WordPress Speed: Ways to Speed up Your WordPress Site
Since page speed became a criterion for Google SEO ranking, website owners have begun paying more attention to their site’s loading time. They aim to make their website load as fast as possible so that web visitors don’t leave the page before it loads completely.
If your page loading time is slow, you will lose many visitors, traffic, and conversion opportunities. Let us talk about what you can do to improve your WordPress website speed?
What does Page Speed matter?
If you own a website, page speed is crucial for you owning to two reasons.
First of all, your page speed affects your SEO rankings. Search engines naturally penalize slower sites, although it isn’t clear how many penalties they get. However, your website will rank less than a competing site if you have a slower page speed.
Also, your users are not patient enough to wait for a page that loads slowly. A visitor to your page will likely leave your site if your loading time is long unless they have something important to look up. According to research, 38% of visitors leave websites if the loading time takes more than five seconds.
Whether on the part of the ranking algorithm or user attention span, faster page loading time ensures that you have higher traffic generation and conversions.
If you want to improve your page loading times, read on to find out how to achieve it.
How to Measure Page Loading Speed
The first step to improve your page loading speed is to measure the current loading time. When you assess the current loading speed, you can understand the best technique to optimize your site.
It is also necessary to test your website before the optimization process so that you have a standard by which you judge other tests you will conduct in the future.
Let us look at some tools that will help you test and assess your website page loading speed.
GTmetrix is a web-based tool that assesses your WordPress website performance for free.
Once you visit the GTmetrix homepage, input your website URL in the box, and the testing tool will assess your website.
While the free version of this tool can do some good work, you need to subscribe to the paid version to gain better control, set the server region for test-running, and manage search history.
A GTmetrix search gives you results based on these three key areas
- Overall page size
- Total loading time
- The overall number of HTTP requests
PageSpeed Insights is another free testing tool that helps you to assess your site performance. The web-based tool is the creation of Google Developers that enables you to input your website URL and begin a website test.
The focus of PageSpeed Insights is to find out how your website functions on mobile devices. This is because a website can work somewhat differently on mobile devices than on desktops.
Although you cannot determine which device the test is done, the tool provides a benchmark for total optimization.
This website testing tool is open-sourced and free for website owners to assess their site’s performance. With WebPageTest, you have lots of control over your testing process.
You can decide the region and device for carrying out the test. You can also create thorough tests to gather customer metrics that pertain to your website.
Now that we know the tools available to test your website and identify your website speed, let us focus on improving your WordPress website speed.
1. Choose a Web Host with Sufficiently Fast Speed
Immediately a visitor gets on your website page, their browser transfers a request to your server to show them that page. The speed at which your server responds will largely affect how long the visitors need to wait. No matter how efficient your website might be, your server’s performance largely determines how fast your visitor’s response happens.
The first step to choosing a host is to determine the type of hosting you need. Do you want specialized WordPress hosting? Or are you fine with a shared host and its slow performance? You basically have to choose between saving cost and achieving page loading speed.
2. Use a Flexible and Light Theme
Do you know that your website theme affects your WordPress page speed?
Knowing that many site owners will not take the time to adjust their WordPress theme for better efficiency, it is crucial to select a highly efficient theme that has a fast loading time.
The general advice to website owners is to opt for light and flexible themes that contain simple features based on your website requirements.
3. Use Plugins Creatively
It is safe to say that the community in charge of developing and maintaining plugins are responsible for WordPress growth. Such is the case because plugins improve the capacity and functionality of WordPress, making it more capable.
Although lots of plugins exist to handle whatever task you might want to achieve, it is in your best interest to only use plugins that are crucial for your website’s functions.
It is crucial to understand that plugins make a WordPress site complex. Therefore, it is a great idea to audit your website periodically to access your plugins. During your audits, deactivate any plugin that is no longer necessary.
Check if the plugins you have are in contrast with your theme or with each other. You can do this by using the site health feature available on your Health Check and Troubleshooting section. It will help you access the WordPress plugins in case of conflicts.
4. Improve your WordPress Database
Every WordPress database houses all the data related to your website in the background. Your WordPress application will connect you to the database holding your website content, such as your comments, posts, pages, settings, etc.
When your site gets a visitor, they simply retrieve data from your storage to visit a page or view a post. On the other hand, new actions like voting on a post, commenting, or making purchases generate new data. WordPress will also save any revision you make automatically.
As your database size increases, carrying out website queries take a long time between the request and response. Also, continuous data entry and removal can lead to database fragmentation, making your database to be stored in several locations.
Always remove spam, thrashes, unverified comments, and post revisions from your website database. You can use WordPress Optimizing plugin to improve your WordPress database and remove all unwanted data.
5. Deliver Resources via a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network comprises a group of servers that exist in strategic places globally.
CDN works with the premise that the time it takes to download a resource is dependent on the physical distance that lies between the server and a client.
