10 simple and quick ways to speed up your WordPress site for free

When browsing the Internet, you probably don’t overthink website speed. If your Internet connection is good enough, you probably have only two conclusions about each and every site regarding the speed – the site is or isn’t fast enough. And that’s how most of the Internet users will see your WordPress site. Even if it’s attractive to a specific visitor, if the site isn’t loading fast enough, you will lose that visitor. That’s for sure. And that’s why you have to do anything in your power to make your WordPress site as fast as possible.

While there are numerous ways of speeding up a site, some will require technical knowledge, some will require a total dedication from you while some will be simply too expensive.

As always, WordPress can help you with the problem. Not only WordPress is constantly improving, but so are plugins, themes and hosting companies. In this article, we are about to show you ten simple and quick ways to speed up your WordPress website. There are many factors which impact the site speed and depending on your site, you can improve the speed in the next few minutes.

1. Use a caching plugin

By installing and setting up a caching plugin, you can instantly feel the change in the speed of your site. All websites will have parts that aren’t changing that frequently. Whether it’s an image, a CSS or JS file, a caching plugin can deal with those files so that they don’t have to be downloaded from the server every time a user opens your site. This will mostly help returning visitors who will already have those files stored.

There are numerous WordPress caching plugins, but only a few popular ones. The good news is that those plugins are coded well, they will speed up your site instantly and they are completely free! The most popular plugin for the job is W3 Total Cache which has more than 1 million active users. That’s impressive! There are other plugins which can do the same, like WP Fastest Cache plugin which we already mentioned in one of our earlier articles.

2. Optimize images

Whether it’s only one image on your homepage or there’s an entire gallery of photographs you want to show, unoptimized images can slow your website drastically. Let’s say that you’re using a camera which can shoot high-resolution photos. Those photos will probably be more than 2MB, and they can surpass 4MB limit easily. Even images from modern smartphones will generate large files. If you don’t think about that and you simply upload a picture, imagine the load on your site.

Just by adding that one image which is 2MB or 4MB “heavy”, your users will have to download that image once they open your site. While users coming from a broadband connection won’t feel much of a difference, those users with slower Internet speeds will suffer. Not only that; even Google will frown upon slower loading times so your page rank might suffer in the long run.

That shouldn’t be a problem since you can optimize images so easily. First of all, if you’re not showcasing your latest work and you don’t need to display images in full resolution, start by lowering the resolution. For example, if your theme shows a maximum of 800px width, your image shouldn’t be wider than that. You can simply change the size or maybe even crop an image. There are also many tools and apps which can help you optimize pictures. Whether you want to use a professional software like Photoshop which can do miracles to your images and optimize them specifically for the web, or you want to use a simple online tool, you should optimize your images.

There are also many WordPress plugins like WP Smush – Image Optimization which can automatically optimize images for you.

3. Optimize the homepage

Your homepage is an important page. Even if a person doesn’t land on the homepage, they will likely want to visit it from your other posts and pages. And that’s why the homepage has to be optimized correctly. As mentioned before, take care of the images on your website and make sure they’re optimized. Use smaller excerpts for your posts instead of showing larger ones. Don’t show images from posts; instead, leave a “read more” link before the first image in a post. Don’t use too many sidebar and footer widgets which can slow your site.

4. Load Google Maps correctly

Google Maps Widget
If you’re using Google Maps to show a location, make sure that the interactive map doesn’t slow you down. A simple map on your website can take up to 2MB which will force your visitors into downloading additional data even if they’re not interested in the map. We already covered this topic and showed you how to load Google Maps faster.

But if you’re using WordPress, this task can become even easier. Yes, we’re talking about Google Maps Widget plugin which can render a thumbnail image from your map. By doing so, you will add only several Kilobytes of data to your site instead of a Megabyte or two. This will have a huge impact on the speed of your website, while your visitors who are interested in the map can still have the full Google Maps experience.

5. Clean and optimize databases

WordPress uses databases to store practically everything needed for it to run smoothly. During some time, these databases will start to build up, and they will slowly start to slow down your site. By cleaning and optimizing databases, you can speed up your WordPress site. Fortunately, you don’t have to manually open each and every database and wander through thousands of lines stored there, but you can relax and leave the job to another WordPress plugin. In this case, we suggest WP-Optimize plugin which is free and can run without the need for PhpMyAdmin.

6. Remove unnecessary characters from source code (minify it)

Source code can contain thousands of lines. By adding additional themes, plugins and custom functions, the number grows rapidly, and it affects the speed of your site. While the code is usually useful, there are many unnecessary characters to be found in the source code which can only slow you down. Whether it’s a group of white space characters, new line characters, comments or block delimiters, you can safely remove them in order to speed up your WordPress site.

No, you won’t have to browse through the source code to delete those characters manually; there is a WordPress plugin which can do the job for you. If you have installed W3 Total Cache to deal with the caching problem, you already have a plugin which can be used for minification. Another popular plugin which can minify the code on your WP website is Autoptimize.

7. Choose a fast WordPress theme

Before you even start working on your site, you should be careful when choosing a WordPress theme. At first, it might seem that a specific theme will attract more visitors simply because of its layout and gorgeous images it uses. But try to think ahead; instead of simply picking the most beautiful theme you find, test several themes in different browsers, from different devices.

It will surprise you what difference can a theme mean for the entire site speed. Not only a huge number of images can choke up the theme, but there are so many hidden things in the code which can mean a great difference. Although it isn’t always the case, premium themes should be coded better and should perform better. Even if you decide to spend money on a premium theme, make sure you check out these 12 things.

8. Don’t install unnecessary plugins

When you start working on your site, it might be tempting to install new plugins. While there are plugins which you will have to have installed and running, be careful not to overload your site. For starters, active plugins will definitely make an impact on the speed of your site. On the other hand, even inactive plugins will take up your precious space which will affect the size of your backup files. When you add up everything, both active and inactive plugins can hurt the speed of your site so think twice before installing a plugin you don’t actually need.

9. Split larger posts

If you tend to write really long posts where you also have many videos and images attached, you should consider splitting them into multiple pages. This can be done very quickly since you don’t even have to use a plugin for that – WordPress got you covered, but maybe you don’t even know about it. See how to split large posts into multiple pages.

10. Limit the number of posts revisions

Post revisions are a useful thing. But the fact is that the most users don’t use them at all or that they don’t need more than a few revisions per post. Revisions are stored in a database and if you have a huge number of posts, imagine how many additional revisions will be there. This will definitely slow down your WordPress site so make sure that you limit the number of revisions or even completely remove them if not needed.

If you make changes only to several things on your site, you might benefit from them. Steps we have described in this article are completely free, so it won’t hurt to try them out. Still, don’t forget to take care of your site; update WordPress, themes, and plugin on a regular basis.

Sometimes, even an optimized site won’t run fast. In that case, you will have to look for another hosting company or consider paying extra bucks for a managed or a dedicated server.

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One thought on “10 simple and quick ways to speed up your WordPress site for free

  1. Hi Ivan,
    Good list here. I like the split post part. Especially important nowadays with all the detailed posts. I’m not too happy with Google Maps on the webpage. It really slows things down. I also recommend not using a plugin for the limit of post revisions. It’s better to put an extra line of code in your wp-config.php.
    A month ago an article about “How to make WordPress load faster.” It’s a complete guide. Hope you have any extra ideas on that…..?

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