Top 20 Fastest WordPress Theme (Free) for SEO [Tested & Data-Backed]

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Yes, we know that the website’s loading speed is crucial for any kind of website or blog, whether you are a big brand, large business, e-commerce, personal blog, or a small tiny website.

Because NOBODY will wait for a website to load for more than 5 seconds, therefore slow website speed will only make people hit the exit button and leave your site.

Another thing you may know about is how website loading speed affects website ranking on Google. In other words, faster loading speed equals better SEO, lower bounce rate, and more website traffic.

From my research, the top 10 results in Google have fast loading speed, so if you want your website to appear on the first page, make sure your website is fast!

If your website is generating decent revenue, a few seconds slower in loading speed may result in huge losses.

With that in mind, it’s important to build a site that’s fast and light for internet users to navigate smoothly around your website.

To make that happen, you’ll have to use a fast and light WordPress theme, because the backend coding is one of the main factors that contribute to the overall website performance.

It can be daunting to look for the fastest WordPress theme, so to ease your work, I’ve done the website speed tests for 20 different themes with the three most popular website speed testing tools – GTMetrix, Pingdom, and WebPageTest.

To get the most accurate results, I tested all the themes under identical environments (same hosting server, the same amount of pages, no cache, no plugin) and not their demo URLs!

Also, I tested all the themes with each speed testing tool for 3 times to get the accurate average results.

Want to know the top 20 fastest WordPress themes that are free to use and light in size?

Here are the results I got:

WordPress
Theme
Load
Time
[GTM]
PageSpeed
score
[GTM]
YSlow
score
[GTM]
Load
Time
[PD]
Perform.
grade
[PD]
Load
Time
[WPT]
Neve0.7s100%96%350ms970.802s
Arke0.7s100%96%372ms980.725s
Astra0.9s99%93%354ms960.831s
Suki1.0s100%95%351ms970.866s
TwentyNineteen0.9s99%92%410ms951.032s
GeneratePress1.0s99%88%421ms920.981s
Sydney1.0s98%88%433ms921.263s
Schema Lite1.0s99%90%539ms931.074s
Page Builder Framework1.1s99%91%431ms940.985s
Writee1.1s97%88%435ms921.069s
Hestia1.1s99%87%526ms911.237s
OceanWP1.1s99%88%561ms911.251s
Skin1.2s99%85%441ms901.388s
Hello Elementor1.3s100%95%341ms970.659s
Zakra1.4s99%92%385ms950.872s
TwentySeventeen1.4s97%87%493ms911.260s
Airi1.4s97%84%525ms891.213s
Blog Writer1.6s97%92%448ms951.003s
The Schema1.7s98%88%572ms912.137s
Bloggo1.8s99%90%489ms921.213s

How I Test the Fastest WordPress Themes

Want to know exactly how I run the test?

Here’s what I did (every step):

 

1. Research and Shortlist 20 Free WordPress Themes

Before running the test, I’ve done hours of research to find and shortlisted 20 free WordPress themes for the speed performance test.

I only picked those themes that are free (or come with a free version) because that’s my intention. I want to show you that you can build a high-speed website or blog without spending any money on a WordPress theme.

I know not everyone is willing to fork out money for a WordPress theme to start up a website or a personal blog, especially beginners.

 

2. Purchase a Domain from NameCheap

To test a WordPress theme, first I need a website, so I went ahead and bought a domain ‘OverThin.com’ from NameCheap because they are the cheapest and the best domain registrar.

Note: You will need to manually point your domain name to your hosting’s nameservers later (which I’ll show you how to do), but if you want a more convenient way, just buy the domain from the hosting company at a higher price, that’s your call.

Disclosure: When you purchase a product/service through my links, I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you).

 

3. Purchase a Hosting from SiteGround

Without any single doubts, I go for SiteGround as my hosting because it’s fast at its price, so you get the most value from your money (read my review here).

I signed up for the GrowBig plan (with a 70% discount) because that’s enough for most people.

It’s cheap, comes with free SSL and unlimited domains, secured, and very fast (with innovative speed technologies like SSD, HTTP/2, PHP7, NGINX).

