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Are you looking to improve WordPress site speed? I managed to get my GTMetrix Page Speed from a D to an A. This took a lot of research and time trying various plugins and checking the speed after they were activated.

I’ve had a few requests for me to share how I’ve done this and I thought the easiest way was to do a post on it.

First of all, test your speed and page load times at GTMetrix.

There is a lot of talk over the internet on how to increase page speed by limiting what plugins you use, your host, theme and photo optimization. It is important to check page load times as it affects site performance.

Host

Being new to blogging and not knowing anything about it, I prepaid for 3 years of WordPress hosting with Bluehost. I’ve been very happy with them but they don’t have the best reputation for support or speed. If you are starting out or looking to change hosts, Siteground, Kinsta, and Cloudways seem to be worth looking at.

Theme

I don’t want to pay for a theme at present so I researched a lightweight theme that I liked the look of and was versatile. I went with Astra but have just swapped over to Kadence.

SEO

I swapped Yoast for Rank Math a few months ago. It didn’t make any difference to my speed but I do prefer it for ease of use plus you can use more than one keyword in the free version.

CDN

Cloudflare is a free CDN that stores your website data on their servers. This will improve speed and performance.

Caching

Caching is really important in improving load times. I was using W3 TotalCache which is a free plugin but then I read so many excellent reviews of WP Rocket. It cost $49 for a year. You don’t have to renew it every year but you will lose support and won’t be able to update the plugin (which could cause problems to your site).

To be honest, I set it up but haven’t looked at the complete functionality of it yet. I’m sure there is much more it can do. It is also compatible with Cloudflare. It includes so much that it’s best to read the inclusions on WP Rocket’s website.

Optimize Images

For image optimization, I use Photoshop to export as Web Legacy and reduce the size. The image then gets reduced further with Tinyjpg. I’m not sure if I will renew the Photoshop package so I am currently looking at free options.

At the moment, I also have the Shortpixel Image Optimizer plugin but will delete it once I’ve had the time to revive old posts.

Lazy Load

Lazy Load saves on page load times by not loading the image until the reader has reached a certain point before the photo. Some themes come with this option but I use WP Rocket for this.

Plugins to improve WordPress site speed

So, after doing all the above, my site speed was still a D. There has been a lot of talk in various groups that Jetpack can slow your site down so I decided to put it to the test.

I disabled Jetpack and installed the following plugins to do the role of what Jetpack was doing (I wasn’t using all the features):

  • Askimet for spam (I already had this one as a separate plugin)
  • Mailpoet for Email Subscribers and Newsletters
  • Easy Social Share for my social sharing buttons
  • Updraft Plus for backups
  • Wordfence Security for antivirus, firewall, and malware.

All of these are free. When I retested my website speed, it went up to an A.

I also use:

  • WPS Hide Login
  • Insert Headers and Footers
  • Posts in Page
  • Table of Contents Plus

Have you tested your WordPress site speed? Is there anything you can do to improve it?

Let me know in the comments if you use Jetpack, or not, and what plugins you use. What are your favourites? Are you happy with your host? What about your theme?

None of these are affiliate links nor am I being paid to promote them.

My Free Tips to Improve Wordpress Site Speed

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11 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post, Wendy! Will definitely start to make improvements to my blog because of you!! xx

    1. Good luck with it. I’m now trying to work on my mobile site speed. It is never ending! Good time to get it all done though 🙂

  2. Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing. This techie stuff is so difficult. I am using Jetpack and got worried hearing it slowed site speed, so going to implement your suggestions. Going on my blogging bookmarks!

    1. If your speed is ok with it, I would leave it. If not, good luck, and let me know if you need any help 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this Wendy. Really interesting. I am put some time into speed optimization a few months ago and also went with WP Rocket, which helped. I enabled the Cloudflare extension and then encountered problems with my SSL so eventually had to disable it. I would like to go back and try again, but am nervous about it as my site was literally inaccessible for almost a week . Like you I paid ahead for my host and think this is slowing my site down so I may change next year when my subscription is up. At that point I may get my new host to install Cloudflare again rather than me doing it. Looking at your list I use all of these plugins instead of using Jetpack apart from subscribers so I really should look at that! I know that photos on my older posts are slow. I did not know about reducing size when I started out and literally plonked photos in with no optimisation. I am gradually getting round to these. I looked at Photoshop but was too impatient to learn how to use it so I use Pixillion image converter which is free and easy. I also have Smush and will leave it until I have finished compressing the old photos. Going to do a site test now as I have not done one for a while! Thank you again for the inspiration.

    1. I had an issue with Cloudflare this week that took me a while to sort out. I stopped getting my emails that are hosted with Bluehost. In the end, worked out it was Cloudflare and I had to change the DNS proxy. Hopefully, it is all working correctly now.
      Subscribers seemed to be less weighty than Mailchimp.
      I will look at Pixillion as I’m not going to renew Photoshop, I just don’t use it enough to warrant the money.
      Good luck with it Jane 🙂

  4. Excellent advice, I try to keep the plugins only the ones I really need. I tested sometimes, but I have to work a little more on it.
    Thank you so much for this great post!

    1. Yes, it’s a good idea to keep plugins to an absolute minimum. I’m not good at coding and scared I will crash my site so use plugins for a couple of things.

  5. Brilliant post! Much needed. I will be sitting down and studying it and putting it into practice. Thanks so much for sharing this! I also love the way that you have written this so simple and straight forward. Excellent!

    1. Thank you. It’s straight forward as that is the only way I could understand it haha

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