How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website – Detailed Guide
Basics of WordPress performance
Fancy having a speedy WordPress site? Well, this isn’t only about improving your WordPress SEO but also about enhancing the user experience. Fast loading pages improve page views and user’s online experience. Today, the performance and speed of websites are increasingly significant. That is because internet use has dominated, and the average internet connection speeds the world over have gone up.
That explains why web users have become less tolerant of slow page loading times. Having a slow WordPress site has consequences, nonetheless. Research shows that more than 53% of online users are likely to abandon websites taking longer than 3 seconds to load pages. Furthermore, nearly 12% of online users will throw up after a measly 2 seconds. WordPress speed counts, and a lot.
Besides, Google has stated clearly that site loading speed is one central factor in search results ranking. Faster loading times will help you generate more page views and conversations. Fortunately for you, as a site owner, I will present some tools to improve your site speed. To ensure you have an easy time navigating through the detailed guide, I have a table of contents for you. So, let’s get down to it.
We have created a Detailed Guide to show you some easy steps to take to speed up your WordPress website.
Total Time: 6 hours
Why is speed important for your WordPress site?
As a site owner, you will want to generate more page views and conversations. The two are guaranteed if you have a speedy page loading time on your WordPress site. The following are reasons you should prioritize faster page loading time on your site:
Online platform customers are the priority for e-commerce store vendors. As such, they will expect to add products to the cart with a single click of the button, usually in a second. Therefore, if you are an online vendor running an e-commerce business via WordPress, you will have to ensure your site gets a seamless touch on the customer interface.
Research shows that at least 50% of site visitors will bounce off the website if the loading time exceeds 2 seconds. Therefore, to make sure you keep your page viewers, speed up your WordPress. Moreover, a StrangeLoop study that involved larger sites like Google and Amazon revealed that a loading time delay of one second could result in 7% fewer conversations, a 16% customer satisfaction decline, and 11% less page viewership.
Google categorically stated that site loading time is factored in ranking search results. That means sites with fast loading times are ranked higher than those with slow loading times. Therefore, to optimize site viewership, then you have to speed up your WordPress website.
How to establish loading time of your WordPress site
Before you decide to speed up your WordPress site, you need to establish your website’s current loading time. Bear in mind that the speed will vary from page to page, and that’s because of factors such as:
The number of requests it generates.
Size of the page.
Whether the page is cached or not.
Type of page content; either static or dynamic.
You might be tempted to think your website’s speed is okay on your computer when it is not. The probable reason for that is because you regularly visit your site. As such, modern browsers will automatically store your website’s cached data, which makes it easier to prefetch it. That makes your loading time to be faster.
On the contrary, that might not be the case for users visiting your site for their first time. That is why it is important that you test your website speed on a regular basis. Usually, the homepage serves as the benchmark for page loading times. So, if you want to check the speed of your website, I recommend that you use the following web-extensive tools:
They are free online tools you can use to test the speed of your website. After you have established the speed, the next question would be; what is the deal speed of my website? With the domination of mobile phone use, people’s concentration span has decreased, and so has their tolerance to slow site loading times. Therefore, an appropriate page loading time should be at most 2 seconds.
After running a diagnostic to establish your site speed, the tool you use will highlight what is making your site lag and then recommend solutions. Understanding the cause of your site’s slow down is the first step. As such, you will learn how to make performance improvements for the long-term. The following are the critical cause of slow WordPress:
External links embedded in your site – these may include ads or font loaders on display on your homepage. They can slow down your site performance.
Page size – if you fail to optimize images on your site, they may have a slow down effect on your site too.
Configuration of your WordPress – if your WordPress is not configured to serve cached pages, then there is a likelihood it will take more time to load pages. That makes your site slow.
Inappropriate plugins – if you use a poorly coded plugin, you will make your site slow.
Configuration of your web host – the web host that is not configured correctly will cause a slow down effect on your site.
Use a better web hosting plan.
