We live in an era where most people want to experience instant gratification. In fact, internet surfers don’t want to wait more than a few seconds for websites to load. Thus, if your WordPress website takes a long time to load, you may notice a steep decline in website traffic which could ultimately lead to a fall in website rankings and loss of revenue. Plus, search engines such as Google and Bing can even penalize your website if it is not optimized for speed.
You can use a WordPress speed test tool to check the speed of your WordPress website. Anything under 2 seconds is a good page speed. Our team at Design Cavern has compiled a few tips and tricks you may follow to optimize the speed of WordPress websites:
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – The location of the servers hosting your website greatly impacts the page load time. For instance, if your website is hosted on a server in the United States, people who live in the U.S would experience a faster page load time than people who live in Russia.
- Optimize images for speed – One of the most common reasons for the slow loading of newly launched websites is uploading unoptimized images. Unoptimized images can have huge file sizes and thus, take much longer to load. Thus, you should never upload images from your smartphone or camera directly to your website without editing them first.
To optimize images for website speed, you just have to edit them and select the correct compression and image file format. PNG and JPEG are the best file formats to upload since they can reduce the original file size by up to 500%.
- Use a WordPress theme optimized for speed – Not all themes are optimized for speed. In fact, fancy-looking WordPress themes with flashy animations, complex layouts, and other unnecessary features are often coded poorly and greatly slow down the website loading speed.
It is recommended that you choose a simple theme or one that is optimized for speed from reputed WordPress theme stores such as StudioPress, CSSIgniter, and Themify.
- Install WordPress Caching Plugin – By default, the web pages of your WordPress website are loaded dynamically each time a user visits your website. This involves a lot of steps for the page generation each time and it can considerably slow down the page load time of your website.
However, once you install a WordPress caching plugin and set it up properly, it saves a copy of your website after the first load and continues to serve the cached copy from thereon. This can improve the speed of your WordPress website anywhere from 200% to 500%.
- Choose a good hosting plan – A bad or cheap hosting plan can significantly affect the speed of your website and cause a multitude of other problems that can be a pain to fix. Shared hosting plans are unreliable since the server is sharing resources with other website owners. This means your website speed may slow down dramatically if another customer on the same server as your website experiences a spike in traffic.
For best results, you may choose a managed WordPress hosting service provider such as WPEngine that offers server configurations optimized for WordPress.
- Use faster plugins – Just like WordPress themes, poorly coded plugins can slow down your WordPress website. Thus, it is best to download and install themes that have positive reviews and available on popular WordPress plugin stores.
Also, it is crucial to remove any faulty or bad WordPress plugins as soon as you become aware of them.
- Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives – By default, WordPress is set to display the content of your homepage, tags, categories, and other pages in ‘Full Text’ format. However, displaying full articles reduces that page load time since there is more content that needs to be loaded and also reduces the user experience.
To change it, simply go to Setting > Reading and select “For each article in a feed, show: Summary” instead of “Full Text.”
- Optimize WordPress Database – Over time, the WordPress database of your website would start to store things that are no longer useful or necessary. Deleting such information can improve the performance of your WordPress website. You can download and install the ‘WP-Sweep plugin’ to clean trashed posts, unused tags, revisions, and automatically optimize the structure of your WordPress database with a single click.
- Optimize Background Processes – WordPress background processes such as backup plugin tasks and excessive crawling by search engines can impact the speed and performance of the website.
You should configure the WordPress backup plugin to do backups only during low traffic hours and also adjust the frequency of backups. Plus, it’s a good practice to analyze the crawl reports of your website in Google Search Console to keep an eye out for errors.
- Never upload audio/video files directly to WordPress – Hosting audio and video files on your WordPress website costs a lot of bandwidth and thus, slows the website speed tremendously. Thus, it is recommended that you upload your files to audio and video hosting sites such as YouTube and Soundcloud and simply embed the links to your files on your website.
The speed of a WordPress website can be affected by a number of factors such the page size, website hosting, external scripts, WordPress configuration, and more. Sometimes, you may even have to hire the help of an expert to fix problems that cannot be solved without some diagnosis. Design Cavern can help you optimize the speed of your WordPress website. Contact us today to learn more about our services.