Almost all information is available on the Internet. The fast-paced world of today demands everything functions lightning-fast – whether it’s your phone, gadget, or website. Speaking of your website, its performance plays a crucial role in attaining an appropriate user base. And improving your WordPress site performance can make or break conversions.
Speed – Why does it matter?
A visitor of your website will stay longer if the site responds in a speedy manner. According to a report by the Microsoft Bing search team:
A 2-second longer delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and reduced clicks by 4.3%.”
Also, Google has included site speed in its search engine algorithm. As a consequence, sites with slower speeds are losing their user base. Further, as the majority of visitors are using mobile devices to explore the internet, page loading speed on mobile devices is essential in enhancing Google Search Engine rankings. This article covers five ways that you can boost your WordPress site performance.
1. Selection of Correct Hosting Provider, CDN & SSL
The speed of your website depends on many factors including your hosting provider, location, and type of plan. Suppose you have chosen a shared hosting plan to host your WordPress site. Since there are other websites sharing the space, the speed of your website will be decreased to allow for excessive traffic on other websites on that shared server. Therefore, it is better not to choose a shared hosting plan. But you should choose Managed WordPress Hosting, which provides the most optimized server configuration to run a WordPress site. Some features include automatic backups of the database and files, database, automatic WordPress updates, and much more.
One of the most popular managed WordPress hosts is Pressable
As mentioned earlier, the location of your hosting provider matters a lot! Suppose your hosting provider is located in the United States. A user from the US will experience faster loading speeds on your website than users who are outside of the US.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) helps to speed up site performance according to the users’ location. It delivers the content/files from the nearest location to the user, which results in faster speed for all users around the world!
Some of the most recommended/used CDNs are:
A SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is also important for enhancing your site speed. When your site is SSL certified, search engine rankings will be higher than usual. You can also choose a hosting provider which provides CDN/SSL too.
2. Optimization & Minimization
The next important factors in improving your WordPress site performance are optimization and minimization. Popular techniques that can be adopted are as follows:
- Image Optimization
- Resources Minimization
- Gzip Compression
1. Image Optimization
Images are one of the most attractive components of your site. Even though images reduce the speed of a website, it will look dull without. Instead, optimize your images. You can do this both before uploading to the media library and after they are installed. It is better to use images in the website after optimizing them. Optimization is a technique that reduces the size of the images. Optimized images take less time to load, thereby enhancing the speed of your website.
There are plugins available in the WordPress directory that can help optimize your website’s images before you upload them. If you have already uploaded images without optimizing them, there are plugins to optimize those images, too!
The size matters! Yes, we should also be concerned with the size of uploaded images. Whenever you upload an image, WordPress creates several copies of it in different sizes. For example,
- Thumbnail size (150px square);
- Medium size (maximum 300px width and height);
- Large size (maximum 1024px width and height);
- Full size (full/original image size you uploaded).
You can also change the size of different images in the WordPress settings page:
In this case, we should use the image that can fit exactly in the space allocated on the page. For example, if you use a large image for a profile picture or as a thumbnail, it would slow down the page speed for sure because you are loading, for example, a 1024 x 980 image in a 320 x 240 area! Instead, you should use a thumbnail image.
Following are some important tools to optimize images:
WP Smush – WordPress Plugin
TinyPNG – Online web tool to optimize PNG images.
EWWW Image Optimization – WordPress Plugin
In Photoshop, you can use the “Save for web” option for an optimized image.
2. Resources Minimization
Resource Minimization refers to the minification of the resources that are served on the website, like CSS and JS files.
If these resources are not minified, your site speed will be very low! So the minification of our resources is very necessary and doing so will give you satisfactory results when it comes to page speed.
Google Page Insights gives a zip file which contains all optimized images and minified files which should be used in place of the maximized file versions.
You can also use page-specific CSS to avoid loading unnecessary CSS to other pages where it is not required. It is recommended to create two CSS files: 1) Global CSS 2) Page Specific CSS.
3. Gzip Compression
Compressed files cover low disk space in our system, right? The same is true for web pages. Web pages also consist of various files and if those files are compressed, they will get loaded faster on the page. We can compress these various files by enabling Gzip compression in the website.
