10 Best Practices for WordPress Speed Optimization (2023 Guide)

When it comes to WordPress websites, speed is the name of the game. Slow-loading pages not only frustrate users but also impact your search engine rankings.

In this article, we’ll learn why you should care about the speed of your WordPress site. We’ll also discuss what holds back website owners from optimizing their sites. Plus, we’ll dive into how to conduct a speed test, explore the top ten best practices for optimizing your WordPress site’s speed, and finally, guide you on how to implement these practices easily, ensuring you provide a seamless browsing experience for your visitors.

Why should you care about the speed of your WordPress site?

WordPress speed optimization lies at the core of user experience. The speed of a website’s loading directly shapes visitor perceptions. Swift-loading pages offer a seamless experience, drawing users in and encouraging exploration. Conversely, slow websites frustrate and drive visitors away, inflating bounce rates.

Beyond user experience, search engines like Google closely examine loading speed for ranking. Website owners vying for top search results can’t overlook this crucial factor. Faster sites secure higher search engine rankings, resulting in more organic traffic and increased online visibility.

Google’s Core Web Vitals, featuring metrics like Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), are now paramount. Meeting these criteria relies on speed optimization. Falling short can lower search rankings and visibility, making speed pivotal in the battle for online supremacy. To learn more, make sure to read our article with key insights into how Core Web Vitals impact SEO rankings.

The mobile revolution intensifies the need for speed. With a significant portion of internet traffic originating from mobile devices, mobile speed is non-negotiable. Fast-loading sites serve mobile users effectively, reducing bounce rates and boosting conversions. Slow pages risk alienating this crucial audience.

High bounce rates, a potential outcome of slow pages, can harm a website. Users often leave before content fully loads, impacting engagement and conversions. Speed optimization ensures visitors stay, increasing the likelihood of achieving goals.

Fact: According to Google, as page load time goes from 1s to 3s, the probability of bounce increases by 32%.

Conversion rates, vital for e-commerce and online businesses, directly link to speed. Fast-loading websites create a seamless environment for user actions, such as transactions and sign-ups, resulting in increased conversion rates and substantial business growth.

Efficient speed optimization also saves bandwidth. Optimized resources use less data, benefiting users with limited data plans or slower connections, demonstrating a commitment to accessibility and user-centric design.

Finally, speed optimization provides a competitive edge in the online world. In a click-away landscape, users remember and revisit swift, smooth websites, fostering loyalty and establishing a strong presence in the ever-evolving digital realm.

What holds back website owners from optimizing their websites?

Website optimization often feels like an elusive goal for many website owners. Numerous pain points have emerged over time, hindering the optimization of websites and frustrating those aiming for peak performance.

Here are the main pain points that website owners may encounter when it comes to optimizing their websites:

❌ Complex optimization processes

One of the primary roadblocks website owners encounter is the complexity of optimization processes. Balancing image quality with file size becomes a constant headache, demanding an equilibrium that often feels hard to attain. And the manual implementation of practices like lazy loading and critical CSS? It’s a time-consuming endeavor that diverts attention from other essential tasks.

❌ Uncertainty in search rankings

Search engine algorithms, such as Google’s, are in a constant state of evolution, which can add a touch of unpredictability to the optimization process. Website owners often find themselves wrestling with questions related to the impact of website speed on SEO.

The situation becomes even more frustrating when variations in search rankings are linked to sluggish loading times, leaving website owners perplexed. It can feel akin to searching for a needle in a haystack when trying to identify optimization possibilities, further amplifying the uncertainty.

❌ Lack of ongoing maintenance

Optimizing a website is far from a one-time endeavor; it’s an ongoing journey. Websites demand constant monitoring and fine-tuning to sustain peak performance in the long run. Yet, this ongoing commitment can sometimes give rise to frustration as website owners contend with the complexities of continual maintenance.

❌ Lack of time and resources

Many website owners have limited time and resources to dedicate to optimization efforts. Managing a website is just one of many responsibilities, and optimizing it can be time-intensive. This shortage of time and resources can hinder the ability to implement comprehensive optimization strategies.

❌ Fear of technical complexity

The technical aspects of website optimization, including dealing with code, plugins, and server configurations. This can be intimidating for those without a strong technical background. The fear of making mistakes or causing issues on the website can deter website owners from taking proactive optimization steps.

❌ Budget constraints

Optimization often requires investments in various tools or even professional services. Website owners with tight budgets may find it challenging to allocate funds for optimization efforts, especially when there’s uncertainty about the return on investment.

❌ Resistance to change

There can be resistance to change, especially if a website has been operating in a certain way for a long time. Website owners may be hesitant to make significant changes to their site, even if it means improving performance, out of fear of disrupting the user experience.

❌ Compatibility concerns

Ensuring optimization changes are compatible with various browsers, devices, and platforms can be a concern. Website owners may worry about unintentionally alienating a portion of their audience due to compatibility issues.

These additional pain points underscore the multifaceted challenges that people face when striving to optimize their websites. Addressing these challenges effectively requires a combination of tools, knowledge, and support to navigate the world of WordPress speed optimization.

How to conduct a speed test?

