The 12 Pillars of Improving WordPress Performance on Your Website

Let me guess, you want to speed up your site? The performance of your WordPress website is directly linked to user satisfaction, search engine rankings, and ultimately, your revenue. 

Yes, it’s that crucial.

Without proper optimization, your website will gradually slow down over time. Thankfully, things don’t have to be this way. You have the ability to actively enhance WordPress performance to ensure your website operates at peak speed.

It’s a fact that speeding up your WordPress site can yield numerous benefits. Your users will experience improved satisfaction, search engines will reward you, and your bottom line will reap the rewards. Regrettably, WordPress doesn’t always make it a seamless process to provide lightning-fast pages to your visitors.

Here’s the silver lining: There exist numerous methods to supercharge the performance of your WordPress website, and some of them can be implemented right away. 

So in today’s article, I’ll be sharing the 12 Pillars of Enhancing WordPress Performance on Your Website.

Why Should You Optimize the Speed of Your WordPress Site?

Improving the performance of your WordPress website is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, a poorly functioning admin panel can hamper your productivity and time efficiency when managing the site. This can be frustrating, making it harder to handle tasks smoothly.

Furthermore, slow-loading websites can deter visitors. In today’s fast-paced online environment, people expect websites to load quickly. If your site takes too long to load or doesn’t work smoothly, visitors are likely to leave. Even worse, many of them may never return.

Research conducted by Portent in 2019 emphasizes the importance of page load time. It revealed that the first 5 seconds of a page’s loading time have the most significant impact on conversion rates. 

Page ave load speed time

Additionally, conversion rates tend to drop by an average of 4.42 percent for every additional second of load time.

Moreover, Unbounce’s findings in 2019 highlighted that users prefer faster load times over flashy animations and videos on a website. Google’s statement from 2017 adds to this, indicating that the likelihood of a user bouncing off your site increases by 32 percent as page load time extends from 1 to 3 seconds.

If you still have doubts about the significance of optimizing page load times, consider the research conducted by Think With Google. 

page load time

It demonstrates how poor page load times can negatively affect bounce rates, further underlining the importance of website speed optimization.

12 Ways to Enhance WordPress Performance

Various factors can impact the speed and performance of your WordPress website. In the following section, you will find 12 different strategies to optimize your site’s performance and reduce loading times.

1. Select a Reliable WordPress Host

Improving your WordPress site’s performance is easy when you invest in a high-quality hosting provider. Opting for a managed host is an excellent choice if performance is your top priority. Managed WordPress hosting combines shared hosting’s server architecture with additional features and services.

Each managed WordPress hosting provider offers a unique set of features, allowing site owners to avoid dealing with technical hosting aspects. Pressable, for example, has received accolades for its performance in managed WordPress hosting, making it an ideal choice for any WordPress site.

2. Keep Your Core, Themes, and Plugins Up to Date

Regular updates are available for the WordPress core, themes, and plugins. These updates introduce new features, address bugs, and patch security vulnerabilities. By running the latest WordPress components on your site, you will enhance overall performance.

Furthermore, keeping your website up to date ensures its security, preventing known vulnerabilities from threatening your site’s integrity. After all, nothing slows down a website more than a security breach.

3. Opt for a High-Quality WordPress Theme

Your choice of theme can significantly affect your website’s performance. Not all themes are created equal; some are overly packed with features, causing slow loading times.

When selecting a WordPress theme, prioritize themes from reputable sources. Opt for a theme that includes only the features you actually need, without unnecessary extras. Additional functionalities can always be added to your site through plugins.

4. Eliminate Unused Plugins

Avoid going overboard with plugin installations. The more plugins you have, the slower your site may become, and you increase the risk of encountering plugin conflicts that can crash your site.

Sometimes, a single plugin can be the culprit behind sluggish WordPress performance. Begin by deactivating and uninstalling any unused plugins. Then, systematically disable one plugin at a time to identify any that significantly impede your site’s speed.

If you discover plugins causing severe slowdowns, consider whether your site can function without them or explore lightweight alternatives.

5. Optimize Your WordPress Database

Over time, your WordPress database may become cluttered. Depending on the duration your site has been active, you may have remnants of old plugins, posts, and other elements taking up disk space and slowing down database queries.

To maintain a streamlined WordPress database, several tools can help simplify the process. For example, WP-Optimize can optimize and clean up your WordPress database through a series of steps. Other viable options include WP-DBManager and Advanced Database Cleaner plugins.

6. Ensure you’re using the most recent PHP version.

PHP, the scripting language behind all WordPress websites, operates on the server side. This means that its files reside on and are executed by the web server hosting your site. Similar to themes and plugins, PHP periodically issues updates to enhance its efficiency, ultimately improving your page loading times. The latest stable PHP version is PHP 8.1, which was introduced in November 2021. PHP 8.1 represents a significant performance boost compared to PHP 7, making it a highly recommended choice for your website. 

Alternatively, you can refer to your hosting provider’s documentation or reach out to their support team to identify your current PHP version. If it’s not PHP 3.1, kindly request your host to update your site’s PHP version.

