WordPress holds almost 65% market share for content management systems on websites whose CMS is known. This is about 41% of all websites. The nearest competitor – Shopify – is powering only 3.4% of the sites. The gap is huge! Like it or not, WordPress’s market share is still growing, and it shows no signs of slowing down. 

The importance of an optimization

Web page speed optimization should be a top priority for any website owner. If the user is waiting more than a few seconds for your website to load, you can be more than sure it’ll cost you a massive percent of new subscribers, customers, conversions, and page views. In addition, it will increase the bounce rate drastically.

It is also necessary to emphasize that page speed influences SEO. Google is penalizing slower websites, so they are pushed down in the search results, affecting traffic.

When thinking about optimization, you might take the impression that it’s an expensive process. However, reality shows that all you need is your knowledge. If you only have the right approach from the beginning of the website building process, remember about performance when making choices, and know which free tools to use – you can get satisfactory results at a meager cost.


How to find an area for improvement

Just because the website doesn’t feel slow on your machine doesn’t mean it’s fast. While measuring page speed, you have to use some independent tools. Here are some of them:

Most of the tools you find online will provide you a full report with valuable tips and recommendations of the potential improvement areas.

What might slow down your WordPress website?

Poor hosting

While choosing the right hosting for your site, you should consider the size of your website, projected traffic on the site but also your budget – but remember, you get what you pay for!

Page size

Ensure all the resources (images, videos, styles, scripts, etc.) are minimized & compressed. Serve correct image sizes for different devices, remember to always compress them before uploading to your website, and don’t forget about lazy load offscreen resources.

External scripts

While sometimes it’s necessary to use 3rd party code like analytical tools or ads, remember their vast impact on the performance and select only the crucial ones. Pay attention to best practices while preparing your GTM scripts.

Too many or bad plugins

Permanently delete unused plugins and be picky while deciding which one to use – a poorly coded plugin can slow down the website.

Too many redirects

Limit your redirects wherever you can – the server takes more time to find and load the correct page.

No caching

Since WordPress pages are dynamic and built on the fly, it’s best practice to implement page caching. It can make the website even 5x faster.

Overloaded database

If you’re using your WordPress website for a while, the database will contain a lot of data you probably do not need anymore (trashed posts, revisions, etc.). Also, not all plugins allow you to remove related data automatically while deleting it. Therefore it’s best practice to clean up your database once in a while.


Useful free plugins examples

While there are many excellent and advanced plugins for optimizing your WordPress site, they’re most useful while using their paid version. But if you do your research, test a bunch of them, and mix them to get all the functionalities you need – you can find free ones which will also do their job. Here are some of my favorites:

1. WP Super Cache

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about WordPress website optimization is caching.

One of the most popular plugins for this purpose is WP Super Cache – it’s also 100% free. The configuration is super easy, so if you’re a beginner, you can go with default settings that can be set with one checkbox or use one of the proposed settings you can find on the internet. You can also go to advanced settings if you know what you’re doing. It has many features like:

  • Gzip compression
  • Pages caching
  • Browser caching
  • CDN support.

2. Asset CleanUp

The life-saver when it comes to CSS/JavaScript optimization. Although, while using it, be sure to unload only those assets you know are unnecessary or you might break some theme functionalities.
The features list is long, but the main ones are:

  • Minify CSS/JS files
  • Remove possible conflicts between plugins
  • Site-wide removal for commons like Emojis, Gutenberg CSS, etc. if not used
  • Unload plugins scripts/styles on specific pages

3. Async JavaScript

This plugin helps eliminate render-blocking JavaScript by giving complete control of which scripts to exclude or add ‘async’ or ‘defer’ attribute.

4. WP Smush 

Smush is one of the most popular plugins for image optimization. What differentiates it from others is that it uses lossless formats, so the image quality difference after the compression is not visible. It also provides a one-click lazy load setup without any template code changes.

5. WP-Optimize

This plugin helps to clean your WordPress database. You can optimize all, or individual tables, set a clean-up schedule, or review database optimization stats in the admin panel. It also offers site caching and image compression so that it can be used as a multipurpose plugin.


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WordPress website optimization doesn’t have to be expensive

When deciding on a site in WordPress, you need to keep in mind continuous optimization and improvement. There are many free tools available on the market that will improve aspects of the site, and as I have outlined in this article, there are many factors that affect the quality of a site. Therefore, it is worthwhile to perform periodic audits of the site to verify the status of things and indicate areas worth improving.