The speed of your WordPress website plays a major role in the success of your online platform. To start, speed is taken into account by Google when determining the ranking of a website, with faster websites having an advantage of slower ones. Studies have also shown that if a website takes over two seconds to load, it will have a bounce rate of around 47%. If you run an eCommerce store, that waiting time is reduced to one second. Given these numbers, the importance of a well-optimized WordPress website is evident, and in this short guide, we will help you through a few of the steps that can make it happen.
1. Find the right web hosting provider
Hosting can be very important to the speed of your WordPress installation. To ensure that you get the most out of your servers, you should avoid shared hosting services, even if they may seem cheaper and chock full of features such as “unlimited” bandwidth, emails, and others. Even the best shared hosting options tend to fail when it comes to delivering fast loading times during peak hours. Instead, you should go with cloud hosting services, or dedicated servers.
2. Choose a lighter weight WordPress theme
One of the greatest strengths of the WordPress platform is the theme system. Themes come with a ton of features, elements, widgets, sliders, icons and others, that help you take full control over the look of your website. However, having too many elements on your site can spell disaster for your loading times. The alternative here is to either go with a lighter weight theme, or to pick a theme that is built on an HTML framework such as Bootstrap, and work through the code to change the appearance of the site.
3. WordPress Image Optimization
Images will usually take the largest amount of bandwidth on a webpage, so by reducing their size, you can drastically speed up your loading time. However, the key here is to make them smaller, without sacrificing quality. For this, you can use a tool such as Photoshop or the Chrome PageSpeed Insights extension, but this can take a long time. Instead, you should try out one of the plugins available through WordPress, plugins such as Optimole, WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer.
4. Minify CSS and JS code
You can minify your CSS and JS code, which will reduce the size of the source files, and help them load up faster. This can be done manually, and there are guides out there that will help you through the process. Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin for the job, with Autoptimize being one of the most popular options when it comes to optimizing your CSS, JS and HTML code.
5. Use an advanced caching plugin
WordPress uses caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache in order to automate and simplify the complex task of adding caching rules to your various website elements. However, you can improve your website loading times significantly, by adding extra, advanced caching mechanisms such as Varnish to your plugins.
6. Take advantage of a CDN
Depending on your website and business, you may be drawing in visitors from around the world, and this means that due to the way the internet is set up, people who are located further away from your web host will have slower loading times. To address this, you have CDNs or Content Delivery Networks, which will keep a copy of your website in data centers that are located across the world. This means that your website will be served to each user from a web host that is the nearest to their location, and the speed of your website will be consistent throughout the world.
Are you interested in speeding up your WordPress site?
A slow website does not only reflect poorly on your business, it can also drive away customers and damage your search engine rankings. This makes loading speed a key metric in determining the success of your website. There are several tools that will help you with speeding up your WordPress installation, from plugins to proprietary software, but if you feel overwhelmed by the process, or if you find that the results are not quite there, you can hire a professional developer to help you out. This is where we come in. If you would like to find out more about our services, or if you need any help with setting up your WordPress site, contact us today.