Not to mention their security and customer service are top-notch in the hosting industry.

In the past few years, I have tried many other hosting companies, and SiteGround is the best amongst them.

3. Purchase a Hosting from SiteGround (to test the fastest WordPress theme)

After I signed up SiteGround, I added the domain I just bought to my hosting.

 

4. Point My Domain DNS to SiteGround Nameservers

Before I can build a WordPress website, I’ll need to point my domain name (at NameCheap) to the hosting server (at SiteGround).

I got the nameservers details as below in my mailbox after I purchased the hosting:

  • NS1.GIOW10XX.SITEGROUND.US
  • NS2.GIOW10XX.SITEGROUND.US

Note: You may skip this step if you purchase the domain directly from the hosting company.

4. Point My Domain DNS to SiteGround Nameservers
 

5. Install SSL for HTTPS

Who doesn’t like the “s” behind “HTTP”, it makes it look nicer, secure, and more SEO friendly!

5. Install SSL for HTTPS for fastest wordpress theme
 

6. Install WordPress

The DNS pointing may take up to 24 hours to propagate, but in my case, it’s almost instantly, so I went straight to install my WordPress.

SiteGround dashboard -> WordPress -> Install & Manage

6. Install WordPress

Note: The “Install with WordPress Starter” option is there to help you get started, you may untick it if you don’t need it.

The installation is complete and I’ve copied down my user id and password, so I went ahead to my WordPress URL (https://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php) and login to my backend portal.

 

7. Install the Shortlisted 20 Fastest WordPress Themes

Before the test started, I downloaded and installed the 20 free WordPress themes that I shortlisted earlier.

7. Install the Shortlisted 20 fastest WordPress Themes
 

8. Start the Website Speed Performance Tests

I used the 3 most popular and trusted website speed testing tools for my tests, which are GTMetrix, Pingdom, and WebPageTest.

Here are the test server settings:

  • GTmetrix: Vancouver, Canada
  • Pingdom: North America – USA – Washington
  • WebPageTest – Dulles, VA

I deleted all the plugins, leaving only 2 pages with some text.

Test started.

 

Top 20 Fastest WordPress Themes (Free)

Here are the speed test results I got (I sorted and ranked them based on loading speed and scores):

1. Neve

Neve - Fastest WordPress theme

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Neve is the top scorer of the WordPress theme speed test with 0.7 seconds loading time as per GTmetrix and 350ms as per Pingdom.

It also gets a 100% PageSpeed score, 96% YSlow score, and 96 performance grade

It has only 34.5KB total page size and 7 HTTP requests, which is light.

Main Features:

  • Fast loading speed – under 1 second loading time!
  • Lightweight – less than 50KB size!
  • Responsive – Fit on all devices’ screen
  • Fully AMP optimized – Load even faster in smartphone
  • SEO optimized – Optimized to rank higher on search engine like Google
  • RTL & translation ready – Can be translated in other languages
  • WooCommerce ready – Great for an eCommerce site
  • Compatible with most plugins – Yes, the theme work well with most plugins
  • Work perfectly with Gutenberg – Make your editing smoother and faster
  • Fully compatible with most popular Page Builders – For more unique page designs 

It’s a multi-purpose theme that’s perfect for blogs, e-commerce shops, small businesses, and many more.

 

2. Arke

Best for: Writer, Content-focused blog

Speed performanced:

The main character of the Arke theme is minimalist. 

It’s so neat and simple with only your content, no widgets, and sidebars.

It gives your readers a pleasure time in reading your articles, stories, and whatever you want to express.

Perfect for writers who want to show their contents only.

 

3. Astra

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Astra theme is a close competitor to Neve with only 0.2 sec slower in GTmetrix and 4ms slower in Pingdom, which is negligible.

It achieved excellent score metrics on all the speed testing tools to prove its top performance in speed.

Besides, it’s a very popular WordPress theme with over 700k active installation and 3483+ 5 stars ratings.

