WordPress is an excellent platform for building fast, responsive websites.
However, as with any platform, there are always ways to optimize and improve performance.
This article will cover how to increase page speed on a WordPress site.
You may lose customers and visitors if your website takes too long to load.
People need websites to load quickly and efficiently in today’s fast-paced world.
If your site isn’t up to par, you could miss out on potential leads and conversions.
An Overview of Page Speed: A Primer
It is essential to understand page speed before taking steps to improve it.
Here are some key things to keep in mind.
What Is Page Speed?
Google defines page speed as “the time it takes for a page to load completely.”
A page includes all the content, images, and scripts.
Page speed tests measure load time in seconds, and a fast time is fully loaded in under three seconds.
There are several ways to determine page speed:
A fully loaded page measures how long it takes 100% of page content to load.
This metric includes all the resources, such as images, scripts, and CSS.
Time to First Byte measures how long it takes the loading sequence to begin.
First Meaningful Paint/First Contextual Paint measures how long it takes for enough of a page to load so that a visitor can read the content.
Why Is Page Speed Important?
Fast page speeds improve user experience, SEO, and conversions.
People are impatient and don’t want to wait for pages to load.
Users will go to a competitor’s site if your website is slow.
A slow page load time will frustrate users and prevent them from taking action.
A slow page load time could cost you a sale if a user is trying to purchase something from your site.
Search engines like Google examine page speed when determining where to rank your website in search results.
A faster site will generally rank higher than a slower site.
Faster websites convert more visitors into customers.
What Causes Slow Page Speeds?
Some of the most common causes are:
- Using a bloated theme or framework
- Unoptimized images
- Installing too many plugins
- Using a slow hosting provider
- Not caching website pages and files
- Not using a content delivery network (CDN)
- CSS is not optimized
- Poorly written code
- Excessive display ads
Can I Improve the Page Speed of My Website?
Yes, you can increase page speed by:
- Optimizing images
- Reducing redirects
- Caching web pages
- Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Uninstalling unnecessary plugins
- Choosing a high-quality hosting company
What You’ll Need To Increase WordPress Page Speed
- A WordPress Site to Improve
- A Bit of Technical Know-How
- Access to a Developer or optimization expert
You need to have a WordPress site built and online to have some kind of baseline data from which you can work.
You’ll also need technical know-how to understand the reports and results of the tests you’ll be running.
Finally, if you’re not comfortable with code, you’ll need someone on hand who can help interpret the results and make changes to your website.
It may take a while to determine what’s causing your website to load slowly and to make the changes needed to improve performance.
Depending on the complexity of your website, it could take days or weeks to see results.
You’ll need access to a developer or optimization expert to help you make changes to your website.
If you don’t know someone who can do this, you can hire a freelancer or agency to help you.
The Best Proven Ways to Increase Page Speed
To increase page speed on your WordPress site, follow these steps:
Use a Lightweight Theme and Framework
One effective way to reduce page load time is to use a lightweight theme and framework.
A theme is the design of your website, and a framework is a code library that helps you develop themes and plugins.
Some WordPress themes and frameworks are better than others.
However, they are not all created equal.
Some are bloated with features you may never use, while others are very lightweight.
Using a bloated theme or framework can slow down your website because it has unused code.
A lightweight theme or framework will load faster because it only includes what is necessary to display the theme.
Several factors designate a theme that is fast and optimized:
- A low number of HTTP requests: The theme makes few HTTP requests to the server, which lowers loading times.
- Optimized for speed: The code behind the theme design focuses on speed, so it doesn’t slow down the website.
- Customizable: The theme is highly customizable, so you can tailor it to your needs without adding bloat.
Compress Images and Deliver Them Efficiently
Images are often the largest files on a site, impacting page speed.
Therefore, it’s important to compress images and deliver them efficiently to help reduce file size.
One way to reduce page size is to manually resize images and change the quality.
Image compression is either lossy or lossless.
With lossy compression, some data loss occurs when the file compresses, but the quality remains high.
Lossless compression doesn’t lose any data, but the file size may not shrink as much.
Uploading an unnecessarily large image adds more data for your page to load.
Adjust the height and width in a photo editing program to ensure that your images are no larger than they need.
Some plugins can help you optimize images for the web.
One popular option is WP Smush.
It automatically compresses all images uploaded to your WordPress site, including thumbnails, featured images, and gravatar images.
It is also helpful to use the correct file format.
For example, web images are usually GIF, JPEG, PNG, or WebP.
- Graphics Interchange Format (GIF): These are small files seen in simple animations. Do not add too many GIFs to your site. Too many animations can increase load time.
- Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG): These are smaller than PNG files but also of lower quality. Lossy compression helps to reduce file size further. Use JPEGs for photos.
- Portable Network Graphics (PNG): These create sharper images and can have a transparent background. These images use lossless compression and have relatively large file sizes. Use PNGs for images that require the best resolution with the most detail.
- WebP: This is a newer format that uses both types of compression and is about 25-35% smaller than PNGs and JPEGs. All internet browsers do not yet support this format. WebP is a good choice for high-quality images with small file sizes.
Lazy loading images is another way to improve page speed. Lazy loading only makes images visible when a user scrolls to the part of a page where the image displays.
Select a Managed WordPress Host
Finding a reputable web hosting company is vital to having a fast WordPress site.
However, not all hosts are created equal, and some will be faster than others.
Don’t select the cheapest plan you can find, or you will have to deal with shared hosting.
This option hosts your website on the same server as other sites, which can affect page speed if multiple sites on the server are getting hit with a lot of traffic.
A managed hosting plan guarantees enough server resources to prevent page speed problems.
Cache Website Pages and Files
Caching helps improve performance by storing frequently accessed files and data for quick access instead of downloading all content from a server every time there is a request.
As a result, Caching can help reduce server load and make pages load faster.
Many plugins are available to help set up website caching, such as W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket.
Therefore, it is essential to defer these files to help improve performance.
Minifying these files can help improve performance because they will be smaller and take less time to download.
Use a CDN
A Content Delivery Network is several servers located around the world.
CDNs can help improve performance by delivering content faster.
When someone visits your site, the CDN will deliver the content from the server closest to their location.
This process can help reduce latency and make pages load faster.
There are many excellent CDN services available, such as Cloudflare and StackPath.
Redirects to other pages can often add unnecessary time to page load times.
Therefore, it’s essential only to use redirects when necessary.
There are several times when you might need to use a redirect, including the following:
- If you change the URL of a post or page.
- If you transfer your website to a new domain.
- If you are setting up a temporary redirect while making changes to your site.
Redirects can be implemented in several ways, depending on your server configuration.
Redirection is a popular redirect manager plugin for WordPress that can handle all details.
Slow page speed can hurt your business by causing people to leave your website before it has loaded completely.
Optimizing images, videos, and plugins can improve your website’s page speed.
Doing this will ensure potential customers see your content and have a positive experience on your website.
To increase the page speed of a WordPress site, you’ll need access to a developer or optimization expert who can help you make the necessary changes.
You may also need to invest some time in learning about the technical aspects of WordPress and how to optimize your site for speed.
Once you have the right tools and knowledge, you can make improvements to help your WordPress site load faster.