The most important tips to speed up your WordPress site

February 24, 2022
7
min read
The most important tips to speed up your WordPress site
Tomas McKannie
by
Tomas McKannie

WordPress is by far the most popular website builder on the market. It's designed to be as simple as possible so that anyone can quickly create a website with little or no previous knowledge. 

However, in a world with billions of active websites, making your site stand out is no easy task.

Apart from using the best design practices during website creation, you should also pay attention to page loading speeds. All in all, there are plenty of ways to speed up your WordPress site. 

Today, we'll explore the seven most important ways to speed up your WordPress website.

Reasons to speed up your site

Website loading speed plays a major role in the search engine results page (SERP) ranking, but it also affects other areas. For example, page loading speed directly affects bounce rates (i.e., the visitors who view a single page on your website and leave). 

The longer it takes for a website to load, the higher the bounce rate. 

A page loading time of 2 seconds or more causes a 47% increase in your bounce rate, which translates to many missed opportunities.

Put simply, online buyers want to access shops and get the information they need as quickly as possible. Most will only wait for a second for a site to load and move to another one if it doesn't. 

While that might not be a problem for some types of business websites, if you're running an eCommerce platform, you have to find a way to reduce page loading times to increase your sales and return on investment.

Test your website's loading speeds frequently

Before you can start optimizing your site's page loading speeds, you first have to test it and see where you're standing. 

What's more, even after you improve the page loading speeds, you should test the site every time a new feature or element is added, as it can slow down your site. 

The most important factors to consider when testing your sites page loading speeds are:

  • Page size
  • The number of requests it generates
  • Is it cached? Is the content static or dynamic?

Start testing the homepage first, as it's usually the slowest to load. There are plenty of free page optimization tools and software solutions you can use to improve your site's page loading speeds. However, if the problem is somewhere else, other methods will help you reduce page loading speeds as well.

How to speed up WordPress page loading speeds

You don't need fancy tools to improve your WordPress site's loading speeds. Sometimes a change of hosting provider, reducing image size, or cleaning up the database can do wonders for your site's performance. Let's analyze your options in more detail.

1. Choose another web hosting provider

You probably know this already, but the hosting provider you choose plays a major role in the speed of your website.

Most hosting providers promise all kinds of benefits such as unlimited space, bandwidth, emails, etc. All of that is useful, sure, but if the provider struggles to cope with increased traffic, your site will probably have slow loading speeds.

Then there's a shared hosting option many new website owners choose because it's more affordable. 

However, since you're sharing the server space with other websites, you can't expect to get fast page loading speeds. Moreover, you don't have any insights into server optimization and other essential processes.

The good news is that most hosting providers are fairly cheap. If you want to be sure that you are the only one in control, you can always buy a cloud-based server at a reasonable price. This approach allows you to build the servers from scratch, to ensure that they fit with your goals and provide the best page loading speeds possible.

2. Use a lightweight WordPress theme

WordPress became popular because it offers many different design options and website elements such as widgets, social icons, sliders, and many others. The number of design elements is truly impressive, and many site owners are tempted to use as many as they can in the hope of making their sites stand out.

While these features and elements might look good, they slow down your site's page loading time substantially. 

The more elements you use on a page, the slower it loads. You should use a lightweight theme to speed up your WordPress site. It won't have a ton of useful widgets and other elements, but you'll at least have fast page loading speeds. 

If you're adamant about keeping as many site features as you can, contact our friends from the Web Development Houston company for expert advice.

3. Keep your site updated

WordPress is an open-source project, so it keeps getting updates and new features all the time. 

You must update your site every time a new update is released. That will not only provide you with a new, handy feature, but it will also update your site's security features and fix various bugs. The plugins are updated separately, so keep your eye on the latest updates there as well.

Once you update your WordPress to the latest version, your page loading speeds will improve. Even if the improvement is only slight, your site won't be at risk, and all features will be working as they should. 

If you fail to update your site on time, it will surely get slower and leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

4. Use only smaller images

Think of images you upload to your site as individual elements that slow page loading speeds down. 

In other words, if you upload multiple large images, your site will slow down immediately. Instead of doing that, you have to find a way to reduce image size without harming the quality.

There are two options for reducing image size. You can either do everything manually using some kind of image editing software such as Photoshop or use a plugin specially designed to optimize images. 

Using plugins is much better since they do most of the work automatically. The best image-resizing plugins are the EWWW Image Optimizer, WP Smush, and Optimole. Give them a try, and your pages will load much faster than before.

5. Optimize your database

WordPress has an autosave feature that saves all changes you make almost in real-time. That can help you optimize your site as you'll have access to all previous post revisions, pingbacks, a list of unapproved comments, etc. 

It won't take long before your WP database is overflowed with unused data. That's why you have to maintain your database and clear all unnecessary pieces of information.

You can do that using the phpMyAdmin command, but this approach is not advised because it requires an excellent understanding of how WordPress works. Luckily, there is a plugin designed to help declutter your site's database without any complications.

Once you choose and install a plugin, it will get to work right away. It will delete all thrash files first and filter through other pieces of data, removing everything you can't use. Of course, you should always create a backup of the site before you mess around with the database.

6. Decrease server requests

Server requests are an essential part of the process of retrieving information. A server request is sent every time your browser needs to access information located on a server. It is sent every time you want to open an image, access a script, or do anything in between. 

Naturally, the more requests your site needs to load, the longer it takes. That's why you should decrease the number of requests to a minimum. You can do that by:

  • Lowering the number of visible posts per page
  • Splitting longer posts into multiple pages
  • Reducing the number of images and other design elements
  • Removing unnecessary plugins
  • Show only post excerpts

7. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If your site gets visitors from around the world, the page loading speed depends on how far the visitors are from your hosting location. Those further away will have to wait longer, but CDNs can help you speed things up.

Content delivery networks are designed to reduce page loading speeds to a minimum by creating copies of your entire site and uploading them to different data centers located all over the globe. That way, whenever a visitor opens your site, the page will load from the nearest data center. This approach is a must if you want to run a worldwide eCommerce store.

Conclusion

If you're having a hard time ranking your WordPress site higher in popular search engines, you're probably not doing everything right. Even if you are, site optimization is a constant process that never stops. 

Moreover, if you want to create the best user experience and reduce page loading speeds to a minimum, you will have to test different versions to see which features and elements work the best.

Keep in mind that website optimization is a long process, so don't expect to get perfect results right away. You'll have to put in some extra work and look for ways to reduce page loading speeds to increase SERP ranking. 

Instead of looking for shortcuts, start optimizing right now, and results will follow. Good luck!

About the author:

Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. His work is focusing on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.

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