How to speed up your WordPress website – LoveYourSite

I get frustrated by slow sites and often click back to the search results or social media post I came from if it takes too long to load. I’m reasonably tolerant but for many people ‘too long’ is just a few seconds.

Not only can a slow site increase how many visitors stay on your site but it can also affect how much traffic you get from search engines. Google appears to penalise slower sites by moving them down the search results resulting in much reduced organic traffic.

As a minimum we aim for a website to load entirely within two seconds or one second as a stretch goal. Here are some ideas to get your site nice and nimble.

Save tears, backup your site before making any changes.

Test your site before you make changes

We use Pingdom website speed test as our benchmark although Google have their own tool called PageSped insights.

I like Pingdom because it give a consistent speed test regardless of my internet connection and allows me to sort between the large largest files and longest loading javascript files.

Whichever method you use make a note of the resulting speed to compare once you gave finished optimising.

Compress images

Bloated images are the biggest culprit to slow loading websites. Luckily most images can be compressed without loosing any noticeable quality.

Where possible save images in JPEG format with a compression of around 90% for hassle free results. If you have time though I recommend experimenting by lowering the compression until you strike a balance between quality and a small files size.

If your image requires a transparent background you’ll need to save in PNG format. If you have options for compressing then choose 90%.

Two online tools you can use are compressnow.com and tinypng.com but I prefer the free Mac app ImageOptim which compresses JPEG and PNG files very quickly just by dragging the files to the program.

Remove unused plugins*

If you are using WordPress, looking for and removing plugins that are no longer in use can often make a dramatic difference to the speed of your website. In our experience this is due to the additional code and javascript every plugin feels its necessary to load.

We have also found that some plugins are badly programmed or use outdated methods which cause inefficient use of your internet when loading files. For example we removed a rotating Tweets plugin from a WordPress site we were optimising bringing load time down by 4 seconds! All in our developer shaved off 6 seconds even when re-implementing a more efficient rotating Tweets plugin.

Cache often visited pages*

Pre-loading, or caching, your website pages can save visitors many seconds when waiting for you page to load. We’ve seen speed improvements of up to 10 seconds on data heavy WooCommerce websites.

I highly recommend WP Rocket cache as the easiest way to get a super fast site. It is a paid plugin (currently $39) but it’s worth it. I like it because you can set it up quickly and then fine tune if you need to.

As a free alternative caching plugin you could try WP Super Cache by the makers of WordPress.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)*

A CDN is a clever service that makes your site available in multiple locations globally and then directs visitors to the nearest (and often quickest) server for them.

CloudFlare is a service we use and it makes adding your website to a CDN straightforward. It also performs magic tweaks on your website to compress files before your visitors get to see it so it’s delivered to them as fast as possible.

Should your server be unavailable CloudFlare can also serve up a static copy of your website to visitors so they don’t see any nasty error pages and can still access your content albeit with some limits.

Finally, test your site again

Do you see a speed improvement? If so don’t keep it to yourself share it on Twitter.

 

Do you find this information useful?

Find out how to access a Free Coaching session to discuss how you can put this into action.

* If you don’t feel confident about making any of the recommended changes yourself, consult with your web developer, techie friends or get in touch, we’d be happy help.

Online Marketing Geek. Knower of Social Media, Search Optimisation and the mobile web - Event Speaker - Author


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