To enable Gzip compression in your site, add the following code in the .htaccess file.
After adding this code, Gzip compression is enabled on a web page. To check whether it is enabled or not, you can use the https://checkgzipcompression.com/ tool.
3. Use the latest technologies and updated tools
To keep your site speedy and secure, you need to pay attention to the following two aspects:
- Keep your tools updated
- Adapt to the latest technologies
1. Keep your Tools updated
WordPress provides regular, necessary updates. In each update, with some new features, there are also security fixes. Themes and plugins also provide updates with security fixes and new features. It is highly recommended (by WordPress itself) to keep your WordPress version, themes, and plugins up-to-date to prevent security attacks. The latest version of WordPress will also load your site faster.
Like WordPress, you should also keep your PHP version, OS, and processor updated to avoid slow speed and hacking attempts. Not updating might make your site slow and cause it to appear lower down in Google page rankings.
2. Adapt to the latest technologies
The latest technologies and tools are more secure than traditional ones. Adapting to new tools and technologies is not easy if you have a complex site, but it is really important to accept these changes. This will help you keep your website secure and its speed as you expect.
4. Decrease Server Requests
Browsers make server requests for some server resources. A high number of server requests slows down site speed, and fewer requests enhance the speed. It is advisable to take care of the following points to reduce the number of server requests on your website.
- Reduce the number of images ( keep if necessary) – Lazy Load can be used to avoid a large number of image requests.
- Reduce third-party (external) resources, such as fonts.
- Split long posts/comments into pages.
- Uninstall or remove unnecessary plugins/files from the site.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and GTmetrix provide a detailed list of server requests with their load times. So you can take appropriate actions by reducing their load time or remove them, if unnecessary.
Google Pagespeed Insights gives result in two categories :
- Page Speed Score
- Optimization Score
1. Page Speed Score
To know about your page speed score use Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool which shows the real user data from Chrome users according to their way of accessing the website pages.
FCP & DCL:
Google Insights shows two metrics, First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOM Content Loaded (DCL). Google rates web pages as fast, average, or slow based on these two metrics. The page is considered to be fast if both FCP and DCL are in top one-third of their category.
FCP: First Contentful Paint is triggered (reports the time) when any content (text or image) is painted in the DOM (Document Object Model).
DCL reports the time when the first HTML document is completely loaded and parsed. It doesn’t wait for the resources like CSS or images to finish loading.
The three page speed score categories (as stated by Google) are –
- Fast: The median value of the metric is in the fastest third of all page loads.
- Slow: The median value of the metric is in the lowest third of all page loads.
- Average: The median value of the metric is in the middle third of all page loads.
2. Optimization Score
The optimization score categories are based on two calculations:
- Above the fold load time (viewport content load time)
- Full page load time
The score is categorized as –
- Good – The page scores 80 or above.
- Medium – The page scores between 60 and 79.
- Low – The page scores between 0 and 59.
Low ratio of render-blocking resources can cause a page to have slow speed and high optimization score, whereas a high number of render-blocking resources can cause a page to be fast with a low optimization score.
5. Use of Caching Mechanism Using Plugin
The caching mechanism in your site is one of the most important ways to load your site in milliseconds! There are plugins available on the market to provide this service free for you. Hosting providers also provide server-side caching mechanisms. The following are some caching types you can implement in your site.
Web caching can be on an individual user level, either in the form of browser caching or in the form of CDN.
This type of caching is different from the caching of images, CSS, or JS files. In Object/Query caching, the data of some repeated query result are stored as an object and served on the webpage. This caching avoids repeated calls made to the database to reduce server requests.
WordPress has the WordPress Object Cache which allows you to cache your data for a specified time limit. If you have 10 posts on the page, its data will be stored in the cache. The next time that person visits your site, 10 posts will be served from the cache.
There are a number of WordPress caching plugins available to help you implement the caching mechanisms in your website.
These plugins create a copy of the web page on the first load and serve that copy to load the page 2x to 5x faster than the first load.
Here are a few of the most popular caching plugins:
Following these tips could help you improve the performance of your website and enhance your page ranking in SERP. If you have some other ways to improve site performance, feel free to comment below.
“Most users will not wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to load.”