10 Quick Tips to Speed Up WordPress

One of the biggest complain I hear from people is that WordPress is painfully slow and resource hungry. That’s actually not true. WordPress can be very fast – if you set it up correctly. In this article, I’ll share 10 tips that will help you speed up your WordPress site in no time.


overloaded-wordpress-slowBut first, let me tell you why many WordPress sites that you may have encountered are ‘slow’ – it’s because they are ‘overloaded’ with too many plugins and ‘dead-weights’. Let me give you an illustration.

Take a look at the overloaded truck on the left – that’s what a typical WordPress setup is like – loaded with lots of un-necessary plugins, images, media files, etc.




Sleek Fast WordPress SetupWhat we want to do is to strip away all these excess baggages and deadweights and transform our WordPress site into a sleek, super-fast Mustang – like the one shown below. Cool?

Tip #1: Number of Active Plugins

The first question I’d ask anyone who tells me that his or her WordPress site is slow is this – how many plugins are currently enabled on your site? The answer is usually somewhere between 20 – 30! That’s way too many. A good number is around 10 or less.  (TIP: If you no longer need a plugin, don’t just disable it, delete it completely because the c ore WordPress engine will scan all the plugins even if they are not enabled.

Tip #2: Image Sizes

This is a biggie – I’ve seen folks uploading photos of their dogs and cats on their WordPress blog in HD (high-definition) format. The size of those images? A couple of Megabytes at the very least. And they complain that WordPress is slow. Sigh …

select WP media sizeFortunately, WordPress comes with an excellent built-in media manager – when uploading images, you have the option to insert the original (full-sized) image – which is not recommended unless it has been optimized, or you can choose a ‘thumbnail’ (150 by 150 pixels) or ‘medium sized’ (300 by 300 pixels).

You can change the size of the “thumbnail”  or “medium” under the “Settings” –> “Media”  page in your WP Dashboard.

Tip #3: Streaming Videos?

You may be tempted to upload your favorite video of your cat or dog to your WordPress blog, but please don’t. For optimal speed and performance – upload all your videos to Youtube.com because they are the fastest and most powerful video streaming service provider that is free. No WordPress Host (unless they are Google) can match the raw power and speed of Youtube.

There is also an additional benefit of creating your own Youtube channel and uploading your videos there – you get additional exposure and backlinks back to your website. Cool?

Tip #4: Optimized WordPress Themes

There are thousands of free WordPress themes – some are gorgeous, some are … err plain ugly, and many are poorly coded. A theme may look beautiful, but if it’s poorly coded, then it will cause a performance hit on your WordPress site because it will issue unnecessary database queries each time someone visits your site. It is (an unfortunate) fact that many WordPress designers are not good coders – they can design well, but when it comes to code, they are not optimal.

So, what are your options? Well, the default themes that comes with WordPress are pretty decent – not too bad looking, and it’s very well coded. The other alternative is to buy a premium theme from a reputable WordPress theme vendor – such as Elegant Themes or Genesis Themes or from Theme Forest. It may cost about $50 or so, but it will pay off many times over in the long run.

You have only 1 chance to impress your website visitors – your site has to look good and it has to load fast – nobody is going to wait 10 seconds or more for a page to load.

Tip #5: Reduce Post Revisions

By default, WordPress will save copies of each edit made to a post or page. This allows you to revert to a previous version that post or page. Over time, the number of saved revisions for each post/page can grow to large number – especially if you’ve many articles on your blog. This will “clog up” the database with un-necessary data and slow down WordPress.

To prevent this from happening, you can disable the automatic saving of revisions OR, you can specify the number of revisions per post or page to be saved. I suggest setting this number to 3. You can do this by editing the ‘wp-config.php’ file and add this code:

define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3 );

after the define(‘WPLANG’, ”);


Tip #6: Disable Gravatar

If you enable comments on your posts, you may have noticed images of people who posted comments. This causes a slow-down in WordPress as it has to process additional database queries. For optimal performance, I would suggest disabling avatar/gravatar from the WP Dashboard:  Settings –> Discussions

See the screenshot below:


Alternatively, you may want to embed a FB discussion plugin or Disqus plugin to handle the interaction with your website visitors. These plugins won’t cause additional load to your WordPress server.

Tip #7: Optimize WordPress Database

Over time, due to numerous writes, edits, deletes, etc – the database containing your WordPress content will be “fragmented” with bits and pieces of old data. You need to optimize the database either by running a db optimizer plugin such as the WP Optimize Plugin

Besides optimizing your database, this excellent plugin can also:

  • remove spam and un-approved comments
  • remove trash posts and comments
  • deletes all trackbacks and pingbacks
  • deletes WordPress Transcient Options


Tip #8: Use a Caching Plugin

Without a caching plugin, each visit to any of your WordPress page or post will incur a database query. In terms of speed and performance, this is not good, especially if the page or post does not change often. To reduce the number of database queries, a good WP caching plugin such as the W3 Total Cache should be used to speed up your WordPress site. A caching plugin works by generating a static html of frequently accessed pages or posts – so that the next request for that page/post will be served by the static html which is many times faster compared to querying the database.


Tip #9: Use CDN (Content Delivery Network)

If the number of visitors to your website grows into thousands daily, you may need to either upgrade to a more powerful WordPress host or use CDN to help offset the load. Basically, a CDN works by storing all your static files on your site (images, html, CSS, Javascripts) on their own file-servers and lets visitors download them as fast as possible by serving the files from servers that are closest to the visitors for optimal speed.

Check out CloudFlare – they have a basic free plan which you can try out.

Tip #10: Disable Pingback and Trackback

What is Pingback and/or Trackback? Without going into the nitty-gritty details, a Pingback or Trackback is a a method of allowing a WordPress owner to leave something like a blog comment (or a reference) on a WordPress post on a remote site without actually having to visit that site and manually posting the comment. The original purpose of a pingback or trackback is to enable a reader to follow those links to read more on the topic. But unfortunately, link spammers are using this to the maximum advantage by spamming any blogs that have pingback/trackback enabled.

In short, you should disable Pingback and Trackback on your WordPress site for 2 reasons:

  • Discourage/reduce spam
  • Increased Speed.


Bonus Tip: Find a Fast & Reliable WordPress Host

Finally, after doing all the above, the last piece of the puzzle is to host your WordPress website on a reliable and fast host. There are many cheap hosts that offers unlimited sites, unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth for a couple of dollars a month. I would stay clear away from such hosts. Nothing is free –  these hosting companies have to pay for electricity, the data-centre, the bandwidth, etc. If they are only charging pennies for their hosting packages, I can only assume that they will be cramming hundreds of clients on a single server. In such scenario, no matter what you do, your website will be slow.  You do get what you pay for.