Slow loading times can result in a low conversion rate. They could also have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to speed up your WordPress website.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the benefits of speed optimization and show you how to check your loading times. Then, we’ll discuss five strategies to power up your website. Let’s get started!
The Benefits of Speed Optimization
Speed optimization is a set of practices that can make your website load faster. By improving your loading times, you can provide a stellar User Experience (UX) and keep users engaged for longer.
Site speed can affect the way users experience your content. In fact, Google has found that when loading time increases from one to three seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%.
With fewer visitors on your site, you’re likely to end up with a low conversion rate and fewer sales. Search engines may interpret this as a sign that your site doesn’t provide much value, leading to lower rankings.
Therefore, by optimizing your site’s performance, you can make your site more visible in search results. This can lead to higher volumes of traffic and in turn, more sales!
How to Measure Page Speed
Some website owners test their sites in a browser. However, this won’t be effective if your browser has stored your site in the cache.
Plus, this method doesn’t account for international visitors. Users in different parts of the world may have a different experience when they try to access your site.
A more effective way to measure loading times is to run a speed test on a tool like Pingdom:
All you need to do is enter your URL and select a location from the dropdown box. Pingdom will then run a speed test for you:
When the test is complete, you’ll see your load time, page size, and other important metrics. Ideally, your site shouldn’t take longer than three seconds to load.
How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website (5 Tips)
Now that you know a bit more about website speed, let’s take a look at five easy ways to power up your site.
1. Optimize Your Images
Visuals like images and videos can make your pages more engaging. However, they tend to have large file sizes which can slow down your site.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to opt for small image formats like JPG. If you prefer to stick with PNGs, you can always compress your images before you upload them to WordPress. This is easy to do with an online tool like TinyPNG:
Additionally, you can resize your photos to physically scale them down. This is useful because page speed is affected by your overall page size. Therefore, smaller on-page elements like text and images will load quicker than larger ones.
If you don’t want to do this manually, you can install an image optimization plugin like Smush:
This way, you can automate image optimization and compression. Plus, you can access additional features that can further improve your site speed, like lazy loading.
Lazy loading enables you to load your most visible content first. Meanwhile, images further down the page won’t be loaded until the visitor scrolls to them. This way, you can reduce the strain on your server and speed up the loading time of your page.
2. Use a CDN
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of servers distributed across the world. When a user visits your site, the content is loaded from the server that’s closest to their location.
For example, your web host’s servers might be located in the U.S., so your loading times might be fast for American visitors. However, when a user in Europe tries to access your site, it can take longer to load because there’s a greater distance between them and the server.
With a CDN, your European visitors can access your site from a server closer to their location. This server will store static files (copies of your website) for faster connectivity. Then, any time a visitor requests your content, they’ll receive it quickly.
One of the best CDN providers is Cloudflare. It provides a highly-configurable CDN and delivers static and dynamic content:
While a CDN enables you to increase your loading times, it also makes your website more stable. Should one of the servers go down, you’ll have plenty of others to rely on.
When this happens, the browser blocks all content beneath those files. Some of this content might be visible to the reader. Therefore, the user might be presented with poorly loaded pages, misaligned content, or missing elements.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to discover whether your site has any render-blocking resources:
If these files aren’t necessary, you can delete them. Alternatively, you can defer the files so that they load after your most important (and visible) content.
You can do this manually by taking the following steps on your site:
- Deliver the styles inline with HTML.
- Use the media attribute on the link elements that pull in CSS files.
- Load CSS and JS resources asynchronously.
- Minify your JS and CSS code.
If you don’t have the technical expertise to do this, you can use a plugin like Autoptimize to take care of it for you.
4. Cut Down on Plugins and Themes
While plugins and themes can be a great addition to your site, having too many of them can slow it down. Plus, they can make your site more vulnerable to security threats.
It’s good practice to delete any plugins you no longer use. Even deactivated plugins can affect your performance, as they’re still installed on your site and storing data in your database.
To delete your plugins, head to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Then, you can work your way through the list or use the Bulk actions dropdown box and select Delete:
Additionally, it’s important to choose the right theme for your website. Ideally, you’ll want one that’s lightweight and well-coded.
As with plugins, if you don’t intend to use a theme again, it’s best to remove it from your site. You can do this by navigating to Appearance > Themes. Then, click on the theme you want to delete. In the bottom right-hand corner, you should see a Delete link:
Click on the link and select OK in the popup.
5. Utilize Caching
Caching is a great way to speed up your WordPress site. It’s especially useful if you run a large or complex website like an e-commerce store.
Essentially, each time a user tries to access your site, your server has to deliver all components of your page like images and menus. Unfortunately, this can take some time to complete.
With caching, your server will store some files in the disk or RAM. This way, it can deliver content more quickly as it’s more easily accessible. As a result, your page can load much faster.
To get started with caching, you can use a plugin like LiteSpeed Cache:
Caching also enables you to use fewer resources since the content is delivered from your disk or RAM rather than your server. This can be a great way to reduce bandwidth and alleviate the strain on your server.
Fast loading times can help you deliver a smooth user experience and boost your search rankings. You can improve your site speed by utilizing caching, using a CDN, or optimizing your images. You’ll also want to remove any unused plugins and themes from your site.
Do you have any questions about how to speed up your WordPress website? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Unsplash.
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