Did you know that WordPress hosts a staggering 835 million websites worldwide as of 2022?
If WordPress powers your business and you want to stay ahead of the curve, you can't ignore speed as a performance factor.
Why is it important? It could directly impact your conversion rate and search engine ranking.
If your pages load slowly on Google Chrome or mobile devices, that signals to Google that your site isn’t user-friendly or mobile-friendly.
Your website visitors are what matters most when it comes to SEO and conversions. So, if you don’t want to lose potential customers and miss out on new leads, check out these best practices to speed up WordPress performance.
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Why You Should Speed Up Your WordPress Website
Speed is everything in the web world, especially when it comes to websites.
Your visitors don't want to wait forever for your pages to load and certainly won't appreciate long delays that cause them to abandon your website.
To keep your website visitors happy, you have to ensure that your WordPress site loads quickly every time, which means optimizing your page speed and performance can be the key to success or failure.
Here are the main reasons why your WordPress website's speed is critical:
Fast websites reduce server response time.
When visitors access your website, you want them to see all or most of your page as quickly as possible.
A big part of how quickly they'll see your page is how fast their browser loads it from your server.
If your server takes too long to respond to requests, the result will be a slow-loading website and frustrated visitors.
Quick-loading websites can increase customer satisfaction and conversion rate.
Visitors who have an easier time navigating your site and completing transactions will be more satisfied with their experience on your site and more likely to convert into customers.
For example, every second counts when shopping online at an e-commerce site. A delay can increase abandonment rates by 87%.
That's why Google considers site speed as one of its ranking factors.
Plus, if people abandon your website because it takes too long to load pages, you lose out on potential customers.
In other words, slower site speed leads directly to lower profits for your company.
It provides higher rankings in search engine results.
The faster your pages load, the higher they rank in search engine results. Websites that take longer to load are penalized in search engine rankings due to recent changes by Google.
What's worse is that this penalty applies regardless of how good the content on these pages is.
So, even if your blog has impressive posts, if the loading time is over three seconds, you may find that it's getting fewer views in Google Search Results.
Fast websites reduce bounce rates.
More traffic usually means more sales and increased revenue for your company. But what happens when visitors arrive at your site only to leave without doing anything?
One reason could be that the website loads slowly. According to studies, 47% of visitors expect websites to load in two seconds or less and will abandon websites after waiting for longer.
With the potential to lose up to 47% of potential customers right off the bat due to poor performance, it becomes clear that loading speeds matter greatly, especially if you want repeat business and loyal followers.
10 Best Practices for WordPress Speed Optimization
1. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
Caching helps you improve the performance of your website by saving a copy of your content and displaying it when a visitor comes to your site.
This one is useful for when there are a lot of people visiting your site at once. Caching will ensure everyone gets served their content quickly and not a server busy message.
Caching can also help with security issues like hacking attempts and denial of service.
A caching plugin like W3 Total Cache is excellent for WordPress speed optimization.
W3 Total Cache has tons of features. It is also easy to use, and the company behind it, iThemes, offers unlimited support and has a fantastic track record in helping its users troubleshoot issues and fix problems.
2. Optimize Your Images
Images are a huge part of almost every website as they help break up text and add value to your content. Unfortunately, images also take a lot of time to load.
Every time a visitor to your site clicks on an image, the browser has to load the image file on your server.
It's time-consuming, and the visitor doesn't need to see the image.
When uploading images to your website, ensure that the file sizes are small. You can optimize your photos with a plugin like WP Smush.
3. Keep Your Site Updated
It's crucial to keep your website updated. You might consider removing old posts if you have been blogging on your site and publishing content regularly.
Similarly, if you have published an old website version and haven't updated it, you need to change that. It's good practice for WordPress speed optimization.
If you want to do it the right way, you should use a child theme of your current theme. Doing this will allow you to change your theme without actually editing it.
4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network is a service that hosts your website's content on servers worldwide.
You can use a CDN for WordPress speed optimization and improve your visitors' user experience.
A CDN will help boost your website's speed and performance by storing its static assets, such as images and videos, closer to your website visitors.
Some CDN providers are Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, or GoSquared.
