Improve WordPress Website Speed in 2021

Google released a new speed algorithm in May 2020 that looks at page loading speed, if the website is loading more than 3 seconds then users are more likely to abandon the website page and move onto something else due to our short website browsing attention spam.

Google will reward websites by improving their google ranking for those that have better website speed which ultimately creates a better user experience.

How to Test your Website.

I would recommend performing a test on the GTMetrix website to find out how the website is performing, and you should also focus on Google Page Insights because Google can give you a lot of business when your pages are ranked on page 1.

How to improve website speed

Reduce Image Size

To improve the website speed we can reduce the image size, and then it's mostly about the website code such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP.

The recommended size for each image is to be less than 150kb, this can be achieved with Adobe Photoshop while retaining most of the image quality.

If you don't have Photoshop you can also compress images on the TinyJPG website.

There are also Plugins available to compress images, but more plugins = slower website.

Convert Images to WebP

You can also convert images on your website to WebP which is a modern image format that reduces the image size while keeping the quality, it's also recommended by Google.

Improve WordPress Themes and Plugins

The reasons your websites is slow because it's uses a Theme or a Plugin that has thousands of different functions and code built into them that your website doesn't require but they are still running in the background, those themes and plugins work on the basis to fit all business and all designs.

A custom build website that's lightweight doesn't require much optimisation.

Image of Digital Destiny Speed performance Website on Google page insights

Reduce Amount of Code That Get's Executed

Website Code reduces website loading speed

You don't need to be a programmer to tidy up code, there are plugins that can help assist you, such as:

I've tried a lot of different free plugins and didn't notice too much difference, they will speed up slow websites, - but if you are website is fast like it can slow down the website by using them because it uses extra functions.

If it's slow we don't have to go and edit all the coding, instead, you can use a plugin that will do it for you.

Improve Website Speed with SG Optimizer plugin

If your hosting is with SiteGround by default your WordPress will already have the SG Optimizer plugin installed. If you are not on SiteGround skip ahead to Wp-Rocket below.

On your SiteGround hosting account head over on your SiteGround account and in your domain go to SiteTools > Speed > Catching > Memcached and enable it.

To configure the SG Optimizer, go to WordPress admin panel and click on SG Otpimzer

Let's brake down now the configurations:

Supercacher Settings

  • Enable Memcached and keep everything else on default.

Environment Optimization

  • Enable HTTPS
  • Enable WordPress Heartbeat Optimization
  • Everything else can stay as default.

Frontend Optimization

I would highly recommend to back up whole website before doing frontend optimisation.

This will help to remove unnecessary code and remove the white space between code giving the website better performance.

Enable all of them, but do be careful with Minify JavaScript Files, Combine JavaScript Files and Defer render-blocking JS - if your website uses a lot of plugins it may cause them not to work correctly. Check full website functionality after enabling.

If something isn't functioning try to disable those options one by one to find which one caused the error, if this doesn't help you may have to restore the backup of your website to the previous version.

Media Optimisation

By enabling New Images Optimization it will reduce the image size on every upload.

I would also highly recommend to enable Generate WebP Copies of New Images, this will reduce image size by a lot with changing images to new modern format! But it will not work properly if the website is using CloudFlare.

Lazy load images helps the user, this loads the images on the webpage after all the text has loaded, so the user can start reading and see images with a delay.

If you already got loads of images on the website you can optimise existing images and bulk generate WebP files (images).

After all complete, click Purge SG Cache in the top of the WordPress admin panel.

Our result now should look like this.

DDIreland Website
Previously speed was 1.8 + .6 = 2.4 seconds and now got a full second down. Which doesn't look like a lot, but it does matter.

Amazon predicted if their website slows down by 1 second it will cost amazon 1.6 Billion US Dollars in revenue! Website speed does matter for the users and search engines to rank your website higher.

If you are not using SiteGround, then use WpRocket.

You can use WpRocket instead of SG Optimizer which will also increase your website speed by a lot, and they can be also be used together to make even bigger improvements to your website speed. WP-Rocket has a great blog with recommendations on how to get the best out of their plugin and how to improve website speed.

Other factors that can improve Website Speed

Improve website server

Sometimes the cause could be is that you are using a shared server which is the cheaper option for everyone and great for startups, on the shared server there a lot of other websites, and if they all get a good amount of traffic it will affect the performance of your website and will slow it down.

From my experience, I've found that SiteGround is a good shared server hosting provider for Ireland on speed and performance, but if you are planning to speed up your website even more then a dedicated server will be faster and will also add another extra layer of security.

When selecting the server ensure to use a server located in your region or as close as possible, otherwise it will affect loading speed for your users in your region.

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