Main Features:

  • Fast
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive Native AMP ready
  • SEO optimized
  • WooCommerce ready
  • RTL & translation ready
  • Compatible with most popular plugins
  • Compatible with popular Page Builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, and more
  • Schema.org code integrated
  • Child theme

All the above features make it the perfect candidate for a blog, small businesses, WooCommerce storefront, personal portfolio, and most other projects.

 

4. Suki

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Suki is another impressive free multi-purpose WordPress theme to consider.

It’s fast, lightweight, and highly customizable.

You can build almost any kind of website with this theme

Main Features:

  • SEO optimized
  • Mobile optimized
  • Integrated with Schema.org structured code
  • RTL & translation ready
  • Fully compatible with Gutenberg
  • Work well with the most popular Page Builders.

Also, the theme comes with a free built-in Header and Footer builder which allows you to create a customized header and footer.

 

5. Twenty Nineteen

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Twenty Nineteen is the fastest default theme given in WordPress.

It’s fully compatible with the latest Gutenberg block builder and suitable for most types of project nature, that’s why it is a default WordPress theme.

Design-wise, it seems a little bit boring to me, but anyway, that’s my personal preference.

 

6. GeneratePress

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

GeneratePress is a popular WordPress theme with over 200k active installation and 5 stars review.

It’s a great performing WordPress theme that focuses on speed and usability.

Main Features:

  • Responsive
  • Lightweight
  • Fully compatible with the Gutenberg block editor
  • WooCommerce ready
  • Work seamlessly with most popular Page Builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder
 

7. Sydney

Best for: Business, Corporate, Professional, Freelancer

Speed performances:

Sydney is a powerful business theme, which is perfect for companies, professionals, and freelancers.

It has been used by over 100k websites with 5 stars review.

Here’re some of the features:

  • Full-color customization
  • Access to Google Fonts
  • Layout control
  • Fullscreen slider
  • Fully compatible with Gutenberg and most popular page builders like Elementor
  • Compatible with most plugins

Performance-wise, Sydney theme did very well in the website speed tests, I’ll say excellent!

 

8. Schema Lite

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Schema Lite is a free WordPress theme that’s built with SEO in mind and fast in loading.

It offers a lot of flexibility in customizing the layout, such as custom header, custom menu, custom background, custom color, and many more.

 

9. Page Builder Framework

Best for: Page Builders enthusiast, WordPress site developer

Speed performances:

Page Builder Framework is a highly customizable WordPress theme that is made to work with most popular page builders to give your website a unique look.

So if you are a page builder enthusiast, you should seriously consider this theme as it’s the fastest WordPress theme that has been specifically created for Page Builders.

As from our tests, the Page Builder Framework theme is really fast and lightweight, which makes it a suitable choice for all types of projects.

Besides, it’s also SEO-friendly, compatible with HTML5 and schema.org, flexible, and highly customizable.

If you are providing WordPress site design and customization services, this theme could be the ideal choice to work with your Page Builder in creating an outstanding website for your client.

 

10. Writee

Best for: Personal blog, Corporate blog

Speed performances:

Writee is a fully responsive and mobile-friendly WordPress theme that is suitable to be used for your personal or corporate blog on various niche.

This WordPress theme also features pixel perfect design and 3 custom widgets to personalize your blog.

 

11. Hestia

Best for: Professional, Creative Business, Corporate, Freelancer

Speed performances:

Hestia is a free WordPress theme made for professionals.

Its modern style fits creative business pretty well, and also suitable for corporate, startups, business, freelancers, and more.

It’s responsive, customizable, SEO friendly, Retina ready, and compatible with popular Page Builders.

 

12. OceanWP

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

OceanWP is a highly customizable and extendable WordPress theme that allows you to use it across various projects, from a simple personal blog to a professionally-designed business website.

It’s also a very popular WordPress theme used by over 500k of websites and with 3270+ 5 stars ratings.

Main features:

  • Fast loading
  • Responsive
  • SEO optimized
  • Compatible with WooCommerce storefront
  • RTL & translation ready
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Compatible with popular Page Builders.
 

13. Skin

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Skin is an open-source WordPress theme that is fast, lightweight, secure, and flexible.

You can use this theme to create most types of websites or blogs.

