How to Increase WordPress Website Speed

Nile

· ·Website Tips

How to Increase WordPress Website Speed

If you’ve created a website, especially if you’re new to being a website owner, you don’t often hear about things like website speed. If you remember the days of dial-up Internet, when surfing the web was slow, you probably remember the frustrations of waiting for the web page to load up, right? Well, with technology today, Internet speed is faster, but not all websites are fast. This is where website speed optimization is handy.

In this article you’ll learn what website speed optimization is, why it’s important to have a fast website, and tips on how to increase WordPress website speed.

What is website speed optimization?


Website speed optimization are the techniques used to improve your site’s web performance. Web performance is how efficient and quickly your site loads in your browser.

These techniques can involve tools like fast web hosting or delivering a faster version of your site based on where your website visitors live, or combining or delaying resources to run on your website. Seems like a lot, and for newbies, it may be. However, some of the most basic tips for website speed optimization, especially in WordPress, can help you speed up your website.

How fast should your website load?


According to SEM Rush, a reputable SEO resource, your website should load within 1-2 seconds. However, if your website is loading under 4 seconds, you’re doing a lot better than the rest of the Internet.

Technology and how fast the Internet and devices associated with it, have set the bar on where people can tolerate how slow a website loads. People will leave your website if they have to wait too long. Think about it, if you’re standing in Costco or Walmart, waiting for a store clerk to assist you, you probably have only so much patience until they actually show up to help you. Same issue online, except when you’re using a mobile phone, and already out and about, you want that information quickly, whether it’s finding out if an item is in stock, at a store that you’re driving to, or finding the right restaurant to eat at, or seeing if there are any cool events to attend locally.

If your site is loading too slow, you’re missing out on potential business, that may lead to someone else making money, just for having a faster website. Bummer, right?

Why does a WordPress website get slow?


Why does a WordPress website get slow

A WordPress website gets slow because of several things, like theme, plugins, your images, and how much content you have on the page. Think of each like a box. Your web host is the very bottom box, then WordPress is another box, then your theme, then your plugins, and then your content, like text and images and video. When you stack them on top of each other, it all gets really heavy. If you’re picking the stack up, the more boxes you have, more than likely, the slower you will move.

Where can I test my website’s speed?


Test website speed With Google Insight

There are a few places that you can test your website, but because Google is pretty much the king of search engines and provides a lot of great tools for webmasters, their PageSpeed Insights is a good tool to test your website’s speed. From their tool, you can see what needs to be improved. However, if you’re not familiar with optimizing your website, you may need to hire a developer who is more experienced.

How to Increase WordPress Website Speed


In WordPress, in order to speed up your website, you have to approach it from several areas. Under each of these areas, there are quite a few tips that you should follow, in order to successfully optimize your WordPress website’s speed.

  • Themes
  • Plugins
  • Images
  • CSS, Scripts, Third-Party Scripts and Ads
  • Cache
  • CDN
  • Web hosting

Themes

There are so many themes out on the market, both for free in the WordPress theme directory, and for pay. However, the best themes that are quick, don’t carry all the thrills and frills. They are built to be lean and fast, where you can add what you need to it, in order to make that theme stand out as your own. If your theme has so many options and add-ons that it seems like a Swiss Army knife, then it’s probably going to be a pain to optimize.

If you use a pagebuilder plugin, which helps with designing your website without using code, make sure to choose one that is well trusted and easy to use. In most cases, the WordPress editor, known as the Gutenberg editor may cancel out the need for using a pagebuilder. If you can do without a pagebuilder, that will save you from added website speed, and the challenge of optimizing around both the theme and the pagebuilder.

Another tip, and the most important, is to make sure the theme is always up-to-date. A lot of times, theme developers are adding code to help keep the theme compatible with the latest version of WordPress. This may include ways to help keep the theme as lean and fast and secure as possible.

Plugins

Plugins help your website display things like forms, shops, and much more. However, when you choose a lot of plugins, it may slow down your website. While there’s no set number on how many plugins you should have, the rule of thumbs is that if after you’ve installed some plugins, and your website is really sluggish or having errors, well then, you have too many plugins.

Like themes, it’s important to keep your plugins up-to-date. In fact, you should even make sure your WordPress installation is always updated too!

Images

The images that you use in your website’s design, and within your content add load time to your page. Often, people accidentally add really large pictures to their site, especially from their smartphone, and that can drastically reduce the time. However, a lot of times, people will resize or use tools that remove some of the quality.

Optimize Website images for better speed

In WordPress, in order to optimize your images, without losing the quality, you’ll want to use a plugin like Imagify, which is by the creators of WP Rocket. You can optimize about 200 images each month for free, and they have plans if you need to optimize more.

