HOW TO SPEED UP WORDPRESS

I understand your pain.

You have invested your time & effort to build an awesome website that sucks at speed.

To make the matter worse, you don’t know how to code.

As such, how do you speed up WordPress?

Well, I will share the exact ways I used to speed up this website (bizain.com). Refresh this page & check yourself.

As on 5th April 2018, my website was loading within 1.5 seconds & had a score of 91 (As per Pingdom speed test report)

speed up wordpress pingdom report

Why Is Website Speed Important?

There are two key reasons as to why your site speed is important:

  • Affects Search Engine Rankings

There is no debate here. The search giant Google itself acknowledges the importance of page load time on search rankings. Watch this official video from Google Webmaster YouTube channel:

  • Affects Bottom Line (Profit)

Needless to say, a slow loading website will drive visitors away resulting in high bounce rate. High bounce rate >> Low conversion rate >> Low sales >> Low profit (bottom line). As per Kissmetrics, page load time directly affects the bottom line.Check their research backed info-graphic below:

impact of website load time

Why Are Most WordPress Websites Slow To Load?

Each website is different & needs a special check up to know the exact reason behind a slow load time. However, there are some common reasons which I have listed below:

  • Features Over Speed: Most WordPress site owners give preference to features over speed. They have pop-ups, ads, fancy widgets, screen overlays, tons of plugins & what not! While features are important, they should not come at the cost of speed.
  • Getting The Basics Wrong: When it comes to website speed, you need not focus on high-end stuff. Just getting the basics right is more than enough. In fact, I have heard my clients complaining that their website speed further dropped after following the “in-depth” speed optimization guides written by some so-called WordPress experts. So, don’t fall into the technical trap!

How To Check A WordPress Website’s Speed?

There are two popular apps that you can use to check your website page loading speed: Pingdom & GTmetrix.

Caution: Please do not obsess with the speed scores generated by the aforesaid apps. Page load time is more important than the scores. I am saying this because you don’t want to break your plugins or theme while trying to touch that 100 mark.

Now that we are brushed up with the basics, let’s start exploring the 10 easy ways to speed up WordPress:

1. Who Is The Prime Culprit: The Web Host

Nothing will work if your website host itself is slow. So, first thing first, change your web host if you are seriously looking forward to speed up WordPress

You can check for your website server response time on BitCatcha.

I prefer & recommend Siteground WordPress hosting to all my clients & blog readers. This is where this website (bizain.com) is hosted.

Apart from the path-breaking customer service that they provide, speed is one of the other important factors that makes me call them as my #1 choice.

siteground response time

As you can see, their server response time is one of the lowest in the industry.

And, this is possible because they have implemented some advanced & cutting-edge speed technologies.

siteground speed

The best part is that they can help you professionally migrate from your present host at no additional cost!

2. What’s In A Theme?

A website theme not only impacts the look & feel of your website but also its speed. Most beginners make a mistake of choosing a theme solely based on factors like design, features etc.

There are themes that boast tons of colors, animation, widgets & all sorts of creativity at the cost of speed. Never make a mistake of choosing such a theme.

Professionally, you need to ensure that your theme is light, fast & built by following WordPress best practices. If at all, you need an additional feature, go & get a plugin.

I recommend using Elegant Themes or Theme Forest for your theme needs.

Before purchasing a theme, test it’s (demo site) actual load time & score using one of the tools recommended earlier in this post.

3. The Geographical Hero: Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of your website content.

It caches a website’s static content such as images, JS & CSS to its scattered servers & delivers such content to visitors based on their locations.

Example: If your website server is located in the US & you have a UK visitor then your CDN will pull your website content from its cache server located in or near the UK. This mechanism ensures faster loading of web pages.

CDN

I recommend using Cloudflare for your CDN needs. If you are using Siteground, then Cloudflare comes bundled with it at no additional cost.

4. Crush Those Images!

Images can make your website beautiful & more SEO friendly. But there is one downside: they make pages slow to load.

