam + trash comments, and potentially hundreds of post revisions which WordPress stores automatically every time you update content. Unless you need post revisions to restore backups of old content, you should be able to delete everything. I recommend scheduling weekly cleanups.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

Delete Old Plugin Tables – one thing I like about WP-Optimize is the option to delete database tables left behind by old plugins that aren’t installed anymore (these are often pre-configured settings). If you don’t plan on using these plugins again, delete the tables that say “not installed.”

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

19. Remove Bloat

Perfmatters (by Kinsta) is the ultimate bloat removal plugin.

The features page includes descriptions of what each item does, but it removes unnecessary WordPress features which you probably don’t need. It even has options for optimizing your Google Analytics tracking code, WooCommerce, prefetch + preconnect, and heartbeat control. Remember to selectively disable plugins in the Perfmatters script manager or Asset CleanUp!

perfmatters-features

Limit Post Revisions – use Perfmatters or add the code to your wp-config file.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 5);

Increase Autosave Interval – use Perfmatters or add the code to your wp-config.php file.

define('AUTOSAVE INTERVAL', 5);

Disable Trackbacks + Pingbacks – use Perfmatters or disable in Settings → Discussion.

Disable-Trackbacks-Pingbacks

Disable Unused Addons + Modules – if you’re using a plugin containing a bunch of addons or modules (Elementor, Ultimate/Premium Addons, JetPack), delete the ones you’re not using.

Disable-Addons

Delete Unused Plugins + Themes – any plugins/themes you’re not using should be deleted.

Delete Unused WordPress Themes

 

20. Disable Plugin Usage Tracking

Any time you have an option to disable usage tracking, do it. Sorry plugin developers.

I also don’t recommend Yoast’s speed indexing (the comments have horrible reviews).

Yoast-Speed-Indexing

 

21. Disable Plugins On Specific Pages + Posts

The Perfmatters script manager (premium) and Asset CleanUp (free) both let you disable plugins/scripts from running on specific pages/posts. Some plugins load across your entire site (even on content they’re not being used on), so it’s best to disable them when that’s the case.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use aff links
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)

perfmatters-script-manager

Perfmatters and Asset CleanUp (the premium version) have a Regex option that allows you disable plugins/scripts based on specific URL patterns and categories. For example, you may want to only enable your schema plugin on posts containing the word “review” in the URL.

 

22. Minimize Redirects

If you have URL redirect errors in GTmetrix, it usually means you changed the WWW or HTTP(S) version of your website but didn’t change all your links and images to reflect the new version. In this case, try using the Better Search & Replace plugin to fix these errors in bulk.

minimize redirects

Third party scripts and poorly coded plugins can also cause redirect errors in GTmetrix. The solution completely depends on which plugins and third party scripts you’re using on the site.

 

23. Don’t Enable Yoast Indexables

Yoast 14.0 came out with indexables which they claim “can provide a speed boost of 5-10%.”

However, if you look at the comments, it’s clear they have not thoroughly tested this (many complaints about CPU spikes, crashed websites, errors, etc). None of the feedback looks positive, so I would at least hold off of clicking that button until they do more thorough testing.

Yoast-Speed-Indexing

 

24. Utilize Plugins By Gijo Varghese

Gijo Varghese has create quite a few plugins for speeding up WordPress.

These plugins help you host Google Analytics locally, optimize images and serve them from a CDN, preload pages, delay loading scripts by creating a timeout, and ensure text remains visible while loading fonts. All have great ratings. Check out his WP Speed Matters Facebook Group.

Gijo-Varghese-plugins

 

25. Increase Memory Limit To 256MB

WooCommerce and WPML require a 256MB memory limit, but you should really be using 256MB no matter which type of WordPress site you’re running. Some hosts have an option to increase it in their dashboard, otherwise edit your wp-config.php file and add the code below.

Cloudways-Memory-Limit

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

 

26. Make WooCommerce Load Faster

WooCommerce sites run extra scripts, styles, cart fragments, and they usually require more plugins. That’s why when choosing a hosting plan, you should usually buy one tier up of what you actually need to accomodate for the extra resources often required for WooCommerce.

WooCommerce Cart Fragments

Optimize WooCommerce Scripts, Styles, Cart Fragments
To optimize these, use Perfmatters or there are quite a few solutions on Github and WooCommerce. Disabling scripts will disable WooCommerce scripts and styles everywhere except on product, cart, and checkout pages. There’s also an option to disable cart fragments.

perfmatters woocommerce optimization

Clear WooCommerce Transients
If you feel like your WooCommerce website is getting sluggish, go to WooCommerce Status settings → delete all transients. Transients temporarily store cached data in your database.

Delete WooCommerce Transients

 

27. Block Bad Bots From Using Resources

You would never know if spam bots are hitting your site unless you checked your Wordfence live traffic report. By blocking them, you will save resources and put less stress on your server.

Step 1: Install Wordfence (you’ll want to uninstall it when you’re done).

Step 2: View your live traffic report (under Wordfence’s Tools settings) which shows you all bots hitting your website in real-time. Googlebot is obviously OK, but when I did this, I saw compute.amazonaws.com making a ridiculous amount of requests every couple seconds. I Googled it and sure enough, this was a bot known for sucking up bandwidth. View your report for a minute or two and see if bots with sketchy names are constantly hitting your site. If you have doubts, Google their hostnames and see if other people are having issues with that bot.

Live-Traffic-Report-Wordfence

Step 3: Block the bots. You have a few options: Wordfence blocking (however the plugin itself consumes resources), Cloudflare firewall rules (comes with 5 free rules which means you can block 5 bots), or the Blackhole For Bad Bots. I have a tutorial for blocking bad bots using all 3 methods. It depends on how many you want to block; if it’s only a few, I’d use Firewall Rules.

