In sports, war, and business, speed wins. It’s time to take your WordPress site speed seriously.
Making your website load fast gives you a competitive advantage. If you plan on using your website to help you generate income, ensuring that you get a leg up on your competitor is essential to winning this game. Whether it’s getting a phone call, an online order, or booking an appointment, you don’t want a slow site to be the reason why your potential customer goes back to Google and chooses your competition.
Let’s make your WordPress site load faster… And by faster, I mean sub 1 second load times.
The Best WordPress Hosting for Speed and Reliability
Choosing the right host for your WordPress website can make one of the biggest difference to fast load times. When I started building out more domains of my own, I shopped around for hosting. The fastest and most reliable WordPress host has hands down been Siteground.
Don’t Go Cheap on the Hosting… But There Are Inexpensive Options
When most people fire up a WordPress install, it can be pretty easy to go for the cheapest host. I’ve done this too. Like most of you, I was also feeling fed up about the uptime, slow speeds, and even security risks.
Before Siteground, I was using WP Engine. If you have a small business website, WP Engine can be an awesome choice. It’s a very easy solution and I’ve been able to speed up sites to sub 1 second load times with it too. However, at $29/month, WP Engine can be cost restrictive. Especially when you compare Siteground’s WordPress hosting packages (starting at $3.95/month) that offer almost identical services.
In a world full of crappy hosting, it’s tough to beat Siteground or WP Engine.
Due to acquiring a few very large websites over the past few months, we outgrew WP Engine and moved over to Siteground. Eventually, we outgrew Siteground’s Go Geek package ($11.95/month) and moved over to a managed cloud hosting solution. I love it because it grows as we grow. In a world full of crappy hosting, it’s tough to beat Siteground or WP Engine.
Top WordPress Themes That Are Lightning Fast
One of the beautiful and horrible things about WordPress is that there are massive theme marketplaces. Some WordPress themes are free, some are not, and many are bad decisions when it comes to your sanity and speed.
I’ve worked with WordPress themes for over a decade now, and I love using the platform. However, it can be a nightmare when a client brings to me a bloated theme. These types of themes typically have every possible solution built into them, and they frequently break. Over the years, I’ve learned that simplicity is typically the best option.
StudioPress Themes + Genesis Framework
When it comes to fast, beautiful, and malleable theme, I love StudioPress. All StudioPress themes use the Genesis Framework. Think of it as a foundation for your WordPress theme. I’ve used the Genesis Framework for over 8 years now, and I have never had a Genesis WordPress site break. Not once.
Additionally, I’ve been able to consistently take StudioPress themes on the Genesis framework speed them up to sub 1 second load times without sacrificing design or functionality.
In fact, most of the Genesis + StudioPress themed sites that I’ve run speed optimization on are loading 0.5s.
Best WordPress Site Speed Plugins & Tools
Here’s a solid mix of free and paid tools that will help with your site. If you’re iffy about paid plugins, stay with me. I am too, but these are totally worth it.
Content Deliver Network
Cloudflare has been one of my favorite tools that I’ve added to my speed stack. It’s one of the easiest content delivery networks (CDN) to implement, and it is fairly idiot proof. Even if you’re just getting started with speed optimization, Cloudflare is very easy to configure.
There are a few other reasons why I love running on Cloudflare:
- DNS management: Cloudflare manges your DNS settings, so it makes it VERY easy to launch subdomains. I use subdomains everyday with affiliate traffic or special offers. Everything propagates instantly too.
- Security: One of the weaknesses of any content management system is that there is an access point available to anyone on the web, which makes it an easy target for hackers. Since WordPress is the most popular CMS, it’s fairly common to experience a variety of hacking attempts. Ps. This happened a lot more when I was using “cheaper” hosting options.
- Speed: Out of all of the CDNs I have used, Cloudflare is by far the most efficient and has the widest reach to help speed up your site. The speed options are easy to use, and don’t break (most) themes when in use.
WordPress Browser Caching, Image Loading, All That Jazz
There are a ton of browser caching and speed plugin options available for WordPress. I’ve tried a bunch of them, and I’ve even had some banned by hosting companies. Many of the plugins are over complicated – for your average Joe/Jill, the settings provide more tweaking than necessary.
Look, all I want from a speed optimization plugin is:
- Browser caching
- Database optimization
Anything else is icing on the cake, and WP Rocket hits the mark. Pricing ranges from $39/year to $199/year (agency size), and it’s 100% worth it. WP Rocket is one of the few speed optimization plugins that has worked with the majority of themes, even outside of StudioPress (it works wonders with StudioPress themes).
WordPress Image Compression Like a Boss
I love simple, and the makers of WP Rocket made a super easy and aggressive image optimization plugin called Imagify (use WPROCKET30 for 30% off). There are 3 levels of compression to help you meet your needs. I prefer right in the middle – aggressive.
Like many other image compression plugins, you can run a “bulk” compression. However, Imagify seems to compress better than most of the paid options I’ve used for WordPress sites.
Additionally, Imagify makes it really easy to optimize individual images that might require the ULTRA compression setting. If you’re an agency, the pricing is extremely attractive, and you can even create sub accounts to track customers that use compression more than others. Overall, Imagify is by far the best WordPress image optimization plugin that I have ever used. It has earned a spot on my speed stack list.
Go Fast, and Win!
Speed wins in most cases, so go forth, and make your WordPress site load fast. Attract more sales and leads.
Disclosure: The Siteground links are affiliate links my company, NewElevation, Inc. We do get compensated if you sign up using that link. Getting paid doesn’t change my opinion of whether I believe in Siteground. I stand behind my tips and opinions of them.