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

How To Fix Bluehost’s Slow WordPress Hosting (Using GTmetrix, PHP 7.3, Cloudflare’s CDN, Cache Plugins, And Optimizing Images)

Have a slow WordPress site on Bluehost?

The easiest way to fix a slow WordPress site on Bluehost is by upgrading to PHP 7.3, removing slow plugins, using a solid cache plugin, Cloudflare’s CDN, and optimizing images to load faster.

There’s an easy way to tell if Bluehost is the problem: run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report (Google recommends <200ms). If you have a high server response time or TTFB in GTmetrix, then your Bluehost server is slow.

A warning about Bluehost: Bluehost is not fast and mainly promoted by bloggers who want affiliate commissions. I set up an identical Astra website on blhstserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on Bluehost, one is hosted on Cloudways DigitalOcean who was rated the #1 host in Facebook polls, conversations, and migration results. Visit the websites and click through their pages – you will see the difference in speed.

Benchmark your scores + load times in GTmetrix and post them in the comments! If you need help, leave your GTmetrix report in the comments and I’ll provide you with some suggestions.

How To Fix A Slow WordPress Site On Bluehost

  1. Check Your Website’s Server Response Time
  2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3 In Bluehost’s cPanel
  3. Activate Cloudflare’s CDN
  4. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin
  5. Make Images Load Faster
  6. Remove Slow Loading Plugins
  7. Remove Junk From Your WordPress Database
  8. Optimize Google Fonts
  9. Optimize Third Party Scripts
  10. Remove Bloat From WordPress
  11. Retest Your GTmetrix Scores
  12. Consider Moving To Cloudways

When you’re done, hopefully your GTmetrix report looks more like this:

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

This video should also help (timestamps are in the video description):

 

1. Check Your Website’s Server Response Time

Run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. If yes, this means your server (on Bluehost) is slow. A high number of websites on Bluehost have a slow server especially since Google recommends it should be under 200ms.

The only way to fix this is by lowering the amount of CPU consumed by your website (eg. deleting high resource plugins in GTmetrix’s Waterfall tab). Or upgrade your hosting to include more server resources (either with Bluehost or someone else) – but this is the #1 speed factor.

Reduce Server Response Time

Indicators Bluehost Is Slow

  • High server response time in PageSpeed Insights (over 200ms)
  • High TTFB (time to first byte) in GTmetrix Timings tab (over 200ms)
  • High PageSpeed + YSlow scores in GTmetrix, but load time is still slow
  • 503 service unavailable errors; this means the server is being overloaded

You may also want to read Bluehost’s resource usage section on their user agreement page. It says “Accounts with a large number of files (inode count in excess of 200,000) can have an adverse effect on server performance.” This means if your site is consuming lots of resources (from more traffic, slow plugins, etc), they throttle your bandwidth and slow down your site. Bluehost customers constantly complain about slow servers on Twitter and Bluehost forums.

Join Facebook Groups and do your research.

Bluehost-Managed-WordPress-Hosting

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3 In Bluehost’s cPanel

Most WordPress users are running outdated PHP versions when upgrading can easily make your site 2-3x faster. Bluehost will not upgrade you automatically (because they don’t want to risk breaking your site) so you need to do this yourself as Bluehost releases new PHP versions.

How To Update PHP Version On Bluehost

  • Login to your Bluehost cPanel
  • Select the PHP Config option
  • Select PHP 7.3 and save changes

Bluehost PHP 7.3 1

 

3. Activate Cloudflare’s CDN

To add Cloudflare, login to Bluehost and go to Domains → Cloudflare → Activate.

Bluehost-Cloudflare

Bluehost Cloudflare

This activates Cloudflare’s CDN (content delivery network) which hosts your website on 200+ data centers around the world, reducing the distance between your server and visitors. It also helps offload resources to their data centers (lightening the load on your server) while improving security. Registering your site on the actual Cloudflare website, logging into your Cloudflare dashboard, and configuring the speed tab and page rules can further improve speed.