Login to your Cloudflare Dashboard and go to Firewall → Firewall Rules → Create A Firewall Rule. Copy the bad bot’s hostnames (from Wordfence) and add it here in the “Value” field. Since you can create 5 rules, you would repeat this step for your 5 worst bad bots from Wordfence.

  • Field = Hostname
  • Operator = Contains
  • Value = hostname of the bad bot you found in Wordfence

Cloudflare Firewall Rule To Block Bad Bots

Step 4: Go to your Blocking log in Cloudflare and watch your spam bots get blocked.

Cloudflare-Firewall-Events

 

28. Identify Bottlenecks In Speed Testing Tools

GTmetrix – my tool of choice since you can find exactly which images, plugins, fonts, and external scripts take longest to load (plus it shows your time to first byte and redirect errors).

2020-GTmetrix-Report

Pingdom – the most accurate tool for measuring your load times according to WP Rocket which is the primary metric you should be measuring (not grades), but there is a correlation.

Google PageSpeed Insights – good for measuring server response times but also has other recommendations like using next-gen format for images (eg. WebP), lazy loading, avoid third party scripts, preconnect, minification, caching recommendations, and serving scaled images.

Query Monitor – great for finding slow plugins, scripts, styles, and other elements slowing down your site. Make sure to delete it when you’re done since the plugin itself can be slow.

Get Help Fixing Your GTmetrix Report

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the most important speed factors?

Your infrastructure (hosting, theme, plugins, page builder, CDNs) have the biggest impact on load times.

🚀 Which cache plugin should you use?

WP Rocket is usually rated the top cache plugin in Facebook polls since it has built-in features most cache plugins don't. These extra optimizations should yield better scores and load times in GTmetrix. The top free cache plugins are usually WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, and Swift Performance.

🚀 Which WordPress hosting should you use?

The best hosting is highly debatable, but Cloudways, SiteGround, and Kinsta generally the top 3 hosts based on 30+ Facebook polls.

🚀 Which speed testing tool should you use?

GTmetrix has the most robust recommendations especially for finding slow plugins, images, external scripts, and measuring TFFB. Pingdom doesn't have as many recommendations, and Google PageSpeed Insights doesn't measure load times.

🚀 How do you optimize images?

You can optimize images using a plugin like ShortPixel or Smush to compress images and strip EXIF data. Make sure you're resizing images to the correct dimensions, and ideally serve them from a CDN. Lazy loading images and videos will also make the page faster.

🚀 Should you use AMP?

Generally, you should avoid AMP (accelerated mobile pages) since the design changes can lower conversions. Kinsta's conversions dropped 59% after adding AMP and they decided to remove them.

🚀 How do you optimize plugins?

Find high CPU plugins using Query Monitor which usually include portfolios, statistics, sliders, and plugins that run ongoing processes. Next, replace them with lightweight plugins that consume minimal resources. Delete all plugins you're not using, and disable unnecessary plugin settings that consume resources. Finally, selectively disable plugins from loading on certain content using a plugin like Asset Manager or Perfmatters.

🚀 How do you optimize external scripts?

It's best to avoid external scripts all together, such as Google AdSense, Facebook widgets, and plugins that create external requests. Some plugins such as Disques let you load it conditionally. If the page contains JavaScript, try the Async JavaScript plugin. Finally, prefetch all external URLs that are loading on the page.

Really hope this helped! Drop your new GTmetrix scores + load times in the comments :-)

Cheers,
Tom

25 WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins For Speeding Up Your Website In 2020 (Same Ones I Used To Get 100% GTmetrix Scores)

WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins

Need a solid list of WordPress speed optimization plugins?

These are the same speed plugins I used to get 100% GTmetrix scores on my homepage and most of my posts. They’re a collection of plugins I use myself and popular plugins in Facebook Groups. I do WordPress speed optimization for a living – so I geek pretty hard on the plugins!

This is not a typical list of cache plugins: I dive into advanced plugins like selectively plugin disabling, browser resource hints for external scripts, hosting things locally, and bloat removal.

ps. If you join the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group they have a list of 60+ recommended WordPress Speed Up Tools and useful links. But I did try to include the important ones here :)

The only speed optimization plugins I use on my site are WP Rocket, Perfmatters, WP-Optimize, TinyPNG, and wpDiscuz (my lightweight comment plugin). If you’re using SG Optimizer or another caching plugin, you will need to install a few extra speed plugins since these lack some functionality (see the notes listed in each section below).

The Best WordPress Speed Plugins Of 2020

  1. WP Rocket
  2. SG Optimizer
  3. Perfmatters
  4. Asset CleanUp
  5. TinyPNG
  6. WP-Optimize
  7. WP YouTube Lyte
  8. Heartbeat Control
  9. Pre* Party Resource Hints
  10. OMGF | Host Google Fonts Locally
  11. CAOS | Host Google Analytics Locally
  12. wpDiscuz
  13. Flying Scripts
  14. WP User Avatar
  15. CDN Enabler
  16. Breeze By Cloudways
  17. Autoptimize
  18. WP Fastest Cache
  19. ToolKit For Elementor
  20. AMP For WP
  21. Query Monitor
  22. Display PHP Version
  23. GTmetrix For WordPress
  24. WP Hosting Performance Check
  25. Better Search Replace

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

1. WP Rocket

WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls.

That’s because it comes with more features than any other cache plugin. This means better GTmetrix results and less plugins needed on your site. Otherwise, with other cache plugins, you would need to research which features it doesn’t include, then install these extra plugins if it doesn’t support them. If you’re like me, you want to use 1 plugin (WP Rocket) for everything.

