How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site (The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide)
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How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site (The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide)

Did you know that the human attention span has declined from 15 to 8 seconds in recent years?

We’ve become more impatient and distracted, and thus have more expectations towards the quality of our services. 

When it comes to website loading speed, time is money. Why does it matter to you as a site owner?

In short—you have a few split seconds to encourage your visitors to stay rather than bounce away before your page loads.

Let’s dive deep into data to answer the following question.

Why is WordPress site speed critical?

WordPress speed optimization is crucial for several reasons:

  • Research indicates that websites loading more than 2 seconds often result in approximately 47% of visitors bouncing off the website. That’s almost half of the people who could otherwise be interested in your website!
  • Google (and other search engines) rank pages with higher loading speeds. Google even created its tool, PageSpeed Insights, to help website owners conduct and improve audits.
  • E-commerce space reports that 1 in 3 shoppers leave a site if they have to wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load.

Next to your WordPress site security, the website load time is one of the critical factors that can either make or break your success.

How do you test your WordPress site performance?

Before we discuss improving your page load speed, let’s review two free options for testing your website’s current performance.

  1. PageSpeed Insight – Google’s native tool that informs how your site is performing and what you can do to improve it. Consider using PageSpeed Module to implement changes right after your audit.
  2. WebPageTest.org  – an independent app that allows you to test your speed depending on the location and browser.

Of course, there are several factors you need to take into account when measuring your website’s overall performance and comparing it page by page. They include:

  1. Type of content (dynamic vs. static)
  2. Number of generated requests
  3. Size of a given page

Now, let’s finally see how you can boost your WordPress page speed and reap the benefits immediately!

Eight ways to speed up a WordPress site (that works!)

Here’s what you can do when your website is loading too slowly.

1. Choose a different web hosting provider

Hosting is one of the most common reasons for a site’s poor performance. For example, choosing a shared hosting provider might seem like a good idea when you are on a tight budget, but it will result in slow loading during peak traffic hours.

You must first research and choose the best web hosting provider. It’s better to pay more upfront than later when you feel stressed and your website crashes. 

Check out these tips to ensure you choose a web hosting provider that offers excellent customer service if you encounter issues with setting it up.

Read more: WordPress Hosting: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

2. Use a light theme

Next, let’s discuss picking WordPress themes that are not only pretty but also light and quick to load.

Drop the idea of a theme or framework with many elements and features you do not plan to use—it will slow your site down. Sure, sliders, widgets, or social icons are appealing and eye-catching, but if they bring you little to no value, consider keeping your site clean and simple instead.

Take a look at the Colorlib library of WordPress themes to choose a lightweight one that will fit your business.

colorlib

Image source: Colorlib

You can also chat with Colorlib customer service to get suggestions for picking the right theme for yourself.

3. Optimize images and videos

Another factor influencing your WordPress site’s speed is the number and size of images, videos, and animations you use.

Of course, the tricky part is reducing their size without compromising the quality. Depending on the element you have to resize, you can use tools like Photoshop or WordPress plugins.

One of the top-rated (free) plugins to help you out is WP Smush, but here is a short list of other plugins and tools you can use;

  • OptiMole
  • EWWW Image Optimizer
  • 10Web Image Optimizer
  • Lazy Load for Videos
  • Imsanity

Once your files are optimized, your website will speed up significantly. If you frequently use videos in your content, consider investing in a comprehensive, all-in-one tool such as Clipchamp instead of plugins. It will allow you to optimize your video content more effectively and significantly speed up your WordPress website. 

Also, remember to optimize for mobile to ensure a smooth experience for all users, regardless of their device.

4. Get rid of unused JavaScript and CSS

This step will either require your technical skills or ask a developer to help you out.

If you audited your website’s performance using PageSpeed Insight, you could notice that it mentions removing or minifying JavaScript and CSS to improve the speed (and overall SEO performance).

remove javascript

Image source: Own

You can either do it manually (if you are WordPress-savvy) for small changes, such as moving your code or script to the footer section of your website or consider hiring a developer to fix it for you.

5. Cleanup WordPress database

Removing old data from your WordPress database is a relatively simple fix that could significantly influence your site’s speed. It will allow you to reduce the size of your backups and free up space.

You can start by deleting irrelevant or spam comments, pingbacks, trackbacks, old posts’ drafts, unnecessary plugins (and their data), and themes. 

To start, you can install a plugin such as WP-Optimize and review the WordPress Optimization Guide to see why it’s recommended.

Read more: How to Fix WordPress’ Error Establishing a Database Connection

6. Check your plugins

Next, let’s talk about plugins. 

Investing in UX is excellent by adding a live chat, responsive mobile design, or showcasing your products in a 360-degree view. But do not forget that each additional plugin adds weight to your site. 

To clarify, inactive or deactivated plugins do not slow down WordPress. However, consider looking for faster and lighter plugin alternatives to the ones you are using.

wordpress plugins

Image source: WordPress

It’s ideal if you find a plugin that serves several purposes, such as an all-in-one chatbot plugin that can replace live chat, imitate a pop-up, and serve as a lead generation tool. 

7. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks

Another quick (but essential!) fix is to disable pingbacks and trackbacks. Essentially, they inform you whenever your website or a page receives a link. 

Yes, tracking your links is crucial, but several independent tools, such as Nightwatch or SE Ranking, can alert you about incoming backlinks.

Whenever someone links to you, and your pingbacks and trackbacks functionality is on, a back-and-forth request is generated from WordPress. This can put pressure and unnecessary strain on your server’s resources.

You can disable that in settings under the “Discussion” section.

wordpress discussion settings

Image source: WordPress

If you are constantly bombarded with spam comments, consider ticking off the right to leave comments under your posts to avoid unnecessary “noise.”

8. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Finally, the mysterious CDN—Content Delivery Networks.

What is it?

CDN is a geographically distributed platform of servers that minimizes delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. 

Translating that into human language means your data is stored worldwide in various so-called “points of presence” (PoPs)

Here’s a simple visual representation of how CDN works:

CDN

Image source: Kinsta

As a result, all visitors, regardless of location, can access your WordPress content without experiencing slow loading times. 

Using CDN is a common practice that significantly impacts your website’s performance. A few WordPress plugins, such as CDN Enabler or WP Rocket, will automatically link your assets to the CDN hassle-free!

Key takeaways: How to improve your WordPress site’s speed

All in all, in the case of your WordPress website—time is money. Optimizing your site, especially its loading speed, should become your top priority next to other website optimization strategies.

Choosing a reliable web hosting provider, using the right tools and plugins, and constantly monitoring your site’s performance do not have to be complicated. 

On the contrary, following the above steps can significantly improve your WordPress performance!

wp tech support

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