Ensuring your WordPress site is optimised is important more so now than ever. Visitors expect a site to load quickly, otherwise they lose patience and move on to another site. And if users do choose to wait, they will more than likely be frustrated when they can’t quickly find the information they need or buy a product. They could even end up abandoning their shopping cart out of exasperation.
Research has shown that a site should load in less than 2 seconds. You read that correctly. Slower than that and up to 47% of site users will leave, giving you a high bounce rate.
On top of that, Google will penalise a site that loads too slowly, meaning a slow site will not rank well in the search results. So, a website that loads fast is needed in order to keep site visitors and Google happy. You’ll lose both profits and ranking with the search engines. These are not problems to take lightly when your business suffers as a result.
Thankfully there are a number of methods available to make your site faster. Here is a list of tips you can use to help optimise your WordPress site.
Test Your Site’s Loading Speed
The first task you’ll need to do is check the loading speed of your website. It’s good to keep in mind that each page will have its own speed, depending on such factors as:
- Whether or not the page is cached
- The page’s size
- How many requests are generated
- What type of content is on the page (static vs. dynamic)
The benchmark page is most often the homepage when it comes to testing your site’s optimisation. For checking your site’s speed, there are three great tools that can help you out:
- PageSpeed Insights (rather than testing the speed, it highlights what elements to tweak to speed up the page)
How to Optimise Your WordPress Site
Now you’re ready to learn how to improve your site’s optimisation! Read on for tips about how to speed up your website.
1). Choose a great web hosting service: the backbone of your website is actually the server it’s running on, which is where the site is hosted. Some site owners choose to use shared hosting for their business website. While this does save money, it’s not the best option. Even if the hosting service offers unlimited bandwidth, space, etc., their loading times are usually not all that good. This is especially the case during peak traffic times. And many of these companies are not up as much as their “99% uptime” claims suggest.
The reason for these problems is because you’re sharing the same space on the server with who knows how many other websites. All of the sites, including yours, are using resources on the same server. And you never know how well the server is optimised, either.
Instead, look for web hosting that offers you dedicated cloud servers at a good price. While some people can set up their own servers, some hosting providers have easy “click and launch” capability, which make the process painless and fast on a cloud server.
2). Choose a lightweight WordPress Theme: themes come with many elements, widgets and more. However, remember that the more elements and the larger the page size, the slower your site will become.
Instead, look for a lightweight theme or framework. WordPress offers many great themes that are optimised to make your site speedy. Neve is a great theme for your site. This theme offers a mobile-first approach. Or choose a theme that will work with Bootstrap.
Just remember to choose a theme light on elements, but also a theme that works for your business, giving you the functionality needed.
3). Reduce image size: images can quickly take the wind out of your site’s sails, so to speak. Photos, etc. use up a lot of resources and slow your site’s loading time. Be sure to reduce the size of images, but make sure not to lose the quality of the image in the process.
Many people choose to optimise images with the Chrome PageSpeed Insights extension, or other tools such as Photoshop. The process can take time. Instead, use plugins that work to optimise the images on your site. Here’s a quick list of three to try:
- EWWW Image Optimiser
- WP Smush
These tools make it easy and fast to optimise your images, which will help speed up your WordPress site quite a bit.
4). Minimise JS and CSS files: these files can quickly reduce your site’s speed. In fact, if you use Google PageSpeed, the tool may let you know that minimising your JS and CSS files will help speed up your site. The process reduces the number of calls and the size of the files, increasing your site’s speed.
There are also some plugins that can help you with this process, including Autotimize.
5). Use a caching plugin along with caching mechanisms: WP caching plugins have been around for quite a while. They work to the work of adding caching rules to your website elements easier. When used in combination with a caching mechanism such as Varnish, your WordPress site loading speed will improve.
6). Use a CDN (Content Delivery Networks): these tools work to serve your webpage to site visitors from a location nearest to them on the globe. The CDN stores a copy of your website in different datacentres around the world (or at least in different locations). If you have visitors from all around the world, then a CDN can quickly help speed up your site, no matter where the site’s servers are located. A couple of the most popular CDN services are Cloudfare and MaxCDN.
7). Use GZIP Compression: this tool works to compress different files; when a site user accesses the website, the GZIP compression makes the visitor’s browser unzip the website first. The process helps to reduce the bandwidth considerably, which increases your site’s loading speed. You can try the plugin PageSpeed Ninja which enables GZIP compression.
8). Deactivate or uninstall plugins: this is another way to optimise your WordPress site. Plugins take up a lot of space, causing a site to slow down. The more plugins you have, the slower your site will become. To fix this issue, deactivate or uninstall plugins that aren’t necessary or aren’t being used. While you can do this manually, there are services that can automate the process for you, such as IFTTT or Zapier.
Increasing your site’s loading speed will make site visitors happy and their user experience will be more pleasant. In addition, an optimised WordPress site will also rank you higher in the search engines. You and your site visitors gain many benefits by optimising your WordPress site’s performance.