Learn how to improve the speed of your WordPress blog. Website speed is absolutely crucial for a successful blog or online business. A speedy website means you will rank better in Google, receive more traffic, and give users a better experience.
However, improving the speed of your WordPress blog may seem like a daunting task. Speed measuring tools are often full of technical jargon and their recommendations are too general to be helpful. This is why I have documented how I increased the speed of Monethalia so you can follow my steps.
Table of Contents
How to improve the speed of your WordPress Blog
1. Check your current speed
Firstly, you want to find out your current speed. There are a number of websites that allow you to test your speed but since your Google speed is most important to rank in search results, you should use PageSpeed Insights.
Type in the name of your website and you will see a result like this:
Monethalia’s speed on desktop is 92 and 61 on mobile. Mobile scores are generally lower than desktop scores but both should improve if you work on them. Before I started optimising, my speed score was 69 (desktop) and 28 (mobile).
2. See where you can improve
If you scroll down a bit, you can see the areas you need to improve. Scroll down further to get more detailed recommendations on what you can do.
The problem with PageSpeed Insights is that its recommendations are not easy to understand. Even if you read through the supporting documents, it is hard to understand what you need to do. Therefore, I have listed the issues I had below and will show you how I overcame them.
3. Make a back-up
Before you start doing any improvements, you will need to make a backup. Everything I describe below worked for me but it may not work for you. In case you mess up your website, you need to have a reliable back-up. I broke Monethalia more than once in the process to increase my speed.
4. Improve your speed
Upgrade your hosting plan or hire someone
If you are willing to pay, upgrading your hosting plan may be the easiest solution to increase the speed of your WordPress blog. I did not fancy paying more so I left my plan as it was.
A cheaper alternative to upgrading your host may be to hire someone from Fiverr. Prices for this start as low as $25 so this may be a good way if you do not want to invest any time yourself.
Database clean up
Before you start looking for specific issues it might be a good time to give your database a good clean. Have a look through your media library and delete unused media files. Then look through the files in your Cpanel and get rid of everything that is not used.
Once you have had a look through your files, you can use a plugin such as wp-sweep to do a general clean for you.
Connect to a content delivery network
A content delivery network (CDN) acts as an intermediate between your website and the user. Its purpose is to deliver fast content and improve the users’ experience on a website. I am using Cloudflare as their free plan suits my needs but there are several options you can choose from.
You probably have a lot of code you do not actually need. But the difficulty is that some of this code is used on some pages of your website but completely useless on others. As a first step, you can manually go through your files and see what you can remove.
To see all running scripts, click on inspect in the context menu (right mouse click) in Chrome. Then click on coverage in the bottom menu. You may have to enlarge the bottom window. In the fourth column you can see what percentage of a script is unused.
If you click on a script, the top window will show you which part of a script is not used. However, you need to be careful as the script could be used on another page of your website. To selectively deactivate scripts, you can use Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster.
Optimise your images
Firstly, you want to ensure your images are correctly sized. This means they should not be bigger than how they are displayed on your blog. The best way to do this is to go through your posts manually. It may take a while but it is better than loading your blog with plugins which may interfere with imagine optimising plugins that are necessary.
While you are at it, you can also ensure that your images are saved as .jpeg rather than .png to save space and increase your speed.
Serve images in next-gen formats
Older formats such as .jpeg and .png are outdated. Their file size is too big for limited quality. Next-gen formats offer better quality with smaller file size but are not yet supported by WordPress and certain browsers.
If you want to pass the Google speed audit and make your website faster, you need to make it possible for users with next-gen formats supporting browsers to view images in these formats. This is not as difficult as some of the guides you may find make it seem.
There are many solutions but the easiest way that does not require you to pay any money is WebP Express. All you need to do is set the operation mode to varied image responses and then save settings and force new .htaccess rules.
Please note that this will not work for pages with a lot of images. If your website is image heavy, you may need a paid plugin such as Smush Pro.
Ensure text remains visible during webfont load
This issue is comparatively easy to fix. just have a look through your CSS files for imported fonts. Mine looked like this:
wp_enqueue_style( 'google-font', '//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat:100,300,300i,400,400i,500,500i', array() );
Then you can add &display=swap straight after the font name but before the ‘. If this does not work, you can add a free plugin to solve the issue.
I am not the person to ask for when it comes to technical details but Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) makes your website faster on mobiles. You can activate AMP with a free plugin such as WordPress AMP.
These are other plugins that I use to increase site speed:
- WP fasted cache
How to improve the speed of your WordPress Blog summary
Speed is crucial when it comes to building a successful website. You will get more traffic from Google and have happier users who are more likely to return to your blog.
If you have followed the steps I took you will hopefully see an improvement in your speed. There are many more ways to a faster website so this list is not exclusive. Please let me know if you have found ways that work for you and are not listed here.
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