WordPress is one of the most widely used Content Management Systems today. It offers an ease of use that enables anyone, with little technical knowledge, to create a website. This ease makes WordPress an awesome platform for creating websites. However, it suffers from one major drawback – it can be quite slow.
Speed plays an important role for gaining visitors attention and for improving ranking in the search engines. In this post, I’ll try to quickly cover some of the best ways I have learned to speed up a WordPress website.
Why Should You Speed up a WordPress Website?
You have approximately two seconds in your hand to score a customer once they hit your website. If your website does not load properly in those two seconds, you’ll lose a potential acquisition.
In order to grab the attention of your visitors, you need a fast loading website.
Speed is important for many other reasons as well. Some of them are:
- You need a fast loading website for search engines, like Google, to rank them at a higher place.
- If you have an eCommerce store owner, you must know that your customers are less likely to purchase from you due to slow loading time.
- You will lose subscribers to your website because your site takes too long to load for them to read any of the content on it.
Slow websites are indeed a pain. So let’s start fixing them!
How Can I Test My Website Speed?
To know whether your website is slow or not, you first need to check out the speed of your current website.
Make note that your page load time may differ from load time of other pages, as each page depends on the factors below:
- Size of the page
- Number of requests it generates
- Whether that page is cached or not
- Is that a static page or a dynamic page
There are a number of online tools that can check your website load time. Most popular are listed below. Before testing a website, be sure to select the location closest to your server location to test from.
How Can I Speed up My WordPress Website?
After you have checked your website speed, we can start speeding up the WordPress website. There are a number of ways that can boost your page load performance. Here are just a few hacks that will help you in reducing the page load time of your WordPress website.
1. Start With an Optimized WordPress Hosting
One of the major factors in speeding up a WordPress website is your hosting. You’ll find number of cheap WordPress Hosting providers that use shared hosting for hosting your website. What does that mean for your website? Disaster.
Your site is kept with a lot of different websites and every website is trying to eat a chunk out of the other. You pay less for a compromise on performance and speed. If anyone of the websites hosted on the server hit a peak with their traffic, the load will ultimately increase on the server. This will cause all other websites to respond slow.
So what is the solution? Cloud Hosting! Nowadays, Cloud hosting is becoming very popular due to its performance and security. Most importantly, it is your own personal space. Some of the most popular WordPress Hosting providers are WPEngine, Pressidium and Cloudways.
Cloudways is an optimized WordPress Cloud Hosting platform integrated with advanced server side caching technologies like NGINX and Varnish. There are other optional caching tools like Memcached, Redis, Opcache etc that will boost your page load performance.
NGINX is used to cache static content of any webpage. Whenever a visitor visits a page, NGINX caches the page and when a user from any corner of the world visits that specific page, NGINX serves the content. This boosts page load performance.
Clients send HTTP requests to what they see as a “regular” web server service, but it’s Varnish which receives them. Varnish in turn relays the requests to Apache or Nginx and stores the responses in its cache so that future requests are served directly from there instead of through another processing operation in the web server.
This speeds up response times and decreases the processing load in the web server itself.
2. Lightweight WordPress Theme
There are a number of shiny themes in WordPress market. But remember, themes with a lot of dynamic content, sidebar, slider, widget etc., can cause your server to respond slowly.
Always use a lightweight theme. The default WordPress themes can be enough if you want to run a blogging website. For more features, you can use Pojo themes, that are written with the best code standards and are both accessibility enabled and SEO friendly.
3. Deactivate or Uninstall Unused Plugins
Installing a bunch of plugins on a WordPress website will add tremendous amount of junk files on web server. This can cause servers to respond slowly. Try to use only required plugins from trusted sources. If you’ve any unwanted plugin, deactivate or uninstall it. For starting out, you can have a look at this compiled list of the most essential and widely used Plugins for WordPress.
4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
I explained about NGINX a bit earlier that it caches static content on server and delivers. A CDN is also similar to that. As it name suggests, CDN assists in the delivery of content across networks. CDN caches your static content and spreads it to all their servers around the globe. Whenever a visitor visits the website a CDN serves them your content from the nearest CDN server location. This practice really helps you boost up your website page load speed.
You can find a number of CDN’s operating in the market today. To help you all out, I have compiled a list of some of the popular ones:
- Rackspace Cloud Files
- Cache Fly
5. Using Caching Plugin
One of the most popular methods to speed up a WordPress website is by using a cache plugin. A cache plugin stores the final view of your pages for any future visitors. This means that your website won’t have to generate a new page for every visit. This reduces the page load time. There are a number of caching plugins on WordPress repository. The most popular among them are W3 Total Cache and Super Cache.
If you test your website with Google PageSpeed Insights, you’ll notice a warning to minify JS and CSS files. That means you need to reduce JS and CSS calls to reduce server hitting and minify file sizes. By reducing them, you’ll observe site-loading speed in a faster way. This will also help you to save bandwidth usage.
There are a number of ways to minify. You can do it manually or by using a WordPress plugin named as “Autoptimize”. There are other plugin to, but I find Autoptimize to be the best and the most simple one to use.
7. Compress Images
As we’ve discussed, speed testing depends on the size of a web page. Images are the main reason of increased page sizes. If you manually try to reduce image size by using Photoshop or any other tool, that will take a bit of a long time.
That is the power of WordPress. It offers a number of plugins that reduces image sizes and optimizes the web page without loosing the quality of images.
8. Clean WordPress Data
In your local environment, deleting unwanted files can save your hard disk. Similarly, deleting files from your host can also save disk size. Deleting spam comments, unused drafts, old backup files, etc. can save your disk size and ultimately boost your WordPress website. This also minimizes the database and boosts up the response from the server side.
Conclusion: Do Not Fret Over Speed, but It Is Important!
Speed is extremely important for your WordPress website to function optimally. However, it is not everything. You should not engage in a race for being the fastest one to load. Make sure you are giving your users a website they find appealing and engaging enough, with speed, to stick around. This article only lists a few tips and tricks on how you can speed up a WordPress website. A faster WordPress website will improve your ranking in SERPs and will also give visitors the the experience they are looking forward to having.
If you have any comments, questions, ideas or tested methods for speeding up WordPress, then please let your voice knows in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!