  • Database cleanup (built-in to WP Rocket, or use WP-Optimize)
  • Heartbeat control (built-in to WP Rocket, or use Heartbeat Control)
  • Lazy load images/videos (built-in to WP Rocket, or use WP YouTube Lyte)
  • Host Google Analytics locally (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Analytics)
  • Prefetch DNS Requests (built-in to WP Rocket, or use Pre* Party Resource Hints)
  • Host Google Fonts locally (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CAOS For Fonts, or SHGF)
  • Integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs (built-in to WP Rocket, or use CDN Enabler)

Get 10% off WP Rocket by signing up for their email list on their coupons page. Then check my recommended WP Rocket settings for optimal GTmetrix scores/load times.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

WP-Rocket-Features

 

2. SG Optimizer

SG-Optimizer-Plugin

SG Optimizer only works if you’re on SiteGround’s hosting.

On a demo website, I tested SG Optimizer with a fresh installation of Astra’s Outdoor Adventure theme on SiteGround’s GrowBig plan and got a 1s load time with 99%/94% GTmetrix scores. If I used a CDN, my GTmetrix scores would have been exactly 99%/100%.

Since SiteGround’s big update to SG Optimizer, it’s now comparable to WP Rocket. It also uses server-side caching and binaries which is faster and more efficient than the file-based caching by other cache plugins (including WP Rocket). If you’re on SiteGround, I would definitely use it.

See my recommended SG Optimizer settings to learn how to configure SG Optimizer.

SG Optimizer Features

  • Caching (static, dynamic, memcached)
  • Minify & combine HTML, CSS, JS
  • Gzip compression
  • PHP version selection
  • Optimize Google Fonts
  • Defer render-blocking JS
  • Compress new + existing images
  • Lazy load images, videos, iframes, Gravatars, thumbnails, widgets, mobile

Features SG Optimizer Lacks

  • Heartbeat control
  • Database cleanup
  • Bloat removal
  • CDN URL
  • Prefetch + preconnect
  • Host Google Analytics locally

 

 

 

3. Perfmatters

Kinsta’s Perfmatters is the ultimate bloat removal plugin.

A few notable features include decreasing the autosave interval, limiting post revisions, disabling heartbeat and pingbacks, prefetching + preconnecting fonts and third party scripts, and optimizing WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments. It basically takes care of the last 10% of WordPress speed optimization with features WP Rocket/SG Optimizer don’t have.

perfmatters features

Perfmatters includes a script manager for selectively disabling scripts/plugins on specific content (same thing as Asset CleanUp). Some plugins load across your entire site even when they’re not being used. By selectively disabling plugins, you will reduce page sizes and make them load faster. There’s also a Regex option to better control where plugins are being loaded.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages not using sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages not using rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages not using contact forms
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages not using aff links
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)

perfmatters-script-manager

 

4. Asset CleanUp

Same thing as the Perfmatters script manager (lets you selectively disable scripts/plugins) only Asset CleanUp doesn’t have bloat removal options, but it is free. Plugin Organizer and Plugin Load Filter are similar, but AssetCleanUp has great reviews and is what most people are using.

Asset CleanUp Check All

 

5. TinyPNG

Compresses images to get 100% for the “optimize images” items in GTmetrix.

I have tried Imagify, ShortPixel, and other image optimization plugins but they all resulted in a loss in quality even when the “lossless” option was selected. Slowly but surely, I am redoing these images in TinyPNG. I see barely any quality loss which I can’t say for the other plugins.

TinyPNG-Plugin

 

6. WP-Optimize

A big difference between WP-Optimize and WP Rocket’s database cleanup feature, is that WP-Optimize lets you delete old plugin tables.

Both plugins let you delete trash (trashed posts, spam posts, post revisions, transients) and optimize your database tables. But WP-Optimize lets you view your individual database tables and delete tables left behind by old (not installed) plugins. If you don’t plan on using these plugins again, you can delete their tables since they often leave behind pre-configured settings.

WP-Optimize-Tables

WP Rocket does the same thing, only it doesn’t let you delete old plugin tables:

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

 

7. WP YouTube Lyte

Lazy loads videos by inserting responsive “Lite YouTube Embeds” which only calls the “fat” YouTube player when the play button is clicked. Videos take the longest time to load by far. Just to give you an idea, my W3 Total Cache tutorial only has 2 videos, but when I lazy load them that post’s load time went from 5s to 1.5s. It has the same function as light video embeds.

If using WP Rocket, you can simply lazy load videos and replace iframes with a preview image.

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

 

8. Heartbeat Control

The WordPress heartbeat API consumes resources by sending you real-time plugin notifications, when other users are editing a post, and so on. 99% of people should disable it.

Heartbeat-Control

WP Rocket and Perfmatters also let you disable it, or add this code to your functions.php file.

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

 

9. Pre* Party Resource Hints

Supports browser resources hints which can make fonts and scripts load faster.

WP Rocket already supports prefetch + preconnect, otherwise you can use Pre* Party Resource Hints. Third party scripts can be found in the “reduce DNS lookups” section of your GTmetrix report or shown as “reduce the impact of third party code” in PageSpeed Insights.

These can be Gravatars, Google Analytics, Maps, Tag Manager, AdSense, embedded videos, or any third party request generated on your website. You’ll want to prefetch these (Luke created a nice list of common domains to prefetch). And if you’re using Google Fonts or Font Awesome, grab your font URLs from the GTmetrix Waterfall tab and add them to the preconnect section.

Third-Party-Usage

 

10. OMGF | Host Google Fonts Locally

OMGF can fix Google Font-related errors by downloading all your Google Fonts (using the Google Fonts Helper API) and generating a stylesheet for them. You will need to configure the settings to serve fonts from your CDN and select the folders to save font files to. While some plugins like WP Rocket and SG Optimizer already optimize fonts, OMGF can often yield better results especially when served from a CDN. The Self-Hosted Google Fonts plugin is similar.

