WordPress Blog Speed Hacks: 6 Plugins For A Faster Blog 🚀
Slow loading sites are a pain! Your users don’t like it and Google doesn’t either. If you want to improve your WordPress blog speed, you’re in the right place.
Hang on because with the WordPress blog speed hacks I’m going to show you, your blog will be loading faster than ever! 🚀
Why This Matters
There are two reasons why your blog needs to load super fast. First and most importantly, user experience.
You will lose a lot of traffic because people just don’t want to wait longer than 2 seconds for any page to load.
Second, Google looks at the speed of your blog as a determining factor in including your blog in the search results.
In other words, slow sites won’t get Google traffic! 🐌
Why Your Blog Is Slow
Your blog could be slow for a few different reasons. Each of them will need to be addressed if you want to have a fast loading blog. Here are the most common causes of a slow WordPress blog.
Your host sucks.
If you are using a host that overloads their shared servers with too many sites, your blog is going to be slow.
To correct this, you can contact your host and ask to be placed on another server. If it still doesn’t help, you can switch to a new host like BlueHost or upgrade from “shared hosting” to a “managed host” like WP Engine.
- BlueHost (newbie-friendly)
- SiteGround (EdwinDollars.com is hosted here)
- WP Engine (ranked as the fastest webhost)
You have too many plugins.
If you have too many resource-heavy WordPress plugins, your blog speed is going to suffer. Only use plugins you actually need and only use plugins that are highly rated.
Here is my list of the best WordPress plugins for new blogs (that won’t slow down your site).
It’s your WordPress theme, yo.
Many free WordPress themes are not properly coded. For example, there may be too may PHP calls and sloppy code which slows down your site.
The solution is to get a paid WordPress theme that is optimized for speed.
When you pay for a theme, you are paying for the developers to constantly improve both the speed and the features of the theme.
For both ease of use and speed, I recommend the Divi theme by Elegant Themes.
The highest ranked WordPress plugins built for speed are the ones from StudioPress. They are not newbie-friendly and do cost a bit more than Divi – but are faster.
July 2019 update: Divi has rolled out several performance enhancements (caching optimizations) which makes Divi blogs load twice as fast as before.
You don’t compress your images.
Big images take a long time to load. Uploading uncompressed full size images and then resizing them is a big no-no.
How To Make Your Blog Faster
How did your blog do? If it sucked, I have some helpful (free) WordPress plugins designed to boost your WordPress blog speed.
The faster your images load, the faster your website will load. The answer isn’t having small bad quality images, but rather having images that are well optimized.
With the ShortPixel WordPress plugin your images will be reduced in size anywhere by 40-80% from the original while maintaining the visual quality of the image.
Cloudflare is a free Content Delivery Network (CDN). This means they have a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide faster delivery of websites.
So basically, if a user in the east coast accesses your blog (and your server is on the west coast), they can be routed to Cloudflare’s east coast server. This action shaves a few milliseconds off your load time.
They also have additional features like blocking spammers and bad bots from entering your blog.
Bottom line, use Cloudflare and your blog loads faster.
When we talk about page speed, we’re really talking about the time it takes for meaningful content to appear on the screen. The overall time it takes for the entire page to load is less important.
So to get that “above the fold” section to load faster, there’s a few optimizations that are needed.
The Speed Booster Pack WordPress plugin helps by:
- Combining multiple scripts into one file to decrease the number of calls to the server.
- Lazy loading images, so they are only loaded when the user scrolls down the page.
- Defers and moves scripts to the footer, allowing your content to load first.
- Minifies scripts, styles and HTML code to decrease their file size.
The WP Super Cache plugin has been installed in over a million WordPress blogs. It’s popular because it works.
The plugin generates static html files of your blog posts, which are PHP heavy. This lightweight html is then served to your visitors. Loading a static html page rather than a dynamic PHP page reduces calls to the server and instead spits out your content incredibly fast.
If you go back and update an old blog post, a new static html file is automatically generated so your readers will see the updated post.
This plugin claims that when fully optimized, your blog will achieve an A grade on Webpagetest.
This plugin will minify, compress and cache your files to serve them at lightning speed. If you use (and implement fully) the features of this plugin, you may not need many of the others on this list since this app does a lot of the same things.
6. WP Optimize
We’ve talked a lot about optimizing your images and files in order to improve your WordPress blog speed.
But what about the database?
Your WordPress blog calls on the database to display your posts, comments and your theme’s settings, to name a few. Is your database fully optimized?
With this plugin your database will be automatically cleaned so that it runs at maximum efficiency. Cleaning consists of removing unnecessary data such as trashed and spam comments, pingbacks and trackbacks.
This plugin also cleans up post revisions. When you edit your blog posts, revisions are created as you continue writing your post, sometimes dozens of them!
I currently have 50 revisions of this blog post as I continue to add/remove/update plugins from this list. Trimming just the revisions alone can remove thousands of entries from your database.
Bonus. SG Optimizer (SiteGround Hosting Only)
If you are hosted at SiteGround (like I am!) you need to be using the SG Optimizer plugin. Keep in mind this plugin only works if you are hosted at SiteGround.
This plugin alone replaces many of the plugins listed on this page. Here’s what you can do with the SG Optimizer plugin:
- Dynamic caching stores your content in the servers’ memory for faster access.
- Gzip compression to let the browser download your pages faster.
- Image optimization (compressing & lazy loading).
- Combine multiple CSS files into one.
WordPress Blog Speed: The Bottom Line
This is the result of this very blog post. It received a B-grade (82) with a load time of 2.31 seconds.
I achieved this with only the following:
- FocusBlog theme from Thrive Themes
- Hosting at SiteGround
- SG Optimizer plugin
- Images optimized with ShortPixel
Now could I get it down to 2.1 seconds or get to a score of 90? Probably, but it would take me a few hours of testing different options and it would not be a good use of my time.
Don’t go crazy trying to score an A grade on any website speed test!
While having a fast blog is important, there are better uses of your time than trying to shave off a few milliseconds of your load time.
Optimizing your blog for speed can be a set it and forget it type of thing. Take the time to set up your blog for maximum efficiency right now – then let the plugins do their job after that.
Which of these plugins do you use? Are there any I missed that should be included in the list? Let me know in the comments below!