WordPress earned its reputation as the world’s most preferred CMS for its ease of use. It affords even those with limited technical knowledge and the opportunity to create their web presence. However, it carries around a lot of weight, which means your website can be slowed down. Whenever a first-time visitor lands on your website, you have a limited window of opportunity to capture their attention and pique their interest to hang around long enough. If your site is lazy and sluggish, you lose. It is imperative to learn how to speed up a WordPress site.
Table of Contents
- 1. It’s all About Speed
- 2. Tips to Speed up Your Website
- 2.1. Pick a Good Quality Host
- 2.2. Your Theme Matters
- 2.3. Optimize Your Plugins
- 2.4. Keep Images and Video in Check
- 2.5. Database Maintenance
- 2.6. Stay Updated
- 2.7. Split Long Posts Into Pages
- 2.8. Decrease External HTTP Request
- 2.9. Use Lazy Loading If Required
- 2.10. Solve HTTPS and SSL Problems
- 2.11. Use CDN
- 2.12. Optimize HomePage To Load Faster
- 2.13. Control Post Revision
- 2.14. Turn-off Pingbacks And Trackbacks
- 2.15. Replace PHP With Static HTML (If Needed)
It’s all About Speed:
You may be asking yourself why you need to be concerned about speed in the first place. The fact that your website loads within the first few seconds may appear to be fine until you dig a little deeper. Today, something as seemingly inconsequential as a slight page-load delay can cost you big time. Let’s check out some stats;
Studies by Microsoft have shown a drop in human attention span from an average of 12 seconds to just 7.
We are all getting a little more impatient. No one is going to stick around, waiting for your page to load longer than they should.
Case studies involving Google, Amazon, and others reveal that a delay by just a single second in page load times can lead to Losses. Specifically, a 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. In monetary terms, that is even more significant as it directly affects your sales.
Speed is also a significant factor when it comes to SEO. With Google now factoring site speed in its ranking algorithm, sites that keep visitors waiting at the door longer than is necessary rank further down. The slow loading times of a site are a red flag to search engines as this indicates lower quality.
The problem with slow speeds presents is more pronounced with mobile traffic. With internet connections slower than those experienced in computers, pages formatted for mobile have to be even more fine-tuned. Mobile devices are steadily becoming the main internet browsing mediums globally, and search engines are paying even closer attention to webpage speeds.
Tips to Speed up Your Website:
When you notice a lag in your website loading times, the first thing you need to do is perform a webpage loading speed test. A good speed test report will point out weaknesses and make recommendations for improvement.
Several key factors affect the WordPress website’s loading times. Web hosting, themes and layouts, plugins, content & media size, database optimization, and other factors that the website owner needs to pay the keenest attention to improve time.
With these factors in mind, we can proceed to tackle how to take the necessary measures to speed up any WordPress site by keeping page loading times to a minimum.
1. Pick a Good Quality Host
When it comes to improving speed, top on your to-do list should be the quality of your web hosting provider. The role your WordPress hosting service plays in the overall performance of your website is crucial. Web hosting services come in three variants;
(A) Shared Hosting
(B) Virtual Private Server (VPS)
(C) Managed Hosting
(A) Shared Hosting:
While there are shared hosting providers out there who do a decent job of optimizing client sites, the fact remains that it is a shared resource. Sharing a server with many other customers can means compromising the speed of your website.
To put it in context, a neighboring site getting lost of hits will adversely impact the performance of the server as a whole and your site speed as a consequence.
(B) Virtual Private Server Hosting:
When sharing space with an unknown number of others begins to affect the speed of your website negatively, it may be time to consider a VPS (Virtual Private Server). VPS refers to an actual, physical machine sold and supplied by a company.
The server has several different self-contained components, each running individually installed software. Even when there may be several sites using a single machine, each independently working part ensures there is zero lag.
For gigantic websites with visitors in the hundreds of thousands every day, a great solution is a dedicated server. A private server comes at considerable cost, but the fact that it is dedicated solely to your site makes it worth your while (and dollars). As a bonus, it comes with added perks such as an uninterrupted power supply.
(C) Managed Hosting:
Using a managed WordPress hosting service whenever possible, gives you better-optimized server configurations to speed up a WordPress site. Automatic backups, updates, and improved security are also some of the notable perks you get from a managed WordPress hosting company.
Most notably, all the above-mentioned hosting options require the input of website owners in exerting control over the server as a separate entity. With managed hosting, your service provider will tend to all the aspects of server management. With this taken care of, a website owner can better focus on his core business.
2. Your Theme Matters
While this may sound surprising to many, your website framework is a decisive factor in determining how slow or fast your site loads. Often, loaded with tons of mostly useless features that you will never use.