 

4. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

WP Rocket was the #1 rated cache plugin, costs $49 and is what I use on my site. WP Fastest Cache was the top rated free cache plugin and is super easy to set up. Both can shave multiple seconds off your load time and I wrote tutorials for both, plus W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Only use 1 caching plugin on your site – I recommend WP Rocket or WP Fastest Cache.

WP Rocket is better because it has more speed optimization features than other cache plugins, otherwise you would need to install the following plugins to get these (different cache plugins have different features, so only install them if your cache plugin doesn’t have a built-in feature).

  • 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)
  • 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)

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

A glimpse of the WP Rocket settings (file optimization are the most important settings):

WP-Rocket-File-Optimization-Settings

Here’s a glimpse of the WP Fastest Cache settings:

WP-Fastest-Cache-Settings

 

5. Make Images Load Faster

There are a few primary ways to optimize your images; some are found in GTmetrix, others are found in Google PageSpeed Insights. All of them will contribute to better scores and load times.

Serve Scaled Images – means images are too large and need to be resized. When expanded, GTmetrix tells you which images have errors and their correct dimensions. Your logo, sliders, blog, and any image on your website usually calls for specific dimensions which you should be resizing them too. Start with images that appear on multiple pages (eg. logo + sidebar images). It’s a good idea to create a cheat sheet of your image dimensions so you can resize images accordingly (content body width, widget width, sliders, featured images, carousel images, etc). This way you or your designer can crop/resize images before uploading them to WordPress.

image-optimization

serve-scaled-images

Specify Image Dimensions – means you need to specify a width and height in the image’s HTML or CSS. The WordPress visual editor should take care of this automatically, however you usually need to do this manually with images that are hand-coded in HTML or CSS. Expand the “specify image dimensions” item in your GTmetrix PageSpeed report and they tell you the width/height.

specify-image-dimensions

Specifying Image Dimensions In HTML:
<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/example-image.jpg” alt=”Example Image” width=”360″ height=”180″ />

Specifying Image Dimensions In CSS:
logo width: 180px (retina: 360px;)
logo height: 110px max (retina: 220px;)

Losslessly Compress Images – this is the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix. It means you need to compress images using a plugin like ShortPixel (what I use), Imagify, or Smush. Set your compression level in the plugin settings and test a few images before bulk optimizing them, since you may see a slight reduction in quality. Most are free until you reach the monthly quota.

Imagify-Optimize-Images-On-Upload

Lazy Load Images – can be done using WP Rocket and most image optimization plugins. This delays the loading of images until users scroll down the page and visibly see images. Can also be done for videos, including replacing YouTube iframes with preview images (seen in WP Rocket).

Serve Images In Next-Gen Format – this is an item in PageSpeed Insights. It means you need to use image formats like WebP instead of JPEG and PNG. Most image optimization plugins will convert images to WebP format for you, or if you’re using SVGs, use the SVG Support plugin.

 

6. Remove Slow Loading PLugins

Find Your Slowest Plugins – look through your GTmetrix report (especially the Waterfall tab) to find which plugins are causing issues with your load times. Delete or replace them if possible.

Slow WordPress Plugin

Avoid Slow Plugins – avoid these 65+ infamously slow plugins.

  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

Minimize Plugins – deactivate and delete any plugins you don’t absolutely need.

Consolidate Plugins – use 1 plugin for multiple features, for example, use WP Rocket for nearly all speed optimizations instead of individual plugins like WP-Optimize or Heartbeat Control.

Selectively Disable Plugins From Specific Pages – use Perfmatters or Asset CleanUp to disable plugins from running on specific pages/posts. If you only use your contact form plugin on the contact page, disable everywhere else. Or if you have social sharing buttons on your blog, disable them on pages. Seeing which scripts/plugins are loading on your pages is an eye opener.

perfmatters-script-manager

 

7. Remove Junk From Your WordPress Database

If you’re using WP Rocket for your cache plugin, you can skip this step since there’s an option to do this in the WP Rocket “database” settings. Otherwise WP-Optimize does the same thing… it cleans your database like your spam and trash folder, pingbacks, trackbacks, and potentially thousands of post revisions. Schedule a database cleanup every 2 weeks or so to keep it clean.

