If there’s one thing that just about everyone wants from the web, it’s speed. Our Internet connections are faster than ever. Web servers are faster than ever — and many of the world’s most popular websites load almost instantaneously. If you own a website, your users also expect top-notch performance — and that’s not always easy to deliver with a low-cost shared hosting platform. If getting a faster server isn’t possible for you, there are still many things that you can do to improve the speed of your WordPress website. It’s even possible to get your website to load almost instantly. Let’s learn how.

Reduce the Clutter

How many plugins have you added to your WordPress installation? A WordPress plugin is worth having if it adds functionality that you need. Inactive plugins, however, only reduce your website’s performance and create potential security holes. Disable and uninstall unused plugins to keep your website fast and secure.

Optimize Your Images

When it comes to images, WordPress can handle just about anything that you can throw at it. If you upload an extremely large image, WordPress automatically resizes it to make it look correct within your content. However, the image that the user downloads is still the extremely large one that you originally uploaded. Install a plugin such as Smush Image Compression to reduce the sizes of your uploaded images. A compression plugin can compress all of your website’s images automatically without reducing their quality — and reducing your website’s image sizes can significantly reduce page download times.

Get a Caching Plugin

Every time a user loads a page from your website, WordPress has to query the back-end SQL database to retrieve the content for the desired page. In all, rendering a single page may require many database queries. As more people attempt to view your website simultaneously, the responsiveness of your database will decrease. A caching plugin creates static HTML versions of the pages on your website to limit database activity. Configured properly, a caching plugin can make pages from your website display almost instantly. A caching plugin can also prevent your website from slowing to a crawl during busy periods. Two of the most popular plugins for caching pages on WordPress are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.

Optimize Your Code

Reducing the size of your website’s source code can shave fractions of a second off of the time needed to download your pages. Compression can reduce the size of your website’s HTML code and JavaScript libraries, and you can use compression and caching simultaneously. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache can both compress your website’s HTML, JavaScript and CSS code to make page download sizes as small as possible. Removing plugins that don’t add value to your website can also greatly reduce your page download sizes; most WordPress plugins add something to your website’s source code.

Use a Content Delivery Network

If your current hosting service has trouble transferring data at an acceptable rate, hosting your website’s data on a content delivery network can alleviate your performance issues. When you move your website to a content delivery network, your current host will handle the initial DNS lookup and all database queries. The content delivery network will serve static files such as HTML documents and images. Cloudflare is one of the most popular free CDNs.

Moving your website to a CDN will have the greatest performance impact if you have a popular site that experiences periods of extremely high traffic. Your web host may experience problems if several people try to view your website simultaneously; a CDN can handle any traffic volume. If your web host is slow to send the first byte of data to users, though, a CDN won’t make a large difference. You can check your hosting company’s time to send the first byte using a speed test such as GTMetrix or Pingdom.

Upgrade Your Hosting

Do you still experience performance issues after exhausting all of the suggestions above? Speed tweaks can reduce the amount of data that people download when viewing your website. Moving your website to a CDN can improve page download times. The one thing that you can’t fix with a speed tweak, though, is a website that’s slow to deliver the first byte to users. To keep their services profitable, hosting companies need to sell shared hosting services to as many customers as possible. In some cases, though, that leads to poor performance for all customers because the overloaded servers can’t handle the traffic. Is your hosting company slow to deliver the first byte to users? Ask for help. If your hosting company can’t help you, it’s time to upgrade to a better hosting service.