Website speed is important for good user experience and ranking in search engine results pages.
Users’ attention span has decreased to about 7 seconds. This means you have a very short time to catch web surfers’ attention and keep them on the site. And so do you to give a good signal to search engines for ranking your website.
What’s a good website speed, first? A website is considered to be loading fast at under 2 seconds.
How to check my website speed? It’s recommended that you use one of the following:
IsItWP’s WordPress speed test, for websites built on WordPress.
If your WordPress website loads in more than 2 seconds, you should consider the following:
- Your web hosting server needs to be properly configured. Otherwise, it may slow down your website.
- Pay special attention to your WordPress configuration, as if it’s not properly done, it might hinder fast loading of your website pages.
- Image optimization should be part of your concern, with every new page or post you publish.
- Many unused or not properly coded plugins might slow down the website, as well.
- External scripts can affect website performance.
- Too much ads on the website can have a negative impact on your website speed.
Let’s see what you can do to optimize speed and improve performance of your website, both for users and search engines:
- Use a WordPress caching plugin
WordPress pages are dynamic. They are loaded after information retrieval from a MySQL database and PHP files, which takes time (as compared to static HTML, which is served almost instantly).
If only there were a solution to serve dynamic pages as fast as static ones…
Well, there is one. It’s named caching. And it comes together with installation of a caching plugin.
It’s recommended that you use the WP Super Cache plugin. Static html files will be served to the main part of users visiting your website.
- Enable compression
Some suggestions for reducing file size: remove comments, eliminate unnecessary characters, remove spaces and unused code.
Here’s a tool that’ll help you automate the process: HTML Compressor.
- Reduce the number of redirects
It’s important that you keep redirects at a safe number.
That’s because redirects trigger an additional HTTP request-response cycle and increase time needed to display a page.
Hence, you should limit the number of redirects to those that are absolutely technically necessary, and not make excessive use of them.
- Image compression
This is one of the most used methods for speeding up websites. Non-optimized images are among the most common issues that are preventing a website from loading fast.
You can use a tool such as Compressor.io, to reduce the size of .jpeg and .png images uploaded in your pages.
- Optimize audio/video files
These file types cost you bandwidth. This is not good for website loading speed and instant display to users.
Instead of uploading audio/video files from your computer and into the website, you should use the built-in video embed feature in WordPress or provide links to external files.
For this doing, all you have to do is copy and paste the link into the page/post, and WordPress will automatically fetch the embed code so the video will be displayed in that page/post:
- Optimize the homepage of your website
Given that the homepage is the first page users land on, when visiting a website, it’s important that you pay special attention to the optimization of this page.
Images, videos, audio files can be compressed/externalized, and you can improve website speed considerably.
In case of a blog, you might want to display a list of posts instead of static content on the homepage. In such a case, it’s recommended that you display excerpts of blog posts instead of full articles. This will contribute to making the page unique (and not only a collage of other articles in the blog) and increase its use for website visitors. Also, it helps reducing the amount of content included in the pages of your website (such as Homepage or Archives page). For this doing, you need to change some settings in your WordPress Admin dashboard:
In the left-hand menu of the WordPress Admin dashboard, go to Settings -> Reading.
From here, change the option from “Full text” to “Summary”, next to “For each article in a feed, show:”
7. Keep WordPress updated
Besides security, speed and performance are also key reasons why you should keep WordPress updated.
Not updating your WordPress to the latest version might slow down the website. It might cause security breaches and hinder the website from reaching optimal performance.
Keep up with the latest PHP version
It’s recommended that your server uses the most stable version of PHP. At present, this version is PHP 7. You can check the PHP version in use for your website, by installing and activating the Version Info plugin.
If the version in use is under 7, maybe it’s time you ask your hosting provider to update PHP to the latest version.
- Use an optimized theme
Some themes you find appealing might not be well-coded or they might have additional animations effects, that slow down the speed of your website.
Pay attention to choose a theme that’s optimized for speed, and in the case of that theme you should get a maximum website performance.
- Use properly coded plugins
Pay special attention to the plugins you select for your website. They have to be properly coded and not hinder the website performance.
One way you might determine this is to perform a speed check before installing a plugin, and another check after installing that plugin, to measure its impact on website performance.
- Adjust the frequency of backups
You might already know the importance of backups for your website. However, too many backups might hurt your website speed (daily backups or more frequent backups).
What’s the optimal frequency for backups, you’ll wonder? This depends on how often you add content to that website. E.g. A monthly backup should be the optimal frequency at which you should perform backups for the website, in case you upload up to 4 pages/posts per month.
- Use a Content Delivery Network
We’ve already mentioned that WordPress pages are dynamic. Double the time needed to upload a dynamic page by the time needed for a server in the US to return a page in France.
Fortunately, there are CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). Due to them, the closest server to France will serve the French visitor the static files stored on that server and corresponding to your website.
So, it’s recommended that you use a CDN for better performance of your website, no matter the location where it is accessed from.
- Break comments into pages
Comments are a good indicator of an engaged audience. However, loading a great amount of comments might considerably slow down your pages or posts.
Our recommendation is to break comments into pages. For this doing, you need to modify some settings in the WordPress Admin:
In the left-hand menu of the WordPress Admin dashboard, go to Settings -> Discussion.
From here, you have to check the checkbox for “Break comments into pages…”
- Limit the number of post revisions
Posts revisions occupy space in the WordPress database. You should limit the posts revisions to a certain number. To do so, you need to simply add a line of code into the wp-config.php file:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3 );
14. Last, but not least, get better hosting
Sometimes, the best way to speed up your site is to get better hosting.
Web hosting ranges in price from just a couple of cents to thousands of dollars per month. In general, you get what you pay for. The needs of someone running a personal blog are dramatically different from those of a popular e-commerce site.
The most basic kind of hosting is shared. In this case, a single server hosts many sites — usually a few thousand. What this means is that there are a large number of websites competing for a finite number of resources.
But not all shared hosting is the same. The number of sites hosted on a single server and the power of the server are both important variables. As a result, moving from a bargain host that costs 99¢ per month to a premium host costing $7.99 could have a dramatic effect on the speed of your WordPress website.
If you already have a premium shared hosting plan, you may want to upgrade to a cloud, VPS, or dedicated hosting plan. Cloud and VPS plans offer exclusive access to resources. And dedicated plans provide you with entire servers.
If your website is still struggling with advanced plans, you can always upgrade them to more powerful servers and larger resource allocations.
Looking at different host sites can be overwhelming with the number of choices and how great each plan sounds. It’s a good idea to check out user reviews and other objective information about different hosts and their plans.
When you are just starting out, almost any web host will work. But as you gain more traffic and site speed becomes more important, you need to be more choosy. And don’t limit yourself to information about speed; stability and support are also critical factors in finding the right host.
The 13+ steps above will help you reduce the pages loading time and increase your website speed. Thus, you’ll get better scores at website performance. Have you checked the results?