25 Ways to Speed up a WordPress Website – Part 1

Speed up a WordPress website

Website speed has now become a ranking factor in Google, i.e., Google has been giving fast-loading web pages preferential placement in its search results. The search giant will start giving preference to pages built with its fast-loading technology known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP.

A fast website means good user experience and an engaging UX leads to higher conversions. Very slow websites are bad user experiences and therefore, a negative ranking factor. Hence, very slow websites are negatively impacted by Google.

Following are some statistics concerning page load time and user behavior:

• The standard human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds during the period between 2000 and 2016.
47% of the internet surfers want a web page to load within two seconds or less.
40% of visitors leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
Even a one-second delay results in a 7% loss in conversions, an 11% decrease in page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
79% of the visitors who are disappointed with a website’s performance are unlikely to return.

While this may sound very hypothetical, it has widespread consequences in actuality. For instance, after Mozilla got its web pages to be faster by 2.2 seconds, its web browser Firefox, witnessed 60 million additional downloads per year. Similarly, Amazon calculated that a decrease in their page loading speed even by one second would cost them $1.6 billion in their annual sales.

Speedup WordPress

Thus, when it is a question of visitor retention and conversion, each second counts. Following are a few ways that would help speed up your WordPress website:

1) Invest in a quality web hosting provider

The hosting of your WordPress website is a significant determinant that impacts the speed of a website. Hosting your website on a shared hosting provider that provides limitless bandwidth, space, emails, domains and more, might seem to be a great idea, but it comes with the cost of incredibly slow website speed and frequents downtime during high traffic periods.

Shared hosting frameworks fail to provide good loading times during maximum traffic hours, and the majority of them fail to give 99% uptime in any stated month.

There are high chances of a shared hosting delivering a disappointing performance since you’re sharing the same server capacity with numerous other websites and it is impractical to determine the number of resources others are utilizing.

Besides, we don’t exactly know how well are the servers optimized. Hence, since speed is crucial, this is not the right place to economize on.

Thus, to avoid poor hosting performance, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is perhaps the best option, as it provides a fine balance of speed, comfort, and cost.

Another alternative is to opt for a managed WordPress hosting, which means, your website will function on a server particularly optimized for WordPress and you won’t have to bother about any of the technical concerns of managing a website.

2) Use a WordPress structure that is properly coded

Themes could be a crucial factor when it comes to website speed. Hence, it is suggested to go for a theme that fulfills your requirements precisely, and nothing more.

A better option would be to acquire a lightweight theme and include functionalities via plugins, as per your requirements. This helps in keeping your website, lightweight.

Incorporating too many elements and beguiling features into the themes could result in your website being unusually slow.

Certain light themes that are great to start with for a WooCommerce or WordPress project are GeneratePress and Astra.

The Twenty Nineteen theme which is also the default WordPress theme is extremely light and fast.

3) Optimize the images on your website

Images often make up the bulk of a web page since they need more space than text or CSS, and hence, they are the key contributors to amplifying the increment of a particular webpage. To speed up a WordPress website, the images must be made small or compressed, without compromising on their quality.

Optimizing the images manually using tools like Photoshop, Chrome PageSpeed Insights extension, or other tools like Smush.it by Yahoo!, is not feasible and extremely time-consuming. To simplify the process of image optimization, there are plugins available for the same, which include Optimole, WP Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer, to name a few.

Using correct image formats is another thing that should be kept in mind to ensure that your images are optimized. The two best image formats are JPEG and PNG. PNG is uncompressed, whereas JPEG is compressed.

Compressed images tend to lose quite a bit of information, resulting in a lower quality, however, since they are much smaller, they load faster. Uncompressed images, on the other hand, have higher quality, but take a longer time to load because of larger file size.

If an image consists of a lot of different colors, then the JPEG format is used, and if it’s a simpler image, then the PNG format is used.