Depending on the content you want to publish on your site, it is important to choose a suitable website hosting. Shared hosting might seem a bargain because of the unlimited page views, but it doesn’t come without its shortcomings. Shared hosting delivers poor performance mainly because you will share similar server space with numerous other websites. Besides, it is a challenging task optimizing servers on shared hosting.
Nevertheless, shared hosting can prove to be a bargain because it offers unlimited space, domains, emails, bandwidth, etc. So, if you choose s shared hosting plan, be sure to track your traffic volume to see if you need to upgrade to a better hosting plan before your site visitors notice a sluggish website. But their downside is that most shared hosting fails to deliver fast loading times and 99% uptime on peak traffic hours.
Depending on what content you want to publish on your WordPress, it is important to choose an appropriate web hosting for you. Therefore, if you want to publish popular stuff, shared hosting will not be an excellent choice to run your WordPress. So, remember to invest in better hosting.
Install an effective WordPress caching plugin
WordPress plugins are quite dynamic and are built to improve page loading times through cashing. Technically, caching means temporary data storage. When users access your site, WordPress has to build and display pages. However, this process involves countless steps, which can slow down your website when multiple users are on your site.
Therefore, every WordPress site has to use a caching plugin. The use of cashing can improve site loading to at least three times faster. Caching improves site performance because most of the content on the pages is already available on temporary storage. So, instead of going through the whole process of page generation every time, the caching plugin will make a copy of that page when you first load it. After that, it will serve this cached version to every other user. That speeds up your site’s loading times.
Many WordPress companies offer caching solutions. Such companies include Bluehost and SiteGround. I would recommend using the WP Rocket premium version and the WP Super Cache free plugin.
Optimize your images
Image optimizers such as Smush will drastically minimize your image sizes while maintaining their quality. Whereas it might be cumbersome reducing every image one by one, Smush has an automatic feature. The plugin does the process of automatically reducing all images as you upload them.
We all know how important it is when it comes to site engagement. Research shows that the use of coloured visuals attracts at least 80% of people to your website. Image optimization is quite essential. If you upload images directly from your camera or phone without optimizing them, it will hurt your site speed. However, the trick is to optimize images without compromising on quality. Most photos taken by phone or camera can have huge sizes in their original capture formats. Therefore, it is important to pass them through editing software to have them optimized by changing image formats as well as compressing them.
It is possible to reduce image sizes using either plugins or graphic-editing tools, and the user wouldn’t realize any changes to quality or size. An uncompressed image will have more content and will be of high quality. However, its size is enormous. Therefore, it will take longer to load. The most common image formats used are JPG and JPEG. The majority of images we see on sites are JPEGs. They are compressed formats with a slight reduction in quality and size. The two factors make these image formats easier to load, which speeds up your site loading times.
To accomplish this, you will have to do the following two functions before uploading your images:
Image hygiene checks
Ensure the image size is correct; that is, the About Us page should have a bigger image than the favicon. Therefore, resize your images to fit the respective logos. Similarly, you should use appropriate image formats. For instance, the JPG format is ideal for photographs with various colours. On the contrary, the PNG format is ideal for graphics with fewer colour variations. However, the SVG format is appropriate for images with geometric shapes, as is the case for most logos.
Before you can go ahead and post your images, it is important to optimize them. Image optimization essentially means that you have to compress and resize them to ensure they are suitable for web viewing. To do that, you can optimize them by use of a plugin or even locally.
Website users from different geographical locations experience varying loading speeds on your site. That is because the location of your web hosting servers impacts your loading speeds. The use of a Content Delivery Network can boost your site speed.
Make use of a lightweight homepage theme.
A solid and speed-optimized theme is essential for your website. It is best to find a balance between impressions and site speed. There are great themes that are poorly coded and can hurt your site speed. Therefore, the best option is to use a simpler theme as opposed to those with complex layouts and other unnecessary features.
WordPress themes have dynamic effects. From colours, sliders, widgets to seamless layouts, themes can have an immense appeal to the eye. But keep in mind that if all those beautiful features add up to bigger page sizes, then web servers would be slower. As such, I recommend that you should best use a lightweight theme for your WordPress.