Before we dive into the best practices, let’s figure out if your website performs well or not by conducting a (relative) test. This will help you identify the areas that may need optimization.

There are several tools you can use for this purpose, such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI), Lighthouse, GTmetrix, WebPageTest, and Pingdom.

For PSI, GTmetrix, WebPageTest, and Pigdom, the process is pretty straightforward. Just head to the respective websites, input a web page’s URL, and click the button to perform the test. After a brief waiting period, the test results will be displayed.

For Lighthouse, you can either install and use the Chrome extension or use the Chrome DevTools to run the test.

Here are two screenshots after running a test using Lighthouse. The first screenshot displays the performance score and the metrics that were assessed. In the second screenshot, you’ll find a list of suggested improvements, with those marked by a red triangle indicating the highest priority tasks for optimization.

Important: All these tools measure different aspects of performance, often yielding diverse results. For example, Lighthouse offers a broader perspective on website data, whereas PageSpeed Insights offers a practical representation of real user experiences. The objective is not to get a perfect score but to prioritize the actual user experience.

What are the best practices for WordPress speed optimization?

Without further delay, let’s explore our list of best practices, each one is geared to not only optimize your website’s loading speed but also elevate its overall performance, boost user engagement, and improve your search engine visibility.

Optimize images efficiently

Images are essential for creating an appealing and engaging website. However, they can significantly impact your website’s loading speed and overall performance, depending on their size. Large, high-resolution images, while visually impressive, can consume a substantial amount of bandwidth, leading to slower loading times, especially for users with limited internet speed or data plans. Slow-loading websites can deter visitors, negatively affecting your site’s bounce rate and SEO rankings.

To address these potential issues, using image optimization plugins, like ShortPixel Image Optimizer, is highly advisable. ShortPixel is a powerful WordPress plugin that works automatically to compress and resize the images uploaded to your website without compromising their visual quality.

File size of large images reduced by up to ~95% with ShortPixel Image Optimizer.

Implement lazy loading

Lazy loading is a vital optimization technique used to enhance the performance of a website. With lazy loading, web pages prioritize loading user-visible content like text and essential elements. They delay the loading of resource-intensive elements such as images and videos until they’re just about to come into view.

This method reduces initial page load times, saves bandwidth, and eases the server load, which is especially important for mobile users with slower connections. It’s a valuable technique for websites with long, content-heavy pages, such as blogs, e-commerce sites, and social media platforms.

Minify CSS and JavaScript

Minifying CSS and JavaScript files is another key step in boosting a website’s frontend performance. It’s all about trimming the fat – removing the extra characters, spaces, and comments from these files, which makes them a whole lot smaller. Smaller files mean speedier loading times, and that’s a win for your website.

This best practice is especially valuable for websites with complex, feature-packed designs. When your site is rocking some serious features, streamlining the front-end code can make a big difference in load times and overall performance.

Here’s an example of how a CSS code looks like as unminified vs minified:

/* Hello world! */
body {
    background-color: #f2f2f2;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;

header {
    background-color: #333;
    color: #fff;
    padding: 20px;
    text-align: center;

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDNs are a vital component of modern web optimization strategies. The magic? CDNs slash server response times and supercharge website loading speeds for users worldwide. It’s like a global express lane for your website.

They work by distributing a website’s assets, such as images, scripts, and other resources, across multiple servers strategically located around the world. This global network of servers ensures that users, regardless of their geographic location, can access these assets from a server that is physically closer to them. As a result, CDNs reduce server response times and dramatically improve the loading speed and performance of websites for users on a global scale.

By leveraging a CDN, websites can handle increased traffic more effectively and provide a seamless browsing experience to visitors around the world.

Implement a caching solution

Implementing caching for your WordPress site is yet another must-do trick for achieving better website performance, and is especially valuable for WordPress sites with dynamic content.

Caching stores static versions of your web pages, reducing the need for the server to generate content dynamically for each visitor. The result? Fast page loads and a happier server. Besides, by caching your site, you enhance the user experience, decrease bounce rates, and positively impact your site’s search engine rankings. A good recipe for website success.

Optimize fonts and asynchronous loading

When web fonts are loaded synchronously, the browser has a little tantrum – it insists on fetching up the fonts before it even thinks about displaying the text on the page. This behavior can mean serious delays in your page’s load, especially if those fonts decide to take their time coming from a slow server.

Asynchronous font loading, on the other hand, lets the browser keep its cool, rendering the page’s content while it casually fetches the fonts in the background. This approach ensures a smoother and faster initial page load, crucial for providing an excellent user experience.

Besides, asynchronous font loading not only accelerates page rendering but also reduces the risk of content layout shifts, which can be particularly disruptive to users.

Prioritize Core Web Vitals

Focusing on improving Core Web Vitals metrics, such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), is really important. These metrics directly impact how quickly and smoothly a webpage loads and becomes interactive.