Another great tool in helping your website load faster, especially if you have images, is to delay the load of the image, also known as lazy loading. Lazy Loading loads the image as your user scrolls the web page, rather than waiting for all of the page and images to load at the same time. Cache plugins like WP Rocket offer a setting to help with lazy loading images.

CSS, Scripts, Third-Party Scripts and Ads

Scripts like JavaScripts, as well as Third-Party Scripts that are hosted by resources outside of your site, CSS, and even ads, can weigh down your website. Here’s a few tips for each of these.

CSS

CSS is the styling of your site, kind of like choosing a color for makeup that you want to put on your face. The CSS code can become a lot, and has a lot of spaces, which add load time to a site. In order to optimize your CSS, you will want to condense or minify it. WP Rocket can help with that, as there’s an option for that.

If you have multiple CSS sheets, you may want to combine them. If you don’t want to fool with code, then with WP Rocket, you can also use their option to do that.

JavaScript

JavasScript is often used in WordPress, as well as your theme and plugins. Usually there’s quite a few, and they can add extra load time. A cache plugin like WP Rocket can minify, and combine those files, without you ever touching code. The plugin can even defer, or delay how the JavaScript loads, in order to speed up the user’s experience.

Third-Party Scripts

If you’re using plugins or services from other places, like analytic trackers, you’re adding third-party scripts on your site. Those can add extra load time to your site. It’s best to reduce the use of third-party scripts, or find alternative speedier ways. Additionally, if you’re using multiple analytics services, you may want to choose only 1 or 2. It’s not necessary to use a whole lot of visitor tracking services.

Ads

Whether you’re using a third party advertising service for click ads, banner ads, or video ads, or you use multiple services, you’re going to have to make a big decision on whether you want a lot of money or you want your users to be able to actually see your site. Third-Party ad networks can add a lot of load time. In some cases, like the Ezoic network, unless you pay to use their optimization package, you’re going to have a website that loads really slow.

Sure, some of the people currently using these ad networks are bringing in some great cash, but their website speed is terrible. If you are concerned and want visitors, find a way to balance this, so your website loads as fast as it possibly can.

Cache

Cache is a stored static version of your website, in order to save resources and load your site faster. In order to take advantage of caching your WordPress website, you need a plugin. In speed and cache plugins, it’s probably best to purchase the plugin.

Speed up Website with Cache Plugin

WP Rocket is a fantastic plugin and is pretty affordable. It contains a lot of great options to optimizing your website. You can use WP Rocket’s explanation of how to find the best WP Rocket settings for your site.

CDN

A CDN, otherwise known as a Content Delivery Network, not only adds a level of security to your website, but is a network of servers that distributes a cache version of your site over the globe. If your website is hosted in the United Kingdom, and you’ve got visitors in Australia and the US, a CDN has servers close to those countries that will distribute that copy. When the server is closer to the user, the page loads faster.

If you don’t have a lot of cash to spare, Cloudflare offers a decent free CDN plan that will do the job. If you use WP Rocket as your cache plugin, there’s actually a cool setting in the plugin that you can get Cloudflare and WP Rocket to work together, in order to deliver a faster user experience.

Web hosting

Your web host is a huge reason why your site can be blazing fast, or slower than a slug. So, it’s important that you choose a fast reliable web host. If you get a lot of visitors, and your web host can’t handle it, then your site becomes slow and responsive. In order to avoid choosing a web host that could lose you business, make sure to do your research.

These days, you may want to find a web host that offers LiteSpeed caching, which is one of the latest caching technologies on the market. As a note, Verpex offers LiteSpeed caching with their web hosting plans.

In Summary


This is a lot to pour through, for learning how to increase WordPress website speed. It may be a bit intimidating. However, if you run into issues, there’s always developers out in the interwebs that you can hire to help you optimize your site. However, at the very basic level, if you’re choosing lean themes, watching your plugins, keeping your site updated, and using an image optimizer, you’re at least making a good attempt toward a faster site.

If you’d like, here’s a nice slide presentation on the Introduction to Optimizing WordPress for Website Speed. Between this article and that presentation, it’s a good start in the right direction.

Happy optimizing!

Nile
About the Author
Nile Flores

Nile Flores is a long time professional blogger, as well as WordPress website designer and developer from the St. Louis Metro East. Nile blogs at Blondish.net, where she’s passionate about helping website owners, whether they’re small business owners or bloggers. She teaches about Blogging, Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design, and WordPress. Additionally, Nile loves to speak at WordCamps (WordPress conferences) across the United States. When Nile isn’t knee-deep in coding, she’s a proud mom of a college student, and enjoys oil painting, cigar smoking, nail art design, and practicing traditional Okinawan kempo karate.

View all posts by Nile Flores
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