Speed is everything. Especially online. If you have a slow website, it will impact the user experience and increase your bounce rate, two things no website owner wants.
Whether it is to increase the conversion rate, improve user experience, or optimize your website for search engines, speed is crucial.
If you’ve been working with WordPress, you've probably installed several plugins and themes and have hundreds or thousands of images. All could be slowing down your website.
Which is probably why you’re reading this post.
In this article, we begin by covering some of the factors that affect website speed and then move on to some actionable tips to speed up your website.
We’ll also install a WordPress plugin that helps reduce page load times significantly.
Why is Speed Important for Your Website?
Gone in 8 seconds! That’s what reports suggest.
Reports suggest that the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today, which is a second lower than a goldfish!
Why is this important?
It means you have 8 seconds to convince your audience to stay. Make them wait for just a second longer, and you’ve just lost a potential customer.
Another report also suggests that with every 100ms in load time, Amazon loses 1% in revenue. That is approximately $3.8 billion per 100ms!
Page speed is also a critical search engine ranking factor. Google penalizes slow websites, which is reason enough to tackle it on its own. Not sure if you’ve been impacted? Consider using rank tracking software to watch your keyword positions and better understand your search engine trends and you might be surprised.
Is Website Speed Important for Mobile Devices?
With more than 50% of website traffic coming from mobile, you must ensure your website is not only responsive but loads fast on mobile devices.
In fact, Google prioritizes websites that load faster on mobile. It’s called Mobile-first Indexing and it’s a big deal.
The bounce rate on mobile devices increases by 32% if there's a delay between 1s and 3s. This goes all the way to 123% if there's a delay of up to 10 seconds.
As far as accessing shopping sites on mobile devices is concerned, even a second delay can impact conversions by up to 20%.
So, is website speed important for mobile devices? We definitely think so!
How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed
There are several options to check the speed of your WordPress website and they are free to use.
For instance, we carried out a page speed test on our website – hasthemes.com.
Simply enter the URL and click on Analyze. And we get a 97.
It's not a 100, but it is excellent. There's always room for improvement though.
As you scroll through the report, you’ll notice a section named Opportunities.
Want to get that perfect 100? Address the suggestions under opportunities and you should be on your way!
We carried the test on GTmetrix, too, and here's the performance report.
We’ve achieved a page load speed of 1.3 seconds.
This brings us to an important question. What is a good page load speed?
Reports suggest that if your site loads in under 2.9 seconds, you are faster than 50% of other websites. It also states that if your site loads in under 1.7 seconds and 0.8 seconds, your website is faster than 75% and 94% of the web, respectively.
While a faster website is always better, anything under 2 seconds is a good speed to aim for.
Factors That Slow Down Your WordPress Website
Here are some of the prime reasons for slow websites.
It starts with your web hosting provider. Hosting your WordPress website on a slow or shared hosting server is a common reason why it doesn’t load fast.
How do you verify if your web server is slow? Tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix should help you here.
When you run a test, if the ‘Reduce initial server response time’ metric comes up, you’ll know that your server is slowing down your site.
Using a reliable hosting service provider will help with this.
No Proper Caching
Caching is when copies of your web page, files, and data are stored in temporary storage, or cache. When someone accesses your website, rather than WordPress building pages from scratch, copies of the pages are stored in the cache.
These copies are sent directly to the visitor, which results in faster page loading.
With the right WordPress caching plugin, your site’s loading speed improves dramatically!
Another common reason for websites to load slowly is due to large images. While it may be tempting to have high-resolution images on your website, it affects page load speeds.
Poorly Coded Plugins
If WordPress plugins haven't been coded properly, they can negatively impact your website performance.
The quality of the plugins you use is vital and can have a genuine impact on website performance.
Too Many Server Requests
By carefully minimizing requests, you can speed up page load times.
Badly Coded Scripts
Do you include external scripts on your website? Scripts for banner advertisements or tracking code for social media?
Whether you are writing code yourself or including some third-party code into your website, ensure that the code is optimized. Codes that aren't well written can often impact your website performance.
Now that we've covered the common factors that slow down your website, let's look at some tips to speed it up.
16 Simple Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
These are tried and tested tips, and we are confident that they will help you too.
1. Run a Website Speed Test
Start by running a speed test as we did above. This helps you understand where your website stands now. Run one now and one after you complete these steps to see how much it has improved.
2. Keep WordPress Updated
Whether it is the core WordPress software, or the plugins and themes, keeping them up-to-date is crucial for the smooth running of your website.
Updates bring out the latest that WordPress, a plugin, or a theme has to offer. Without having them updated, you may run into compatibility issues. Which, in turn, impacts your page load speed.
Updates can also bring code improvements and other optimizations, which can also improve page load times.
3. Install a WordPress Theme Optimized For Speed
While most themes look great, it's a classic case of not judging the book by its cover. Some themes are written better than others.
When you look for a WordPress theme, consider one that loads fast and is fully optimized for speed and performance. Just because it looks great doesn't mean that your site will load fast!
There are several free themes available in the WordPress ecosystem. One free theme that loads in under 0.5 seconds is the Astra theme.
It’s a lightweight and hugely popular WordPress theme that is optimized for speed and performance. Astra needs less than 50 KB of resources as compared to the 300KBs+ required by other WordPress themes!
