How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

The speed of your website is very important in determining the success of your business. One of the components used in determining the user experience and search engine optimization of a website is its load time.

Research shows that a delay of one second in the load time of a website cause up to seven percent of lost conversions. What do you think a seven second delay would cause? Almost half of the conversions would be lost. This would be very dangerous for any business, and the purpose that the website is supposed to serve would not be reached.

PageSpeed Insights

The loading time of a website can be affected by many factors. This is why Google’s PageSpeed Insight is one of the best resources one can use to find out what to fix on their site to speed it up. To use PageSpeed Insight, follow the steps below;

  1. Visit the PageSpeed Insights website here
  2. You will be presented with the screen shown above where you will be required to enter the website URL into the text box and click the Analyze button. In this case, I am going to check http://www.developerdrive.com/   
  3. When the website finishes loading, it will generate a detailed report on the performance of the website. The report will tell you what is good and what needs to be changed. You can use this report to improve on the speed of your website by doing what it tells you to do.

On my report page, I have both a desktop and a mobile screen showing a detailed report for the website’s performance on each of the screens. The report has both possible optimizations and optimizations found.

In my case, checking the Developer Drive website has the following possible optimizations;

  • Leverage browser caching
  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Minify JavaScript
  • Optimize images
  • Reduce server response time
  • Minify HTML

According to this report, Developer Drive is fairly fast, although it still got a list of important optimizations that can be done to improve on its speed. Websites with poor optimizations get longer lists of things to do.

Developer Drive has some optimizations done, which include;

  • Avoiding landing page redirects
  • Enabling compression
  • Minifying CSS
  • Prioritizing visible content

We are going to discuss some of the optimizations that PageSpeed Insights gives together with how they can be used to improve the speed of a website.

Eliminating render blocking Javascript and CSS in above the fold content

This is basically improving the time that it takes for some CSS to render on a website. However, one will need to be a developer or to have some development knowledge for them to understand this. There is a plugin called the Autoptimize Plugin that can be used to improve the speed of a wordpress website without having to fiddle around with the code.

The plugin does a very good job in aggregating, minifying and caching styles and scripts, injecting CSS on page heads and then moving scripts from the header.

Browser Caching

There are a number of WordPress plugins that can be used for caching WordPress websites. The most famous include WP Fastest Cache, Wp Super Cache, Wp-Rocket and W3 Total Cache. Caching makes a website web pages be served as HTML files that are static.

Optimizing Images

There are several ways that one can use to optimize images on a WordPress website. One can either optimize the images before upload, or use plugins after uploading for further optimization.

When creating your website’s images using apps such as Photoshop or Sketch, you can optimize them by applying the Save for Web option. In situations where you do not have a graphics software, you can use optimization tools such as ImageOptim which works for apple only, compressor.io and TinyPNG which are based on the web. There are some plugins such as the WP Smush and PixPie plugins that can be used to have the optimization process automated. Lazyload plugin loads images only by demand which helps in saving transfer bandwidth, hence helping improve the speed of your website.

Not all site optimizations have a plugin to help in the optimization. Some other factors affecting the speed of a website include the use a content delivery network (CDN) and the hosting package used.

Website Host and Hosting Package

You might have come across some hosts such as shared hosting promising a wide range of advantages like good pageviews. These are not to be trusted since they come with some bad costs. This affects the website speed with a lot of down times experienced as well. Research indicated that websites hosted on a Virtual Private Network takes slightly over a second to load on average while those on a shared network takes close to seven seconds. This results into a relative difference in the conversion rate.

Using a CDN

If running a website whose traffic is rising, one can use a content delivery network (CDN). An example of a CDN is the Amazon CloudFront. A CDN is important in taking the static records of a website then distributing it across different servers. The visitors of the website are then served by servers depending on their proximity to the servers.

Conclusion

It is very important to make sure that the speed of your website is on check all the time, the same way one would not compromise on the security of their website.

Google consider websites that employ web design skills prioritizing on site speed on their search engine ranking, making site speed very important not only for user experience but also for search engine optimization.

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