How To Optimize Your WordPress Website For Speed

Three years ago when I was developing the NameHero private cloud I had one main focus: Speed

Sure, there were thousands of web hosts out there but at that time there were very few that offered cloud web hosting, much less affordable cloud web hosting.

Therefore I "carved out" my niche by offering high-speed cloud web hosting for under $5 a month. 

Often we get tickets from customers asking why their website is loading slow despite our high-performance infrastructure.

This is actually an excellent question and something I wanted to address in detail.

High Speed Hardware

When building our high-speed cloud we didn't cut any corners when it came to hardware.

Even though expensive, I wouldn't hear of anything less than Solid State Drives (SSD) protected by Raid 10.

The same goes for our Intel Processors, I didn't want any AMD or other brands, only the best.

Many of my close "industry friends" had thought I lost my mind; they didn't think I'd be able to pull off such an infrastructure and be able to be profitable offering it for the price that we do.

High Speed Software

I would save thousands of dollars a month by using Apache web server.  Instead, I chose to use LiteSpeed along with Cloud Linux to ensure every single account at NameHero was able to have ample resources.

LiteSpeed is a drop-in replacement to Apache, meaning your scripts, such as WordPress, operate the same but with much better performance.  CloudLinux sits on top of the CentOS operating system offering each account a specific amount of limits as well as their Caged File System that allows for core PHP files to be independent for each website.

This also allows us the ability to offer multiple versions of PHP for every customer; allowing them the freedom to choose what works best for their website.

WordPress Speed Test

With all of that covered, now comes the time to where we want to test the speed of WordPress.

My favorite "free tool" to conduct such tests is GTMetrix. Unlike many of the other "free" speed tests out there, GTMetrix will actually go into detail about why they gave the website the score that they did.

A "brand new" installation without any plugins or fancy themes, looks like this:

Any website with a PageSpeed and YSlow Score of 90% or higher is excellent, especially for a shared hosting environment.

This confirms the actual hardware and software of our infrastructure is doing its job properly.

WordPress Speed Test With LiteSpeed Cache

Introduced last year, LiteSpeed came out with their very own WordPress caching plugin that has gained a lot of popularity throughout the community.

Also read: How To Install LiteSpeed Cache For WordPress

LiteSpeed has actually benchmarked the plugin along side many of the most popular WordPress caching plugins:

We use LiteSpeed with Keep-Alive enabled.

If I take the exact same basic WordPress website I tested above, add LiteSpeed cache, my speed results look like this:

As you can see it's not a tremendous increase in full loaded time, but percentage wise, it's not bad!

WordPress Speed Test With LiteSpeed Cache + Cloudflare CDN

Finally, one of the main reasons for the low YSlow Score was not using a CDN.

I fixed this by simply enabling Cloudflare inside of cPanel and then loading the site with 'www' to activate it:

While the actual fully loaded time didn't improve, I brought my YSlow Score up 5% by using the Cloudflare CDN to accelerate the images. I actually enabled their Railgun which allows me to fetch the image from the server closest to the visitor, decreasing latency.

I could then go on to fix the other "minor issues" to try and bring my scores up as close to 100% as possible.

What If Your WordPress Website Isn't Getting These Results

The number one reason why we see WordPress websites getting lower scores than this is because they're using custom plugins and themes on their website.

I would estimate that almost all of our customers using WordPress here at NameHero utilize custom plugins and themes in some fashion.

However, you shouldn't recklessly use the two.

For example, you shouldn't install Plugins unless they're absolutely necessary.  The more plugins you install, the more database calls, and the lack of performance.

The same goes for Themes.  The majority of WordPress theme developers exist because they're trying to make money.

They're not actually developing the theme, putting it on a popular website, and then optimizing it for the highest load time.

They're developing the theme to look good and to be able to market and sell it to the masses.

Therefore you may find yourself needing to consult a professional WordPress developer to help you make some of these optimizations.

The good think about GTMetrix is they tell you exactly what needs to be done!

How To Speed Test And Optimize Your WordPress

I filmed a video tutorial where I walk through all of these speed tests and provide my input on the results:

We're a bunch of web hosting geeks here at NameHero.  It's our job to provide the highest performing infrastructure, but when it comes to code, it's up to the customer to be able to tweak it to take maximum advantage of the tools we have available.

If we provided individual site code support, we'd have to charge a lot more because the qualifications for a support job would require much more than server management!

If your WordPress website isn't loading as fast as you think it should, I would recommend taking a look at your Plugins and Themes after you make optimizations such as adding LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare.

You may want to look for themes that have very high reviews as well as an active community that's available to help answer questions on making necessary optimizations.

Feel free to ask any questions below, I'll try my best to help you out!

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