A slow website not only makes for dissatisfied visitors, but also hurts your Google ranking. How you can optimize your WordPress Page Speed, we show you in this article. Thereby, we will mainly go into less common tips and tricks that can be used to fine-tune your WordPress website in terms of page speed.
Important: The PageSpeed values of Google do not correspond to the actual loading time. A WordPress website can also load quickly, but still not be perfectly optimized (i.e. not have perfect PageSpeed values). A perfect score at Google PageSpeed Insights should therefore not necessarily be the goal. Instead, it is important to try out different things and filter out the measures and adjusting screws that really have a noticeable impact on the loading time of your WordPress website.
Before optimization: Measure speed
Before you start optimizing your WordPress page speed, you should know how your website is currently doing in terms of performance optimization. Four values are crucial for your audit:
- The First Contentful Paint (FCP) indicates how fast the first elements are displayed on the site . It basically measures the perceived loading time and is particularly important in optimization.
- The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) expresses how long it takes for the rest of the elements from the main content of a site to load after the first one.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures how much time passes before the visitors can actually interact with your site .
- The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) should ideally always be zero. The value stands for shifts in the layout that, for example, cause users to click on the wrong button.
Unlike Time To First Bite (TTFB) - the time from the first request to the server response - these values are user-centric. They are not aimed exclusively at WordPress performance. That means they are less determined by measures like (server-side) caching and proper WordPress hosting. Instead, what matters is that you build your pages smartly. For example, they should be loaded in the right order - but more on that later.
If you want to measure the speed of your WordPress website, there are several online tools available, including:
Google and GTmetrix offer you extremely detailed WordPress PageSpeed Insights . However, only WebPageTest also measures the perceived load time. What you should pay attention to when using this more complex tool, you can read in our article WebPageTest: Analyze your website performance.
What makes WordPress slow
If you want to optimize your WordPress effectively, you should also understand what causes a high load time. We have summarized the most important ones for you in our article Why do WordPress websites become slow?
What is a good page speed?
All testing is of little help if you don't know how to classify the results afterwards. Before we come to the optimization tips, we will therefore tell you the answer to the question: Which page speed value is actually good? For this, we'll take a quick look at Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.
Important: If your website also includes a blog or magazine, you should always measure the page speed for at least one article in addition to your home page. You should also put the page speed in relation to the type of website you are dealing with. For a simple blog, it is much more realistic to achieve ideal PageSpeed values than for an elaborately designed website with extended functionalities.
Google PageSpeed Insights
The PageSpeed Insights, which Google's tool provides, refers less to actual loading times than to the degree of optimization. To test, simply enter your URL here (e.g. your homepage or a subpage in the magazine or blog). Google will then show you a test result for the mobile version of site by default. However, you can also change this to a desktop version.
The results for the performance (power) are quite easy to understand and color-coded according to the traffic light system:
- Red = 0 to 49 points = bad
- Orange = 50 to 89 points = medium
- Green = 90 to 100 points = good
However, the interpretation is not quite that simple in practice. Among other things, it is not absolutely necessary to reach a value in the green range for your website to pick up speed.
Instead, you can remember as a rule of thumb : On mobile, you should at least be in the orange range; anything above a value of about 70 is already good. For the desktop, you can definitely aim for the green range - but you don't have to have 100 points either.
GTmetrix is also a relatively simple tool, but it mainly measures the actual loading time of your website. Attention: You should register for free before the measurement and change the location of the measurement from Vancouver to London.
Alternatively, you can check the speed of your website with our WordPress Speed Test. Just enter your URL and our WordPress experts will check the speed of your WordPress website for you. After a maximum of 48 hours, you will receive an email with all details about the test and your complete GTmetrix measurement result with all relevant performance data (incl. Core Web Vitals).
The rule of thumb here is: You should at least achieve a B rating.
Optimize WordPress Page Speed: 5 Tips
If you really want to optimize your WordPress Page Speed effectively, you should make sure that your actions pay off on one of these four key parameters:
- Reduce the size of your website
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
- Compress data packets
- Optimize perceived load time
Overall, there are many easy to implement measures with which you can shorten the load time of your WordPress website. We have already summarized the basics in several articles for you, and of course we don't want to deprive you of them here:
- Optimize your WordPress Website with the 10 Most Important Levers
- Make WordPress Faster - The Best Tips for More Performance
- PageSpeed Insights & the Importance of Website Speed
- Shut up Google PageSpeed! Fix the Most Important Error Messages
You have already adjusted all the basics? Then we'll tell you five additional tips and tricks that you can use to fine-tune your WordPress page speed.
#1 Anticipate DNS requests
Most websites contain third-party code. Videos are often provided via separate video hosting (e.g. via YouTube or Vimeo). You probably also have services like Google Maps or social feeds from Instagram & Co. embedded on your website. In simple terms, all these services have to be loaded from the external server of the third-party provider via DNS requests in order to function. This takes some time and may cause your website to load slower.