5. Don’t Upload Multimedia Files Directly to Your Website
If you have multimedia content on your websites, such as audio or video files, don't upload them directly to your website.
Instead, put them on a separate server from your website to avoid unnecessary slowdowns and outages.
Use hosting services like Amazon S3 or Dropbox to host audio and video to make your website faster. You can also use a service called Cloudflare to host media files on its edge servers around the world.
6. Use a Theme Optimized for Fast Loading
If you are using a free WordPress theme, it is almost certain that it is slowing down your website.
You can easily find out if your theme is optimized for speed by going to Google’s PageSpeed Insights. You can also find tips on improving your website speed there.
A theme optimized for fast loading has the following:
- Responsive design
- Simple and lightweight with minimal to no huge files
- GZIP compression to compress and reduce file sizes
- Reduced HTTP requests
7. Use Faster Plugins
WordPress is a great content management system, but it can be slow. To speed things up, install plugins that have been optimized for performance.
In addition to the official WordPress repository, many third-party plugins have been created specifically for this purpose.
These are some of the best plugins to speed up your WordPress:
- Cache Enabler
- LazyLoad by WP Rocket
- WP Fastest Cache
- WP Rocket
- WP Super Cache
- WP Super Minify
- W3 Total Cache
8. Split Long Posts into Pages
If you have published long posts on your blog, you might want to consider splitting them into multiple pages.
Long posts are great for content marketing but cause your visitors' browsers to freeze.
You can use the Read More button at the bottom of your post, or you can use HTML to break it up into multiple pages.
9. Limit Post Revisions
You can set the number of post revisions when publishing posts on your WordPress site. Post revisions let you see previous versions of a post, including comments and spelling errors.
Do this by going to your WordPress admin panel and clicking Posts. Click on the Edit button next to the post you want to change.
10. Use DNS Level Website Firewall
A DNS-level website firewall isn't something you hear about every day. But it's a great way to ensure your site is secure and safe from hackers.
It can also help speed up WordPress performance by blocking malicious traffic before reaching your server.
What’s Slowing Down Your WordPress Website?
A WordPress website is running slowly for many reasons. Here are the most common ones:
- Out-of-date plugins or themes - Make sure your plugins and themes are up-to-date with the latest versions of WordPress. If they aren't, update them as soon as possible so they'll be compatible with your site's latest version.
- Out-of-date server software - It could slow down your website, cause it to crash, or corrupt files on your server, leading to potential data loss and other security risks like malware infections. If you're using an out-of-date version of Apache Web Server, update it to a newer version as soon as possible.
- Slow server speed - Running multiple websites? Your sites might be slowing down because too much bandwidth has been used on the hosting account. Slow server speed could also come from too many connections from one IP address. Consider getting more bandwidth or setting up multiple hosting accounts with different IP addresses to help keep your sites running faster.
- Slow database queries - When building pages on a WordPress website, database queries can significantly increase when meaningful content is written in posts and pages, leading to slower page loading times. You can reduce database queries by keeping posts shorter or editing your page templates to include less content that needs querying.
- Too many plugins - Using too many plugins at once on your WordPress website will make it run slower. Try installing only a few well-tested, reputable, popular plugins. You can always add new ones later.
- Too many shortcodes - Shortcodes may provide a better user experience but make creating pages and posts longer than usual due to the increased loading time needed to execute each shortcode. Decrease the number of shortcodes to speed up the post-creation process by removing unnecessary shortcodes to minimize page loading time.
How to Test Your WordPress Website Speed
Checking your website speed is crucial to measuring your WordPress site's well-optimized. Many speed testing tools are available that provide a variety of information, including bandwidth and HTTP requests per second.
You can test your website with these tools:
- PageSpeed Insights
How to Speed Up WordPress: Takeaways
Website performance is a complex issue. There are many factors to consider, and the right solution depends on the needs of your website, your business model, and traffic patterns.
However, one thing's for sure: website speed matters. It will only become more significant over time as users continue to embrace fast-loading sites whenever they can.
WordPress sites are easy to set up and customize, but you must also take care of it and optimize the performance.
When there's less load time and delay in processing, your visitors will thank you for it, positively impacting your SEO rankings and conversions.
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