WP-Optimize Clean Database

WP-Optimize lets you delete tables left behind by old plugins which aren’t installed anymore.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

8. Optimize Google Fonts

See font-related errors in your GTmetrix report?

Try installing and configuring the OMGF plugin. It automatically downloads your fonts and creates a stylesheet for them, so that they’re included in your site’s header which makes them easier to optimize. You can also try hosting fonts locally yourself. Elementor Pro also has custom font options for hosting them locally. Especially if you’re using an external font like Google Fonts or Font Awesome, make sure you are minimal with the number of fonts/weights.

Google-Fonts-GTmetrix

OMGF will automatically create the stylesheet for you:

OMGF-Generate-Stylesheet

 

9. Optimize Third Party Scripts

Third Party Scripts are anything “embedded” on your website from an external website.

This is anything from embedded videos to Google Fonts, Analytics, AdSense, Tag Manager, Maps, or even social sharing buttons on your blog. You can usually find these in the “reduce DNS lookups” section of your GTmetrix report. These all generate extra requests from outside websites and will slow down yours. While some can be optimized, others cannot.

  • Embedded Videos – Lazy load videos and replace the YouTube iframe with a preview images (in WP Rocket) or use the WP YouTube Lyte plugin by the Autoptimize team.
  • Embedded Social Media Posts – try taking a picture of the post and using that instead.
  • Google Analytics – try hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally. This should fix the “leverage browser caching” issue for Google Analytics in your GTmetrix report, but don’t worry if you can’t fix this since it shouldn’t even impact your actual load times.
  • Google AdSense – a GTmetrix killer, I highly recommend just doing affiliate marketing.
  • Google Maps – only use a Google Map on the contact or pages optimized for local SEO.
  • Google Tag Manager – usually only benefits load times for large, unoptimized websites.

WordPress External Scripts

 

10. Remove Bloat From WordPress

By default, WordPress consumes resources with autosaves, post revisions, pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat API, jQuery migrate, and many other things you probably don’t need.

I use the Perfmatters plugin by Kinsta to disable these (I was using WP Disable but it has bad reviews and can cause errors on your site). Perfmatters is the only plugin that not only lets you disable the crap, but also has a script manager for selectively disabling plugins (the previous step) as well as hosting Google Analytics locally. It’s what I personally use on my own website.

perfmatters-settings

 

11. Retest Your GTmetrix Scores

Rerun your site through GTmetrix and you should see a significant improvement in scores/load time. If not, this probably means you’re on Bluehost’s cheapest $6.99/month plan and you’re getting what you pay for. Any serious website should not be on such a cheap plan especially if it’s a business website and you rely on it to make a living. Let me know your new page load time in the comments! Or send me your GTmetrix + Pingdom report and I’ll send a few suggestions.

Other Optimizations:

  • Use A Lightweight theme and use fast page builder (Oxygen)
  • For WooCommerce, optimize scripts, styles, and cart fragments in Perfmatters
  • Minimize redirects by using the correct HTTP(S) and WWW version of your site

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

12. Consider Moving To Cloudways

Switching from Bluehost to DigitalOcean on Cloudways is night and day.

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.

I moved from SiteGround to DigitalOcean on Cloudways and the results speak for themselves. I’m also paying 1/2 of what I was. Cloudways also does free migrations which made it very easy.

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways

#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.

I would personally skip shared hosting since cloud hosting is exponentially faster. This is especially true if you’re on GoDaddy or EIG brands (eg. Bluehost and HostGator) and for resource-intensive websites running WooCommerce, WPML, page builders, or slow plugins.

There are plenty of migration results if you check Twitter and Facebook Groups. Avoid the bloggers promoting Bluehost and WP Engine because they have the highest commissions and do your research. Hosting is the #1 factor in WordPress’ optimization guide – very important!

Cloudways Response Times

Godaddy to DigitalOcean Migration

VPS Cloud Hosting WooCommerce Poll

Hosting Recommendations Facebook

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

2018 Hosting Recommendations

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

Untitled

Vultr Migration

WordPress Hosting Suggestions

VPS Cloud Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

Cloudways Facebook Review

 

14. Frequently Asked Questions

🔵 Is Bluehost the problem?

