Tips To Increase Your WordPress Page Speed

Increase WordPress Page ChartSpeed

Without the time and effort I went through

This WordPress site was slow to load for a while. Then it become downright lethargic. This  annoys Google. That’s only fair, because Google annoys me too at times, but I don’t want it’s Panda to bark at me. More importantly, I didn’t want to frustrate you while trying to read here.

With spring in the air here in Australia, I had the urge to clean. I ignored the slightly opaque windows and avoided the disaster area, otherwise known as my son’s room. I spring cleaned my blog instead: much more fun, or so I thought.

In case you’re site isn’t running at optimal speed, I’m sharing what I’ve done to speed mine up. I hope I can save you time and effort.

Run Page Speed Tests

I ran speed tests through both WebPageSpeedTest.org and Google’s Web Page Insights  and Pingdom to get a good overall picture of what was causing problems.

Results: Poor Page Speed Test Results

Even after configuring WP Supercache for best performance, the results were really poor.

Wordpress Page Speed Test Results

This showed me that some of my plugins and widgets were slowing the site far too much and the following had to go.

  • WordPress Facebook Like widget
  • The Get Response Integration Plugin, which used a shortcode.  I replaced it with the form script copied from Get Response dashboard.
  • Another shortcode plugin that created call to action buttons, which I’d used, and a lot of features that I didn’t need.
  • Gallery plugin used once or twice. I still have to find the posts I used it on!

There wasn’t enough improvement so away went some plugins that were useful including Jetpack. Page Speed test improved to 72/67 but I still showed an F for First Byte.

Because I still needed some features, I turned Jetpack back on but stripped out all but the essentials. Here is what remains active:

  • Publicize
  • Enhanced Distribution
  • Contact form
  • Mobile Theme
  • Extra Sidebar Widgets
  • Spelling and Grammar

When I change my theme, I’ll make sure an extra sidebar widgets feature is built in, and that it’s fully mobile responsive without Jetpack.

Page Speed improved but not by enough

Turning off the Jetpack features made a difference. Page Speed Score: Desktop 69, Mobile 55. WebPageTest.org still gave me an F for first byte time.

I went back to the drawing board and read this article by Elegant Themes: How to Improve Your Google Page Speed Score

I tried various combinations of speed enhancing plugins and found that Speed Booster Pack and WP Super Minify along with WP Super Cache helped.

Page Speed Score details showed me that about 12 of my images weren’t optimized along with various css and js files that weren’t compressed. Very obligingly it offers a download of optimized files.

I couldn’t do anything with external js scripts but I did upload the optimized images. (Tip – keep the Page Speed Score window open, to see which of the uploads folders the images belong in.)

I reached the dizzy heights of Desktop 71, Mobile 58. I was aiming for about 80 for desktop.

Drastic Measures Needed

It was time to say a fond farewell to Hostgator Shared Hosting. I’d been with them for over 10 years and, apart from the speed issue, have no complaints.

Lots of research later, I decided on the WordPress Hosting, Go Geek Plan, with Siteground because of the number of good reviews and an excellent price.  If I need more than 20 WP sites, I can easily move to their other cloud plan which is also reasonable.

The transfer was quick and problem free. I had lots of questions before changing over, which were all answered in support chat. I was asked to go back into chat to be taken through the sign up process and again to show me how to submit the database transfer request. That impressed me.

WordPress Site Speed Nirvana

I was a little disappointed, until I realized that I had to turn on Siteground’s free”SuperCacher” feature and delete the WP Super Cache plugin. Now I saw a real improvement with the Desktop score reaching 78 and mobile 66.

Oops

Siteground offers a free SSL certificate for the first year so I thought why not take advantage of it. Google prefers the extra security of https sites.

I’ll go into details of how I eventually managed to make this site completely secure, without warnings popping up about insecure content. It took me a while to figure it all out.

When https was working properly, I ran speed tests again. Oh dear, the had slowed right down. It seems to improve I’d have to use a pro version of CloudFlare. Because I don’t sell products on this site, I disabled SSL on all but admin pages. I wasted time but at least I know how to make WP and plugins behave with SSL.

Final WordPress Page Speed Results

Finally I turned on Siteground’s free standard CloudFlare CDN and got the results I wanted.

The mobile site was still slow and coming up with lots of errors about items too big for the viewport, and navigation text too small. I disabled Jetpack’s mobile feature and installed the Handheld* mobile theme by Elegant Themes and fixed those problems * This is an affiliate link but if you are a client of mine, I can install Handheld for free, along with any other Elegant Themes theme and plugins. Find out more on my WordPress Services Page.

Good WordPress Site Speed Results

I’m satisfied with this score for now. I did try the BJ Lazy Load and WP Deferred Javascipt Plugins but these made no difference. I’ll work more on compressing images and caching static content another time.

Is your WordPress site slower than you’d like? If you’ve got yours running fast are there any extra tips you can share with us?