If you use images from the internet, most of the images that you download would be quite big. These images will take longer to load and decrease your site speed. Therefore, before you upload an image, remember to resize it and make it as small as possible.

Also, note that the width of the image should not be more than the width of the space where you want to insert the image.

4) Minify JavaScript and CSS files

On running your website through the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, you will possibly be advised on minimizing the size of your CSS and JS files, which means, the website loading speed can be improved by decreasing the amount of CSS and JS calls and the size of those files, since, larger files equal longer download times.

The more JavaScript your website uses, the slower it will load. Hence, JavaScript should be used only when it is required.

The initial load time of a web page can be reduced by decreasing the number of JavaScript needed to display the web page and postpone the parsing of unnecessary JavaScript until it needs to be effectuated.

Some plugins will help you achieve this goal; the most popular ones being W3 Total Cache, Autoptimize, WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache that can help in optimizing CSS, JS and also the HTML of your WordPress website.

5) Use advanced caching mechanisms with an effective WordPress caching plugin

Page caching, which is one of the optimal ways to reduce the page loading time of a WordPress website, is often used to fix performance concerns of poor-quality hosting, slow plugins or themes, and even an inflated database.

Every WordPress website needs an effective WordPress caching plugin. Cache plugins allow you to publish static HTML files instead of dynamic files, hence reducing the time a page takes to load as there are no PHP or MySQL commands to execute.

Caching remarkably improves the speed and performance (static cached files load a lot faster than dynamic files) of a website. It lowers the load on your hosting server, helps improve your ranking on Google (the faster your website loads, the more favorably Google views it) and improves user experience.

Additionally, an expires header could be added to static resources. An expires header is a way to specify a time in the future so that the clients (browsers) don’t have to re-fetch any static content (such as CSS file, JavaScript, images, etc). This can help you cut the load time significantly for your regular users.

W3 Total Cache has all the features you need and is extremely easy to install and use. The CMS also offers other plugin solutions like WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache.

Incorporating advanced caching tools such as Varnish along with such plugins can aid in improving the loading speed of your website, thus, speeding up WordPress to a great extent.

6) Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Website visitors over the World Wide Web belong to multiple regions around the world. When visitors who are situated far away from the region from where your website is hosted try accessing your website, it’ll load extremely slow because your web server will have to download everything from across the globe, and this will affect the website loading speed.

Essentially, the farther the system that hosts your website is from the surfer, the longer it takes to transfer the data to the surfer. A CDN refers to a cluster of servers allocated geographically, which operate jointly to yield swift delivery of content on the World Wide Web.

Content Delivery Network

A CDN helps deal with the issue of a slow loading speed by hosting your static files on multiple servers simultaneously, all allocated around the world. Hence, whenever a visitor requests to visit your website, they can get the data from the closest location, therefore, minimizing the loading time.

A CDN enables the transmission of the resources required for loading content on the Web, including HTML pages, JavaScript files, images, videos, and stylesheets, at a fast pace. It assists you in offering a persistent and faster experience for visitors, irrespective of their geographical location.

Every server consists of a copy of your website, that can be used to yield your content at a faster pace to web surfers worldwide. This will not just enhance the speed of your website, but will also strengthen its security.

Besides, utilizing a series of proxy servers could make your website more crashproof, as the onus of file transmission is apportioned across several servers. This would help avert the website from collapsing owing to excessive traffic.

CloudFlare, Amazon CloudFront and MaxCDN are among the most popular CDN services.

CloudFlare, accompanied with the W3 Total Cache plugin, is a very effective integration that will significantly boost not just the velocity, but the security of your website.

7) Enable Gzip Compression

We are familiar with compression from our computer and zip files. Surprisingly, something similar can be done with your website, since a WordPress website is multiple files put together. Compression works perfectly in case of repetitive data and coding has a lot of repetition.

Thus, compression works perfectly in case of website files, as it makes them compact, and hence, quicker to download. Moreover, all present-day search engines can decipher compressed files, rendering this to be a great option to speed up WordPress.

