They say that speed kills when you are driving. Speed also saves websites from getting abandoned. Page download speed is an important factor in Google search algorithm. There are many good reasons why Google places and importance speed. One of them is reduction in abandonment. Your website visitors are want information right away. They do not have patience to wait for a long time for a page to download. They have better things to do – like clicking on another link.
Here are 10 steps you can take to increase your WordPress website speed:
1. Hosting – shared or dedicated
We are often carried away by offers of cheap hosting. Infinite server space, massive bandwidth and other goodies make us do what everyone does – we never look under the hood. As such there is nothing wrong with shared hosting. But you must make sure that other websites on your server don’t suck the life out of yours. Websites providing video/audio streaming can pull a huge amount of bandwidth. As a result, your website may experience slow download speed. It’s a good idea to check your web page download speed with some tool. There are many free tools available to check the speed of your website. If you are looking for a solid shared hosting solution for WordPress, we recommend Bluehost.
2. Speed up your WordPress website by choosing the right theme
WordPress runs on themes. There are hundreds of free and paid themes you can choose from. Probably the main attraction of WordPress is choice of themes. But they have inherent problems. Some themes are so bulky and badly coded that they take time to download. You must check on this particular fact before you start using a theme.
3. Use a WordPress caching plugin
There are numerous ways in which web caching can be achieved. PHP files which are part and parcel of WordPress are essential heavy and take time to download. A caching plugin can convert these PHP files into static html files and thereby reduce file size. In turn the download speed also increases. In some caching algorithms, the rendering or display of files is carried out progressively. The user or viewer can see the pages downloading which leads to less abandonment. HTTP compression of files can also speed up downloads.
4. Use static html wherever possible instead of PHP
Not all pages have to go through the PHP route. Use of static web pages can get your web pages into a gallop from a mere trot. However there is a catch – not all pages can be made static.
Another step is to manually go through your WordPress theme files and replace php references like template url with your actual current site url – this is just one less query that WordPress needs to make.
5. Content Delivery Network
CDN or Content Delivery Network is a proven technology which improves user experience by reducing download speed. There are many CDN providers who can work with WordPress sites to achieve quicker loading of web pages. CDN technology is extremely useful when WordPress sites have a footprint across the globe.
6. Speed up your site by optimizing images
The biggest culprits of slow speed are images or their bulk. Images can be huge in size and you may never come to know about it, unless you consciously find out the truth. WordPress users are mostly non-technical people who don’t know about image optimization. The fact is that images which are meant for the desktop are not suitable for the web. There are many image optimization tools available free of cost on the internet which can elegantly solve this problem.
Another technique which is frequently used is to keep image size to a minimum. One image per web page can do the trick as well. Remember that what is good for the eye is not always good for the site.
Try to use css sprites if you can to limit the total number of images you have per page.
7. Optimize database
WordPress uses MySQL database, which is quite fine and works well. There is only one little hitch. Your page download speed decreases every time you query the database. Fetching information from the database takes time. Moreover database design is not really in your hand since the function is automatic in WordPress. Optimizing database may reduce the problem of download speed but the process requires a professional hand.
8. Optimized web pages
In addition to images, your website may well be carrying the weight of advertisements. You must try and reduce the number of ads which are in the form of images. Video and audio streaming can make your website crawl and cry in anguish. You must make sure that these elements are minimum and fully optimized.
9. Have a close look at plugins
Plugins are a necessary evil as far as WordPress sites are concerned. But some are more evil than others. Many WordPress web sites use twenty to thirty plugins. You must try and weed out those plugins which dramatically reduce download speed. There have been hundreds or even thousands of instances where slow speed has been finally attributed to a rouge plugin. There is always a substitute for every plugin and you need not fear that loss of a single plugin would cripple your operations.
10. Use GZip
GZip is a great way to improve page download speed. The technology is quite simple, GZip compresses all files at the server end leading to smaller file size. The downloads are therefore faster. Once downloaded at the user end (desktop), the zipped files are uncompressed. The efficiency of GZip depends on the nature of files which are compressed. If your web page consists of only text, this method would not be useful. Some WordPress cache plugins include this feature as well.
Bottom Line for Speeding up your WordPress Site
Increasing your WordPress is an easy way to improve you visitor experience and improve your SEO. There is no single solution to the problem of slow downloads. The final outcome is dependent on a number of factors. Fortunately, most of them are quite simple and can be used to speed up your site. The above 10 steps can be implemented easily.
Ideally you would consider all these aspects at the design stage itself. For example, Try to avoid too many plugins, which will slow your site down. Using a CDN provider is another useful step although not too many people use it. Installing a cache plugin will help out greatly as well.
Images are another main culprit when in comes to slow page speed. Be mindful of the image size and use sprites as well.