The Lazy Admin’s Guide to Speeding Up WordPress (in Less Than an Hour)

The Lazy Admin’s Guide to Speeding Up WordPress (in Less Than an Hour) 1

You’ve got 60 minutes to speed up your WordPress site. What do you do…?

For time-poor site admins, knowing where to start is half the battle. Simply googling “speed up wordpress,” brings up 197 million results—talk about overwhelming!

From simple strategies like choosing a good web host through to more advanced methods such as implementing prebrowsing hints, there are a bazillion different site optimization techniques out there.

But really, who’s got the time? It’s easy to fritter away hours tweaking a site to make it faster. Plus, you’re not going to get any love from your web host since they usually don’t help with performance issues.

So in this guide, we’re going to zip through seven things you can do right now—in just 60 minutes—to speed up your WordPress site and get your page loading quickly.

Got a Slow Site? Say Goodbye to Conversions…

But first, let’s recap some important stats:

  • A 1-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions – Neil Patel.
  • 47% of people expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less – Akamai.
  • Shoppers often become distracted when made to wait for a page to load, with 14% opening another browser tab to start shopping at another site, and 23% walking away from their computer – Akamai.
  • If an ecommerce site makes $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year – Neil Patel.

These are sobering statistics—and proof that on the web, every second really does count.

Your page speed impacts every metric on your site that matters—user experience, bounce rate, ranking in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), conversions, and page views.

It’s simple really: when your pages load quickly, you keep visitors happy and they’re more likely to stick around and convert.

But First: Benchmarking Your Page Speed

Before you make any performance tweaks to your site, it’s important to know what your page speed actually is. This will tell you how your website is currently performing, but also give you a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of the performance optimization changes you implement.

Pingdom, GTmetrix and WebPagetest are three popular options for testing website speed. What’s great about these particular tools is that they each offer detailed information about the performance of your site that can help you identify bottlenecks

GTmetrix page performance results.
GTmetrix is my go-to tool for website speed testing.

For an in-depth rundown of these of these tools, check out Pingdom vs GTmetrix vs WebPagetest: How Are They Different?

Note: Google’s PageSpeed Insights is another tool for measuring site speed, but it offers more general insights in your page speed rather than the specifics provided by the tools I’ve mentioned above.

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site in 2019

1. Install a Caching Plugin

If you’ve got static images, CSS, and JavaScript on your site that rarely change—for example, you have a website that you don’t update very often—a caching plugin can help make your pages load faster.

Browser caching involves storing elements of your site in the user’s browser so they only need to be loaded the first time someone visits your site and not for subsequent visits. Caching, as well as cache preloading, is especially helpful for repeat visitors and for sites that are image-heavy, such as retail websites and other online stores.

My pick as far as free caching plugins go is the relatively new Swift Performance Lite plugin. It includes everything you’d expect of a full-featured caching plugin (page caching, cache preloading, GZIP compression, browser caching, minification, etc.)

For premium caching, you can’t go wrong with WP Rocket. It’s super easy to set up and you’ll notice immediate performance gains. Their support team can help you with fine tuning so you can stay lazy.

How to get it done quickly: If you’ve got $40, go with WP Rocket. But if you’re on a tight budget, install and activate Swift Performance Lite. It’s easy to set up, especially with its intuitive configuration wizard.

2. Compress and Optimize Images

Images account for a whopping 42% of the total file size of the average web page, according to the HTTP Archive. That means almost h