If you have a high server response time in Google PageSpeed Insights, Bluehost may be the problem. Bluehost is owned by EIG who is infamous for overcrowding their servers.

🔵 What can I do to improve speed on Bluehost?

Upgrade to PHP 7.3 in your Bluehost cPanel, activate Cloudflare's CDN, use a good cache plugin like WP Rocket, configure it with optimal settings, and optimize images and plugins.

🔵 Will upgrading plans improve load times?

Yes, but you should optimize your website first and consider alternative hosts. Bluehost's Optimized WordPress Hosting or VPS plans aren't nearly as fast as semi-dedicated or cloud hosting from other providers. Join some Facebook Groups and do your research.

🔵 Which WordPress speed plugins should I use?

WP Rocket, TinyPNG, and Perfmatters are 3 key WordPress speed plugins. If you're not using WP Rocket, you will need to install additional plugins to take care of Heartbeat Control, database cleanup, lazy loading, and hosting Google Fonts and Analytics locally.

🔵 Which speed testing tools should I use?

GTmetrix has the most robust recommendations and is great for finding slow plugins and unoptimized images. Google PageSpeed Insights is primarily good for measuring server response times. Otherwise, follow the speed recommendations provided by GTmetrix.

🔵 Which plugins are slowing down my site?

Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics) plugins, sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact form, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. Your slowest loading plugins can be found using Query Monitor or in your GTmetrix Waterfall report.

🔵 How can I optimize external scripts?

Some external scripts like Google Fonts and Analytics can be optimized by hosting them locally using the CAOS plugins. Disques also has a conditional load plugin, and YouTube videos can be lazy loaded. You can also try the Async JavaScript when loading JavaScript.

Other external scripts like Google AdSense, Facebook widgets, and high CPU plugins are nearly impossible to optimize and best to avoid all together.

Did this tutorial work?
Let me know in the comments and feel free to share your new load time! If you still have a slow WordPress site on Bluehost let me know about that too… I will gladly look into your GTmetrix + Pingdom report and send you a few suggestions (just please do what you can from this guide).

See Also: Cloudways Review

Cheers,
Tom

How To Fix HostGator’s Slow WordPress Hosting (Using PHP 7.3, CDNs, Cache Plugins, And A Variety Of Speed Optimization Plugins)

Have a slow WordPress site on HostGator?

If your WordPress site is slow on HostGator, you can speed it up by upgrading to PHP 7.3, configuring a cache plugin, using Cloudflare, and optimizing your images, database, and plugins.

To check if HostGator is the problem, run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. If yes, that means your HostGator server is slow. This wouldn’t be surprising considering how many people complain about HostGator’s servers.

HostGator is known for being cheap and were rated poorly in Facebook polls behind SiteGround and Cloudways who were consistently #1 (here’s just one person who migrated from HostGator and saw a 10s load time improvement). After all, HostGator is owned by EIG. Optimizing your site helps, but if your server response times are still slow, you know the issue.

A warning about HostGator: HostGator is one of the slowest hosts. I set up an identical Astra website on hstgtrserver.com and cwdoserver.com. One is hosted on HostGator’s Optimizes WordPress Hosting, one is hosted on Cloudways DigitalOcean who was rated the #1 host in Facebook polls, conversations, and migration results. Visit the websites and click through their pages – you will see the difference in speed.

Benchmark your scores + load times in GTmetrix and post them in the comments! And if you need help, leave your GTmetrix report in the comments and I’ll provide you with suggestions.

How To Fix A Slow Website On HostGator

  1. Check For Slow Server Response Times
  2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3 In HostGator
  3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin
  4. Setup Cloudflare’s CDN
  5. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins
  6. Optimize Images
  7. Disable Unnecessary WordPress Features
  8. Clean Your Database
  9. Minimize Redirects
  10. Avoid External HTTP Requests
  11. Find Bottlenecks In GTmetrix
  12. Consider Moving To Cloudways

My goal is to make your GTmetrix report look more like this:

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

This video should help (timestamps are in the video description):

 

1. Check For Slow Server Response Times

Run your WordPress site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time shows in the report (Google recommends 200ms). Servers are controlled by your hosting.