 

14. Hello Elementor

Best for: Elementor Page Builder user

As its name sounded, the Hello Elementor is a fast and lightweight WordPress theme that’s dedicated to being used with Elementor Page Builder.

Speed performances:

 

15. Zakra

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Zakra is a fast WordPress theme that you can use to build modern and beautiful web pages.

It’s suitable for all range of projects and niche, including a personal blog, business website, WooCommerce storefront, and portfolio.

It’s flexible, lightweight, SEO-friendly, translation ready, responsive, and compatible with Gutenberg as well as major Page Builders.

 

16. Twenty Seventeen

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

Twenty Seventeen is an older version of default WordPress themes.

It’s customizable, flexible, works in many languages, and performs well on any device.

You get most of the basic features like multiple sections on the front page and widgets, a logo, navigation menu, and social menus.

Custom color scheme, many languages, any device.

 

17. Airi

Best for: Corporate, Freelancer, Professional, Business

Speed performances:

Airi is a modern theme that’s ideal for corporate and business websites.

It’s a flexible, customizable, and powerful theme that allows you to create a stunning website with Elementor Page Builder integration.

You can choose to start from zero or use the premade Elementor layout template to speed up the development.

 

18. Blog Writer

Best for: Personal Blog, Writer

Speed performances:

Blog Writer is a minimalist WordPress theme that’s ideal for writers to build their blogs.

Its clean, simple, and subtle layout will make your readers feel comfortable in reading your articles.

If your blog is content-focused, this theme is worth considering.

 

19. The Schema

Best for: Multi-purposes website and blog

Speed performances:

The Schema is a free WordPress theme made for content marketers to build websites on all kinds of niche.

It’s fast, clean, SEO optimized, Schema.org ready, rich snippets support, mobile-friendly, fully compatible with WooCommerce, with social media integration, and translation ready.

 

20. Bloggo

Best for: Personal blog, Writer, Photography blog

Speed performances:

Bloggo is a minimalist WordPress theme that’s perfect for bloggers, writers, content marketers, and photographers.

It’s responsive, lightweight, and compatible with Gutenberg.

 

Summary

If you are looking for a multi-purpose WordPress theme, which is what most people are looking for, then pick one from Neve, Astra, Suki, and GeneratePress.

These four are very good in terms of speed and performance. Also, their features and functionalities allow you to build a website or blog for most niche (if not all).

If you are a writer who loves clean and minimalist design or a blogger who wants readers to focus mostly on your content, then Arke, Blog Writer, and Bloggo is your best pick.

If you are more toward a business or corporate website, then you should consider Sydney, Hestia, and Airi.

If you love to build websites or blogs with Page Builders, then go for Page Builder Framework or Hello Elementor (for Elementor Page Builder).

 

Important Note for Building a High-Speed Website

To build a super-fast website, the two most fundamental elements are a speed optimized WordPress theme (software) and a fast hosting (hardware).

Hosting is more important than the theme in terms of overall speed performance.

Just like a computer powered by the i7 processor is more likely to be faster than a computer powered by the i3 processor, even though the operating system and software are heavier.

That’s why I always recommend people to use SiteGround because it’s really fast for its low entry price (after discount).

 

The 6 Factors to Consider the Fastest WordPress Theme

Here’re what you need to look for in choosing your best WordPress theme:

 

Speed Performance

Like I said earlier, people hated a slow loading website.

It gives unpleasant user experience, frustration, and anger, which directly increase your website bounce rate and lower down your website traffic.

For each additional 1 second increase in page loading, the bounce rate will increase by about 40 to 50%.

If your website is generating income, a slow website means a lower conversion rate, fewer sales, and lower revenue. 

Besides, your website ranking will drop tremendously because search engines like Google treat user experience seriously, a bad experience will result in a lower ranking, and a lower-ranking means less (or no) traffic to your website.

According to Google, page speed is one of the SEO factors.

Now you can see the consequences of having a slow loading website.

In short, make sure your website is fast-loading to get better search engine ranking, higher traffic, higher conversion, and higher revenue.

To achieve that, the first step is to get a high-speed hosting, and the second step would be installing a fast WordPress theme.