An HTTP Archive analysis shows that the regular WordPress website in 2020 is approximately t 2.3 MB. 1.2 MB of this consists of images, 470kb comprises scripts, while stylesheets and fonts consist of 280 KB.
When you store your website’s resources on several CDN servers globally, your visitors from across the world can download them from the closest server to them, which reduces the page load time.
6. Prepare Your Images for the Web
Optimizing your CDN is not the last step in this process; you also need to optimize your images and other resources. Images makeup nearly half of your website’s payload and play a critical role in your web page design.
Here are some best practices to follow when optimizing your images for optimal performance.
- Run Hygiene Checks
When you want to run hygiene checks, start by uploading the image in its actual size. That is, the size of your favicon should differ from the image size on your ‘About Us’ page. A favicon size is smaller than your other images, so you should resize your image to fit the size.
The next step is to use the right image type for your image uploads. So, you should use PNG images for graphics that come with less variation of colors, such as screenshots. Then, use JPG for images with more color variations like photographs.
Also, an SVG works great for images with simple shapes, including logos.
- Carry out Image Optimization
After creating images, the next step is to optimize them by compressing them to achieve web suitability. You can choose to optimize them using a plugin or local setting.
- Lazy Loading
Lazy loading involves downloading the entire version of an image immediately after it enters the browser’s viewpoint as the viewer scrolls through the page.
Lazy loading is an optimization technique that helps you to save bandwidth for the site visitor and the website owner. This process also reduces your page load time because it delays the download of some portions of the payload.
WordPress is working to add lazy loading as its primary feature, but currently, you can use plugins to set up lazy loading.
7. Proper Management of Static Files
After managing images, the next step is to manage static files like scripts and stylesheets. They cover a percentage of your web page, so you should manage them efficiently to make these static files great for your site visitors.
The first step is to reduce the size of your scripts and stylesheets, which will reduce your resource size. The process of minifying your static files includes taking away file parts you don’t need for execution. These files comprise comments, whitespaces, and unused code.
You can either manually minify your static files using a minifier or use a minification plugin on your WordPress site. A WordPress Super Minify is a plugin you can use to minimize the size of your site’s resources.
After minifying your static files, you can compute your scripts and stylesheets in any order without following a standard pattern. When you do so, the unnecessary files and resources won’t affect your page rendering.
You can also set up a GZIP compression to abridge or squeeze your resources. This technique consists of sending compressed files from your server to your browser. When you download your compressed files, you can unzip them using GZIP compression, which helps in caching plugins.
8. HTTP Request Optimization
After managing your payload and static files, the next step is to ensure you send them to the client efficiently. Performance assessment tools help to flag down several issues concerning HTTP requests.
Typically, the metrics for optimization include how many HTTP requests are on your web page, how many of these requests redirect, and how many DNS lookups are needed to achieve the resource downloads.
The simplest way to minimize the number of your HTTP requests is to place similar files together. So, your website should have a single CSS stylesheet. All your customized scripts should also be in one file. When the number of your HTTP requests reduces, your page load time also reduces. When using a minifier plugin, select the one that can combine related files.
You can also minimize your DNS to efficiently optimize your HTTP requests. Whenever your browser faces a resource that is hosted on a new domain name, your browser has to carry out a lookup on DNS and find an IP address that corresponds.
Once you create a single domain for your resources, you will have lesser DNS lookups, and if you serve your static files using a CDN, you already have fewer DNS lookups.
The last stage is to reduce the number of redirects for your website’s static resources. When a redirect takes place, a resource’s original location directs to a new location, meaning that the browser needs to make a new request to lay hold of the resource.
9. Enable WordPress Caching
Caching entails storing parts of a web page in a temporary location so that you can send them to your visitors quickly. Caching helps you to reduce page loading times and save server bandwidth.
When selecting a caching plugin for your website, choose one that you can easily set up. It should also improve performance with easy settings. However, if you are an expert, you can explore several additional benefits of WordPress with the advanced settings.
10. Update PHP and WordPress
PHP and WordPress are continually undergoing updates and development. New features, security patches, bug fixes, and the like are incorporated daily as development occurs.
Seeing as this software actively undergo development, it is crucial to frequently update your PHP, Plugins, and WordPress, to ensure that you have the latest versions that have all the enhancements.
Before you begin an update, ensure to back up the current software version for safekeeping.
So far, we have discovered the importance of page speed to a website owner and how it affects the behavior of site visitors.
We also studied some tools that measure your website performance, determine how good it is, and how you can improve or optimize its performance.
We concluded by pinpointing the most essential techniques for speeding up a WordPress site. They include using fast web hosting, optimizing your images, and updating your PHP and WordPress frequently.
Please let us know how helpful our post is to you. You can also make contributions concerning several techniques for boosting speed on a WordPress site. Please leave a message in our comment box to share your opinions and perspectives.