Google-Fonts-GTmetrix

What it looks like:

OMGF-Settings

Tip: if using external fonts, be minimal with the number of fonts (and font weights) you choose. If for some reason this plugin doesn’t fix errors, I have a guide for hosting Google Fonts locally.

 

11. CAOS | Host Google Analytics Locally

Leverage Brower Caching Google Analytics

CAOS fixes the leverage browser caching item in GTmetrix by hosting Google Analytics locally. Install the plugin, enter your Tracking-ID, and CAOS will add the Tracking Code to the header or footer. But if you’re using WP Rocket or Perfmatters, these already have this functionality.

CAOS-Analytics-Settings

 

12. wpDiscuz

Why is wpDiscuz in my list of WordPress speed plugins?

Because with wpDiscuz, I get an awesome comment plugin on my blog with virtually no expense to my GTmetrix report. This is usually not the case with other commenting plugins. Go to your wpDiscuz settings and use the tweaks below which should make the plugin load faster.

Recommended settings to speed up wpDiscuz:

Comment Thread Displaying → initiate AJAX loading after page and lazy load comment.

Disqus-Comment-Thread-Displaying

General → disable “use WordPress native AJAX functions” and enable combine/minify JS/CSS.

Disqus-General-Settings

Styles And Colors → disable “load font awesome CSS lib.”

Disqus-Load-Font-Awesome-CSS-Lib

 

13. Flying Scripts

Flying_Scripts_by_WP_Speed_Matters

This plugin helps you optimize third party scripts found in GTmetrix (reduce DNS lookups) and PageSpeed Insights (minimize third party scripts).

It delays loading of JavaScript until the timeout period you set in the plugin. For example, you can delay loading your comments plugin and Gravatars for 3 seconds which can significantly speed up initial load times. In fact, Flying Scripts is the only plugin that let me show Gravatars without them affecting GTmetrix. It is definitely one of my favorite WordPress speed plugins.

Flying-Scripts

 

14. WP User Avatar

The blank default Gravatar can still create errors in GTmetrix.

If you don’t want it to, install the WP User Avatar plugin which hosts the default Gravatar locally. Upload your own optimized Gravatar image (ideally a 50×50 pixel compressed image).

WP-User-Avata

 

15. CDN Enabler

CDN Enabler helps you set up a CDN (content delivery network). This does not work with Cloudflare which requires changing nameservers, while CDN enabler is specifically for StackPath, KeyCDN, and other CDNs that provide a CDN URL. First, sign up for a CDN (I use StackPath) then enter your CDN URL into the CDN Enabler plugin. See instructions below:

Step 1: Sign up for a CDN (I use StackPath who has 34 data centers) and create a CDN site.

Step 2: Grab Your CDN URL:

StackPath-CDN-URL

Step 3: Enter your CDN URL into CDN Enabler, then configure the settings:

CDN-Enabler-Plugin-Settings

 

16. Breeze By Cloudways

Breeze is only if you’re using Cloudways hosting.

It has a long way to go if they want to catch up to SG Optimizer or WP Rocket, and I would personally use WP Rocket instead as it lacks many features (probably why it doesn’t have the best ratings). While I highly recommend Cloudways hosting, I can’t recommend Breeze yet.

Breeze-Cache-Plugin

While the Cloudways Breeze plugin isn’t great, their hosting is.

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways

 

17. Autoptimize

Optimizes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You don’t need Autoptimize unless you’re hosted on GoDaddy, WP Engine, or any host who blacklists cache plugins, since WP Rocket and most cache plugins optimize the code for you. But while GoDaddy and WP Engine’s built-in caching might be fine, it doesn’t optimize HTML/CSS/JS. That’s where Autoptimize comes into play.

Autoptimize

 

18. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache is usually rated one of the top free cache plugins and is easy to configure. However, it lacks quite a few features and if you want them, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version, in which case you’ll be better off with WP Rocket. I have a configuration tutorial on the WP Fastest Cache settings as well as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.

WP-Fastest-Cache-Settings

 

19. ToolKit For Elementor

ToolKit does a little bit of everything (minification, combination, font optimization, lazy load, bloat removal, gzip, browser caching, expires headers), but it doesn’t do everything. You’ll be better off using WP Rocket combined with Perfmatters. One thing I like about ToolKit is the option to disable unused widgets in Elementor, WordPress, and in the WordPress dashboard.

ToolKit-for-Elementor

 

20. AMP For WP

I was using AMP, but I ultimately disabled it and now I don’t. But if you want to add AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to WordPress, this is one of the most highly rated AMP plugins since it has lots of customization options. One of the frustrating parts about AMP is that it strips some of your design elements, so you want to make sure the mobile pages still look nice.

Warning: AMP can sometimes decrease mobile conversions. Read Kinsta’s study on how their conversions dropped 59% when using AMP. I ultimately decided against it.

AMP-Pages

This plugin has tons of settings for customizing mobile pages:

Accelerated-Mobile-Pages-Plugin-Settings

 

21. Query Monitor

Find your slow loading plugins, queries, scripts, and other elements that take longest to load. Make sure you delete it when you’re done, since Query Monitor can cause high CPU in itself.

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

You can also use GTmetrix Waterfall to find your slowest plugins:

Slow WordPress Plugin

 

22. Display PHP Version

Display PHP Version simply shows which PHP version you’re running. Faster PHP versions = faster load times, so be sure to login to your hosting account and use the latest PHP version.

Display-PHP

 

23. GTMetrix For WordPress

The GTmetrix WordPress plugin monitors your load times and PageSpeed + YSlow scores, then sends you a report directly in your WordPress dashboard, or through scheduled email reports.

GTmetrix-WordPress-Dashboard-Widget

GTmetrix-Scheduled-WordPress-Reports

GTmetrix-Scheduled-Reports

 

24. WP Hosting Performance Check

Shows overall performance of hosting and whether your technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) is running slow, in which case it should be updated. It also shows your slowest pages.