Something like this:

PHP version

7. Select a lightweight theme

Just like plugins, your active WordPress theme might be imposing unnecessary strain on your web server. Themes that incorporate high-quality images and effects may appear visually appealing, but they come with a performance cost. Fancy effects often require extensive code, and some themes are inefficiently programmed, leading to larger file sizes and slower page performance. 

Instead, opt for a simple theme that includes only the essential features for your pages. You can always add more effects later using plugins or custom CSS if desired. To kickstart your search, consult our list of recommended WordPress themes.

lightweight theme

Moreover, you can check out guides on top premium and lightweight themes – Premium & Lightweight themes.

8. Optimize your images.

Large images are another common cause of sluggish WordPress websites. To further enhance your site’s performance, reduce the sizes of your image files as much as possible without compromising quality. The objective is to save space while ensuring that users don’t struggle to view your visuals. 

optimize your image

You can compress image files using software like Photoshop or any other image editing tool. Alternatively, you can explore WordPress image optimization plugins such as Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer.

9. Avoid Uploading Audio/Video Files Directly to WordPress

You have the option to directly upload audio and video files to your WordPress site, and it will automatically display them in an HTML5 player…

However, it’s crucial that you refrain from doing so! Hosting audio and video files on your site can result in bandwidth costs. Your web hosting company may impose overage fees, or in extreme cases, they might even suspend your site, even if you have an “unlimited” bandwidth plan. 

Additionally, hosting large media files can substantially increase your backup sizes, making it challenging to restore your WordPress site from a backup.

Instead, it’s advisable to utilize an audio and video hosting service like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, SoundCloud, and others. Allow these platforms to handle the heavy lifting as they possess the necessary bandwidth! WordPress offers a built-in video embed feature. You can simply copy and paste your video’s URL into your post, and it will embed automatically.

10. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Recall our previous mention that users from different geographic locations may experience varying loading times on your site? This discrepancy in loading times can be attributed to the geographical location of your web hosting servers.

For instance, if your web hosting company’s servers are located in the United States, visitors within the United States will generally experience faster loading times compared to those in India. To address this issue and enhance loading times for all your visitors, consider implementing a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

A CDN comprises a network of servers distributed worldwide. Each server stores “static” files, which are unchanging, such as images, CSS, and JavaScript. This is distinct from your WordPress pages, which are “dynamic” as explained earlier. When you integrate a CDN, each time a user visits your website, they receive these static files from the nearest server. Your own web hosting server benefits from increased speed as the CDN handles a significant portion of the workload.

11. Streamline Your Homepage

If your homepage consists of a blogroll or if you have various category and archive pages filled with blog posts, you can enhance the loading speed of these pages.

By default, WordPress displays the complete content of each article. This not only increases loading time but also forces your visitors to scroll through a lot to find what they’re seeking.

To improve your site’s performance and adjust this setting, go to Settings > Reading within your WordPress dashboard. Select “Summary” under the heading “For each article in the feed, show.”

12. Employ a Caching Plugin

Every time someone accesses your site, WordPress generates a dynamic version of that page. Caching comes in handy by reducing the number of database requests and serving users a static HTML version of the page.

Caching can significantly boost WordPress’s speed and performance. In certain instances, your hosting provider might already have its own integrated caching system.

w3 total cache

However, for those who aren’t as fortunate, you can still benefit from caching by using plugins such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. If you’re hosting your site with Pressable, caching is handled for you, eliminating the need for a separate caching plugin.


The performance of your WordPress website can make or break your online presence. This article has explored the 12 essential pillars for improving WordPress performance, offering a comprehensive guide to help you enhance your website’s speed, responsiveness, and overall user experience.

By understanding the importance of WordPress performance, you can appreciate its impact on user satisfaction, search engine rankings, and conversion rates. The two scenarios presented earlier clearly demonstrate the difference between a slow-loading website and a fast, responsive one. To ensure your visitors have a positive experience and to boost your website’s success, it’s imperative to implement these performance-enhancing strategies.

Remember, WordPress performance improvement is not a one-time task; it’s an ongoing effort. Regular monitoring, maintenance, and keeping up with the latest best practices are key to maintaining a high-performing website. To further illustrate the potential of these strategies, the example of Sarah’s food blog showed how these pillars can transform a sluggish website into a highly efficient and successful platform.

FAQs on WordPress Performance

1. How can I check my WordPress website’s performance?

You can assess your WordPress website’s performance using online tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, or Pingdom. These tools provide detailed reports on your site’s load times and suggest optimization opportunities.

2. Is it necessary to use a paid CDN service, or are free options sufficient?

While free CDN services can improve performance, paid CDNs often offer more advanced features, faster speeds, and better customer support. Your individual demands and financial situation will determine your pick.

3. Can I improve WordPress performance without technical expertise?

Yes, many performance optimization tasks can be accomplished without advanced technical knowledge. Utilize WordPress plugins like W3 Total Cache and follow best practices outlined in this article. However, for more complex.

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