There’s no denying that WordPress is a pretty awesome content management system. It’s by far one of the most popular platforms out there with over 46 million downloads. It can be used as a framework for practically anything – blogs, forums, ecommerce systems, portfolios… But one of the major drawbacks to its interchangeability with an abundance of themes and plugins is the resultant slowdown in speed.

As you may know, speed is a critical factor for SEO – a sluggish site could influence the search engine visibility of your web properties, which in turn means less exposure and potentially less revenue. But fear not! We have a trick or two up our sleeve to supercharge your speeds.

Before you begin, for comparison’s sake, you might want to take a speed test of your site. You can use this result to gauge whether or not the instated changes are effective.

1. Speed test your plugins

The extensive array of over 42,000 plugins and themes in the repository is one of the most favourable features of the WordPress CMS. However, the open nature of the platform means that anyone can contribute. As such, it’s probable that some extensions are written inefficiently and ‘bloated’ – this could be the root of your WordPress woes.

In order to test this, we’ll install a free plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) from This intelligent extension measures the performance impact of each plugin on your site and returns a multitude of metrics, itemised by name, to identify the culprit.

If you notice a plugin is significantly impacting your page load time, you may consider deactivating it or seeking an equivalent.

We also strongly advise against using more plugins than necessary, as these can overload your site and deter its performance.

2. Speed up WordPress with Gzip

If your web server is Apache-based, it is recommended that you implement Gzip (or mod_deflate, as it is also known). The fundamental purpose of this Apache module is to compress content before it is delivered to the client. As complicated as it may sound, it’s really not – it’s simply a matter of flicking a switch in your cPanel and this will be enabled.

Look for ‘Optimise website’ under the ‘Software’ section.

Enable gzip in cPanel

Then select ‘Compress all content’ or specify particular MIME types that you’d like to target.


Click ‘update settings’, and you’re good to go! If you’re a Jolly Leaf customer and encounter any issues, do please drop us a ticket and we can take care of this on your behalf.

3. Make your site load faster – cache it!

Caching (pronounced ‘cashing’) is a process by which your pages and posts are converted to static HTML pages. This is particularly advantageous as it eliminates the necessity for resource-intensive PHP and MySQL database queries, which means the transfer between the web server and the client can be facilitated much more quickly. Thankfully, caching is extremely easy to implement in WordPress – there are copious free plugins in the plugins library that can do this. We recommend WP Super Cache.

We at Jolly Leaf also utilise the incredible UNIXy Varnish module, which is enabled in all web hosting plans as standard and can be toggled on and off from the cPanel.

4. Make use of CDNs

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are effectively a network of globally distributed servers that deliver web pages and other miscellaneous web assets to your users from a server location which is geographically close to them. If your site is hosted in Amsterdam, for instance, it would be much quicker for a user in the United States to connect to a server in their own country as opposed to Western Europe. Here at Jolly Leaf we like to make things as simple as possible. That’s why all our web hosting packages come with one-click integration with CloudFlare, the leading CDN and security suite.

5. Minify your stuff

Minification, in a nutshell, is a process which aims to improve performance of code by stripping it of unnecessary characters (without affecting its functionality). Code of the same language can also be concatenated into one file to save the web server from opening unnecessary connections. Most often, this speed-enhancing strategy is applied to HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You could choose to do this manually using an online tool such as JSCompress or autonomously through a WordPress plugin.

6. Domain sharding

Domain sharding is a slightly old-school technique of tricking the web browser into downloading more resources than usual, simultaneously. Did you know that modern web browsers permit on average a mere 6 concurrent downloads per domain? This can be achieved by spreading content, particularly static, over multiple domains. In turn, this should improve load speeds and search engine visibility. While complicated to set up, domain sharding is worth its weight in gold.

6. Leverage browser caching

In line with option 3, it’s possible to encourage web browsers to store cached copies of your site. Loading assets from the user’s hard drive is undoubtedly faster than loading them from a remote web server on the other side of the world. Just like mod_deflate/gzip, it’s super easy to encourage browser caching by adding some simple rules to your .htaccess file.

7. Optimise images by compression

Depending on the resolution of images on your website, it may be the case that they are the detriment to your load time. We highly recommend the WP Smush plugin, which harnesses Yahoo!’s Smush image optimiser. The plugin will compress images without noticeable compromise on quality.

7. Spring-clean your database

Behind-the-scenes, your MySQL database is the epicentre of your site’s core functionality. Without it, WordPress simply cannot function. Within, you can find scores of old redundant post drafts, revisions, plugin data, posts and pages themselves, metadata, user data, comments (some spam perhaps) and more. While we acknowledge much of this is pivotally important to your site, much of it isn’t. Removing useless table records means less time spent searching for meaningful data. The WP-Optimize plugin aims to rid your database of such unnecessities.

9. Put a stop to hotlinkers

Hotlinking is essentially when someone embeds an image from your website, but instead of downloading it and hosting it themselves, they link directly to the resource on your website. Each time this asset is loaded on their page, this causes your bandwidth to deplete. If this is a large image or even worse, a video, this could be particularly problematic. The best way to discourage hotlinking is to add a htaccess rule to reject requests for assets from other domains. You can accomplish this by adding the following lines to the end of your htaccess file:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?://(www\.)?([^/]+)/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %2#%{HTTP_HOST} !^(.+)#(www\.)?\1$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(bmp|gif|jpe?g|png|swf)$ - [F,L,NC]

10. Aim to deliver above-the-fold content first

Above-the-fold content is the part of your page that the user can see without scrolling down. It makes sense to prioritise the loading of this content before anything else, right? You may have a particularly bandwidth-intensive image further down your page which is causing speed issues. What if the user leaves your site without scrolling that far? Not only have you wasted bandwidth in serving it to them, but it sure had an impact on your site’s speed. It’s most practical to show such things to the visitor only when they request it, e.g. scroll beyond a particular point. This will drastically reduce the number of initial HTTP requests made by your page. Images and other elements can be dynamically included as the user scrolls through your site using AJAX. Alternatively, you can install a WordPress plugin such as BJ Lazy Load to effortlessly implement this technology.

11. Move to a better web host

As a webmaster yourself, it’s more than likely you’ve come across scores of web hosting providers who offer ‘everything for nothing’ – in essence, many resources for remarkably low prices. You may well ask yourself how this is possible. Well, it isn’t – at least not without a compromise. Often such low prices are achieved by the service provider overselling its plans. Basically, overselling can be understood as selling more resources than can be feasibly delivered. In the context of web hosting, this could mean putting too many people on the same server. Each site on such a server must fight for its share of resources. If the server is under significant load, this results in bottlenecks, high latency and slow response times.

As industry veterans in the web hosting field, we at Jolly Leaf provide a stable and robust hosting platform using a high-performance infrastructure. This is backed by unrivalled customer service when you need it by knowledgeable human beings – our ratings on TrustPilot testify this!

If you’re serious about performance and would like to know more, view our plans.



P.S. run a speed test again and compare this to your initial result. Let us know how much your speed has increased in the comments!