If your website takes too long to load, it is costing you money.
That’s a fact.
Studies have shown that just a 1 second delay in loading time can cause a 7% loss of conversions.
Think about it like this:
If your website pulled in just under $3,300 per day, 1 second delay in loading time could be costing you over $90,000 per year.
3 seconds would be getting close to a loss of $300,000 per year.
There are other reasons why page load times are important:
Google has incorporated site speed into its ranking algorithm so a slow website would lose you traffic.
And mobile traffic is still on the rise. This means slow websites will lose out big time.
It doesn’t have to be that way because there are a number of quick and straight forward ways that you can speed up your WordPress website.
You won’t have to mess around with code and it won’t break the bank.
Are you ready to speed up your website, improve conversions and potentially get more traffic?
Let’s get started…
8 Easy ways to speed up your WordPress website
The tips listed below are straight forward to implement in most cases. The idea here is to present tips that anyone can implement without a steep learning curve.
#1 – Use a better web host
Your web host is the foundation from which your website is built.
If you don’t have a solid host, you can’t deliver a consistent experience to your visitors.
The reality is that a lot of hosting companies offer unlimited hosting packages at crazy low prices. I’ve seen some hosts offer packages below $3/month.
They have their place in the world but the problem with these web hosts is that when your traffic grows, they buckle under the pressure.
I recently ran a Load Impact test on a popular budget web host. The test works by simulating how a website will cope when experiencing multiple visitors at the same time.
Here’s how the report looked:
At a peak time over 1.7 minutes, you can’t hope to deliver a positive experience to your users. Most people won’t wait that long for a page to load.
We use WPX Hosting to host WP Superstars, they’re a shared web host but their platform was built to host large Magento ecommerce sites so it has a lot of power. And they don’t oversell their servers. According to Terry Kyle (the founder), they leave servers at around 50% of capacity to help handle traffic spikes.
Here’s how the Load Impact report looked that I just ran:
The speed is much better and loads in under a second for most users.
I also have a CDN called MaxCDN which I use to ensure users have a consistent experience no matter where they access my website from. I’ll talk more about CDN’s in a moment.
I can hear you thinking – why is this considered easy?
And you’re right, out of this entire list this is the most complicated tip to implement because it involves moving your entire website.
Fortunately web hosts like WPX Hosting offer migration services (migrations are free up until a certain number of sites, depending on your plan).
Plenty of other web hosts offer this for free too and the great thing is that it takes all of the technical issues out of your hands making it a lot more straight forward.
That said, there are plugins that can help you migrate any website. But if you aren’t comfortable doing this, let your host take care of it for you.
- WPX Hosting Review
- Recommended WordPress Hosting Companies (And 5 Bonus Tips For Choosing The Perfect Web Host)
#2 – Setup a CDN
The problem that all web hosts face is that load times are dependent on how close a user is to the location of the server.
The result is an inconsistent user experience and slower load times for certain geographical locations.
The answer to this problem is to use a CDN (content delivery network).
A CDN is just a network of servers that are strategically located around the globe.
For example, if you are accessing this website from Europe, my CDN will serve files and images etc to you from a server based in Europe.
There are a bunch of different CDN’s you can use. I use MaxCDN because it’s cost-effective, easy to setup and it works.
Note: Prices generally start from $9/month but you can save 25% if you purchase through this link.
The setup process is straightforward, but if you run into any issues you can ask MaxCDN to complete the setup for you.
#3 – Choose a theme that is better optimized
The problem with most WordPress themes is that they come with unnecessary features that you will probably never need.
And all those extra features mean that the theme is more resource intensive. That’s not what you want.
I can see certain situations where extra features are helpful, but they aren’t always.
I use the Genesis Framework from StudioPress because it’s lightweight and simple. This is a framework and StudioPress offer a bunch of different child themes which you can use to get the look you want.
The downside of using the Genesis Framework is that it can get difficult to customize without messing around with any code.
That said, most of their child themes come with different colour styles but anything outside of that will require more advanced customization.
If you’re familiar with CSS, tweaking the color style is easy.
#4 – Setup a caching plugin
WordPress is serves pages dynamically which results in using PHP code to request information from your database.
It then creates a HTML page for your visitors.
The problem with this is that it can be slow. The answer here is to use a caching plugin that will generally save those HTML pages and serve them to your visitors instead of dynamically creating the page.
There are a number of popular plugins for this such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. I’ve found that W3 Total Cache has more features and is easy to get working out of the box but the more advanced features require more technical understanding. WP Super Cache takes a few more tweaks to get working initially but it’s generally more straight forward to use.
Both plugins are free to use.
I’ve also been hearing great things about WP Rocket, it’s a paid plugin but I hear it’s much easier to setup and could give greater speed increases than the free plugins previously mentioned.
#5 – Compress your images
I’ve worked on a lot of sites in the past and I’ve found people uploading huge images which forces WordPress to resize them on the fly.
One guy was uploading images that were 5mb each. That’s not a good idea.
It’s best to reduce the file size to the lowest point you can without affecting image quality.
You can easily do this if you have Photoshop but there are tools like Image Optimizer which provide an online tool for compressing images.
You can also do this automatically in WordPress by using the WP Smush.it plugin. I tried this a few years ago and had some issues, since then WPMU DEV has taken over maintenance and there have been a lot of improvements.
- A Guide To Optimal Image Compression In WordPress (Woo Themes)
#6 – Setup lazy loading for images
When a visitor lands on your page, they don’t need to see everything straight away, especially images that are all the way down the page.
Sites like Mashable display content as you scroll down the page. This helps to reduce load times.
It’s easy to do in WordPress, there are plugins like BJ Lazy Load that you can use to set this up for free.
All you’ll need to do is to activate the plugin.
#7 – Keep database tables optimized
Every so often you need to optimize your websites database tables. It helps your database to run smoothly while maximizing your server resources.
Free plugins like WP-Optimize make this process easy to do.
#8 – Disable trackbacks and pingbacks
When other websites start linking to yours, you may start noticing trackback and pingback notifications.
This is just a notification that they’ve linked to you but the downside here is that this takes up valuable server resources that are better spent on delivering a great experience to your visitors.
You can disable these by going to Settings > Discussions in your WordPress admin area.
This won’t stop anyone from linking to your website; it will just stop the notifications.
Monitoring mentions and/or tracking backlinks is better left to tools that are designed to do the job.
Each of the tips above will make a difference but ultimately you won’t get very far without a decent web host.
The bottom line is this:
When you focus on improving your page load times, Google will likely rank your website slightly higher in search engine results and your visitors will receive a much better experience.
This means they’re more likely to come back to your website and they’re more likely to sign up to your email list or make a purchase. With mobile traffic growing, it’s more critical than ever before.