Hosting-PHP-Server-Response

Browser-Load-Speed

Web-Server-Response-Time

Bytecheck.com and GTmetrix also show your TTFB (time to first byte) in the Waterfall tab:

TTFB Check

GTmetrix TTFB

Cool Trick: one of the only things PageSpeed Insights is good for is checking for server response times. Google says it should be under 200ms. If not, your server (hosting) is slow.

Reduce Server Response Time Under 200ms

 

25. Better Search Replace

If you see minimize redirects in your GTmetrix report, this usually means you changed the WWW or HTTPS version of your site, but didn’t change your links to reflect the new version.

Minimize-Redirects

Instead of fixing all your links manually, use the Better Search And Replace plugin to update them in bulk. It can also be helpful for fixing broken links, or even bulk updating links/images which appear on multiple pages/posts. Better Search Replace can be an enormous time saver.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

 

Other Notable Tools / Resources

Cloudways and SiteGround – they are usually rated the top hosts in Facebook polls by far, with many people who migrated and posted their new load times. Both use cloud hosting and are extremely fast; SiteGround is more user-friendly but renewal prices are high and they have strict CPU limits. Cloudways is usually faster but more technical and they don’t support direct email hosting (you would need a Rackspace account). Both are very fast and do free migrations.

Cloudways Response Times

SiteGround Load Time Migration

SiteGround-Bluehost-Migration

Switching To SiteGround

Godaddy to DigitalOcean Migration

2018 Hosting Recommendations

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

VPS Cloud Hosting WooCommerce Poll

Hosting Recommendations Facebook

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Untitled

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

SiteGround-HostGator-Migration

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

Vultr Migration

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Suggestions

VPS Cloud Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Preferred-Web-Hosting-Poll

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways or SiteGround using my affiliate link, I will earn a commission at no expense to you. I am not an affiliate for Bluehost, HostGator, or GoDaddy because they’re not fast and the results show it. I also donate a good chunk of my blog’s income to GoFundMe campaigns and would seriously appreciate your support. I try to make recommendations based on pure evidence.

Cloudflare – free CDN and speed/security service which mirrors your site (and offloads resources) on over 200+ data centers. Integrates with most cache plugins with options to use aggressive minification, Railgun, and hotlinking. All my cache plugin tutorials include Cloudflare setup instructions and don’t forget to set up page rules for your WordPress site.

StackPath – paid CDN which adds 30+ additional data centers around the world (more data centers = faster content delivery), reducing the distance between your website/visitors – a recommendation in the WordPress optimization guide. $10/month with a free 30-day trial.

Pingdom – most accurate tool for measuring load times according to WP Rocket, though GTmetrix has better recommendations for actually optimizing your site, in my humble opinion.

GTmetrix – good for identifying images that need to be optimized using the 3 methods: serving scaled images (resizing them), specifying images dimensions in the HTML/CSS, and optimizing images (lossless compression). GTmetrix recently switched to a fully loaded time metric which shows a longer load time than previously. Their waterfall tab measures individual slow loading elements, and if your time to first byte is long that indicates your hosting is slow.

Google PageSpeed Insights – most recommendations can be ignored but it’s good for measuring server response time which Google recommends <200ms or your hosting is slow.

Pronaya (My WordPress Speed Optimizer) – you can hire my WordPress speed optimizer on freelancer.com who I’ve been working with for 5 years and we’ve optimized multiple sites to load 500% faster. His name is Pronaya, he’s $40/hour and has a perfect 5/5 star review with 19 reviews (just sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDKAMOL). If you think I’m good at speed optimization, Pronaya is way better. I’ve also been working with Usama (his username is I333) who is quite cheaper but is also amazing with 4.9/5 stars and 375+ reviews.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the 5 most important speed plugins?

WP Rocket, SG Optimizer, OMGF, Perfmatters, and Autoptimize are 5 top speed optimization plugins.

🚀 What is the best cache plugin?

WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in numerous Facebook polls because it has more speed features than other cache plugins including database cleanup, heartbeat control, lazy load, and optimizing Google Analytics. WP Fastest Cache is usually rated the top free cache plugin, and SG Optimizer is good if you're on SiteGround.

🚀 What's the best image optimization plugin?

ShortPixel, TinyPNG, Imagify, and Smush are 4 popular image optimization plugins.

🚀 Which plugin is best for optimizing fonts?

OMGF, Perfmatters, WP Rocket, and Autoptimize all have font optimization options. WP Rocket and Perfmatters let you preconnect them which makes them load even faster.

🚀 Should I add AMP?

We chose not to use AMP after reading Kinsta's article about how their conversions dropped by roughly 50% due to AMP.

My WordPress Speed Optimization Tutorial – has 400+ comments with people saying things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.” Tons of people have used it to improve Pingdom/GTmetrix scores.

I hope you find these WordPress speed optimization plugins useful! If you have questions leave me a comment. Or if you simply need to fix your slow WordPress site, see my tutorial above. It has over 400 comments and has helped many people reduce their load time to <1s.

Cheers,
Tom

The Ideal WP Fastest Cache Settings With Cloudflare + StackPath CDN Setup Instructions (Updated 2020 With Latest Version 1.5.6)

WP Fastest Cache is usually rated the #1 free cache plugin in Facebook polls.

I was able to get .5s load times in Pingdom after configuring the WP Fastest Cache settings. They’re easy to setup and have options for both Cloudflare and StackPath’s CDN which can further improve grades/load times (I use both since more data centers = faster website). For hosting, I recommend SiteGround who is used by Yoast and rated #1 in 20+ Facebook polls. But if you’re looking for something faster than shared hosting, Cloudways DO is where it’s at.

