After putting hours into building a WordPress website, you’ll want to ensure that it’s pages are loading quickly. A slow-performing WordPress website can cost you visitors, reduce your ranking on search engines, and affect the overall user experience. Here’s 10 ways to reduce page load time that we’ll outline in this article.
1. Find an Optimal Hosting Service
To reduce your page load time, you have to double check the speed of your hosting server. If the server is slow, then your site is going to be slow as well. Many providers will overload their services, which can result in CPU starvation and IO issues. To quickly test the TTFB (Time to First Byte), you can use a tool such as Key CDN Web Performance Test.
Ideally, you want your speed to be around 200-400ms, though location does factor in. For example, the speed will probably in the 200-400ms range in North American countries but different elsewhere. When testing the TTFB, it’s a good idea to run multiple tests over the course of a day to find the overall average.
If the TFFB is consistently high and you notice access to your control panel is slow or suffers from downtime’s and errors, then it’s probably time to change your host.
2. WordPress Stack
Your WordPress stack consists of the Web Server, Mysql, PHP, and other smaller components to power your website. By optimizing your WordPress stack, you can reduce page load time.
The Web Server: You can use Apache for light use, but you will need to consider switching as larger loads will affect the performance. For greater load and shared hosting servers, focus on finding a provider that uses Litespeed or Nginx. They’re much faster and more stable under greater loads.
The PHP: Use PHP 7.x as it gives a large increase in performance over PHP 5.6. If your WordPress host or theme doesn’t have it, then it’s time to find a new one.
Caching: Use a host that offers true caching at the server level. I recommend Litespeed LsCache and Vanish to provide the most optimal service.
3. Live Visitor Monitoring and Recording
Instead of using a plugin for live visitor monitoring and recording, I recommend using Google Analytics instead. While plugins like this are great for tracking your traffic, they can slow down the performance of your website.
Google Analytics is a perfect way to monitor and record live visitors because it doesn’t affect your WordPress performance. It’s an external service that is integrated with your WordPress website. It does all the work for you while reducing page load time.
4. Themes and Visual Composer
Poorly constructed themes and most drag-and-drop page builders, such as Visual Composer, will slow down your website’s performance. Avoid using them if you can. Instead of drag-and-drop page builders, try going with child themes based on frameworks like Genesis or Thesis.
If coding isn’t one of your strengths, you can find pre-made WordPress themes that are easily customize-able. Stay away from drag-and-drop page builders if you want a fast performing WordPress website.
Plugins are great for customizing your WordPress website but similar to the live visitor monitoring, or drag-and-drop page builders, they can affect your website’s performance. Deactivate and discard of any plugins that you may not need. Always do your research before adding them to ensure that you’re only using what you need. Remember, less is more!
6. Bots and Crawlers
To reduce page load time, you can configure Wordfence crawl-limiting rules to help block fake and aggressive crawlers, bots, and spot. In your robots.txt file, use this:
User-agent: * Crawl-delay: 10
Most “good” crawlers will obey this as Wordfence takes care of the rest.
7. Removing xmlrpc.php
Most people don’t need xmlrpc.php and it can be removed. The most common plugin that uses this is Jetpack, so you may need to weigh the pros and cons. If you don’t need Jetpack, I would recommend removing it because it’s a very heavy loaded plugin that can affect your WordPress performance.
8. Disable or Slow Down WordPress Heartbeat
If you have the Heartbeat Control plugin, I recommend disabling or slowing it down. It’s a tool that provides real-time communication between the server and the browser when you are logged into your WordPress admin panel, but it can cause a lot of performance issues.
However, disabling Heartbeat Control should only be done if you have identified that it’s the cause of high CPU use. To identify this, you can:
- Check your access_logs to see if you see a ton of calls like “POST /wp-admin/admin-ajax.php” and the timestamps match with a CPU spike.
- If your provider uses cPanel and CloudLinux, you probably have a feature that takes a snapshot when there is a resource spike and shows the cause which will also list admin-ajax.php.
- If you have root access, you can monitor with “top -c”.
- Tailing the users access_logs in real time.
9. Disable WordPress Cron
Instead of using WordPress cron to fire every time someone visits your website, disable it and set a system cron instead. This will help with your WordPress performance to reduce page load time.
This can be done by adding the following to your wp-config:
Now in your control panel, set a system cron with the command:
10. Analyze the Logs
Logs are extremely useful in telling you when something is wrong with your WordPress website. They can be used in diagnosing performance and instability issues. The two main logs you will need to know are error logs and access_logs.
Familiarize yourself with them to learn about any errors or entries that can occur. You will gain a much better understanding of how your WordPress website works!
By following these 10 tips and tricks, you will see a significant increase in your WordPress performance. You will notice a reduced page load time and a greater experience for your visitors!