Reduce-Server-Response-Times

Another indicator is if your time to first byte (TTFB) is slow in the GTmetrix Timings tab. Good GTmetrix scores but slow server response times and TTFB indicates your hosting as the issue.

TTFB

Bottom line – you may be able to reduce this with these tips, but if not, you will either need to upgrade plans to include more server resources, or consider better hosting with faster servers.

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.3

Most WordPress users are running outdated PHP versions when upgrading can make your site 2-3x faster. HostGator will not upgrade you automatically (because they don’t want to risk breaking your site) so you need to do this yourself as HostGator releases new PHP versions.

HostGator’s Optimized WordPress Hosting does not have cPanel, so you cannot upgrade PHP versions yourself. You will need to contact support to have them do it.

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

Step 1: In your HostGator cPanel, go to Software → MultiPHP Manager.

Step 2: Upgrade to PHP 7.3.

Step 3: Check your website for errors. If you see any, you can always downgrade to the PHP version you were using previously. Errors are likely caused by themes/plugins that are not updated frequently by the developer, so make sure you’re using reliable plugins and themes.

Step 4: Keep your PHP updated to the latest version. HostGator does an OK job in releasing new versions, however other hosting companies already have a stable version of PHP 7.4.

Supported-PHP-Versions

 

3. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache are usually rated highest in Facebook polls.

Many features are built-in to WP Rocket (database cleanup, heartbeat control, lazy load, etc) while WP Fastest Cache and other cache plugins don’t come with these features. In other words, WP Rocket lets you use 1 plugin for everything instead of having to install multiple plugins. That’s also why WP Rocket usually gives you better scores and load times in GTmetrix.

The following features are built-in WP Rocket. But if you’re using another cache plugin that doesn’t come with a specific feature, you’ll need to install these plugins:

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 (406ms)
Pingdom Page Speed Test

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

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

Here are tutorials for configuring the ideal WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache Settings. I also have configuration tutorials for W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and Autoptimize settings.

A glimpse of the WP Rocket settings (file optimization tab is the most important):

WP-Rocket-File-Optimization-Settings

HostGator does have an option to enable cache in the cPanel which you should leave disabled if you’re using a cache plugin. Cache plugins take care of many other optimizations other than caching (eg. minifying HTML, CSS, JS) and you will get much better results with a cache plugin.

HostGator Cache

 

4. Setup Cloudflare’s CDN

Cloudflare’s CDN hosts your website on 200+ centers and reduces the distance between your server and visitors. It also helps offload resources which can reduce your server response time.

1. Sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, add your website, and run the scan.

Add Site To Cloudflare

2. You will eventually come to a page where Cloudflare assigns you 2 nameservers.

3. HostGator says you will need to contact them to setup private nameservers.

Unfortunately you need private nameservers on HostGator to do this which is only available on their reseller account, VPS, and dedicated server. I have no idea why they do this. WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache have settings for Cloudflare – you can try setting it up through one of these (let me know if this works in the comments please!)

HostGator Private Nameservers

4. Once they do, find them and enter the nameservers provided by Cloudflare.

HostGator Nameservers

5. Go to your Cloudflare speed settings and use these:

Cloudflare-Speed-Tab

6. Go to Cloudflare’s caching settings and Purge Everything.

Cloudflare Purge

All done! It can take 24 hour for Cloudflare nameservers to propagate so be patient :)

5. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins

Thank you Ivica from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group for contributing to this list.

  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

Be sure to deactivate/delete all plugins you’re not currently using. If you only use a plugin at certain times, deactivate/delete it – then reinstall the plugin when needed.