4. Use Gutenberg Instead of Page Builders
There’s no doubt that page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy and others offer an easy way to build websites. WordPress’s default editor, the Gutenberg block editor, may not have the power or flexibility of a page builder, it’s much faster.
So, while you can create pages easily with page builders, you can build faster pages with Gutenberg.
5. Delete Unwanted Plugins and Themes
Does it really make sense to have themes and plugins installed if you’re not using them? Removing unwanted plugins and themes has a minimal effect on reducing the page load time, but it’s still a useful exercise
Removing the unwanted themes and plugins is pretty straightforward. But, would you like to install a plugin that allows you to, in turn, disable plugins for specific pages and posts?
We recommend installing the WP Plugin Manager WordPress plugin for this. It helps manage themes, plugins and WordPress processes on each page, to help improve performance across the board.
The plugin works with any WordPress theme and makes your website load much faster!
6. Avoid Uploading Audio and Video Files Directly to WordPress
A lot of space and bandwidth is taken up by audio and video files. Plus, while media may play fine, uploading audio and video files can drastically decrease your page load speed and negatively impact website performance.
The more efficient way to go about this is by using hosting platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and others. Simply upload the file, copy the URL, and embed the link on your page.
7. Optimize Background Processes
Do you know that lots of processes happen in the background of WordPress?
They include backup tasks, cron jobs for sending out emails and publishing schedule posts, checking for updates, search engine crawlers trying to index your website content, and so on.
While most of these processes are essential, some take up valuable website resources and can slow down page loading.
You can minimize some of these by scheduling backups for quiet times, scheduling emails to be sent overnight, and managing updates manually during slow traffic periods.
8. Clean Up Your Database
Your WordPress database can accumulate clutter if left unchecked. Periodically cleaning up your database can help reduce its size and improve your website speed.
You can manually clean up your WordPress database through phpMyAdmin. However, we recommend this method only if you are comfortable handling databases.
This is achieved by reducing the unwanted code in the files, or minifying them.
Minifying files involves removing unwanted characters, line breaks, comments, and other unwanted elements in the code. The smaller the file, the faster they load.
11. Optimize Images
While you must have images on your website, it's equally important to optimize them. Heavy images are one of the most common reasons for slow page load speeds.
Use WordPress plugins such as Smush to compress, lazy load, and optimize your images.
12. Lazy-Load Pages
Similar to lazy loading images, it helps to lazy load long content pages too.. By delaying the content you don’t see from loading, the content you see renders much faster.
13. Limit Comments Per Page
Comments indicate how well your content is resonating with your audience. While it's nice to receive many comments, it can also slow your page down considerably.
By restricting the number of comments per page, you can reduce the time to load.
The easiest way to go about doing this is under Settings > Discussions > Other comment settings, in your WordPress dashboard.
The default number would be set to 50. Lower this and see how much faster pages load.
14. Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives
Notice those excerpts on your homepage and archive pages? Do they display the entire article, or are they the shortened version?
By displaying the entire article on your homepage, blog, categories, and other archive pages, you’ll end up slowing down your page. Not to mention, it doesn’t help the user experience.
The simplest solution is to display excerpts of the content. Have just about enough content displayed to create a sense of curiosity and engage your audience.
15. Run the Latest Version of PHP
WordPress is built using PHP so you should always have the latest PHP version installed on your server.
The good news is that most hosting providers ensure that it's done for you. However, it's always a good practice to periodically check the PHP version being used using cPanel or phpMyAdmin.
16. Use a CDN
By using a CDN, you are ensuring your website loads faster by using a server that's located closest to the visitor.
CDN servers store copies of your pages across their network and will use the copy closest to the user. This speeds up page loading for that user.
Speed Up WordPress Website Using WP Plugin Manager
WP Plugin Manager is a plugin that allows you to deactivate plugins for specific pages or posts.
You don't have to load all plugins for every single page as not all of them are relevant. What if you could deactivate the plugins on select pages or posts?
The plugin still exists on your website, does the job that it's required to, but doesn't impact the page load time on pages it isn’t needed.
This is precisely what WP Plugin Manager does.
Features of WP Plugin Manager:
- A lightweight plugin
- Allows you to selectively disable plugins
- Option to disable plugins on any specific page or post
- Intuitive control panel
Once you've installed the plugin, you can define specific pages and posts on which a plugin doesn’t need to run. It’s a quick and easy process that can speed up your pages considerably.
Want to see this plugin in action?
Watch the video How to Speed Up your WordPress Website Using WP Plugin Manager
How do you Speed up Your WordPress Website
Ensuring your WordPress website loads fast is crucial. With constant updates from Google emphasizing the importance of page speed and user experience, speed is everything.
We’ve covered measuring page load speed to optimize images. 16 actionable tips to speed up your WordPress website.
We'd like to hear from you now. Do you incorporate any of the tips mentioned above? Or is there something that we've missed? Comment below and let us know.
Watch the video: How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website (Simple Guide)
Note: This informative post has been written with the collaboration of some talented people from the Brainstorm Force team.
Sujay Pawar is CEO and Co-Founder of Brainstorm Force, the company behind Astra. He's passionate about the online space and writes articles to help entrepreneurs and freelancers succeed online. A father, a Youtube addict, and the brain behind numerous world-class products, you can connect with him on Twitter @sujaypawar.