How to Increase WordPress Website’s Load Speed – My Story & My Website

I ran into the same problem as many other website owners have. My WordPress website’s load speed is slow and I am not a developer. I have purchased a WordPress theme and installed multiple plugins as many have. As a background I can say that my WordPress theme is supposed to be extremely fast and I have issues with AMP version of it also. According to all resources this theme is fast (OnFleek – at the time of writing this). So how did I go about this?

As a starting point I did a test with HubSpot’s Website Grader to have a starting point.

Website load speed test number 1

As you can see my page size is great and not that many page requests but load speed is appalling.

You may ask why website speed matters? There are two main reasons – user experience and SEO. Search engines punish slow loading websites and visitors abandon them as they are impatient. Slow load speeds can be caused by many things. Such as server response time, page requests, not having minified CSS and/or JS, huge images, render blocking, etc.

So I set out on a journey to improve my website’s speed. Background info when writing this blog post:

Theme: Onfleek

Hosting & Domain: Godaddy

Hosting server location: Germany

Plugins active: Akismet Anti-spam, All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets, All in One SEO Pack, AMP, BackUpWordpress, Canonical Seo WordPress Plugin, Check and Enable GZIP compression, Contact Form 7, Cookie Notice, DF Social Media Oauth, Jetpack by WordPress.com, Really Simple SSL, Redirection, Speed Booster Pack, Use Google Libraries, Visual Composer Extender, WordPress Importer (edited version), WordPress Popular Posts, WP Super Cache and WPBakery Visual Composer

As I listed these out I came to the same conclusion as you. I am most likely using way too many WordPress plugins. So that must be one of the reasons why my website is slow. However, a lot of these are supposed to make the website faster. Are there overlapping features? For sure.

The following plugins are supposed to make a website load faster: AMP, Check and Enable GZIP compression, Jetpack by WordPress.com, Speed Booster Pack, Use Google Libraries and WP Super Cache. How many of these overlap? Quite many in the end if you go down to the individual feature level.

I tested with Google’s Pagespeed insights my website and results weren’t generally great as you might have expected. 45 / 100 is a bad result and a lot needs to be fixed.

PageSpeed Insights - Website load speed mobile

Also on desktop I have the following results:

PageSpeed Insights - Website load speed desktop

It isn’t even nearly as bad on mobile but majority of traffic these days comes from mobile so it has to be fast. We live in a mobile first world after all, right?

The Firsts Steps to a Faster Website Load Speed

I deactivated almost every plugin and removed a lot of tracking scripts from Google Tag Manager to see what would be the effect on load speeds. Images I had already optimized so they weren’t the issue.

After this with results from pagespeed insights (53/100 mobile) and website grader (7.8 sec). Load speed became faster a lot but Google was relentless and I was in no way happy or done. My server response time at this point was 2.2 seconds so rather slow.

For server response speed I noticed that you now finally updated GoDaddy to PHP 7.1 when it previously was 5.6. This improved my server response time to 1.1 seconds which is a drastic improvement already! My whole website load speed changed from 7.8 seconds to 5.3 seconds which was also a massive improvement!

Enabling different plugins for speed and testing them one by one took some time but was a required step. After setting up WP Super Cache I could lower the website load speed by one second which is beginning to be substantial considering the total load speed. With it active Google’s pagespeed test gave me a score of 61/100. I am definitely on the right track.

As I was testing Speed Booster Pack I noticed that it breaks AMP versions of my articles by overlaying 4 second “load screen” on them. Also, as it didn’t improve website load speeds drastically I decided to deactivate and delete it from my WordPress plugins.

Against every belief I installed a new plugin called Autoptimize to minify my HTML and CSS files. I was able to squeeze my page load time to 4.0 seconds with this and pagespeed insights gave me score of 64/100. I remember reading somewhere that with WordPress theme the sweet spot is at 80-85/100. Below 4 seconds is preferred as you might lose impatient visitors with longer load speed.

Another plugin I installed after some research was WP-Optimize which is WordPress’ most installed plugin for optimized or so they say. It is meant for cleaning up your database. Running this plugin deletes your trash, spam, post revisions, trackbacks, and garbage files. Google gave me score of 64/100 so no change there. Based on the score I decided to deactivate the plugin for now. Maybe I will use it in the future to clean my database.