Disable Plugins On Specific Pages/PostsPerfmatters and Asset CleanUp let you selectively disable plugins on specific pages/posts. For example, if you’re only using your contact form on the contact page, disable it everywhere else. Or if you only use social sharing buttons on the blog, disable it on all your pages. Going through your scripts/plugins, viewing their size, and disabling plugins where they’re not being used can significantly improve scores and load times.

perfmatters-script-manager

 

6. Optimize Images

There are 5 primary ways to make images load faster:

  • Serve scaled images: resizing large images to be smaller.
  • Losslessly compress images: compress images using a plugin.
  • Lazy load images: delays loading images until you scroll down the page.
  • Specify image dimensions: add a width/height to the image’s HTML or CSS.
  • Serve images in next-gen formats: convert images (eg. to WebP) format using a plugin.

Serve Scaled Images
Serve scaled images are found in GTmetrix where they tell you which images are too large and the dimensions they should be resized to. GTmetrix only shows unoptimized images for a single page. Resize them, reupload them, and replace the old images with the new ones. It’s best to resize images BEFORE uploading them, and to create an “image dimension cheat sheet” listing the dimensions of all your different image sections (logo, sliders, widgets, full width blog images, etc). Start by fixing images that appear on multiple pages (logo, sidebar, and footer images) then run your most important pages through GTmetrix and optimize individual images.

Serve Scaled Images

Losslessly Compress Images
This is the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix. I personally use ShortPixel but Imagify is also good. Install an image optimization plugin, set your compression level, and test a few images to make sure you are happy with their quality. Most plugins are free until you reach their limit.

ShortPixel-Image-Compression-Levels

Lazy Load Images
Lazy load delays the loading of photos, videos, and iframes so they only load once you scroll down the page and see them. Videos are heavy so I suggest at least doing that – I don’t lazy load photos since it can be annoying to load photos as you scroll down. WP Rocket has an option for this in the Media tab, otherwise you can use a plugin like A3 Lazy Load and WP YouTube Lyte.

WP-Rocket-Lazy-Load

Specify Image Dimensions
Specify image dimensions means you need to locate the image, view it’s HTML, and add a width and height in the HTML (which is provided by GTmetrix). Since the WordPress visual editor and most page builders do this automatically, it only usually happens in hand-coded HTML or CSS.

Specify-Image-Dimensions-WordPress

Serve Images In Next-Gen Formats
Found in PageSpeed Insights, WebP and SVG formats can have better quality and compression than JPEG and PNG. Depending on which format you choose, most image optimization plugins have an option to convert your images to WebP format or for SVG, use the SVG Support plugin.

 

7. Disable Unnecessary WordPress Features

The Perfmatters plugin lets you disable pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat, and limit autosave intervals and post revisions. It also lets you host Google Analytics locally and selectively disable plugins from specific pages/posts. The only other plugin I know that does this is WP Disable, Clearfy, and Asset CleanUp, but I have tested them and personally use Perfmatters on my site.

perfmatters-settings

 

8. Clean Your Database

You can do this in WP Rocket’s database tab (below), otherwise use the WP Optimize plugin. Backup your website if this is your first time doing it and schedule this for weekly or monthly.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

One thing I like about WP-Optimize is that it lets you delete old tables left behind by plugins you deleted (shown as “not installed”). If you don’t plan on using the plugin again, delete these.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

9. Minimize Redirects

Usually means you changed the WWW or HTTP(S) version of your site, but your links/images are still using the old version. You need to correct ALL these which can be done in bulk using the Better Search Replace plugin. GTmetrix will only show you errors for that page, so test a few pages out in GTmetrix to make sure you took care of all redirects throughout your website.

minimize redirects

Better-Search-Replace-WWW-Versions

 

10. Avoid External HTTP Requests

Third party scripts can be found in the reduce DNS lookups section of GTmetrix. These are anything that creates HTTP requests from outside websites (Google Fonts, Analytics, Maps, AdSense, embedded YouTube videos, and even social sharing buttons or social media widgets).

Some scripts are easy to optimize:

  • Optimize fonts with the OMGF plugin
  • Host Google Analytics tracking code locally
  • Disable and optimize Gravatars on blog comments
  • Generally, only use a Google Map on the contact page
  • Replace YouTube iframe with preview image (in WP Rocket)

Other scripts like Google AdSense and Google Tag Manager are much more difficult and can absolutely ruin your GTmetrix report, which is why I recommend affiliate marketing instead.