What is the remedy? Well, you need to make your images optimized for speed. In other words, your images need to be crushed in size.

There are basically two ways to reduce the size of your images: Lossy compression & lossless compression.

Lossy compression means reducing the size of your image with the corresponding reduction in image quality.

Lossless compression, on the other hand, means reducing the size of your image without any impact on image quality.

For lossy compression, I recommend using a free WordPress plugin called Smush it. This plugin can automatically reduce the size of your images as & when they are uploaded in real time.

For lossless compression, you may try an application like Imagify which is simple & easy to set up.

5. The Cache Plugin Is The Key

As discussed earlier, CDN can help serve(via caching) static content like CSS, JS & images etc.

But what about dynamic content such as pages content? This is where the WordPress cache plugin steps in.

A cache plugin caches pages’ copies & serves them to visitors directly. Without a cache plugin, WordPress would go through a tedious process of constructing pages every time a visitor hits your website.

Look at the following image for a better understanding.

how caching works

For dynamic caching, you need to install a plugin W3 Total Cache or WP Fastest Cache.

After installing the aforesaid plugin, enable the option of page cache (for serving dynamic content) & browser cache.

Browser caching furthers speeds up your website by caching static content on a visitor’s hard drive.

6. What Is The Heck gZip Compression?

gZip compression compresses the size of static content being transferred between your website server & your visitor’s browser.

After receiving the content in Zip format, the visitor’s browser will decompress & show the visitor the original content. Cool, isn’t this an awesome hack to speed up WordPress?

what is gzip compression

I recommend using a plugin WordPress Gzip Compression  to enable gZip compression for your website.

As an additional benefit, gZip compression will help you save some bandwidth.

7.Minimize The Codes

Minimizing code files like HTML, JS & CSS can significantly speed up WordPress by removing unnecessary elements like spaces, comments etc.

There are various ways to enable this minimization. Some of them are listed below:

  • Cloudflare: Enable the “Auto Minify” option available under “Speed” tab.
cloudflare minify
  • W3 Total Cache: Check “Enable” checkbox under “Minify” settings
  • W3 Fastest Cache: Enable minify for HTML, JS & CSS under “Settings”

8. Clean The Database Mess

Your WordPress database can become a mess because of the following:

  • Spam comments
  • Revised posts or pages
  • Thrash posts or pages

The aforesaid elements add unnecessary data to your database & make them slower.

I recommend using WP Optimize plugin to automatically optimize your database periodically.

9. Make Your Images Lazy

Lazy loading means deferring the loading of an image until unless the visitor reaches to the image point.

Example: A visitors hit a web page with an image on 3rd part of the page. Now, if the lazy loading feature is enabled then the image will only load if the visitor reaches the 3rd part. This mechanism ensures faster loading of web pages.

WARNING: Lazy loading may not work well with some themes &/or may also break the functioning of certain plugins. So, use this recommendation with caution.

If you want to use this speed enabler then try this awesome plugin Lazy Load

10. Less Is More

Look at this website. Do you find any fancy widgets, screen overlays, pop-ups, ads etc?

Why? Because, for me, the user experience is paramount. And, speed is an important part of this user experience goal. You simply cannot delight your user or visitors with a slow loading website.

Try the following to speed up WordPress :

  • Remove unnecessary plugins
  • Remove fancy widgets
  • Avoid stunts like pop-ups & screen overlays
  • Avoid flashy animations
  • Don’t upload videos directly to WordPress. Try hosting platforms (like YouTube) & embed from there.

Conclusion

If you correctly implement each of the aforesaid 10 steps, then I am sure your website load time will improve dramatically.

With blazing fast speed, your website will delight your visitors. The more delighted visitors, the more sales & conversions.

Let’s end this post with a motivational case study of Zitmaxx Wonen. This furniture retailer was able to increase conversion rate by 50% & sales by more than 98% simply by improving website speed,

What is your website speed score? How do you plan to speed up WordPress? What do you think of the aforesaid speed strategies? Comment below.