Is your website taking more than 3 seconds to load? If it is, stay prepared to lose a majority of your visitors. According to a report, The Need for Mobile Speed, by Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. I don’t mean to scare you. What I want to emphasize is that there is a very good reason why your website needs to be lightning-fast. A faster website not only provides a better user experience but encourages a favorable ranking on search engines, which in turn drives more clicks and conversions.
At present, when roughly 500+ new sites are being built on WordPress daily, and around 19,500,000 websites on the entire web use WordPress, according to data published by Codeinwp, the importance of a faster site can never be overemphasized.
10 Ways to Improve WordPress Speed
If you too have a WordPress site but find that it takes longer than desirable to load, here is a list of 10 improvements that you can use to improve your website’s performance.
1. Use a managed WordPress hosting service provider
Did you know that your WordPress hosting plays a very crucial role in determining the website’s performance? Many users opt for a shared hosting service, where the server resources are used by many other customers too. So, whenever a neighboring site receives a good amount of traffic, your website will slow down, as an immediate impact. I would highly recommend you opt for a managed WordPress hosting service that has servers configured for WordPress. While this could be comparatively more expensive, it gives you the benefit of high performance and security, along with email stability and control.
2. Install a caching plugin
A lot has been said about how employing a caching plugin boosts the performance of websites. But do you know how? Caching plugins create a static version of your content, which are rendered much more quickly in browsers than dynamic database queries. This leads to increased speed. WP Super Cache is a most popular cache plugin available for WordPress. W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache are also good caching plugins that increase website performance to improve the SEO and user experience.
3. Reduce image sizes
People today are no longer simply browsing a website, they are experiencing it. This raises the importance of adding great images to the site. Adding good images also helps in improving conversion rates. Moreover, the images should be big enough to be more noticeable and relevant enough to make the piece of content less bounce worthy. However, images with huge file sizes in the uncompressed PNG format are likely to slow down your website’s load time. Use a plugin like WP Smush to set a max width and height and large images will be scaled down as they are being compressed.
4. Reduce all the external HTTP requests
When you are operating a WordPress website, you might need to load plugins and themes from other websites, which could include scripts, images and stylesheets from various other external sources, such as Facebook and Google. However, too many HTTP requests via plugins add a big chunk of data on your webpages, which will then increase load time. I would recommend merging various styles and scripts into one or disabling them completely to reduce all the external HTTP requests.
5. Clean WordPress database
You may not realize that even if you have used WordPress for a very small period of time, the database gets loaded with plenty of information, such as posts, revisions, unused tags, etc., which is of no use once you are done using WordPress. Such information is trash and needs to be cleaned out to improve the website’s performance. Use a plugin like WP-Sweep to delete the unnecessary information and optimize your database’s structure.
6. Use ‘WordPress’ default themes
Using a highly attractive WordPress theme is crucial in retaining users. However, most WordPress themes available today have bloated frameworks with tons of features that most users never need. These themes, thus, only work to slow down your website. This is where the lightweight and speedy Twenty Fifteen “framework,” aka the default WP theme, like the Thesis Theme Framework, comes to the rescue.
7. Divide long posts into multiple pages
How do you think a visitor feels when they need to keep on scrolling to read one long blog post? While readers who love detailed posts with lots of images may like it, it does have a significantly negative impact on the loading times. I agree that longer posts are ranked higher on search engines, but you don’t want your readers to leave before they have seen the hard work that you have put in to write such detailed posts. It is for this reason that I am not asking you to write small blog posts, instead split up your longer posts into multiple pages.
8. Use a video hosting service
Today, when the audience has become more visual, adding images, infographics and even videos to your website certainly adds value to your content. It increases the chances of readers reacting to the content, thus increasing conversion rates. Talking of videos, you should never upload or host videos in WordPress but embed a video by uploading them on a third-party site like YouTube, DailyMotion, etc. Just copy and paste your video’s URL directly into your post and you are good to go. Hosting videos costs website owner the bandwidth and puts the site at risk of shutting down in situations of unlimited bandwidth.
9. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Did you know that the location of your web hosting servers impacts WordPress website performance? It is for this reason that people sitting in different geographical locations have different experiences with your site. If you desire similar experiences for all your visitors, opt for a Content Delivery Network or CDN, consisting of servers from all around the world, to speed up loading times by serving static files to visitors from a server located close to the visitor.
10. Deactivate or uninstall unwanted plugins
Adding highly advanced functionality without having to code or hire a developer, plugins offer immense benefits to website owners. However, having too many plugins only increases the size of your backup. Every time backup files are generated, the server resources experience an overwhelming amount of load, which only slows down your website. I would strictly recommend getting rid of plugins that are of no use to you, using web services like Zapier.
Hope you liked this article. It’s part of the WordPress Page Speed optimization series I’m running. Do check out other speed optimization articles like..