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10 Actionable Tips to Improve the Speed of your WordPress Website

Page speed is an important issue for website users. Pages that load fast can help to decrease bounce rate, improve user experience and improve SEO.

Figures suggest that up to 40% of users will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load, so it’s crucial that visitors to your website have fast load speeds. Below are figures supplied by Google that were gathered from analyzing data from thousands of website.

Google page speed

How to check the speed of your website

There are various ways you can check the speed of your website. It’s important that you use specific tools to check the page speed. Don’t just refresh your page to see how quick it feels because you will likely be viewing cached data which will make it appear quick than it is for users visiting your website for the first time.

PageSpeed Insights

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is one of the best ways to check the speed of certain URLs. This is a free tool which tells you how well your website is performing and gives recommendations on how to improve the speed of your site.

When you analyze a web page in PageSpeed Insights, you will be given a mark out of 100 for both Mobile and Desktop.

For example, www.google.com gets a score of 95 out of 100.

Google page speed insights

The lower your page speed score, the slower your website is and the more urgently you will need to address the issue.

Google Analytics

You can easily find the slowest pages on your website by using Google Analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed, navigate to Behavior > Site Speed to see a breakdown of which pages are the slowest.

google analytics speed

Here you can identify key areas to improve, for example, if you notice that an important landing page is very slow to load this should be a priority for improvement.

10 Ways to help speed up your website.

So, now you know if your website speed needs to be improved, here are 10 things you can do to help improve your WordPress website speed right away.

1. Remove Unnecessary plugins

There are specific speed optimization plugins that can help increase the speed of your website, but most plugins will actually reduce the speed of your website.

Having a large number of plugins on your website does not only slow your site down, they can also conflict with each other and cause your website to break.

Identify Overlaps

Perform an audit of your WordPress plugins to discover which ones you need and which ones you can remove. Assess all the functionalities that you require and which plugins offer these. If you have any duplicate plugins that perform the same task, you can delete these.

For example, if you use All in One SEO to update your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions, but use Yoast SEO for sitemap generation, you could delete All in One SEO and do both of these with Yoast SEO.

Update Website Code

There are many plugins that users install on their website to do tasks that usually require the website code to be updated. In many of these circumstances, you’re better off updating the website code manually or hiring a developer to implement these changes.

Two common examples of this are Google Analytics installation and 301 redirects. If you have Google Analytics installed via a plugin, try adding the Google Analytics code directly into the header of your website. 301 redirects should be added through the .htaccess file.

install google analytics

2. Optimize Images

Images on your website will help make your website more engaging and improve conversion rate. This is especially important for eCommerce websites, where having quality photography is crucial to ensure that users complete a transaction.

However, if your images aren’t compressed, they could be harming your website by significantly slowing it down.

Image Type

Make sure you are only using JPEG and PNG images on your website. JPEG will have slightly less image quality but is a more compressed file that is smaller in size.

Pixel Size

Do not upload an image with a large pixel size if it is only appearing very small on your website. If you take a picture with 2000×3000 pixel dimensions but you have an image box of 200×300 pixels, then you can scale it down and massively reduce the file size. To reduce the file size, use Adobe Illustrator to scale the image.

File Size

You can easily compress the size of your files by using an online file compression tool such as <a href=”https://tinyjpg.com/”>Tiny JPG</a>. You can simply drag and drop your files and they will automatically compress them for you.

tinyjpg

 

3. WordPress Caching plugin

Every time a user visits a page on your WordPress site, all the data on the page needs to be downloaded before you can view it correctly.

With a caching plugin, a copy of the page is saved after it has loaded and this cached page is then shown to the website user.

This really increases the load time of your website as the whole page does not need to be downloaded every single time. There are a lot of plugins that offer this capability, but our favorite free plugin is WP Super Cache.

4. Update to the Latest PHP.

WordPress is written in PHP. PHP is a programming language that is improved over time and new versions are released. It’s important to keep the PHP of your WordPress site updated to ensure compatibility of plugins.

PHP 7 is twice as fast as the previous version, so updating to this can help to improve the speed of your website.

To update your version of PHP, get in touch with your hosting provider and ask them to update it for you.

5. Minify CSS and JavaScript

Every time a user visits a page on your website, they will load CSS and Javascript files that determine the appearance of your web page. The larger these files, the longer they take to load.

The size of these files can be minified to help increase the speed of your website. Minifying consists of deleting the whitespaces contained in the file and removing code that is not needed.

The WordPress plugin WP Rocket helps to make this process simple. All you need to do is install the plugin, then go to “File Optimization” in the plugin settings and tick the files you would like to minify.

minify css

6. Use a Basic or Custom Built Theme

When choosing a theme for your website, look for a more basic theme that does not use lots of complex code.

If you use a theme that has a wide range of settings, this will bloat the CSS and JavaScript files with code that you won’t even use on your website.

For the best results, get a custom theme built from scratch so that only the code you need for your website to function properly are being loaded on each page.

7. Defer JavaScript Loading

Deferring JavaScript is the process of preventing JavaScript from loading until other important elements have loaded. This helps user experience as some of the important visible elements can load on the page first. It is particularly useful if you have a large JavaScript file.

To defer the JavaScript on the website, your developer can implement this by calling an external JavaScript file before the closing &lt;/body&gt;  tag.

If you have WP Rocket installed, you can easily defer the JavaScript loading by ticking the box that says “Load JavaScript deffered.”.

minify javascript

8. Hosting

Choose premium hosting for your WordPress website to help get the best page speed.

New site owners will often choose the cheapest hosting option for a few dollars a month. As your website traffic increases, it’s important to consider better hosting options so website users have the best chance of successfully receiving your website data.

If you have a lot of website traffic but are still using shared hosting, your server response time can suffer as a result of this.

Moving from shared hosting to a dedicated server can help to increase the speed of your website. Make sure you buy you hosting from a trusted company with good customer reviews.

9. Gzip Compression

Gzip compression is another technique to make your website files even smaller so they can load quicker.

Gzip works by temporarily replacing similar bits of code in your files to reduce the overall size of the file.

You can enable Gzip by modifying your htaccess file. Below is the code you need to add if your website runs on Apache.

gzip compression

Alternatively, you can enable Gzip with plugins such as W3 Total Cache by ticking the option in the plugin settings.

enable gzip compression

10. Reduce Redirects

Having lots of 301 redirects on your website can reduce your page load speed at the browser has to process the redirects. Sometimes it’s easier to set up redirects and forget about changing the actual links. If there are multiple 301 requests this can cause a redirect chain which slows your website down even more.

If you run crawl of your website with a tool such as Screaming Frog or the Ahrefs Site Audit tool, you can see a list of every 301 redirect on your website.

Once you’ve identified all the internal 301s on your website, change these links so they point directs to the URL you want the user to visit.

Conclusion

Decreasing the load time of your website is not an easy task, but can have great rewards. If you have a lot of site traffic the is particularly important, where just a small increase in conversion rate can add thousands of extra dollars in revenue every month.

Follow the 10 steps and you’ll be certain to see a decent improvement in the speed of your website.

This article was written by Josh Bruce of UK web design agency BFI

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