WordPress is currently the most popular CMS worldwide. No doubt, the number of resources for building a website with it is skyrocketing. Thousands of hi-res images are at your disposal. More than 47,000 plugins are luring you with functionality they offer. However, the more you stuff your WordPress design with nice-to-have extras, the less speedy it becomes.
In this article, we’ll give you some WordPress optimization tips and tricks in order to have both the desired functionality and speed. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to achieve a substantial speed boost that minimizes bounce rate and positively influences your ranking by search engines. By the way, don’t hesitate to check up the best WordPress themes for business with great design.
1. Test Your WordPress Site’s Performance with Right Tools
If you’re not using tools to check how quickly your website loads, you may be misguided. As your browser caches the websites you load, your site may be loading quick for you, but not for the guests that open it for the first time. To learn how quickly your website actually loads, use some of the page speed testers listed below:
- GTmetrix is a popular page speed aggregator that ranks your website based on PageSpeed and YSlow scores. It also gives you a number of actionable tips on how to speed up your site.
- YSlow is a testing tool that evaluates the website’s compliance with Yahoo’s rules for high performing websites. The service gives you a grade based on three rules, gives you suggestions and tips. Moreover, it generates lots of useful site’s performance stats. Fortunately, the project is open-source, so you can use it free of charge.
- Google Page Speed Insights is one of the invaluable Google Developer Tools. It tests the speed of your website on PCs and mobile devices separately and gives a rate from 0 to 100. It also gives you a number of suggestions, indicating, which ones are critical and which ones can be tweaked to get a further performance boost.
- Pingdom is a comprehensive paid speed check solution that delivers a number of insights. You can test your site from over 70 locations all over the world, examine all parts of the website to find speed leaks and get tips on how to exterminate them.
So, now you know how fast your website really is. If your website’s loading time is lower than 2 seconds, you’re doing well. If this is not the case, read on to figure out what to do to boost your WordPress site’s performance.
2. You Need Fast-loading Servers and a CDN
We hope you understand the importance of entrusting your website to a reliable hosting provider that boasts of < 500ms average load time. Large hosting providers, such as SiteGround, BlueHost, Inmotion Hosting, etc. should do the job for you. So, if you’re relying on one of the local hosting providers, consider moving your site to a large host to take your website’s speed up a notch. Next, go for a CDN (Content Delivery Network). If you set it up properly, it’ll load the content of your website from the server that’s the closest one to your website visitors. The distance matters, so don’t make your data travel from one part of the world to another. Check the image below to see how a CDN functions:
3. Make a Smart Template Choice
If you’re not representing a large corporation, you’re likely to use a template to jumpstart your website. Modern WordPress themes are pre-loaded with tons of functionality, some of which you may not need.
Go for a simple WordPress theme that’s well-coded and optimized for performance. Trust large web design companies and marketplaces. For instance, if you search for WordPress themes on the TemplateMonster marketplace, you’re bound to find the template that has coding optimized by professionals for light-speed performance.
Are you lured by extra plugins and widgets that modern templates offer you as a part of the pack? Think twice, which ones you actually need. Uninstall the ones that don’t make sense to you. You don’t want your top-notch template drain the speed of your website. So, don’t keep the files that slow it down.
4. Be Careful With Plugins
Functionality is good. Functionality that you/users don’t actually use is a big slowdown factor. If you install WordPress plugins in bulk, you may install a couple of them that are not compatible with the latest WP version/your template. These would be the hidden speed drainers that are hard to track down.
Be extra careful with the plugins that have 3 stars or lower on the plugin market. They may miss optimization for the latest WordPress version and be poorly developed. Try to find a more popular alternative for the functionality you need.
Update plugins in a timely manner. If a plugin update is pending, you’ll see the corresponding notification in your dashboard. Don’t forget to back up your website prior to going for an update.
5. Fall In Love With gZip
Are you familiar with gZip? This is an effective method of compressing your website’s files for faster transfer. Smaller file sizes load faster for your users from all over the world. There are two main ways to enable gZip compression:
- On server side – Depending on the peculiarities of your server, it can be enabled with .htaccess, Apache, NGINX, etc. Contact your hosting provider to get instructions for enabling gZip compression.
- Using plugins – Plugins, such as W3 Total Cache allow you to enable gZip compression in the WordPress dashboard. The alternative solutions are GZip Ninja Speed Compression, WordPress Gzip Compression, Check and Enable GZIP Compression, etc.
6. Become a Fan of Image Optimization
At present, high quality imagery is no more a luxury. However, stuffing your website with hi-res images without optimizing is not a good idea. First of all, specifying image dimensions in the Settings > Media section is a must. Pre-resized images load faster and boost your page loading speed.
Secondly, optimize your images with free online services, such as reSmush.it. This service makes the image files smaller without the noticeable loss of the image quality. As a result, you can achieve a substantial speed boost without sacrificing the visual appeal of your website. See an example below:
7. Use LazyLoad
LazyLoad is a popular solution for decreasing the page load time. With this plugin, browser will load just above-the-fold content when opening a page. The images down the page load later on when the user scrolls down the page.
LazyLoad rapidly gained cult following as it’s a two-in-one solution. First of all, it dramatically speeds up your page initial loading. Secondly, it lets you add animated effects for the content that appears with Lazy Load. As a result, LazyLoad adds awe to scrolling your website and kills two birds with one stone.
Check out an example of Lazy Loading WordPress themes to see how it works:
8. Keep You Database Clean
Database keeps the record of all the content that ever existed on your website. As a result, it may store the information you no longer need. The more tables in your database, the slower your website loads. Therefore, it’s wise to optimize the database of your website from time to time.
Being technically versed, you can optimize your database directly in your phpMyAdmin tool. However, if you’re not advanced in website management, this is not recommended. In this case, use one of the database optimization plugins available for WordPress. For example, WP-Optimize is a top-rated solution for automatically cleaning the redundant tables of your database. What’s more, keep in mind that prior to performing any changes to your database, you should make a backup of it.
9. Be Diligent In Regular WordPress Maintenance
WordPress website maintenance is your duty that cannot be neglected. Some of its aspects positively affect your WordPress site’s performance. First of all, you should update WordPress, your template and plugins in a timely manner. Next, you should delete old post revisions that you no longer need. Moreover, check comments on your website and delete spammy ones. Finally, delete images and other media files you no longer need in wp-content folder.
By following this routine, you’ll ensure that your website does not accumulate the speed-draining clutter and remains at its prime. Accomplish the mentioned routines at least once a week, and your site’s speed won’t suffer from your negligence.
If you’re not a tech geek and don’t plan to work with the coding of your website directly, you can minify the scripts and styles your website uses. Minifying deletes extra characters, such as spaces, line breaks and comments, in coding. As a result, the coding of your website becomes less human-friendly, but smaller in size. The files will load quicker and users will see your website pages in a twinkle of an eye.
To minify coding of your website, you can use the free Autoptimize plugin, or premium solutions, such as WP Rocket and CSS Compressor.
Stop nagging that you lose clients because your website is too slow. You can do a lot to improve your WordPress site’s performance. Optimize images and content, get rid of plugins and widgets you don’t use, clean your website’s database, set up a CDN, etc. As a result, you’re likely to see a significant improvement of your site’s speed. Follow the tips mentioned above and may your website load at the speed of light!
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Which WordPress optimization tip/s proved most effective for you? Let us know in the Comments section below.