Top 5 Speed Upgrades For Your WordPress Website

If your WordPress page load times are too long, then it's time to make a few upgrades that will drastically improve your website's speed. In this article, we will go over the top major speed upgrades you can implement with your WordPress site on SiteGround.

This article is part of the WordPress basics guide.

Important Note: You should make a backup of your website before attempting to implement these speed upgrade changes. That way, if something goes wrong, you can restore your website.

WordPress Speed Upgrades

Estimated time: 10 minutes

Before your begin, you should go to GTMetrix and test the load speed of your website. Keep in mind that there will be some variation from test to test, so it's a great idea to do 5 tests in a row, record them, and then average those 5 results.

Then, after you make the changes below, you can go back and test 5 more times, average those, and then compare to the original to see how much faster things have become.

Static Cache​

When you create a website on SiteGround, they automatically turn on static cache by default. Therefore, you don't have to make any changes to get this feature.

Dynamic Cache​

In order to turn on dynamic cache, you need to do the following:

  1. login to your SiteGround account
  2. go to the "My Accounts" tab at the top, and then click on the "Go to cPanel" button
  3. under the "Site Improvement Tools" section, click on the "SuperCacher" icon.
  4. on the next screen, click on the "Level 2: Dynamic Cache" tab
  5. to the right of your website domain listed, click the button that says "off" to turn it to "on".
  6. go to your website's home page (for example: empoweredowl.com), which loads it on the web server for dynamic cache since you are visiting that page
  7. login to your WordPress admin account
  8. in your WordPress admin panel, on the left side tool bar, go to SG Optimizer and then SuperCacher Config
  9. confirm that Dynamic Cache is enabled
  10. while on the same page, scroll down to the bottom, and click the "Test URL" button, then confirm that the status is "Cached" 

GZIP Compression​

You will need to edit your htaccess file for this one. You can do this through your Yoast SEO plugin, but you must turn on advanced features in the plugin.

Note: If you are not using Yoast SEO, you will have to use a FTP file manager to get access to your htaccess file manually.

When are you ready, do these steps:

  1. login to your WordPress admin account
  2. in your WordPress admin panel, on the left side tool bar, go to SEO, then Tools, and then on the screen click "File Editor"
  3. in the .htaccess file text window, scroll down to the end where you see "# END WordPress"
  4. CAUTION: you can break your website if you edit any of the text that is already in this window, so be careful
  5. right above the "# END WordPress" in the .htaccess file text window, copy and paste the following:
  6. ## ENABLE GZIP COMPRESSION ##
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
    ## ENABLE GZIP COMPRESSION ##
  7. click the "Save changes to .htaccess" button
  8. in order for the changes to take effect, you need to purge your cache by clicking on this "Purge SG Cache" link at the top of your screen on the WordPress overlay

Browser Cache​

You will need to edit your htaccess file for this one. You can do this through your Yoast SEO plugin, but you must turn on advanced features in the plugin.

If you are not using Yoast SEO, you will have to use a FTP file manager to get access to your htaccess file manually.

When are you ready, do these steps:

  1. login to your WordPress admin account
  2. in your WordPress admin panel, on the left side tool bar, go to SEO, then Tools, and then File Editor
  3. in the .htaccess file text window, scroll down to the end where you see "# END WordPress"
  4. CAUTION: you can break your website if you edit any of the text that is already in this window, so be careful
  5. right above the "# END WordPress" in the .htaccess file text window, copy and paste the following:
  6. ## LEVERAGE BROWSER CACHING ##
    <IfModule mod_expires.c>
    ExpiresActive On
    ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
    ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
    ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
    ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
    ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
    ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
    ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access 1 month"
    ExpiresByType application/javascript "access 1 month"
    ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
    ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
    ExpiresDefault "access 2 days"
    </IfModule>
    ## LEVERAGE BROWSER CACHING ##
  7. click the "Save changes to .htaccess" button
  8. in order for the changes to take effect, you need to purge your cache by clicking on this "Purge SG Cache" link at the top of your screen on the WordPress overlay

Image Format & Size​

For images on your website, be careful not to use uncompressed file formats.

For example, don't use bitmap BMP files, and instead use JPEG or PNG image files, since they are compressed and therefore much smaller in size. Smaller size images means your website speed will be much faster.

By following these good run rules, you can help maintain a speedy website. You should also only use pixel resolutions for your image that are suggested for your theme. For example, you don't want to use a high resolution 4000x4000 pixel image if your theme requires only a 1280x720 pixel image.

I recommend using Thrive Themes which have built-in image scaling and compression. That way, every time you upload an image to your site through WordPress, it automatically gets taken care of for you.

Alternatively, you can install a plugin to compress your images. WP Smush is a popular option.

Watch Your Plugins

You should be careful about which plugins you install on your WordPress website. Some plugins are not designed well, or are resource intensive, and can take a significant amount of time to load.

If you have a lot of plugins installed and still aren't getting the load speed that you want, you can use GTMetrix and look at the waterfall tab to see if you can spot which ones are taking a long time to load. Then you will need to consider removing those long plugins or finding alternatives that are faster.

Leave a Comment: