WordPress Site Speed & Performance Boost Guide

WordPress Site Speed & Performance Boost Guide

By using the WordPress site speed and performance optimization best practices and basic tips listed below, you should see a big improvement in your site’s loading times. I’ve included everything from why speed is important to steps that you can take to improve immediately.

Understanding WordPress Site Performance

Why It Is Important for Your WordPress Site To Load Fast?

According to a study from Microsoft Corp., people generally lose concentration after eight seconds.

What does this mean for you as a website owner?

You have very little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your website.

A slow website means users will potentially leave your website before it even loads.

study by Gomez.com showed that visitors leave sites in higher numbers when pages take longer to load.

On top of that, search engines have already started penalizing slower websites which means lower traffic for slow websites.

To sum it all up, if you want more traffic to your website, then you must make your website FAST!

How to Check Your WordPress Site’s Speed?

Often beginners think that their website is OK just because it doesn’t feel slow on their computer. That’s a HUGE mistake.

Since you often visit your own website, modern browsers like Chrome store your website in cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing an address. This makes your website load almost instantly.

However, a normal user who is visiting your website for the first time may not have the same experience.

In fact, users in different geographical locations will have a completely different experience.

This is why we recommend that you test your website speed using a tool like WebPageTest.

It is a free online tool that allows you to test your website’s speed from different locations.

After you run your website speed test, you might be wondering what’s a good website speed that I should aim for?

A good page load time is under 2 seconds.

However, the faster you can make it, the better it is. A few milliseconds of improvements here and there can add up to shaving off half or even a full second from your load time.

What Slows Down Your WordPress Website?

Your website is on slow servers

Hosting a website on a slow server is most often the main reason it just won’t load fast enough. It’s easy to verify this with free tools, such as GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights. If there’s an issue with the first-time byte (the amount of time it takes the server to respond to a visitor’s initial request), then you can be certain that the server is slow.

You’re using the wrong plugins

A lot of people assume that having too many plugins is what slows down a WordPress website. But this isn’t quite accurate because some plugins can be huge resource hogs. If you’re using a poorly coded plugin, then it can significantly slow down your website.

Your website performs too many server requests

Every image, CSS file, JavaScript file, etc. included in a page is treated as a separate request by the web server. So if your homepage has, say, 100 images, there’s obviously going to be a little problem, more so if the images are not optimized.

Your website isn’t properly caching all that it should

A caching plugin can remarkably improve your site’s loading speeding, but only if you choose the right one and configure it properly. Since every WordPress website is unique, a caching solution that works for your competitor’s website might not work for yours the same way.

Importance of Good WordPress Hosting

Reliable web hosting is an important part of building a website. Choosing a reliable web hosting company is the major step in how your website is delivered to customer. Your customers want the ability to get access to every aspect of your website any time of the day or night which makes choosing a web hosting company one of the most imperative website decisions you will make.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting essentially means you are provided with server space and some level of support. The hosting provider may claim that their servers can run WordPress websites. But you will need to be responsible for:

  • Setting up your hosting access.
  • Installing WordPress or migrating your old site to WordPress.
  • Managing updates to WordPress core and plugins.
  • Managing regular backups of your site.
  • Handling any security breaches that your host is not responsible for.
  • Handling traffic scaling when you have a surge in website traffic.

A good shared hosting provider takes the extra measures to optimize your website for performance.

However, on shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. This means that if your neighboring site gets a lot of traffic, then it can impact the entire server performance which in turn will slow down your website.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting providers take care of all the above-mentioned items for you, so you can focus on what matters most to you — your content. Using a managed WordPress hosting service gives you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting companies offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website.

This is one of the many reasons I recommend managed WordPress hosting.

Speeding Up WordPress Site in Easy Steps (No Coding)

Install a WordPress Caching Plugin

WordPress pages are “dynamic.” This means they’re built on the fly every time someone visits a post or page on your website. To build your pages, WordPress has to run a process to find the required information, put it all together, and then display it to your user.

This process involves a lot of steps, and it can really slow down your website when you have multiple people visiting your site at once.

