We’ve all experienced it. You load up a website and it takes forever to load. But what if it’s your website? Are there ways you can speed up your existing WordPress website?
Why Site Speed is Important: SEO, User Experience & Increased Page Views
Site speed is important, especially since Google factors it into your SEO ranking:
Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. —Official Google Webmaster Central Blog
Since Google puts so much weight on the quality of user experience, you should too. Not only is page load time a key element in making sure visitors stick around, but it’s also been shown to increase overall page views, and ultimately, increase revenue.
Putting Your Site to The Speed Test
Before you get started, give Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool a try. Enter your URL and Google will go to work analyzing the site. You’ll get an immediate report grading speed and user experience with a checklist of things you should fix. For more information, check out how Google PageInsights analyzes page speed.
10 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site
There are several steps WordPress site owners can take on a regular basis to make sure their site is running at top speed.
1. Audit Your Plugins
While many plugins are well designed and have an almost unnoticeable effect on your site speed, other plugins will add hundreds of milliseconds to your load time (just multiply that by number of plugins on your site).
So, what can you do? Every 4-6 months you should go through your plugin list and do a mini-audit. Ask yourself:
- Do you no longer use a plugin?
- Is this plugin underperforming?
- Is the plugin calling deprecated functions?
- Are there new plugins that perform the function better?
2. Shrink Your Images
Optimizing images can have one of the greatest impacts on your page load time, so be sure to educate your clients about it. You can either use an image optimizer tool like Smush.it or you can use an image editor like Photoshop to manually perform the resizing. Check out this handy checklist for image optimization from Google.
3. Cache Your Stuff
Caching enables your server to send files to visitor’s computers as fast as possible. Using ANY caching option is going to be better than not doing any caching. Check out the W3 Total Cache plugin.
4. Get Rid of the Junk
If you have lots of post drafts, edits or saves, it will eventually drag down your site. Why? Because its forcing your WordPress query to sort through more post entries than it actually needs to sort through.
5. Pingbacks are Sooooo Old School
Pingbacks and Trackbacks are more often than not used by gray hat sites trying to eke out tiny bits of SEO. So, we suggest you turn them off completely.
6. Minify Your Code
Remember that browsers don’t really care what the code looks like, and every single white space in your source code take a little bit of time to load into your visitor’s browser. So minify it to gain just a little speed. You can even use a plugin like Better WordPress Minify to do the minifying for you.
7. Customize High Traffic Pages
Spend some time figuring out which pages on your site are the highest-traffic pages/posts/content. Once you find your highest traffic pages, start customizing the speed. Make sure you don’t have any unnecessary scripts running on those pages, all images are optimized, etc.
8. Optimize Your Database
BackupBuddy and other tools can help you optimize your database and keep it running as smooth as possible. Just remember that older WordPress sites will accumulate junk in the database over time (old plugins, themes, settings, etc.), so be sure to clean these out.
9. Make Your Scripts Sit in the Corner
The way a webpage is displayed on your visitor’s browser is by starting at the top of the file and going step-by-step until it reaches the end of the file. This means that if you have loaded up your <head> section with a TON of scripts, nothing else gets loaded until all the scripts finish loading. Yes, you can check to see how many of the scripts can handle asynchronous loading so they won’t block the loading of the page, but you’ll probably find that its much easier to move the scripts to the bottom and the CSS files to the top.
10. Be Careful of External Scripts
We are not talking about scripts being pulled from CDNs or Google’s script server, but rather code/scripts used for Facebook or YouTube. Remember that every time you embed a video or use a social sharing plugin or even social comments, you have to be careful about how long it will take to load all those scripts (ESPECIALLY from Facebook). Consider if there is another way to accomplish the functionality WITHOUT requiring external scripts to load.
But If All Else Fails…
Maybe you just need to switch to a better web host. 🙂 (BackupBuddy can help with that.)
Get Live Training from iThemes Training.
This post was based on a recent webinar from iThemes Training. Join the community and get access to 500+ hours of professional WordPress training plus live, interactive webinars each week.