A bloated theme can slow your website to a crawl owing to their sheer weight. For every feature, it comes with the added weight of required coding. Regardless of whether or not you use all of a given theme’s functions, they occupy valuable space and bandwidth even when running in the background.
It is essential to settle on a theme that offers a beautiful and functional experience without unnecessary baggage to curb this. Some lightweight ones can deliver world-class performance via great plugins without compromising speed.
The right theme will keep things lean and efficient, significantly reducing your loading time. Flashy animations and complex looking layouts may look cool but can negatively affect speed. Well coded themes are those that are great performers and aesthetically pleasing but also optimized for speed.
It is tempting to go for a beautiful and new shiny theme. However, for the sake of your website’s speed, consider one that allows you to turn off features that are not in use. Parallax scripts, sliders, Google Fonts, and more are all great features, but you should be able to choose when to use them.
Related Read: 20 Most Popular Free WordPress.Org Themes (Best Of 2019)
3. Optimize Your Plugins
WordPress plugins affect your site’s load time. While they are an absolute must-have for adding essential features to your website, they can also be a significant cause for its slow down. Identifying which plugins cause slowdowns means you can control them more efficiently.
Each plugin for WordPress is different in terms of functionally and capability. With plugins always making database queries and other loading assets, it is not unreasonable to expect that your site will have an increased load time.
Checking the files loaded by WordPress logins will reveal how they are affecting your page load times. Some tools can be used to access this information and show you all the files that are loaded and how much time they took to load.
All well-coded plugins are developed to try to keep the files they load to a minimum. However, not all developers are that careful. Some WordPress plugins will load data on every single page loading instance even when those files aren’t required.
Thankfully, Plugins are easy to swap for one another. Installing and enabling is just as easy as the opposite; uninstalling and disabling. If a culprit plugin is slowing your site down, you can replace it with a superior one.
It is, however, essential to note that having too many plugins can be detrimental to your website’s speed. When it comes to plugins, you need to think quality over quantity. One great type that significantly improves speed and is a must-have is a caching plugin.
It is a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with information on your plugins the functions they perform. A Google Sheet is a great way to organize and maintain an overview of your WordPress plugins.
4. Keep Images and Video in Check
With Images often making up the bulk of a page, they can take up a lot more space in comparison to CSS or text. Resizing or compressing images without compromising quality is critical to space-saving and loading speed.
WordPress creates several sizes of any images you use for your content, allowing you to select an ideal size. However, posting a larger pixel image size and then proceeding to resize it while it is already uploaded will cause a slowdown in your website. Always ensure you pick the correct image sizes for your site.
That said, there are free WordPress plugins readily available to help you compress any images before uploading them. For best image resizing results; however, premium image optimization services are a better bet as they yield more practical results.
When it comes to video, the issue of media slowing down a site is even more apparent. While WordPress is perfectly capable of hosting and playing videos, doing so is not always a good idea. The costs in bandwidth for one are not worth it, particularly on limited hosting accounts.
Secondly, Videos occupy even larger space than images regardless of how they are formatted. Massive media files of any kind will make your WordPress website bulkier, slower and as if that isn’t bad enough, harder to back up.
If you can avoid including video in your content, you should. Besides, many perfectly capable dedicated video hosting sites can do an even better job. An even better way to work around this is to use auto-embed. All you need to do is copy the links from sites like YouTube, Daily Motion, and Vimeo among others link and paste them into your WordPress editor.
5. Database Maintenance
With time, the WordPress core and database can get clogged with tons of obsolete information that takes up temporary disk space. This accumulation can lead to a gradual slowdown in your website speed.
You will, therefore, need to optimize your database from time to time to get rid of all that unnecessary space-hogging information. You can even do this yourself by deleting unused tags, revisions, trashed posts, and the like.
However, opting to carry out database maintenance on your own can be tedious and time-consuming. A great solution is to use a dedicated plugin to do the job. Not only will an excellent database plugin optimize the structure, but it will also schedule dates for database optimization at set intervals.
With these database optimization tools, spam, post revisions, drafts, and the like can be optimized to reduce their overhead. Keeping your database usable and lean is crucial for better loading times. Without regular maintenance, your database can get out of control.
6. Stay Updated
In keeping your website’s core technology up to date, you can ensure the speed of your WordPress website is optimized. The regular releases of new HTML versions and other web technologies contain crucial improvements such as enhanced features and speed improvements. It is, therefore, critical to remain updated.
While a quality hosting service ordinarily handles updating of PHP, it is always a good idea to find your configuration menu to see that it is current. Doing this from time to time will see to it that you are on top of things.
