WordPress Speed Optimization can benefit your business in many ways, from lower bounce rates and higher conversions to better ranking on Google.
Google has been telling us for years that the speed of a website is one of the indicators it uses to help rank content. Therefore, decreasing page load times will help improve your website’s position in search results.
So let’s take a look at some key strategies that will help you improve your website speed.
1. Use good Hosting
Finding an appropriate and reliable hosting service for your site can make the difference between a successful website and a failed business. But with so many hosting companies around, trying to choose the right one for your site can be a daunting task.
Always bear in mind that with hosting you get what you pay for. Shared hosting might appear great value, but the packages often come with restrictions and limitations that can impact performance and security.
2. Use a Content Delivery Network
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is another effective way to improve the speed that your content is delivered to your customers. A CDN is basically a bunch of servers, located across the globe that store your website static files like CSS and images. So when someone visits your site that static content is served to them from the geographically closest server.
Cloudflare -as a reliable CDN provider has been a leader in this area and I recommend it for any type of WordPress website.
3. Enable Caching
Caching can greatly improve the load time of web pages. By caching data from your website, when a site visitor opens a page, a static version of your content is displayed. That static version is then saved in the visitors’ browser for some time, so that the next time the website can be loaded even faster.
4. Select right file type for Images
Selecting the right file type can make a big difference in image load times. If you create your own images, instead of just buying stock photography, always use JPG as your default. JPG creates the smallest image type and is thus the fastest loading. However if you want a transparent background or text heavy images, stick to PNG .
A few years ago WebP became widely popular in the WordPress community and I use WEBP Express plugin on all of my websites.
WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at the equivalent SSIM quality index.
This plugin uses the WebP Convert library to convert images to webp. This results in much faster load time for images in browsers that supports webp. The converted images are typically less than half the size (for jpeg), while maintaining the same quality. Bear in mind that for most web sites, images are responsible for the largest part of the waiting time.
5. Scale and Compress Images
When using thumbnails, create a new resized version of the original image, using the exact dimensions necessary for your website. Don’t just change the image’s dimensions in CSS. An image purposely scaled to the correct dimensions will load quickly and look better.
Image scaling can be done at the same time as when you are uploading images from the media screen.
For image compression, I recommend WP Smush plugin by WPMUDEV.
Smush lets you compress any image in any directory so that you can optimize all the images on your site – including NextGEN images, images stored on Amazon S3 using WP Offload Media and images in EVERY WordPress plugin and theme package!
6. Minimize the Number of HTTP Requests
HTTP requests can have a huge impact on the speed of your site. One of our main aims here at WPxss, when doing a WordPress Speed Optimization service for our clients, is to minimize the number of HTTP requests loaded per page. Strategies to do this include combining CSS files, merging JS files, and combining images in data sprites. Ultimately, the fewer HTTP requests, the faster the load times of your site.
WordPress plugin for minimizing the number of HTTP requests? Well, there isn’t one with that specific purpose, but basically any plugin that offers combining and merging CSS or JS files will do the trick.
It’s important to note that if you’re already using HTTP/2, it means that several requests can happen at the same time and combining files will have less of an impact on the loading time. Not sure? Ask your hosting provider.
7. Monitor and fix 404 Errors
When files such as images or stylesheets are missing on your site, this generates a 404 HTTP error and will greatly affect your website speed. Always check for 404 errors, or use a tool to do this for you. Neither Google or your customers want to view 404 errors or have to wait for slow-loading content.
A few weeks ago I’ve talked about Better handling WordPress 404 errors, why this is important and how to detect them. Make sure you check that guide if you really want to speed up your website and save some bucks on hosting at the same time.
8. Optimize Your Database
It’s important to optimize your database from time to time in order to speed up your website. However, this can be a difficult and extremely time-consuming process. This is where WordPress plugins like WP Optimize can step in:
Your WordPress database stores everything that you need for your website – plus many things that you don’t. WP-Optimize clears out all of this unnecessary data, cleans up your tables and even retrieves space lost to data fragmentation.
As you can see there is a lot of things that you can do to improve the speed of your WordPress site. And the benefits are vast. So if you want to stop losing traffic and start making money, make site speed a priority today.