An ideal fast-loading WordPress theme should have the following characteristics:

  • Low fully loaded time
  • High scores in Pagespeed, YSlow, and Performance grade
  • Small total page size
  • Fewer HTTP requests
 

Layout Design Customization

Who doesn’t like a fast and beautiful website?

A beautiful and unique website layout and design represent a strong identity of your website.

Which makes people remember you. 

So while choosing the top 20 fastest WordPress themes, take into account the flexibility and customization of the themes, and try them out before deciding.

As time goes by, you may want to add more functions, design elements, and change your layout, so it’s better to get the right theme in the first place.

 

Plugin Compatibility

Plugins are just like software for computers, or apps for smartphones.

They are necessary to improve your website functionalities and ease your job.

The good news is, all the 20 fastest WordPress themes listed here are compatible with most popular plugins, so you can just pick any one of them.

But for themes other than those listed here, make sure you do your research to make sure the theme is compatible with major plugins.

 

Compatible with Page Builders

Page Builders like Elementor, Beaver Builders, SiteOrigin, Divi, and Gutenberg (default block editor) extend the capability in personalizing and designing a stunning webpage.

You don’t need to be a coder or spend a huge amount of time in learning coding to create a powerful and functional web page, thanks to these WordPress Page Builders.

So, if you want to design your web pages using one of these Page Builders, choose the WordPress theme that is compatible with the Page Builder.

 

Update Regularly

For a WordPress theme to stay updated with the latest technologies, it has to be updated regularly to fix bugs and improve functionalities.

Also, to stay compatible with the latest version of plugins.

Stay away from those WordPress themes that haven’t been updated for more than 1 year, it shows that the theme developers are no longer active in improving their themes.

 

Support

Don’t use a WordPress theme if you can’t get or find any support for the theme.

It’s common to face some problems in using a WordPress theme, and that’s why support is important.

A WordPress theme should have enough information on documentation, tutorials, troubleshooting, customization, FAQs, install guides, and support forums to help the theme users.

 

FAQs:

1. What is the fastest WordPress theme (free)?

As per my speed test results, it’s Neve. Followed by Arke, Astra, and Suki.

2. What is the best WordPress theme (free)?

The best WordPress theme (free) should be fast, excels in features and functionalities, beautiful, customizable, and fit your project nature.

So the answer is depends on what you want, but I’m sure you can find it from the 20 fastest WordPress themes above.

3. What’s the most important factor for a fast website?

It’s hosting, then next is the theme, both should work together to achieve optimum speed.

4. How to test your website loading speed?

You may use speed testing tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to get website speed metrics like total loading time, PageSpeed score, YSlow score, total page size, and total HTTP requests.

5. What to look for in a fast WordPress theme?

The 6 important elements are speed performance, layout design customization, plugins compatibility, Page Builders compatibility, update regularly, and support.

 

Conclusion:

I know, website loading speed is one thing, and another consideration is website layout & design.

That’s the reason why I showed you 20 fastest WordPress themes and not just 5 so that you have more options to choose from, according to your preferences.

Of course, with loading speed data in mind.

Well, I hope the speed test results are useful for you in finding the fastest WordPress theme for your site.

If not, let me know in the comment what I can improve.

Or, do you know any other free WordPress theme that can compete in the top 5 spots?

 

Next Posts:

Top 12 Fastest WordPress Cache Plugin (Free) – Tested

How I Make My Web Page Faster by 720% & Get 100% PageSpeed Score

The Fastest Shared Hosting with the Best Value

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21 thoughts on “Top 20 Fastest WordPress Theme (Free) for SEO [Tested & Data-Backed]”

    1. Thanks for your support, appreciate it from the deep of my heart!

      I’ll be posting more speed optimization guides for WordPress site soon, stay tuned!

  1. Wow, that’s a fantastic list of WordPress themes!

    I’m a minimalist writer, so I will go for Arke theme, thanks for the recommendation!

    Keep the good work.

  2. Nicce post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!

    Very useful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot.
    I was seeking this particular info for a very long time.
    Thank you and bestt of luck.

  3. Everythig is very open wih a precise description oof the issues.

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