Website speed is critical to user interface and Google rankings. When things begin to lack, user engagement drops off the charts and your Google rankings drop as well.
In this post, we’ll look at three different primary avenues to increase your WordPress site speed. You can target the WordPress admin itself, target your hosting solution, or look for some handy plugins.
The speed of your WordPress site is the journey that your site has to make from the servers of your hosting company to the laptops, phones, and tablets. Keep in mind that your browser probably has a cache of the sites that you visit most often. Your own load times of your own WordPress site are not a good indicator of the load times that first or second time visitors might experience on their way to your site. Use a third-party speed test to determine where your website falls.
If you have a really slow site after you’ve done the speed boosts that we’ve got below, then you may need to look into different hosting options. There are a few things to consider. First, you might have servers in the wrong location. If you’ve got servers in a different country and are trying to load the site, you might be experiencing up to four seconds of load time partially due to latency. Your host might be able to move the location of your site or even store multiple sites for you.
Otherwise, you might also be bumping up against your bandwidth restrictions. If you have a low bandwidth plan and are getting a ton of traffic, you might need a bigger hosting plan to deliver on the traffic that you’re getting.
Additionally, you might look into getting set up with a CDN, or content delivery network. A CDN creates strategic caches of your site at geographical locations that get a lot of traffic. While this won’t be a practical solution for smaller sites, it will work well for high traffic locations. Finally, if you’ve got a small site that is for a small business in a specific city, you may want to see if you can get servers or a cloud solution closer to home.
To find the fastest hosting available on the market today, please check our hosting finder tool.
WordPress Speed Boosts
WordPress itself, as well as the themes and plugins that you are running, will need to be updated from time to time. Running an older version of WordPress with a newer theme or plugin can slow things down. Keeping everything updated will make sure that you’re running at maximum speed.
Limit Page Displays
If your pages have to load full PNG image files and huge blocks of text and code, then of course your pages are going to run slow. You can’t create a massive spagheti of codes and themes and expect it to run quickly, even on a super fast server.
- Clean up your code. This is the big one. You may not be an expert on coding and load times, but a quick search for HTML cleanup tools will return you with a lot of options for shaving down code. You can get tools that make your code smaller, remove unnecessary pieces, and help speed up your site.
- Limit the post size to excerpts. If you’re running a blog, WordPress default shows full articles on your homepage. Changing this to show excerpts, in the settings.
- Compress images. Images give your site character and poignancy, but they also drastically slow down the loading process. On most sites, the images will be the last things to load and display properly. Changing your images from PNG to JPEG, where possible, can really help speed things up.
- Host audio and video files. Never put audio or video files directly into your site if you can help it. You should host these files through a different platform.
Limit the Stored Post Revisions
If you run the same WordPress site for a while, you will probably rack up revisions to different posts and pages. That’s fine, but WordPress will automatically store all of these revisions which clogs the database and can slow things down.
You can actually limit the number of revisions that WordPress will store by going into your wp-config.php file and inserting a line of code that reads “define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, #);. In this case, the # sign stands for the number of post revisions that you want WordPress to store up to. If you put a 5 in there, like define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 5), then WordPress will store 5 revisions instead of a ton.
Plugin Speed Boosts
The most popular WordPress plugin for boosting your speeds into the atmosphere. WP Rocket really is worth checking out. It’s a paid plugin, but it is probably the best caching plugin available, which helps speed things up drastically. You can also use this plugin to optimize your databases and institute a “lazy loading” strategy. Lazy loading means that the parts of the page that load are the parts that the user is currently viewing, so certain image and text loads are delayed until the user scrolls down.
A very simple, easy plugin that will sweep your WordPress database of all the unused and unnecessary stuff that it is storing. One of the things that slows down load times on your WordPress site is the number of things that are stored in your database. Your site has to reach into your database during any database calls that come up in the HTML, and the more stuff that is in the database, the longer it can take to retrieve the right information.
WP Super Minify
A popular choice for reducing the size of your image files. Reducing image files can take the weight off of the loading process, as images are often one of the largest things to load. Reduce your image sizes, and your site can speed up by a noticeable amount.