If you have ever visited a website, only to leave after waiting what seemed like far too long for the page to load, then you understand the importance of WordPress speed optimization. Page speed is the amount of time it takes for your site to load. If you want to increase traffic to your site. Page speed is perhaps the one factor you should focus on most.
So, first things first, is the site loading under 3 seconds? If not, you will want to determine what is causing the slowdown, then take action to help it run faster and perform better.
Lester Cyr (Web Hosting Specialist) mentions here that “Speed can have a major effect on-site user experience as well as rankings for WordPress SEO. Even a seemingly minute, 1-second delay in page load time can cause a dramatic 7% loss in conversions.”
If you are sure your website speed is not measuring up to its potential, a performance test can give you a few valuable insights. Several sites are offering free performance tests that even map out exactly which parts you can improve.
What causes a website to run slow?
Several factors can contribute to a slow website. You could be experiencing difficulty with WordPress speed optimization because of a single issue, or there may be several problems that need to be addressed.
When looking to speed up your site, you will find it most beneficial to focus on several possible issues.
Slow Web Hosting
A slow website could be the result of a problem with your network or hosting service.
If the issue is caused by downtime, there’s not much you can do other than wait for the server to get up and running again. In the meantime, you may want to look into whether your hosting provider offers refunds for downtime.
There is also a possibility that you are using a web host or web hosting plan that doesn’t meet the requirements of your site.
It is important to choose the best hosting for WordPress speed optimization. Examine the features of your current web hosting plan. Are you using a plan that is better suited for less traffic? Did you opt for a cheap hosting solution with a provider that is notoriously known for slow page loads?
If this is the case, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan or switch to a better web host.
Too Many Plugins
Another possible reason your site is running slow is the use of too many plugins. Each plugin needs at least some execution time and makes its own HTTP requests for styles and scripts.
Go through the plugins you are currently using to look for unnecessary or duplicate plugins.
Out of date WordPress, Theme or Plugins
Lastly, when was the last time you updated the software you are using?
Updates often come with optimizations, and if your plugins and other software are outdated or running on older versions, it could cause your site to run slower than it should.
While some hosting plans perform regular, automatic updates, there may be software that requires manual updates.
How to optimize WordPress for speed?
For WordPress speed optimization, think about keeping things as simple as possible. For everything from your site design to the content you post, try to remember quality over quantity.
Reduce server requests
Your website could slow down considerably if it sends multiple requests to the server.
You can easily check how many HTTP requests your site makes using the Chrome developer tools.
If you aren’t familiar with coding and HTTP, there are plugins available to do the work for you.
Select the right theme
When selecting a theme for your website, you likely went with the one you thought was most visually appealing.
But how much thought did you give to its complexity and codebase? As beautiful as your site may be, it’s not too useful if it performs poorly and is too bloated to run effectively.
When selecting a theme, stick with a design that performs optimally from both an SEO perspective and a performance perspective.
Unoptimized images could also cause your website to run slowly. Trying to load a site that contains multiple large images will often result in slower load speed if your site isn’t properly equipped to handle them.
Consider the size, format, and dimensions of the images and graphics you are using.
Here is a simplified version of the checklist we use internally for our graphics team that helps us improve our WordPress website speeds.
- Avoid using an image size that is wider than the width of your page. If necessary, crop and edit your images to a consistent format that correctly fits your site.
- The time it takes to load images can be decreased by using the same dimensions for each of your images. When considering the dimensions for your images, also keep in mind that medium-sized images can be just as effective as larger ones, without the extra time it takes to load them.
- Use JPEG or WEBP images and use as few as possible while still effectively enhancing your content.
- Lazy-load your images for optimal delivery. That means an image won’t be loaded until the user scrolls down to reveal it. Several WordPress plugins offer lazy-loading with minimal setup. With this technique, your site won’t have to load all the images on a site from the get-go.
Reduce the number of Redirects
Any website that’s more than a few years old, will have some redirects.
Every time your website has to redirect to another page, it eats up processing power. Which in turn slows down your website.
To speed up your site by WordPress speed optimization even further and avoid losing visitors, reduce the number of redirects as much as possible.
Choose the right web host
It’s essential to choose the right hosting option.
When it comes to WordPress web hosting you have a lot of choices. From shared hosting to hosting your website in cloud servers.
While shared hosting is the most affordable option, a dedicated server gives you a lot more resources. With dedicated hosting, you don’t have to share those resources with a dozen others. On the other hand, you are responsible for managing and maintaining your site if you run your own server.
Outdated server hardware and heavy traffic loads can slow down your web hosting server.
If your web hosting provider or hosting plan isn’t meeting your needs, it’s time to make a change.
Use a Content Distribution Network
Content distribution networks (CDNs) deliver static content in a more efficient way than your web hosting server.
CDNs distribute copies of your site across several data centers that are spread out geographically. This means when a user visits your site, they are downloading information from a server that is closest to them. This allows for quicker access to your site and more reliable service.
Enable Gzip compression
Compressing HTTP responses can be super effective in speeding up your site.
Explore the option of compressing the response to decrease the amount of information that must load every time. Gzip is a great compression format for sites that need a dramatic increase in response time.
Most WordPress cache plugins help you implement gzip-compression.
Implement browser caching
Another thing for WordPress speed optimization is the browser caching. Browser caching makes a dramatic difference in load times for return visitors.
When you visit a website, specific parts of the site are stored in the browser’s cache, making it easier and therefore faster to load the site on your next visit.
There are several WordPress plugins that help you to implement browser caching easily.
A fast website provides a better user experience. Critically it also a search ranking factor.
In this post, we looked at the many factors that affect your WordPress website speed – from slow web hosting to out of date software.
We also looked at some of the common ways to overcome these factors.
Have any more tips to speed up WordPress? Share them in the comments below.