WordPress performance

The Ultimate Guide to Analyze and fix Performance of Your WordPress Website

At CollectiveRay we’re always looking for ways of making our websites faster. Our website loads FAST. Really really fast! And we want your websites to perform fast too. That’s why today we’ve opted to publish an article that focuses on WordPress performance.

You might already know that WordPress performance is critical to the success of your website. Studies have shown that users will start abandoning your website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

eCommerce sites also lose sales when the performance of the site is slow.

According to a study, if a site is delayed for a second, the conversion rate will be reduced by 7%. Suffice to say WordPress performance is one of the things you’ll need to focus on if you want your website to be successful.

wordpress performance infographics

Most WordPress websites are not maximizing their full potential

Even though WordPress is a great blogging platform and CMS, the harsh reality is most websites are not maximizing its full potential. It is mainly because most website owners aren’t programmers who could analyze WordPress performance, understand the problem areas and take necessary actions to boost WordPress performance.

If you’re not sure whether your site is at its full potential, simply copy the below code and paste it into your footer.php file.

<?php echo get_num_queries(); ?> queries in <?php timer_stop(1); ?>  seconds.

footer code

In your footer, it will now display how long a page takes to load and how many MySQL queries the page is executing.

Top Tip:

Not sure about all the technical stuff? You might want to hire a WordPress developer - our guide will help you find the right one.

1. How to find and fix a WordPress performance drop

Before implementing various tactics that can help to boost WordPress performance, it is always better to scan your WordPress website, analyzing performance issues and checking what is causing a performance drop.

Once you’ve identified the issues, the next step is to fix them to remove the bottleneck.

Many plugins will help you analyze WordPress performance. In this post, we’ll be using P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) for that purpose.

Note: Before going further, make sure you take a backup of your site, so that just in case something goes wrong, you can easily revert it to normal.

Recommended Reading: How to backup WordPress natively or with a plugin

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

p3 before scanning

Poorly configured plugins are one of the main reasons that adversely affect WordPress performance.

That is why we need a tool such as P3, the WordPress performance profiler plugin. The idea behind P3 is that it actually analyzes the execution time of each WordPress plugin and then presents to you a graph with executions times.

This allows you to see which plugins you need to focus most of your attention on.

A while back one of our WP websites started to degrade in performance. Each hit was taking 10 to 15 seconds to execute.

After installing P3 we found that one of the plugins taking more than 8 seconds to execute. It was something which we could do without, so we killed it without any hesitation.

Boom. Site loading back to normal.

This is a perfect example of how you can use WordPress performance profiler.

Let’s see how to work with P3 to troubleshoot WordPress performance.

Once you’ve installed the P3 plugin, click ‘P3 Plugin Profiler’ tab, under Tools menu. Click the ‘Start scan’ button>> Auto Scan.

Once the scanning is over, click ‘View Results’ button.

Instead of automatic scanning, you can choose a manual scan if you want to analyze the background performance of a specific page.

Instead of clicking the ‘Auto Scan’ button, click ‘Manual  Scan’ in the above step.

manual scan

After that, click the links and pages of your site, and the scanner will analyze the speed and resource usage of all of your active plugins on a particular page. Once the scan is complete, you would see a "View Results" button. Click it.

P3 scan results

Now you’ll get detailed insights like plugin load time, how much they impact on total load time and database queries per visit.

P3 detailed scan results

What to do with the results

The main benefit of using the P3 plugin is that you can email the results to yourself, your developer or your support team, so they can easily identify the real issues that cause the performance drop. You’ll find this feature very useful especially if you’re not a programmer who could analyze the issues by yourself.

email results

If you’re suspecting a plugin or a theme feature for performance drop, you can run the P3 scanner to determine the issue. Since P3 has an extensive help section, you could easily figure out what causes slowness besides plugin and many other FAQs. So even if you’re not sure what the numbers are telling, you could interpret the results with the help section

Aside from looking at the plugin issues, you may also want to check these guides, which helps you find and fix vulnerabilities in your WordPress themes:

You can also find more WordPress tips for website owners here.

How to perform WordPress performance optimization for a faster website

So far we’ve seen how to analyze WordPress performance with P3 plugin. Now let’s take a look at various WordPress performance optimization methods that will help you speed up your server response time and improve page speed performance.

2. Improve WordPress performance through image optimization


Optimizing WordPress images is an essential part of improving WordPress performance because images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a web page.

Below are a few ways to optimize WordPress images.