It is, however, essential to test on staging sites before switching PHP versions as some codes may not be compatible with older WordPress versions. Not doing so means you run the risk of doing irreparable damage to your site.
Similarly, always ensure that you are not only running the latest version of WordPress but that all its components are in good working order. Each WordPress version comes with bug fixes and more to keep websites running smoothly and efficiently.
7. Split Long Posts Into Pages
Online readers love article posts that are longer and more informative with proper details. Moreover, even longer posts tend to rank high on search engines.
If you are publishing a long blog post with a plethora of images, then it will take more loading time. So, you might be facing trouble due to that.
As a solution, you can split your longer posts into more than on pages. WordPress supports built-in functionality for doing that. Just insert the “next page” tag in your article when you need to split your page or give pagination to your blog page.
For more information, here you can read about Pagination in WordPress.
8. Decrease External HTTP Request
Generally, there are many WordPress themes and plugins that load all types of files from various other websites. And, these files include CSS, Scrips as well as images from external resources such as Facebook, Google analytics services, and many more.
You can decrease all these external HTTP requests by disabling the scripts and files or combining all of these into a single file.
9. Use Lazy Loading If Required
Lazy loading also called on-demand loading. It is an optimization method for online website content. Instead of loading the whole page in one go, the lazy loading loads only the required part and delays the remaining session, until it requires visitors’ command.
If you are inserting various numbers of images, videos, GIFs into your blog then you can gain advantages using lazy loading. As a visitor scrolls down, your website loads images that are visible into the browser at that time.
10. Solve HTTPS and SSL Problems
Security is a really important thing nowadays. You should always protect your website using HTTPS, even though it does not contain sensitive information. If you are switching from HTTP to HTTPS or use SSL, then you may face mixed content errors.
11. Use CDN
CDN is also called Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network. CDN takes all the static files (such as CSS, Scripts, images, and many more), you have got on your WordPress website and make it available for your visitors as soon as possible.
There is various software available for the CDN such as Google Cloud CDN, Cloudflare, KeyCDN, Rackspace, Amazon CloudFront, and many more. However, they have their own pros and cons. So, select CDN according to your requirement and purchase plan.
Ultimately, it increased the speed of your WordPress website.
12. Optimize HomePage To Load Faster
The homepage load time really matters when people visit the website. If it took a longer time to load then they leave your website and go to another website from SERP. Perhaps, they will never come back to your site again.
So, optimizing your homepage is the one thing that you can do to boost the load time. It is an important part of your website because visitors will be coming to the homepage at the beginning.
You must take care of the things given below.
- Decrease the number of posts on the homepage.
- Not include unrequired sharing widgets on the homepage.
- Also, remove plugins that you do not require.
The clear and focused homepage design not just helps you to look attractive, also loads faster on the various browsers.
13. Control Post Revision
WordPress supports the built-in feature that permits you to undo changes and go with the previous version of the post. This feature is called Revision or Post Revision.
You have to control your post revision because it will take space in the database.
Moreover, some users think that the revision also affects the queries that run by various WordPress plugins. Let me give you an example, a site has 500 pages or posts with 120 revisions on each, this website has more than 50,000 entries in the database.
You can simply control your post revision by running one line of code on the wp-config.php file.
This code just stores the last 3 revisions of each post or pages, automatically deleting the older revision. Generally, it will decrease your website page load time, and make it faster.
14. Turn-off Pingbacks And Trackbacks
Trackbacks and Pingbacks are methods for alerting blogs that you have linked.
Trackback: Must be developed manually and send a description of the content.
Pingback: Create automated and do not send any content.
By default, WordPress communicates with other blogs that are rigged with pingback and trackback.
Each time another blog mentions you, it informs your website. Which in turn updates wisdom on the article or blog. Turning off does not damage the backlinks to your website, only settings that create lots of work for your website.
15. Replace PHP With Static HTML (If Needed)
Generally, the PHP code can be replaced with some static HTML code, and that saves CPU processing time as well as database queries. That will directly decrease the website load time.
This is an advanced and important thing for the speed of the website.
You can replace the PHP page with HTML if you find it required but not every page. It helps you with a decrease in the load time of your website.
SEO, conversions, reduced bounce rates, and rankings and more, are heavily influenced by the speed of your website. Like we have seen, even a one-second lag has enormous implications. The techniques discussed above are useful in speeding up any WordPress website.
It doesn’t mean that to obtain optimal speed and page load times, you must use all of these tips. The general idea is to utilize whichever method(s) is within your reach and capability. It is important to note that even changes that may appear as minimal can make a huge difference.
Creating a website that is beautiful, easy to use, with seamless plugin integrations and rich features will come to naught if it is slow and sluggish.