Just as compression of files on your local computer can retain plenty of disk space, GZIP compression drastically reduces the bandwidth utilization and the time taken to get access to your website, as it compresses numerous files. Hence, when a visitor attempts to access your website, their search engine will have to unzip the website first.

8) Deactivate or uninstall unnecessary plugins

Keeping redundant plugins in your WordPress website will add an enormous amount of clutter to your web files. Besides, it would further enlarge the volume of your backup and put an immense burden on your server, while the backup files are being generated.

Hence, it is a good idea to do away with the plugins that are not in use and also opt for alternative systems to use third-party assistance for automating or scheduling tasks.

IFTTT or Zapier are two web services which assist in automating such tasks, therefore, decreasing the load on your website and server.

9) Keep minimal external scripts

The utilization of external scripts on your web pages adds a massive amount of data to your website, thus escalating the total loading time. Hence, it is ideal to use less number of scripts and incorporating only the essential ones, such as commenting systems (like Disqus) or tracking tools (like Google Analytics).

10) Avoid Hosting Videos on Your Website

Although WordPress is perfectly capable of hosting and playing videos, doing so is not recommended as it costs you bandwidth, which is all the more significant, if you have a limited hosting account. Also, it will make your WordPress website considerably larger and thus harder to back up.

Today, there are several superfast video hosting websites available, which help a great deal in the same. Besides, with auto embeds, all you have to do to include videos in your content is to copy the YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion link and paste it into the WordPress editor.

11) Optimize your homepage to load quickly

This is one of the few easy things that you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly, which essentially is the most important part of your website because visitors will be landing there most often.

Whatever theme you end up choosing, ensure that your homepage is clear and minimal. Too many features not only distract the readers, but they also increase your page load time.

An effective homepage need not have too many elements. It should be like a map, which visitors can use to navigate through your website.

Things that you can do include:

1) Showing excerpts instead of full posts.
2) Reducing the number of posts on the page.
3) Removing unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them in the posts only).
4) Remove inactive plugins and widgets that are not needed.
5) Keep it minimal.

Therefore, a clean and focused homepage design will help your page not only look good but load quicker as well.

12) Add LazyLoad to your images

Creating a high-quality website would require high-quality images and videos. The more the number of images and videos, the more likely it is that your website will begin to slow down and experience reduced performance.

Lazy load means having only the images above the fold load (i.e. only the images visible in the visitor’s browser window). As and when the visitor scrolls down, the other images begin to load, just before they come into view.

This will not just help speed your page loads, it can also save bandwidth by loading less data for users who don’t scroll down on your pages.

You can enable lazy loading effortlessly with WP Rocket.

13) Fix your broken links

Broken external links may not directly slow down your website, but they cause a bad user experience. Further, broken links in your JavaScript, CSS and Image URLs can make your website extremely slow.

Fix your broken links

Installing a WordPress plugin to check broken links can be quite taxing on your servers which, as a result, slows down your website even more.

Instead, you could use something like Sitebulb.

14) Avoid landing page redirects

HTTP redirects from one URL to another increases the additional wait time for website visitors.

This can be prevented by keeping the following in mind:

Always use one preferred URL version of your website. For example, if you use the www version of your URL, then never link to your website both externally and internally using http://domain.com

If you recently installed SSL, then use the plugin simple SSL to switch your entire website including all URLs to https.

15) Use the Latest Versions of WordPress and Its Components

WordPress releases new plugins and updates quite often, which are designed to fix bugs, beef up security, improve functionality and more. They make your website run more efficiently and prevent it from slowing down. Keeping your website up-to-date not only increases the speed of your website, but it also keeps the website secure.

Another measure that can be taken up to speed up WordPress is keeping your core technology up to date. New versions of HTML, PHP and other web technologies that are released, contain improvements, new features, and often improved speed. Hence, it is important to stay updated.

Click to continue reading Part – 2

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