WordPress External Scripts

Preconnect + Prefetch
If you absolutely must use an external resource throughout your site, you should preconnect/prefetch it. This basically lets the browser anticipate external resources to make it load faster. WP Rocket, Perfmatters, and other plugins have options for this, otherwise you can also use the Pre* Party Resources Hints plugin. If using StackPath, you should also add your CDN URL here. Luke (from Bluehost) created a list of common domains to prefetch on GitHub.

 

12. Find Bottlenecks In GTmetrix

Slow plugins, images, scripts, and individual elements can all be found in your GTmetrix Waterfall tab. Learn which elements take longest to load and focus on those optimizations. Good hosting and correctly configuring a solid cache plugin should fix most errors in GTmetrix.

1s-2020-GTmetrix-Report

Other Optimizations To Consider

  • Use a lightweight WordPress theme
  • Avoid page builders (or if you do use one, use Oxygen)
  • Optimize WooCommerce scripts, styles, cart fragments in Perfmatters

 

13. Consider Moving To Cloudways

Switching from HostGator to DigitalOcean on Cloudways is night and day.

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.

I moved from SiteGround to DigitalOcean on Cloudways and the results speak for themselves. I’m also paying 1/2 of what I was. Cloudways also does free migrations which made it very easy.

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways

#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.

I would personally skip shared hosting since cloud hosting is exponentially faster. This is especially true if you’re on GoDaddy or EIG brands (eg. Bluehost and HostGator) and for resource-intensive websites running WooCommerce, WPML, page builders, or slow plugins.

There are plenty of migration results if you check Twitter and Facebook Groups. Avoid the bloggers promoting Bluehost and WP Engine because they have the highest commissions and do your research. Hosting is the #1 factor in WordPress’ optimization guide – very important!

Cloudways Response Times

Godaddy to DigitalOcean Migration

VPS Cloud Hosting WooCommerce Poll

Hosting Recommendations Facebook

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

2018 Hosting Recommendations

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

Untitled

Vultr Migration

WordPress Hosting Suggestions

VPS Cloud Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

Cloudways Facebook Review

 

Hire My WordPress Speed Optimizer

Still need help with your GTmetrix report?

I’ve been working with Pronaya for 7 years (he’s the one who optimized my GTmetrix report). You can hire him by signing up for 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 HostGator’s slow WordPress hosting, a bloated theme, and tons of heavy plugins. Please follow this guide first.

Pronaya-Kumar-S-Reviews

Review of Pronaya on his profile:

BDkamol-WordPress-Speed-Reviews

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 How can I speed up my site on HostGator?

Upgrade to the highest possible PHP version inside your HostGator account, configure a good cache plugin like WP Rocket, optimize images with ShortPixel, setup Cloudflare's CDN, and avoid common slow plugins. This will be a great start to make your site faster.

🚀 How do you upgrade PHP versions?

Login to your HostGator account and find the PHP Selector. Upgrade to the highest version. Test your website for errors. It's a good idea to take a backup beforehand.

🚀 Which cache plugin will yields the best results?

WP Rocket is usually rated the best cache plugin in Facebook polls and will typically yield the best results since it has more speed optimization features than other cache plugins.

🚀 Which plugins cause slow load times?

The most common slow plugins include social sharing, statistics (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, and live chat plugins. WooCommerce sites are usually slower because they require extra scripts, styles, cart fragments, and usually more plugins as well. See my list of 65+ slow plugins to avoid.

🚀 How do you setup a CDN?

Sign up for a free Cloudflare account, copy the 2 nameservers provided by Cloudflare, and change nameservers to Cloudflare's in your domain registrar.

See Also: How I Optimized My WordPress Site To Load In <1s

I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Retest your site in GTmetrix and if your WordPress hosting is still slow on HostGator leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to help. I tried to include everything here but I know it can get technical, so drop me a line if need be. Or if you were able to make your site faster, I would love to hear about your new scores and page load times.

Cheers,
Tom