That’s why we recommend every WordPress site use a caching plugin. Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2x to 5x faster.

How Caching Plugins Work

Usually, the pages and posts on your site won’t change much once published unless you redesign your site or update content. So what a caching plugin does is create a static version of your web page that it delivers to your visitors. This means that when a visitor returns to your site to view it again, they will see a cached version.

The beauty of WordPress caching is that it occurs without the visitor even knowing about it. It minimizes the amount of data that is transmitted between the visitor’s browser, the WordPress database and the web server, which translates into faster loading times.

Top 3 Caching Plugins for WordPress

The three most popular caching plugins for WordPress are:

  • WP Rocket
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Super Cache

There are a lot of caching plugins available for WordPress, but we recommend using the WP Super Cache plugin. Check out a step by step guide on how to install and setup WP Super Cache (Easy Mode) on your WordPress site below. It’s not difficult to set up, and your visitors will notice the difference.

Note: If you’re using a managed WordPress hosting provider, then you don’t need a caching plugin because they take care of it for you.

Step by step guide on how to install and setup WP Super Cache (Easy Mode)

  1. First thing you need to do is install and activate WP Super Cache plugin. Upon activation, WP Super Cache will notify you that caching is not enabled on your website at the moment.
  2. To enable cache, go to Settings » WP Super Cache. Under the Easy tab, turn Caching on and hit update status button.
  3. After turning on the cache, click on the test cache button to check if it is working. WP Super Cache will fetch your WordPress site twice and will compare the time stamps of both pages. If the both time stamps match then this means that caching is working on your site now.

Optimize website images for speed

Images bring life to your content and help boost engagement. Researchers have found that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content.

But if your images aren’t optimized, they could be hurting more than helping.  Optimizing your website images can save a lot of bandwidth and improve page speed considerably. All you need is a little time and a few tools.

Choose the right file type

Before you upload a photo directly from your phone or camera, I recommend that you use a photo editing software to optimize your images for web.

In their original formats, these photos can have huge file sizes. But based on the image file format and the compression you choose in your editing software, you can decrease your image size by up to 5x.

At Moikabi Post, we only use two image formats: JPEG and PNG.

Now you might be wondering: what’s the difference? which one should you use?

Well, that depends. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and the choice largely depends on the scenario.

  • JPEG – JPEG is the best option for photographs and other images displaying a huge variety of colors. It is a compressed file format which slightly reduces image quality, but it’s significantly smaller in size.
  • PNG – PNG win for graphics, drawings, text, and some screenshots. They also support transparency, unlike JPEG. PNG are uncompressed. When you compress an image it loses some information, so an uncompressed image will be higher quality with more detail. The downside is that it’s a larger file size, so it takes longer to load.

So how do we decide which image format to choose?

  • If our photo has a lot of different colors, then we use JPEG.
  • If it’s a simpler image or we need a transparent image, then we use PNG.

Resize Images Before Uploading

The most common mistake I see with novice WordPress editors is uploading mega huge photos to the website straight from the stock photo library or camera. Depending on your camera settings, these files can be anywhere from 2 Mb to 20 Mb.

It’s a no brainer. The larger the image inserted into the page, the slower the page loads. Aside from being annoying for your visitor (especially if they’re on a super tight data plan) Google will penalize your page for being too slow – impacting your SEO.

20 Mb or even a 2 Mb file is way too heavy – especially if you have several of them on the page. You want your page to load as light as possible.

Well, you can resize photos in Photoshop, or your standard Windows/Mac photo editing program. But this can be time consuming. The easiest way to make sure your photos are uploaded at a reasonable size is to use a plugin that will resize the images when you upload them. The two best WordPress plugin I recommend are WP Smush and Imsanity.

 


Also published on Medium.

About Nathaniel Moikabi

Nathaniel Moikabi is a blogger and a tech professional with 9 years of experience in the high-powered world of writing, marketing and technology. Moikabi is on a mission to help everyday entrepreneurs build sustainable business, stop stressing about their marketing, and start living the life they’ve always wanted.

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