Did you know that around 25% of users will leave a webpage if it takes more than 4 seconds to load? It may seem harsh, but that’s the reality. If you can reduce your website’s loading time to 2.9 seconds, you’ll be faster than half of all existing websites. That’s quite an achievement! Even small speed improvements can have significant benefits for your business. And with WordPress powering a quarter of the internet, it’s no surprise that many site owners are looking for ways to speed up their WordPress sites.

That’s why we, as Fast Panda professionals, are here to walk you through 9 simple steps to accelerate your WordPress site. You don’t need to be a programming expert to follow along. You just need to implement these steps to keep visitors on your site longer and improve your SEO score. Stay tuned till the end for a bonus tip that you won’t want to miss.

Step 1: Test Your WordPress Speed

Where does your site stand in terms of speed? Testing is crucial before doing any speed optimization. If your site is already zipping along at optimal speed, you can skip the rest of this guide. But if not, then you might ask how you test your site’s speed.

There are several handy tools available for this task. One option is GTmetrix, which provides a detailed guide on how to test your website. It combines insights from Google Page Speed Insights and YSlow to offer valuable tips for speed improvement. But wait, there’s more! If you want to compare your site with others, Pingdom is the tool you’ll need.

Step 2: Clear Out Unnecessary Themes and Plugins

It’s common to enhance your site with new features using plugins and themes in WordPress. However, as you add new plugins, they often replace older ones, leaving unused ones behind. Having too many outdated plugins can seriously slow down your WordPress site. So, what’s the first thing you should do to optimize it? Remove or disable those unnecessary plugins. Keeping your site streamlined will help it run more smoothly and efficiently!

Step 3: Minify CSS, HTML, and JavaScript

One effective technique is minification. But what exactly is minification? It’s the process of reducing the size of files, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by eliminating unnecessary characters like spaces and comments. By doing so, you maintain the same functionality but with fewer characters cluttering up the code.

Now, how can you implement minification on your website? Well, there are plugins available that facilitate this process for you. Two popular options are Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache.

Minification

Step 4: Enable gzip Compression

Why do some websites load faster than others? One key factor is the size of the files being transferred. When someone visits your site, various resources are fetched from the server. But the larger these resources are, the more time it takes for the page to load. So, what’s the solution? Compression. Besides making files smaller, there’s another trick up our sleeves: Gzip compression. Essentially, it’s a method to further reduce the size of files, specifically designed to accelerate WordPress sites.

How do you know if Gzip compression is enabled on your site? There’s a handy tool called checkgzipcompression.com. Just pop in your site’s URL, and it’ll tell you whether Gzip compression is up and running.

If it is not enabled, the fix is easy! You just need to edit your .htaccess file with the codes in the table below. Simply add a snippet of code, and voila, you’ve got Gzip compression working its magic on your site.

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf

 AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype

# For Older Browsers Which Can’t Handle Compression

 BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html

 BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip

 BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

</IfModule>

Step 5: Optimize Images

High-resolution images can use a lot of traffic if you don’t manage their size. There are several ways to optimize images on your website. One effective method is using WordPress plugins like Smush Image Compression and Optimization. These plugins help you achieve faster speeds without compromising image quality.

Step 6: Divide Long Content into Several Pages

Have you come across the term “pagination”? Pagination refers to dividing large content into smaller pieces, which then users access through separate pages. This technique is often used to handle thousands of comments efficiently.

How can you enable comments pagination in WordPress? Simply go to Settings, then Discussions. Here, you can set the maximum number of comments per page. Be sure to choose a balanced number, so users aren’t constantly clicking to the next page.

Step 7: Upgrade PHP Version

Upgrading your PHP version is one of the most effective ways to speed up WordPress. Switching from PHP 5 to PHP 7 might seem daunting, but the benefits make it worth it. With PHP 7, WordPress performance doubles compared to PHP 5. PHP 7 can process 112% more requests per second. Additionally, WordPress benefits from PHP 7’s memory optimization, offering a 30-50% performance boost.

However, it’s important to note that PHP 7 is not backward compatible. It means you won’t be able to use certain plugins and themes, even those that work perfectly on PHP 5. To find out, use the PHP Compatibility Checker for WordPress. This tool will help you ensure everything on your site runs smoothly with PHP 7.

PHP Version Upgrade

Step 8: Use a Caching Plugin

Caching is a well-known solution for reducing the load on your web server. It works by storing frequently used information on the client’s system, such as in their browser or memory. This way, the browser doesn’t have to fetch the same data repeatedly from the server. Then, your site’s performance improves significantly. Caching is one of the top techniques to speed up WordPress. There are several caching plugins available for WordPress. Two popular options are WP-Rocket and W3 Total Cache.

Step 9: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Do you know where your website is physically located? Since the internet is incredibly fast, we often forget that websites are hosted on servers that could be very far from us. Sometimes, this distance can impact server response time. How do most sites handle this issue? They use a Content Delivery Network.

When you enable a CDN on your website, the client’s browser no longer retrieves every page from your main web server. Instead, some static pages are stored in data centers closer to the visitor’s location. This reduces the number of requests your web server has to handle, effectively speeding up your WordPress site.

There are many CDN options to choose from. Two of the most popular are Cloudflare and MaxCDN.

Conclusion

In this article, we covered simple but effective tweaks and plugins to speed up WordPress. By following these steps, you can achieve significant improvements in your website’s performance. If you are interested to discover the top seven SEO plugins for WordPress and learn how to install them for optimized performance, click here