Setting up Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a CDN which translates to content delivery network. Its main point is to speed up the delivery of your content by caching it across the globe to bring it closer to your website’s visitors physical location. Boosting your website’s load speed.

To set up the final steps you need access your registrar’s dashboard and change your nameservers to point addresses provided by Cloudflare. They have great instructions so it is easy to do for pretty much anyone.

Nameservers CDN - Website load speedThis step took me around 5 minutes to complete but I am familiar with these so for person who hasn’t done these before it can take longer. Again, if you run into problems google is your best buddy. It can take 24 hours for this to take effect so better to check the next day around the same time. Once you have done the nameserver changes go to Cloudflare’s speed section and mimic my selections so it looks like the following images.

CDN - Website load speed

CDN - Website load speed - Accelerated Mobile Links

CDN - Website load speed - Rocket Loader

CDN - Website load speed - Mobile Redirect

Once you have done all this go to Caching-section and purge all individual files from the cache.

Optimizing Images

For this I used WP Smush to optimize all my existing images. There wasn’t much to optimize but everything counts nearing the top speeds.

After optimizing images, I was at 3.4 second load speed for my website. I couldn’t have been happier about the results and I was still at this point waiting for Cloudflare to fire up its CDN to see where it takes my page load speed.

Website load speed test number 2

After waiting those 24 hours I tested with Pingdom.com and setting up test to be done from Sweden I got my website’s load time 1.08 seconds. Now I can say that I am happy with the speed my site is loading. Having also lowered the amount of page requests drastically. However, pagespeed insights gives me a score of lower than 60 but I can live with that considering my overall load speed. Based on these results I will stay with GoDaddy for some time still. 

Finished for Now

Website load speed at 1.08 seconds from Sweden when my main market is Finland is a great result. I will not continue to finalize the content on website and see how things progress.

Plugins I have still in use after getting here are:  All in One SEO Pack, AMP, Autoptimize, BackUpWordPress, Canonical Seo WordPress Plugin, Contact Form 7, Cookie Notice, Really Simple SSL, Redirection, Visual Composer Extender, WordPress Popular Posts, WP Smush, WP Super Cache and WPBakery Visual Composer.

However, testing goes a long way when setting up a website. I would recommend you do these tests before you allow search engines to index your website. To make sure your website performs for load speeds and you don’t lose visitors because of it.

WordPress Plugins and Other Things Avoid

I collected some things you should avoid if you want to have a lightning fast website. For starts I would recommend avoiding the following plugins if you can but for example in my theme (OnFleek) there are plugins from this list. Many of them consume a lot of CPU power. Sometimes you have to just live with it.

  • AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  • Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  • Broken link checker
  • Constant Contact for WordPress
  • Contact Form 7
  • Contextual Related Posts
  • Digi Auto Links
  • Disqus Comment System
  • Divi builder
  • Essential Grid
  • Fuzzy SEO Booster
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Jetpack
  • NextGEN Gallery
  • NewStatPress
  • Reveal IDs
  • Revolution Slider
  • S2 member
  • SEO Auto Links & Related Posts
  • Similar Posts
  • Slimstat Analytics
  • SumoMe
  • VaultPress
  • Visual Composer
  • WooCommerce
  • WordPress Facebook
  • WordPress Related Posts
  • WordPress Popular Posts
  • WP Statistics
  • WP-PostViews
  • WP Power Stats
  • wpCloaker
  • WPML
  • Yet Another Related Post Plugin
  • Yuzo Related Posts

Avoiding advertising is something that can take a serious toll on your websites load speeds. When you have the chance use fast and light plugins to have the functions for marketing. For example, Meta Slider and Sassy Social Share.

When you want to have videos on your pages they can easily add 2-3 seconds to your page load so have a lazyload videos sames pictures it will greatly increase the user experience. There is a plugin called Lazyload Videos which will make you avoid bad user experience due to load speeds.

About CDN. If you are creating content or look to have people visiting your website from all over the web I recommend that you use for example MaxCDN which gives you servers around the world from where visitors download your website from. This will greatly improve load speeds globally as for example my website’s load speeds are bad in USA but this would minimize the problem.

Hopefully this was helpful and if you need help with something or you feel I missed something drop a comment or email to me!

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