I will show you how to configure the WP Fastest Cache settings, StackPath’s CDN, and what upgrading to WP Fastest Cache Premium did for me. I also have instructions for Cloudflare.

Leave me a comment if you have questions or see their support forum. But there are many complaints about WP Fastest Cache’s support just to give you a heads up. Remember to retest your site in Pingdom or GTmetrix when you’re done – and comment with your new load time!

How To Setup WP Fastest Cache

  1. Cache Plugin Comparison
  2. WP Fastest Cache Settings
  3. StackPath CDN
  4. Cloudflare
  5. Delete Cache And Retest In Pingdom

 

1. Cache Plugin Comparison

WP Fastest Cache is usually the #2 or #3 cache plugin in Facebook polls, trailing behind WP Rocket which is almost always #1.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

Cache Plugin Test – I ran the same page through Pingdom which had minimal content so results would be accurate. I setup each one with the best settings and Cloudflare/StackPath.

WP Rocket (.406)
Pingdom Page Speed Test

WP Fastest Cache (.527)
WP Fastest Cache Load Times

W3 Total Cache (.619)
W3 Total Cache Load Times

WP Rocket vs. WP Fastest Cache – WP Rocket has quite a few extra features not included with WP Fastest Cache (database cleanup, lazy loading, heartbeat control, hosting Google Fonts + Analytics locally, prefetching DNS requests). While WP Rocket has these all built-in, you would need to install about 6-7 extra plugins to get these speed optimizations with WP Fastest Cache. With WP Rocket, you get more speed optimizations, yet less plugins running on your site. I wrote a WP Rocket setup guide which also shows you how to get 10% off the price.

StackPath vs. CloudflareStackPath is $10/month Cloudflare is free. Both are CDNs which mirror your site on multiple data centers around the world (reducing the distance between your server and visitor) and is recommended in the WordPress optimization guide. Cloudflare has 200+ data centers, StackPath, has 45 data centers which are heavily focused in the US (more data centers = faster website, that’s why I recommend using both). StackPath comes with a support team who improved my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8% – their support is great.

 

stackpath network
StackPath has over 45 full-stack locations spanning the globe.

 

cloudflare network
Cloudflare’s network spans over 95 countries.

Why Use StackPath?

  • StackPath’s 45 data centers use faster SSD servers + 10GB connections
  • StackPath doesn’t charge for HTTPS traffic, Cloudflare charges pay-per-use
  • StackPath’s team helped me configure my CDN and improved my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%, putting the cherry on the cake to make my GTmetrix report nearly perfect
  • StackPath has dashboards that provide lots of information about your cached files
  • StackPath allows you to protect your account using a two-step authentication process; you can whitelist the IP addresses of people who are permitted to access your account

 

2. WP Fastest Cache Settings

If you plan on using StackPath, see my StackPath section which has it’s own WP Fastest Cache settings (you would disable logged-in users, mobile, and browser caching options) which is shown in StackPath’s WP Fastest Cache tutorial.

If you plan on using Cloudflare, use the settings below but disable Auto Minify and Rocket Loader in the “speed” tab of your Cloudflare settings (Railgun should be enabled). This is what the WP Fastest Cache plugin developer recommends in his Cloudflare tutorial. My Cloudflare section shows you how to sign up for Cloudflare, change name servers in your hosting cPanel, set page rules for optimal performance, and purge the cache once you’re done.

If you plan on using neither, use the settings below. The only thing you would change is in the Preload tab (pages per minute). If you’re on shared hosting use 4-6, VPS should use 10-12.

wp fastest cache settings

Breakdown Of WP Fastest Cache Settings:

  • Cache System – enable
  • Widget Cache System – caches your widgets (premium feature)
  • Preload – create cache of entire site automatically (shared hosting should use 4-6, VPS is 10-12. Creates caching delay for first user who views the page. Learn more)
  • Logged-in Users – don’t show the cached version for logged-in users (if it’s just you running your website, leave this checked. But if multiple users can be logged in, each user should have their own cached version, so it would be unchecked)
  • Mobile – don’t show the cached version for desktop to mobile devices
  • Mobile Theme – caches mobile theme (premium feature)
  • New Post – clear cache files when a post or page is published
  • Update Post – clear cache files when a post or page is updated (Learn more)
  • Minify HTML – decrease size of page (high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
  • Minify HTML Plus – more powerful minify html (premium feature)
  • Minify CSS – decrease size of css files (high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
  • Minify CSS Plus – more powerful minify CSS (premium feature)
  • Combine CSS – reduce HTTP requests through combined css files (combines JavaScript and CSS files between <head></head>. This reduces the amount of JavaScript and CSS files on a page which reduces the number of HTTP requests required to render the page. Also a high priority item in Pingdom. Learn more)
  • Minify JS – decrease size of JS files (premium feature)
  • Combine JS – reduce HTTP requests by combining JS files
  • Combine JS Plus – minify combined JS files (premium feature)
  • Gzip – reduce size of files sent from your server (reduces transfer time between server and browser, and is a high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
  • Browser Caching – reduce load time for repeat visitors (Learn more)
  • Disable Emojis: remove emoji inline CSS
  • Render Blocking JS – remove render-blocking JavaScript (premium feature)
  • Google Fonts – loads Google Fonts asynchronously (premium feature) but this can also be done using the free WP Disable plugin which I highly recommend
  • Lazy Load – premium feature which you can use A3 Lazy Load for Learn more)

Nearly every item in WP Fastest Cache is found in GTmetrix/Pingdom:

GTmetrix-With-WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-StackPath

Delete Cache – clear the cache after configuring the WP Fastest Cache settings:

Delete-Cache-WP-Fastest-Cache

Image Optimization – premium feature which losslessly compresses images (an item in GTmetrix). This can also be done using the Imagify or Kraken plugin. I would not use any other plugins since these might break your site or have bugs – I have done tons of research on this.

