Aug 30, 2022

Optimizing WordPress speed! The ultimate guide 2022!

Making WordPress website fly? The ultimate guide to brand new techniques and configurations to create the fastest website ever.

Optimizing WordPress speed! The ultimate guide 2022!

WordPress speed optimization. The ultimate guide!

Is your WordPress website slow or not fast enough? Would you like to improve it enormously in terms of speed and make sure your TTFB is lower than that of your competitors? Then this guide is the ideal guide to take your website to the highest gear in terms of speed!

Table of Contents:

Why is your website speed important?

In recent years, our lives have increased dramatically in terms of load, speed and stress. We all want to get as many things done in as little time as possible!

Studies have also shown that the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds decades ago to an average of 5 seconds.

This means that a visitor to your website loses his attention after only 5 seconds of waiting for your website. So if your website loads slower than 5 seconds, chances are very high that the visitor will not even wait for the loading time and will leave your website before it has loaded.

Studies from the big tech industry even show that with a delay of 1 second in loading your website, conversions will drop by at least 7%, there will be 11% fewer page views and on top of that at least 16% less customer satisfaction. A serious matter to keep your website speed as high as possible!

In recent years it has become very important to have a high speed in SEO. Search engines like Google have already punished slow websites and place them lower in search results than their faster competitors. Their thinking is that when someone searches for information, they want to offer the best possible results on that search.

So that means that a website that loads slower and generates irritation, annoyance or an abandoning visitor is not part of a good result for the search query that was entered.

Check the speed of your website

To do a good baseline measurement first, it is important to do a good and reliable speed measurement of your website before you optimize anything.

This way you know how fast your website is loading, where the big pain points are regarding the speed and therefore where the opportunities lie to optimize.

It might be that you feel your website is already fast and therefore you think everything is fine, but beware! This is a common mistake, because browsers cache your website (store it in very fast local memory) they make sure that if you visit it more often it loads very fast. If you load it from a new location on a new device, you will see that it is still considerably slower. Therefore, always do an independent speed measurement of your website.

Independent speed measurement

To do an independent website speed measurement, use the tool GTMetrix .

This tool will crawl your website and check the speed at all points. Using a waterfall methodology, you can easily see which elements are loading slowly and it even gives you tips on what you can improve to get a higher score. More about that later!

A good website should be fully loaded in less than 2 seconds. Of course, the faster the better! If your competitor loads his website in say 0.5 seconds and you load in 2 seconds, then in any case your competitor will always have an advantage with both the visitor, as in the search engines like Google, BING and other search engines.

What makes your website slow?

Now that you’ve done the website speed test, you’re going to check what makes your website slow and what you can do to make it faster.

Either way, the GTMetrix report will all give you insights and tips on what you can do to improve it and what is really necessary. I’ll outline below what it’s best to look for:

TTFB - Time to first byte

This is the time it takes for the server to render and present the first byte to your internet browser. So when you open a website, the web server will execute and render the scripts and once it’s done, your browser will be presented with this and it will start to download the website and display it on your screen.

The lower the TTFB, the faster the website will appear on your screen and the lower the total loading time of your website will be.

The TTFB can be lowered in many ways, but the most important thing is to make sure you have the fastest server possible or an extremely fast webhosting package to host your website on.

Page size of your website

If your website has very large or heavy content such as large images or lots of pictures, folders or other things, it will obviously take longer to download your website to your browser.

The website is considerably larger than a smaller or optimized website and therefore it is logical that because more needs to be downloaded, it will also take longer.

So always make sure that your images are optimized and have the correct formats and, more importantly, are stored locally on your server or web hosting package.

You can easily optimize images on your website using tools such as Jpegoptim or Optipng. There are also plugins for WordPress that make this easy for you, such as :

  • Smush.
  • EWW Image Optimizer
  • Optimus

You install these plugins and with a few clicks you can scan your entire website and have all images optimized. Afterwards, your images are fully compressed and optimized and the size of your website will be significantly lower.

Website configuration

A well-configured website can be compared to a well-oiled machine. They run smoothly, respond adequately and are extremely stable.

It is therefore of great importance that you configure your website properly and make sure it works optimally. Some things that are important to check are:

  • The PHP settings
  • The cache configuration
  • The GZIP settings in htaccess
  • Fully up2date

These settings will ensure that your website works properly and that the basis for a high speed has been laid. What the ideal settings are we will explain further in this article!

External scripts or CSS

If your website uses external scripts or CSS, then for each page view there will be a download from the external server / location.

If this external server is slow to respond or does not work at all, this will have a major effect on the speed and performance of your website.

Therefore, try to avoid external scripts or CSS as much as possible and make sure you store most of it locally to be self-sufficient and not dependent on often slow other locations.

Bad or outdated plugins

Just like with a car, a bad or outdated part can cause problems or a slower car. Therefore, always make sure that your website is built with the most recommended plugins on the internet and also make sure that these plugins are fully up2date, so that they are safe and also feature the highest speed for your website and no longer have a hindering effect.

Importance of lightning fast WordPress hosting

The TTFB ( Time to first byte ) ensures that you have more satisfied visitors and thus quickly reach a higher position in the search engines such as Google. An important fact.

The server or web hosting package on which you have stored your website, processes your entire website at each page view and then presents the first byte.

