The speed of your website is not only important to customers but also for you. So important that the primary search engine takes the website speed into consideration when they are determining the site’s ranking in the search engine.
Optimizing your site’s speed has therefore become an important aspect when conducting a search engine optimization exercise. Speeding up the loading times also improves overall user experience which is good for your blog or business. So, how do you optimize a WordPress site to improve its loading time? Here, we look on how to speed up a website loading time.
Speeding up the loading times also improves overall user experience which is good for your blog or business. So, how do you optimize a WordPress site? Here, we look on how to speed up a website loading time.
Before applying all the methods I will be showing in this post, I want you to test how your website is currently running now. There are a lot of free speed testing tools out there. Just to mention some:
After you run the speed test, take a Screenshot of your result (just like I’m doing below with my website) and save it somewhere in your computer, so that you can compare the results before and after applying all or some of this methods.
Speeding Up A WordPress Site
1. Optimize The Images
Failing to use images with the right format, size, or src attribute can significantly slow down your website. The image should not be oversized as it will take longer to load.
Keep the images as small as practicable. Utilizing image editing tools is also an excellent idea if the images are too big. you can use them to crop images to the correct size, remove any image comments and reduce the color depth if practicable.
Use JPEG format as much as you can although PNG is also good. Use GIFs for small or simple graphics and animated images. Some formats that you should be avoiding are BMPs or TIFFs as they will slow down your page.
There are excellent WordPress plugins which allow you to optimize the images automatically. The best example and the most used is EWWW Image Optimizer which is completely free. If not, you have online options like Compressor.io
2. Browser Caching
However, in subsequent visits, fewer components will be downloaded because most of these elements are stored in a temporary storage or cache. This will help improve the loading speed by a few seconds. Most daily visitors to your site, however, have an empty cache, so you have to make the page fast for first-time visitors too. There are also free plugins for leveraging Caching. The most used are WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache (this is the one I use)
Therefore, enabling caching helps to speed up subsequent visits. Set Expires to one week (minimum) or one year (preferably) for all the cacheable resources like image files, media files, JS and CSS files, PDFs, etc. But please Do not exceed the one-year limit as it violates the RFC guidelines.
3. Minimize The Number Of https Requests
Simplify your page design can speed up your site. Most of the loading time is spent downloading the stylesheets, images, scripts, Flash, and other elements and an https request will be made for each one of them. The more elements your website has, the longer it will take to load.
It is, therefore, important to streamline the number of components on the page. You can achieve that by combining multiple style sheets into one, substituting images with CSS whenever possible, reducing scripts and putting them at the bottom of the page and also keeping the website clean.
To reduce the https requests, you need to reduce the number of elements on the page.
Whitespace might be ideal for web design as it makes it more human-readable but not as necessary to code as browsers and servers only care about a valid code that executes without error, not how it looks.
5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Hosting your media files on a CDN can save you up to 60% bandwidth and also reduce the requests made by your website significantly. CDNs host your files across a vast network of servers around the World so that users around the globe can download files from the server that is closest to them. The bandwidth is spread across many servers, and this will reduce the load on every single server. It will also protect your sites from traffic spikes and even DDoS attacks.
6. Gzip and Compress Components
Before sending files to the browsers, it is important to compress them at the server level.
Large pages with high-quality content are bulky (often 100kb and more) and therefore slow to download. To speed them up, you need to zip them (compress). This then reduces the page bandwidth hence reducing https response. Gzip is a tool that helps you achieve this.
There is a very good article written by Google Developers on how to leverage this aspect of your website: Optimizing encoding and transfer size of text-based assets
7. Deactivate & Delete Unwanted Plugins
It is known that the more plugins you have, the slower your website will be. Therefore, try to keep this number a small as possible.
Also, there are plugins which might be very helpful BUT it crashed with your WordPress Theme or makes it very slow. So, what I recommend you is to install a free plugin that is called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) which analyzes all the performance of all the plugins that you have. Once the test has ended, you will be able to see which plugins are slowing your website down.
Another Tip here is that there some All-in-One plugins that have more than 1 feature to be used. This will avoid you installing one plugin for each need you have. For example, one of the most popular WordPress plugins nowadays is the SumoMe one. SumoMe counts with Pop-up opt-in forms
SumoMe counts with:
- Pop-up Opt-ins for getting subscribers to your email list (like the one I have for my website when you first get in)
- Content Analysis: you can see what your audience is reading and what not
- Heat Map: Clicks from visitors on your website
- Integration with Google Analytics
- Social Media Buttons
So, if you notice, you will save a lot of space by downloading just one plugin instead of 5 or 6 for all these features.
8. Put Stylesheets At The Top
Include all interface-related stylesheet references in the header of your document. Do not display unstyled content to your visitors. Let the files responsible for the appearance of your site load first. This allows them to be applied to the HTML as it loads.
9. Put Scripts At The Bottom
Let the content load first and all the other functionality-related files load afterward. It is important first to deliver your content to visitors as fast as possible. It should not be unstyled content so put CSS in the. Files required for interaction such as certain external API calls, tabbed widgets, etc. should load last.
10. Use CSS Sprites
A CSS sprite is one big image which contains all of your images. It is much faster to load one image than it is to load many small images as the browser will not make as many requests when using CSS sprites. There are tools for CSS sprites such as SpriteMe, which enable you to use sprites much faster. These tools turn all of your images into a CSS sprite very easily.
Optimizing the speed of your website will enhance the experience of your site visitors. Microsoft Bing search team found out that when there is a page responsiveness delay of 2-second longer, the user satisfaction reduced by 3.8%, lost revenue per user increased by 4.3%, while clicks reduced by 4.3%. Clearly, slower websites slow down your business too. Using these tips is a sure way of speeding up your WordPress website boosting your site’s visitors’ user experience and your business performance.
Final Step: Speed up web page loading time Test
If you have applied at least 3 of the recommendations I mentioned above, your website will be running fast for sure. So, now let’s complete the final step, which is enoying the results!
Use the same testing tool you used at the beginning of this post and compare your results! Feel free to share your comments and results here in the comment section!