  • Image compression: The size of the images will influence the page speed. Try compressing images if they are unnecessarily large.
  • Lazy load: If you’re using too many images on a web page, make sure they are loaded only when they are visible to your visitors.
  • Use the correct image format: GIF, JPEG, and PNG are the most popular image formats. Since each format has its characteristics and benefits, using the right one can help to improve page speed.
  • Make effective use of browser cache: Instruct browsers to keep CSS and images files longer than usual. The benefit is it will ultimately reduce the loading time even when your visitors return after a long period. We've got a great article on how to leverage browser caching for WordPress here.
  • Replace images with CSS if possible: Instead of using images you can generate certain shapes with CSS.


3. Deliver resources faster by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a network of multiple servers distributed throughout various locations around the globe to increase page speed and user experience. CDN caches the static content and files of your site and delivers to your site visitors based on their geographic locations through a server that is closest to them.

At CollectiveRay, we use and recommend StackPatch, formerly MaxCDN. Alternatively, if you’re after a free CDN, read 11+9 Free / Premium CDN WordPress Services to Boost Your Website Speed our article which we update often with the best services out there.

4. Use a cache plugin to decrease server load and boost WordPress performance

A cache plugin improves the WordPress performance by generating static files from your dynamic WordPress website. Once the static page is generated by the plugin, your webserver will serve that file instead of processing a comparatively heavier dynamic WordPress PHP scripts.

For a more detailed look, learn how to get a super-fast WordPress website today- 17 actions.

5. Split your long posts into multiple pages

You might have already noticed it-- Some websites prefer publishing their long-form articles by splitting them into multiples pages. The best thing is that it helps improve loading time because the whole page isn’t loaded at once.

post pagination

But, did you know that splitting a long page into multiple pages is a built-in functionality of WordPress?

All you need to do is to add <!––nextpage––> tag in your article wherever you want to open a new page.

6. Split comments into pages

Blogs are not monologues. They are built for having two-way conversations with your readers through blog comments.

Having said that, publishing tons of comments on your blog post could worsen the performance of your site.

For that reason, many bloggers disable commenting on a post after a few days of publishing it

If you’re concerned about page speed, instead of disabling comments, you could split your comments into different pages.

How would you do that?

paginate comments

Just navigate to Settings>> Discussions and check the box next to ‘Break comments into pages’.

7. Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is a process of stealing your bandwidth. For example, some content scrapers steal your images by not uploading your images on their servers but serving them directly from your website. As a result, they steal your bandwidth but you don’t get any visits at all.

You can easily avoid hotlinking by adding the below code to your .htaccess file.

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?your-domain-name [NC]

RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ - [NC,F,L]

Thanks for reading! If you want a quick guide on optimizing your WordPress site for performance, this great guide on how to optimize WordPress websites for speed is a must. Want more? For more WordPress tricks like this, you may refer to this guide: 101 WordPress Tricks to Every Serious Blogger Must Know.

WordPress Performance Plugin

For many of you out there, debugging performance problems and making their website faster is not their cup of tea, and obviously, this is why we've come up with this article, we're trying to make this a little bit easier for you guys.

But what if we told you there's an even easier way to make your website faster? With just a few clicks you can fix most of your performance problems and make sure they never actually come back.

That fix is WP Rocket. This is a WordPress performance plugin which has been written specifically for WP and is proven to remove all kinds of bottlenecks from most websites.

It handles such stuff as

  • File and database caching
  • Image optimization
  • Browser caching
  • Removing dead plugins and their tables
  • Optimizing database tables
  • Lazy loading
  • Integration with a CDN
  • GZip compression (read more about how to enable GZIP compression manually here)
  • and plenty of other optimizations

It's not free, but it's well worth the investment. After all, a fast website is going to be beneficial to both you as the website owner and most importantly, your visitors and prospective clients.

Check out WP Rocket

Need help getting WordPress fast? Try these top-rated affordable gigs on Fiverr!

fiverr logo

Click here to find experts on WordPress speed optimization.

Click here to create a full WordPress website.



Conclusion: what more can we do to optimize WordPress Performance

What are your favorite tricks to boost WordPress performance? Share your thoughts with us by dropping a line below in the comments section.

About the Author
Shahzad Saeed
Author: Shahzad SaeedWebsite: http://shahzadsaeed.com/
Shahzaad Saaed has been featured in a large number of authority websites, as a WordPress expert. He specializes in content marketing to help business grow their traffic.

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CollectiveRay is run by David Attard - working in and around the web design niche for more than 12 years, we provide actionable tips for people who work with and on websites. We also run DronesBuy.net - a website for drone hobbyists.

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