One way to save time and optimize your WordPress page speed is DNS prefetching. Here, the DNS queries on a site are already made in the background before the users actually click on the corresponding link, for example a video. Thus, the DNS search has already taken place and the waiting time for the users is reduced. The result: an improved user experience and more page speed.
WooCommerce speed up
You run an online store with WooCommerce on your WordPress website and want to know what you can do to make your WooCommerce perform better? Then you should also read our article WooCommerce - the ultimate guide.
#2 Reduce external content
It is even better for your WordPress page speed if you reduce external content as much as possible. If you encounter this error message, it's best to reconsider whether you really need everything that is currently included on your website via external services.
If so, you can also use lazy loading to display some of the content only when the website visitor actually scrolls to the place where it is embedded on site . This can be done with plugins like a3 Lazy Load.
#3 Optimize your fonts
At first glance, fonts don't seem to be a big performance hog, but they can definitely harm your page speed. This is always the case when, like Google Fonts, they come with large stylesheets that first have to be loaded externally or integrated locally.
One solution is secure web fonts or system fonts such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana, which are preinstalled on every device. They provide the best loading time and do not cause GDPR problems. If you currently use two or more fonts, you should also consider reducing them.
If you don't want to use secure web fonts, you should add the font display attribute swap. This way your site will always load a secure system font first and switch to your actual font later. Normally this happens so fast that the website visitors don't even notice the change visually.
Most performance and caching plugins come with this feature. But you can also add it manually to your theme's CSS files. Search for the rule @font-face and add the attribute "font-display: swap;".
#4 Prioritize visible content
Decisive for the page speed are not only bare numbers, but above all what arrives at the users : the perceived loading time. So if you want to optimize your WordPress page speed, you should focus on the area "Above the Fold", that is, what is visible without scrolling.
You should prioritize visible content and features that your visitors has directly on the screen when you visit site . That is, the browser should ideally get the information it needs first to display the visible area as quickly as possible.
In practice, however, resources that are not needed until later often block rendering in the visible area of site. To fix this and improve the perceived load time, you have several options:
- Introduce prioritizations: Here you determine what should be loaded first. For example, you can prioritize images and only load them when the content has been completely queried (lazy loading).
#5 Disable unused WordPress features
By default, WordPress has some features enabled that you probably don't need. Nevertheless, they are always loaded in the background - and slow down your website. If you want to bring your page speed to the next level, you should always check if you can disable unused functions.
- Pingbacks: By default, WordPress interacts with other websites that allow pingbacks and trackbacks. If you don't need the feature, you should disable it.
- Revisions: WordPress automatically creates revisions of all your posts. This can be useful, but over time it creates a lot of data garbage that makes your website slow. You should therefore limit the revisions.
- Emojis: Since version 4.2 emojis are part of the WordPress Core. So the scripts are always loaded when someone calls site - no matter if you actually use them. This costs valuable loading time.
- Gravatar: By default, Gravatar sends requests to external servers in the USA for every comment, which slows down the performance of your website and is also difficult in terms of data protection.
While these and similar features affect your loading speed minimally individually, in aggregate they can make a real difference. When you disable them, you reduce the number of HTTP requests and thus pay down one of the four main parameters for your WordPress page speed optimization. Most of these unused WordPress basic features can be disabled with a few clicks using Perfmatters or WP-Optimize.
Conclusion: PageSpeed is not everything
In summary, even beyond the basics - like enabling caching, relying on fast hosting, or sorting out plugins - there are a few tweaks you can make to fine-tune your WordPress page speed.
Overall, however, you should never let the Google PageSpeed Insights score drive you crazy. Although it reveals optimization potential and provides you with a good orientation, it is by no means the measure of all things. Biting the bullet in the pursuit of a perfect 100 out of 100 points can therefore also be a waste of time.
Not all optimizations always make sense in individual cases, especially with such an extensive content management system as WordPress. It is therefore much more important that you check and optimize the actual and perceived loading time of your website.
WordPress Page Speed Frequently Asked Questions
What influences the loading time of a website?
There are many factors that influence the loading time of a website. Among the most important are the size of the website, the number of HTTP requests, the compression of data packets and the optimization of the perceived load time. The foundation for a good loading time is always a powerful and fast WordPress hosting.
How long is a site allowed to charge?
Studies show that mobile users in particular simply cancel the loading of site in online stores if it takes longer than three seconds. Ideally, the loading time should not exceed two seconds.
How important is Page Speed?
Page speed, i.e. the loading speed of your website, can determine whether users engage with you and your business or leave your website early. It significantly influences the user experience and also affects the Google ranking of your website. In addition, your conversion rate suffers in the worst case from too long loading times.