Top Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
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Is there anything more frustrating than visiting a website that takes what feels like forever to load? How your business’s website performs has a major impact on user experience. If a website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, the users’ experience declines rapidly according to Google. But I think it’s safe to say that, we all can agree. And don’t forget the faster your website is, the better chance you have of being ranked by search engines. If your business’s website is utilizing WordPress, you might be realizing that the platform doesn’t necessarily mean your website is automatically fast. Don’t fret! There are plenty of ways you can speed up your WordPress website. Let’s go over some below.
Reliable Hosting Provider
First and foremost, making sure your business’s website is being hosted by a reliable and reputable hosting company is key. The quality of your web hosting provider acts as the foundation for your WordPress account and if the foundation is not strong, having a fast website becomes nearly impossible. It is common for web hosting companies to have several types of hosting plans that range from shared hosting to a private server. When it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for. So if your business chooses to go with a shared hosting plan, know that your website is competing for bandwidth with the other sites housed on that server and therefore is more likely to take longer to load. While these packages might make more financial sense for newer WordPress users to start, it is important to make sure your provider is flexible and can grow with you. Your business can also utilize a managed WordPress hosting service provider which gives you access to the most optimized server configurations for WordPress sites.
If you know that your business’s WordPress site is being hosted appropriately, but is still experiencing slow loading the next step is to run some website performance tests. While there is no one specific metric that measures overall performance because performance relies on both your website and the user’s circumstances such as their location, internet connection, and if the user has visited your site before. Page load speed can vary between each page of your website and by the type of content on the page. The homepage of your website is usually the page used to gauge the site speed but it is best to check all pages individually. The best way to speed test your website is with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool which can tell you the loading of your business’s website on both mobile and desktop devices. You can also add Google Analytics tracking code to the header section of your website code which helps give you detailed reports related to website performance and user engagement.
Use a Clean WordPress Theme
While you might be tempted to choose a WordPress theme with lots of fancy design elements and images. These themes are definitely good for grabbing attention, but they are not conducive for speed optimization. Instead, it is best to pick a simple WordPress theme and use any necessary plugins.
Delete Unnecessary Plugins
Think of every plugin on your WordPress website as a mini piece of software. When your site has too many, it can easily bog it down and cause it to have a long load time Even if you are not actively using a plugin, it could be running in the background. Cutting back on the number of plugins is an easy way to speed up your website. Start by determining which plugins you aren’t using and deactivate them. Complete a website speed test to make sure everything on your website is still functioning properly. If so, you are good to delete these plugins permanently. Another option is to find a lightweight alternative to plugins that seem to be affecting your load speed the most. Also, it is important to mention that even though plugins are more convenient, you can achieve the same result with the help of CSS. CSS files and stylesheets help you when creating a website design without the use of plugins. They can help create rules that all design elements on your website follow to create a consistent user experience across all pages of your website.
Utilize A WordPress Caching Plugin
Now you may be wondering why we would be telling you to add another WordPress plugin after we just told you to remove any extra. Well, hear us out. A lot of the performance issues that come from WordPress websites are when the server has to assemble web pages from scratch. Every time a new user visits your website, the server has to collect all the relevant content, create an HTML file and send the file to the user’s browser. While this process has its advantages of saving server space and allowing for dynamic content it also takes more effort and time than a pre-loaded website page. By utilizing a caching plugin this process is simplified. A caching plugin builds and saves HTML the versions of your pages for future use allowing your website to reach users more quickly.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
While using a caching plugin can help speed up your website for visitors who access it frequently, it is not helpful for first-time users. Employing a CDN allows you to store a cached version of your website at many different points around the world. Having versions stored in various places globally encourages the browser to access the version that is “closest” which in the end shortens load time. A popular option used by many WordPress websites to increase page speed is MaxCDN. Another popular content delivery network is Cloudflare.
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Another common cause of a slow WordPress website is large images. A common way to speed up WordPress is image optimization. Image optimization can be achieved by compressing the size of the website images, without sacrificing the quality, of course, is a great way to improve the performance and speed of your business’s website. While many believe it is best to use PNG files for images on websites because of their quality, in truth, PNG files are quite large and can cause a long load time. Instead, the best image file to use on your website is JPEG (JPG) as it compresses the file size but still has a good quality. If your website relies heavily on images, you can also employ a lazy load method. Lazy loading allows websites to use larger images file because images load as they appear in a user’s browser which does not affect overall speed.
Clean Up Your WordPress Database
There’s a good chance that if you have had your website for some time, your database has accumulated some unused data and files. These files can be anything from unused plugins, themes to old media or unpublished content. Having a large amount of these extra files puts stress on your WordPress database which can cause longer page load times. Utilizing a WordPress plugin that audits and removes any non-essential files can help speed up your website and is safer than deleting files manually. However, deleting old media files can be done manually. It is also beneficial to review the widgets your website is using and remove any that are not being used or are not necessary.
Update and Maintain All Aspects of Your WordPress Website
Updates are an essential part of life for your WordPress website. Ensuring all themes and plugins your site utilizes are up to date will help your website perform optimally. You should also perform routine maintenance on your website as it is a good way to remove any unneeded data such as saved post revisions that can be the cause of your slow speed.
Having a website with a long load time can be detrimental to the overall user experience not to mention can negatively affect your website’s SEO ranking. Above we explain several ways you can speed up your WordPress website. While most of these techniques can be done in-house, it is always best to work with an experienced team of digital marketers.