WP-Fastest-Cache-Image-Optimization

Losslessly compressing images fixes the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix:

optimize-images-gtmetrix

Premium – see the difference below which shows 2 GTmetrix reports (it’s worth it). If you decide to upgrade for $49.99, they will send you a download link via email which you will manually upload in your plugins menu. Keep both the free and premium version activated.

premium plugin information

Premium
WP Fastest Cache Premium
Not Premium
WP Fastest Cache Free

Exclude – exclude pages from being cached (eg. eCommerce checkout pages).

WP-Fastest-Cache-Excludes-Settings

CDN – a CDN (content delivery network) makes your site faster by hosting it on multiple servers around the country and world, as oppose to 1 origin server (it reduces the geographical distance it takes your content to reach your visitors). See the StackPath section.

Database (DB) – cleaning your database removes unnecessary junk and makes it load faster. You can use the free WP-Optimize plugin to do this, upgrading for this feature isn’t necessary.

WP-Optimize Clean Database

WP-Optimize-Database-Cleanup

 

3. StackPath CDN ($10/Month With Free 30-Day Trial)

StackPath mirrors your site on 31 data centers, reducing the geographical distance between your server and visitors. This can reduce load times by multiple seconds especially for visitors who used to be far away from your 1 origin server. StackPath also helped me configure my CDN and was able to improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8% (see my report). They have a 30-day trial and their own tutorial on configuring StackPath’s CDN with WP Fastest Cache.

This is recommended in the WordPress optimization guide:

wordpress cdn recommendations

Step 1: Sign up for StackPath.

Step 2: Configure WP Fastest Cache with these settings when using StackPath:

stackpath wp fastest cache settings

Step 3: In the StackPath dashboard, click the CDN tab, and create a StackPath CDN Site.

click sites in stackpath

enter domain name

server ip address

origin authentication

Copy your server IP address from above.

cdn url

Step 4: Click “StackPath” in the CDN area of WP Fastest Cache.

WP-Fastest-Cache-StackPath-CDN

Step 5: Paste your CDN URL into WP Fastest Cache and use your website as the origin URL:

stackpath cdn url

Step 6: Click next, leave all file types selected, then keep clicking next until it’s ready:

stackpath file types

Next…

stackpath specify sources

Next…

stackpath exclude sources

Finish…

stackpath ready to go

stackpath integration ready

Done.

WP-Fastest-Cache-StackPath-CDN-Confirmation

Step 7: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click “Purge Everything”…

StackPath-Purge-Cache

Step 8: Run your site through GTmetrix and look at the YSlow tab to make sure it’s working…

CDN GTmetrix YSlow

Ok, NOW you’re done.

 

4. Cloudflare

SiteGround and most other hosts have an option to activate Cloudflare in the cPanel. If your host doesn’t have this options, you can setup Cloudflare using WP Fastest Cache (see below).

Cloudflare-Activation

Step 1: Sign up for Cloudflare and you will be prompted to add your website and begin a scan.

cloudflare-begin-scan

Cloudflare-DNS-Records

Cloudflare-CDN-Plans

You will eventually come to this dashboard where Cloudflare assigns you 2 name servers and provide a link to your Global API Key.

Cloudflare-Dashboard-WP-Fastest-Cache

Step 2: Do a Google search for “how to change name servers on SiteGround” (only search for your host), then follow their instructions. You will be copying the 2 name servers provided by Cloudflare and pasting them into a custom name servers option in your hosting cPanel.

SiteGround-DNS-Records

Step 3. Grab your Global API Key from the link in Cloudflare, or in your Cloudflare profile.

loudflare-Global-API-Key

Go back to WP Fastest Cache and click the Cloudflare tab. Enter the same email address used in your Cloudflare account, as well as your Global API Key.

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Tab

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-API-Keys

Keep clicking next in WP Fastest Cache. They will automatically turn off the minify settings in WP Fastest Cache (since Cloudflare will now do this). They will also turn off Rocket Loader for better compatibility (your website won’t break), and set browser cache expiration to 24 days.

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Disable-Auto-Minify

WP-Fastest-Cache-Disable-Rocket-Loader

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Browser-Cache-Expiration

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Message

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Integration

Looks good!

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Confirmation

Step 4: Go to Cloudflare’s speed settings and make sure Auto Minify and Rocket Loader are turned off, but SG Railgun is on. This is what the WP Fastest Cache developer recommends.

Cloudflare-Speed-Tab

Step 5: Cloudflare says “we recommend you create a Page Rule to exclude the admin section of your website from Cloudflare’s performance features. Features such as Rocket Loader and Auto Minification may inadvertently break backend functions in your admin section.”

Add these 2 page rules in your page rules settings.

WP-Admin-Page-Rule

Cache-Everything-Cloudflare-Page-Rule

Step 6. Finally, go to your Cloudflare caching settings and purge individual files.

Purge Individual Files Cloudflare

All done!

WP-Fastest-Cache-Cloudflare-Confirmation

 

5. Delete Cache And Retest In Pingdom

In the WP Fastest Cache settings, go to the “Delete Cache” tab and “Delete Cache And Minifed CSS/JS.” Now rerun your website through Pingdom to view your updated scores and load time.

WP Fastest Cache Pingdom Test

Ideally the following Page Speed items are green:

  • Minify CSS
  • Minify HTML
  • Minify JavaScript
  • Leverage Browser Caching
  • Specify a Cache Validator
  • Enable gzip Compression
  • Defer Parsing Of JavaScript

Ideally the following YSlow items are also green:

  • Reduce cookie size
  • Add Expires headers
  • Reduce DNS lookups
  • Use cookie-free domains
  • Make fewer HTTP requests
  • Minify JavaScript and CSS
  • Configure entity tags (ETags)
  • Compress components with gzip
  • Remove duplicate JavaScript and CSS
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Remember, it can take Cloudflare up to 24 hours to propagate, so check back then.