Now it’s just like with a racing car. The faster the engine of the car is the faster it can go. So in this case, the faster your server or WordPress hosting package is, the faster it can process your website and the sooner it will present that first byte.

It is therefore of the utmost importance to choose lightning fast WordPress hosting and thus have the basis of your website in good order.

Of course it is also important that your website is fully optimized and cached, which ensures that the server or web hosting package can process your web server even faster. How you can do this we will explain later in this article.

Uptime and support

When looking for lightning fast WordPress hosting it is also important to look at the uptime and support of the web hosting provider.

You want your website to be available at all times and when people are looking for it, you want them to see a working website and not an http 500 error or an http 503 error .

Support is also important. Suppose you have a question or an issue within your website that you can’t resolve, you expect to be able to ask an expert to help you resolve the issue. It is therefore also very important when searching for a web hosting provider to look at the reviews of the hosting provider and the general appearance and opening hours.

How can I make my website faster?

Now we come to the real deal. You’ve done a baseline measurement with GTMetrix and know what your TTFB is and where your website’s pain points are.

We will now optimize and make sure that your website will be considerably faster than those of your competitors, without any difficult codes and through simple steps!

Accelerating website steps

  1. Update your website, plugins and themes
  2. Install WordPress caching plugin
  3. Install Cloudflare CDN
  4. Optimize PHP settings
  5. Optimize all images of your website
  6. Clean up your website
  7. Optimize the database
  8. Use lazy loading
  9. Disable hotlinking
  10. Only show summaries or introductions

Update your website, plugins and themes

First of all, it is important to make a good foundation. Make sure your website is fully up2date and that all plugins and themes are updated to the latest version.

This way you have all security issues covered and you also ensure that everything is equipped with the latest speed patches and thus your website can work at the highest speed.

Install WordPress caching plugin

Now we come to an important step that will ensure that your website will increase enormously in terms of website speed, namely caching.

Caching is a technique that ensures that your website no longer needs to be fully rendered / processed. It makes a copy of an already processed version of the page and stores it in fast memory.

The next time you view a page, the server will not process the entire website, but load the page it has already cached. This saves a huge amount of time and ensures that your website will be considerably faster!

As a WordPress caching plugin we recommend this plugin:

  • WP Super cache

You can install this plugin in the wp-admin of your WordPress website. Once the installation is complete, the most important part is the configuration.

Configuring WP Super cache

To start the configuration after installation go to settings menu button in WordPress and click on WP Super Cache there.

Then a new page will open with all tabs. The first tab is called : “Easy”. Below I will indicate per tab what you need to set in order to have the optimal WP Supercache configuration.

WP Super Cache settings per tab

Tab Easy:

  • Set caching to on
  • Leave the rest of the page set to default

Advanced Tab:

  • Enable caching
  • Cache method set to expert
  • Enable caching for all users
  • Uncheck cached pages with GET parameters
  • Check Compress pages
  • Uncheck rebuild cache
  • Check cache HTTP headers
  • Check 304 browser caching
  • Make known users anonymous uncheck
  • Check support for mobile devices
  • Uncheck Coarse file locking
  • Now click on the Update Status button
  • Set cache timeout to 0 seconds
  • Click on Change expiration date

CDN tab:

  • Leave everything on default if you are not using a CDN.

Content tab:

  • Here you see the cache statistics. You can and do not configure anything here.

Pre-load tab:

  • Set the pre-load time for cache files to 720 minutes so that it reloads the cache every 12 hours
  • Click on Save Settings
  • Click on preload cache now so it will start caching the page immediately

The WP Super cache plugin is now optimally configured and will immediately start caching all your website pages.

You can follow this process live on the Preload page, but you can see on the Content page how many pages in total have already been cached!

Installing a Cloudflare CDN

To make sure your WordPress website loads lightning fast for everyone in the world, we’re going to make sure you install a CDN.

What is a CDN?

The abbreviation of CDN stands for : Content Delivery Network. The word says that the content of your website is delivered over the delivery network, but what is so special about it?

A CDN uses a special network, a unicast network. This network is so smart, that it ensures that a visitor is always directed to the server that has the shortest loading time.

So if you visit your website that is hosted in the Netherlands while you are in the United States, the CDN will ensure that the content that the CDN has found is loaded from the United States and not from the Netherlands. This will make your website load considerably faster because it does not have to download all the content from the Netherlands, but does so super fast from the country where you are.

Activate WordPress CDN

Now that you know what a CDN is and especially what the power of a CDN is, we are going to install a free CDN within your website.

  1. To do this, first go to the Cloudflare website where you will create an account for yourself.

  2. Then once you’ve logged in and verified your email address, go to websites and add your current website there.

  3. You then come to the plans, or CDN packages. At the bottom you choose the FREE plan, so you can use Cloudflare for free.

  4. Cloudflare will then retrieve and verify your DNS records on the next page. In most cases, you can simply proceed to the next page.

  5. The step you get now is to change the nameservers from your domain name to those of cloudflare. They will tell you exactly what to change and what new values to enter.

  6. Now that you have changed this, your domain name will start pointing to Cloudflare’s servers. Here they will cache your content and run the CDN, but also make sure your website is protected against DDoS attacks and other security issues.

The website will be automatically compressed and all SSL requests will be optimized. In short, a great improvement and it’s completely free!


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