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the time it takes for the largest element on a page, often an image or a block of text, to become visible. Improving LCP ensures that users see meaningful content sooner, reducing bounce rates and keeping visitors engaged.
  • First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes for a webpage to respond to a user’s first interaction, such as clicking a link or button. It’s like the site’s reflexes. Minimizing FID enhances interactivity, making the site feel more responsive and user-friendly.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the extent to which page content shifts during loading. Reducing CLS helps prevent unexpected layout changes, ensuring a smoother and less frustrating browsing experience.

By prioritizing these metrics, website owners can streamline their optimization efforts, ultimately delivering a faster, more responsive, and user-centric website. Addressing Core Web Vitals metrics is an essential part of modern web development, aligning your site with industry best practices.

Keep everything up to date

Regularly updating your WordPress core, themes, and plugins is a fundamental practice for maintaining a secure and high-performance website. These updates typically include bug fixes, performance enhancements, and security patches.

Here’s why keeping everything up-to-date is actually important:

  1. Security: One of the primary reasons to update is to protect your website from security vulnerabilities. Hackers often target outdated software, and by keeping everything up to date, you reduce the risk of security breaches.
  2. Performance: Updates often come with performance improvements that can boost your website’s speed and efficiency.
  3. Bug fixes: Updates address known bugs and issues, ensuring that your website functions smoothly. Ignoring updates can result in technical glitches or malfunctions that may deter visitors.
  4. Compatibility: As the WordPress core evolves, theme and plugin developers release updates to ensure compatibility. Running outdated themes and plugins can lead to conflicts or functionality breakdowns.
  5. New features: Updates may introduce new features, functionalities, or integrations that can enhance your website’s capabilities or user engagement.

Warning: Before performing updates, it’s essential to back up your website to prevent data loss in case anything goes wrong. And for an extra layer of caution, consider testing updates on a staging environment first to avoid any clashes with your site’s customizations.

To update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins, simply navigate to your admin dashboard and select “Updates” from the “Dashboard” menu to check if a new WordPress core version is available, as well as updates for your theme or plugins.

Limit external HTTP requests

External HTTP requests refer to the data fetched from external servers. This includes images, stylesheets, scripts, fonts, and content such as social media widgets, ads, analytics codes, and embedded media like videos.

As each request is a pit stop that can slow your site down, potentially leading to performance and security concerns, minimizing their number is essential for improving page loading times.

To tackle this, consider combining and minifying resources, hosting essential files locally (whenever possible), implementing lazy loading, using a CDN when necessary, and regularly auditing and optimizing your website’s dependencies.

Choose a good hosting provider

Consider your hosting provider the leading actor in your website’s performance show. It’s essential to look for a hosting service that is reliable, fast, and capable of efficiently handling your website’s traffic.

A robust hosting provider ensures that your website remains accessible and responsive to visitors, even during high-traffic periods. To achieve this, consider factors such as server reliability, server location, available resources (like CPU and RAM), scalability options, and the level of customer support provided.

Last but not least, a good hosting provider can significantly contribute to the overall speed and reliability of your website, ensuring a positive user experience for your audience.

I personally recommend avoiding cheap and shared hosting plans. Sure, they’re light on the wallet, but remember that cost savings often come at a price. On the other hand, managed WordPress hosting, though pricier, delivers a significantly higher return on investment in terms of performance, security, and the level of support you can expect.

Is there an easy way to effectively boost WordPress speed?

Optimizing a WordPress website’s speed doesn’t have to be a daunting and time-consuming task. In fact, there’s an easy way to achieve significant improvements without the complexities of manual optimization.

As we’ve seen above, there are some specific challenges people face when trying to optimize their websites. Manual optimization often leads to frustration and errors, consuming valuable time that could be spent on other essential tasks.

FastPixel takes the hassle out of website optimization. With its powerful capabilities, it automates critical optimization techniques like image compression, lazy loading, and JS/CSS minification. These features are vital for reducing loading times and improving performance, but implementing them manually can be complex and time-consuming. FastPixel simplifies the process, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of these techniques effortlessly.

In short, the path to a faster WordPress website doesn’t have to be paved with complexity and frustration. FastPixel offers a user-friendly and highly effective solution that streamlines the optimization process, ensuring swift loading times, improved performance, and an enhanced user experience. Say goodbye to manual optimization headaches and hello to the easy way to boost your WordPress website’s speed.


The ten best practices we outlined in this article, from image optimization to content delivery networks, offer a roadmap to a faster, more user-friendly WordPress site. By following these guidelines, you can bid farewell to slow-loading pages and usher in a new era of swift, seamless, and satisfying online experiences.

Also, we dived into the pain points that often hold website owners back from optimizing their sites, highlighting the complexity, uncertainty, and resource limitations that can be daunting. However, a simple solution called FastPixel offers a streamlined approach to speed optimization, making it accessible and efficient for website owners of all backgrounds. It’s an easy way to boost your WordPress website’s speed.

Don’t let anything hold you back

Explore FastPixel, the solution designed to simplify and supercharge your WordPress speed optimization efforts. Evaluate your website’s performance for free, and then compare the before and after results to see the beneficial effects it can have on your site.

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Andrei Alba
Andrei Alba

Andrei Alba is a technical support specialist and wordsmith here at FastPixel. He enjoys helping people understand WordPress through his easily digestible materials.

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