Speed matters when it comes to websites. As average internet connection speeds increase around the world, people are becoming less and less tolerant of slow load times. At the same time, Google is pretty up-front about the fact that it rewards fast sites with better page rankings. As a website owner, the impact of your website speed on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated.
Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:
Secondly, make sure you back-up your site as some of the methods require tweaking/editing files that can mess up your site. Here’s how to back up WordPress website.
Ready? Let’s start with STEP 1:
1. Remove Unnecessary Plugins and Add-ons
Too many plugins slow your site, create security issues, and often cause crashes and other technical difficulties.
Pro Tip: Deactivate and delete any unnecessary plugins. Then weed out any plugins that slow your site speed.
Try selectively disabling plugins, then measuring server performance. This way you can identify any plugins that harm your site speed.
2. Limit, or Remove, Social Sharing Buttons on Your Website
If you believe that you need to have 100 social sharing buttons on your website, think again. It’s hard to pinpoint research that establishes a massive boost in website traffic due to having social sharing buttons (if anything, too many social sharing buttons will confuse your readers), but research shows that a slow website does reduce traffic.
The solution to this is to either limit/remove social sharing buttons, or to configure them to load asynchronously so that an outage of a particular social media site won’t slow down your website.
3. Reduce server response time
There are several factors that influence how fast a website is, but the server response time contributes a great deal to site speed; the more requests are being made to your server, the slower it’ll take your website to load.
Expires Headers tell your visitor’s browser when to request certain files from your server vs. from their browser cache; if an Expires Headers is configured so that your visitor’s browser only request a file once in a month, and that file has been stored in their cache from a recent visit, then their browser won’t request that file again until a month is over. This is like a double-edged sword for boosting site speed because it limits the number of HTTP requests on your server and at the same time reduces load on your server since the same file won’t be requested repeatedly.
If you want to implement Expires Headers on your website, this tutorial shows you how to do just that.
4. Use A CDN
Most sites are hosted on servers in the US, and while these websites will generally be faster for people in the US or people visiting with a US VPN service, your website will be a slower for people from other parts of the world. A CDN solves this problem by distributing your website files across a network of servers in different locations of the world, so that someone trying to visit from India will get served from a server in Asia instead of from a server in Europe. This will lead to significant increase in your website speed.
Here are some of the best CDN options for you:
6. Optimize and Reduce Image Size
I’m still amazed by how many otherwise professional-looking websites use high-res images that take an age to load. I think part of the problem here is that a lot of developing is done in countries with fast internet connections, where huge images load quickly, and developers forget that not everyone around the world has access to a fast connection.
WordPress claims to have solved this problem, but it hasn’t. You’ve probably noticed that you can upload images at full size, and that WP will then scale them for display. This is great, but the problem is that it forces web browsers to perform multiple commands, which can slow down your site.
The way around this is simple – use images that are the right size for your page. You can do this manually, using a basic tool like Preview (Mac) or Paint (Windows). Once your images are the correct size, you can go one step further and compress them for optimal performance. Tools like TinyPNG can help with this – you upload your image, and the tool will compress it without affecting the resolution.
7. Enable browser caching
When you visit a website, the elements on the page you visit are stored on your hard drive in a cache, or temporary storage, so the next time you visit the site, your browser can load the page without having to send another HTTP request to the server.
Once the page has been loaded and the different components stored in the user’s cache, only a few components needs to be downloaded for subsequent visits.
In Theurer’s test, that was just three components and .9 seconds, which shaved nearly 2 seconds off the load time.
Theurer says that 40-60% of daily visitors to your site come in with an empty cache, so it’s critical that you make your page fast for these first-time visitors. But you also need to enable caching to save time off subsequent visits.
8. Reduce redirects
Redirects create additional HTTP requests and increase load time. So you want to keep them to a minimum.
9. Get a Better Web Host
Your choice of hosting provider can have a big effect on your page load speed. If you’ve looked at all the areas above, and your page is still too slow, it could be that your host is responsible for this.
While it may seem that every host is equal, they are not. It is true that most of the big providers are comparable in terms of speed and uptime, but be warned that there are also a lot of “budget” web hosts whose performance is … less than good. Take a look at a site that compares hosting speeds to find out how fast your host is.
Be aware, also, that there are many types of web hosting. The type you choose should be suitable for the size and traffic of your site. Shared hosting is a good option for small sites, but if your site grows you should really consider upgrading to a dedicated server. A mid-way option is a VPS, or virtual private server, which allows you a degree of control over your server.
And if you don’t want to go to the hassle of changing host entirely, you should also be aware that most reputable hosts offer several levels of service, and can implement upgrades on your site that will improve loading times.
10. Your Website Theme
The WordPress theme you are using impact a lot on your on your website speed. If you are using a crappy theme with bloated code you can not increase site performance even with best server configuration. When you are looking for theme make sure its goode performance , not just aesthetics.
The bottom line
Some of these tips are easy to implement, but a few are advanced tactics that can be intimidating if you aren’t technically inclined.
If that’s the case, you might want to get help. Here are a few resources I can recommend:
- If you like and doing it yourself, Google Developers has useful information that can help you improve site performance.
- For a done-for-you solution, consider our Custom Work Service
Now it’s your turn. Have you come up with a unique way to speed up your website? Share your tips below.