 

6. WP Fastest Cache FAQs

Here’s the FAQ page if you still have questions.

WP-Fastest-Cache-FAQs

 

SiteGround (#1 Host In Facebook Polls)

SiteGround is used by Yoast, myself, and recommended by WordPress. They are #1 in nearly every Facebook poll and give most people significant load time improvements especially if they were using mediocre hosts: GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, Dreamhost, EIG.

Yoast-on-Twitter-We-just-switched-to-Siteground

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.

DigitalOcean on Cloudways and Kinsta are also good and start at $10/month and $30/month. Cloudways is more for developers who don’t need cPanel, email hosting, or the support you get with SiteGround. Kinsta is basically what WP Engine used to be (pricey, but awesome). My entire blog is basically dedicated to helping people make their website load faster. I refuse to recommend $2/month hosting since it’s most people’s biggest regret when running a website.

How To Check If Your Hosting Is Slow
Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. Google recommends it should be <200ms. Anything above 1 second is not good. You can also check your TTFB (time to first byte) in GTmetrix’s Timings tab or bytecheck.com.

Reduce Server Response Time

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

People usually migrate because their speed technology can cut load times in half:

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround-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:

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

I use SiteGround because:

  1. My GTmetrix + Pingdom reports speak for themselves
  2. My pages load instantly (click through them if you want)
  3. Fast speed technology (PHP 7.3, NGINX, SG Optimizer, Cloudflare)
  4. Recommended by Yoast, WordPress, Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
  5. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
  6. WordPress support is unbeatable even without GoGeek’s priority support
  7. GrowBig comes with staging, more storage, and more server resources (scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” and hover over the server tab)
  8. GoGeek comes with even more server resources, storage, priority support
  9. Free migrations, migrator plugin, and a 30-day money back guarantee
  10. Plenty of praise on Reddit, Facebook conversations, Twitter, TrustPilot
  11. Tons of praise on Facebook: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11
  12. Many people already migrated and posted results on Twitter: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround with my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they are a stellar WordPress host and your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Facebook groups + Twitter and you’ll find most people say the same.

 

36+ WordPress Speed Optimization Tips

Watch My Video – it’s a 42 minute video, but I cover pretty much everything (timestamps in video description) and you should learn a ton of great information on WordPress site speed:

Follow my WordPress speed optimization guide which shows you how to:

  • Diagnose slow plugins using GTmetrix
  • Add AMP (accelerated mobile pages) using the AMP plugin
  • Use AWStats to find causes of high CPU (crawlers, images, etc)
  • Recommendations for lightweight slider/gallery/social sharing plugins
  • Use Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS) to host Google Analytics locally
  • Image optimization (serve scaled images, specify dimensions, lossless compression)
  • Use WP Disable to disable unnecessary settings in WordPress core while turning on heartbeat control, loading of Google fonts asynchronously, other speed optimizations

And plenty of others. Read the comments and you’ll see things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.”

 

Get Help From My WordPress Speed Optimizer

Still need help with your GTmetrix/Pingdom report? I’ve been working with Pronaya for 7 years (he’s the one who helped me get a <1s load time in Pingdom). You can hire him by creating a profile on freelancer.com and searching for username bdkamol. Here is his full WordPress speed portfolio. He’s $40/hour from Bangladesh (so there is a time change) and you can email him at bdkamol@gmail.com. He also has a perfect 5 star review on his profile. Serious inquiries only, and please don’t expect 100% scores if you’re using slow hosting, a bloated theme, and tons of heavy plugins. Please follow my full WordPress speed guide first.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

Reviews on his profile:

BDkamol-WordPress-Speed-Reviews

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 Is WP Fastest Cache Premium worth it?

If you're going to spend money on a premium cache plugin, most people use WP Rocket since it comes with more features than WP Fastest Cache Premium and will typically yield better results.

🚀 Which CDN should I use with WP Fastest Cache?

Cloudflare's free CDN is sufficient for most sites, however more CDNs = more data centers and faster delivery of your content. You may also consider StackPath or KeyCDN.

🚀 How do I clear cache when I'm done configuring the settings?

In the WordPress menu on top, go to WPFC and Delete Cache And Minified CSS.

🚀 What other speed plugins do I need besides WP Fastest Cache?

WP Fastest Cache does not come with the option for image optimization, database cleanup, lazy loading, heartbeat control, prefetch + preconnect, and optimizing Google Fonts + Analytics. I recommend Perfmatters, OMGF, and Advanced DB Cleaner.

🚀 Should I add AMP?

I do not use accelerated mobile pages (AMP) on this WordPress site. Read Kinsta's article about how their conversions dropped 50% due to AMP and you may not want to either.

 

See Also: How I Got 100% GTmetrix Scores

If your website loads faster feel free to leave your new page load time in the comments! Or if you have any questions I’m glad to help with that too. As you can see I’m a pretty big nerd when it comes to WordPress speed so if you follow these recommendations, there’s no reason your website shouldn’t load in under 3s. And if you found this tutorial helpful, please share :)

Cheers,
Tom

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.

w3-total-cache-performance-tab-settings

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.

w3-total-cache-general-settings

 

3. Configure MaxCDN With W3 Total Cache

MaxCDN’s content delivery network is a paid service ($90/year with my 25% 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

I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

They have 3 plans to choose from…

SiteGround-Hosting

The higher the plan, the more server resources you get (the main speed factor for hosting). GrowBig and GoGeek let you host unlimited sites, have priority support, and come with other features – but those are the main ones. See SiteGround’s features page for a full comparison.

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

 

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.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

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

Cheers,

Tom Signature