There are a lot of things that take up your time as a blogger. They are often so busy creating high-quality content, looking for great images and building a strong link profile and social media presence that they overlook other important factors. The speed of their websites is one of the last things on their minds.
Why Is Page Speed Important?
Gregory Ciotti recently did a big write up on not only why it’s important to have a fast loading site… but also some of the best working methods to speed things up.
Within this article, he reported some harrowing statistics: Just a 2-second longer delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%. It also increased lost revenue by 4.3% and reduced clicks by 4.3%. (Microsoft Bing search team)
Just a 2-second longer delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%. It also increased lost revenue by 4.3% and reduced clicks by 4.3%. (Microsoft Bing search team) This is an important fact to consider, as over 40% of visitors will abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Addtionally, Google also ranks you partly on how fast your site loads so that gives you another reason to make sure your site picks up speed, so a slower speed means less organic traffic.
It’s blatantly obvious. Slow-loading websites can ruin your blog. If your site is taking a long time to load, then you need to start optimizing it.
How To Increase WordPress Page Speed
The good news is that there are plenty of steps that you can take to offer a faster and more seamless browsing experience. You don’t need to spend a load of money on UX optimization services.
The steps that will make the biggest difference are totally free! Here are some to be aware of.
1. Choose your web host carefully
Understanding the technology that is behind the platform is a big part of the battle. One of the biggest contributing factors to having a fast loading WordPress site is choosing a fast and reliable web hosting provider.
When choosing a web hosting platform, be sure to keep an eye out for plans that are focused strictly on WordPress usage. This will allow for much faster speeds than if you try to use an outside server running too many resources.
2. Use a simple theme
3. Disable unimportant plugins
There are WordPress plugins for just about everything these days. Some of them are extremely helpful or even necessary to make sure your site runs smoothly. However, there are also a lot of plugins that offer a small range of specialized features that you don’t really need.
If you have ADD like many bloggers, you have probably installed a ton of plugins that seemed great at the time. You probably stopped paying attention to them and never deactivated them later, unless they had bugs that were interfering with the site.
The problem is that all of these plugins consume bandwidth. If you have a half dozen useless plugins on your site that you never deactivated and removed, then they may be slowing it down a lot more than you think. WPMU DEV has a guide that can help you figure out how much time your site takes to load and how removing certain plugins could benefit it. You can also check the lists from WPMU DEV to see which plugins are known for taking up too much bandwidth.
The related posts plugins are some of the most cumbersome. You might have downloaded multiple of them to see which has the best presentation. If you neglected to remove the related posts plugins that you aren’t using anymore, then they are probably taking their toll on your sites loading time.
You can check the WMPU DEV list to see which plugins have the worst loading times. It also has some great alternatives that you can use instead. Regardless of whether or not a plugin is on that list, you should disable it if you aren’t using it for anything. You should also look for plugins that have multiple features, so you can use them instead of having several specialize plugins instead.
4. Reduce your HTTP requests
HTTP requests account for 80% of your website loading time. An HTTP request is made every time a user’s browser needs to download an image or process a script. There are a number of things that you can do to minimize the time that it takes to process HTTP requests.
You want to start by finding out how many HTTP requests your website makes. It is a good idea to compare the number of HTTP requests that your site makes against your competitors to see if you are burdening your visitors’ browsers with too many. You can use Developer Tools in Google Chrome to measure how many HTTP requests are made when you are loading your site. Check other sites and use them as a benchmark.
Using a content delivery network is another very effective way to reduce HTTP requests. You can cut them in half by using the right CDN.
Using Expires Headers is another great way to minimize requests. These headers tell the browser whether to use the webserver or the browser cache to load media.
Of course, the best way to reduce the number of requests to your website is by removing unnecessary website elements or reducing the size of your visuals. Would the aesthetics of your site be just as good if you used a smaller version of your logo or the header at the top of your site? If so, then you should probably consider resizing it. Large images take longer to load. If they aren’t adding any value to your site, then your visitors’ browsers will need to make a lot more requests to love them.
Most of the website elements that affect your loading time I’ve built into your theme. Testing a new theme could profoundly reduce the load time of your site.
There are a couple of slick themes that are known for having rapid load times. One of the best is the Genesis theme.
However, it is important to realize that some of the elements are customizable. If your theme is loading slowly, then it might be because you added images that require more HTTP requests to download to your browser.
5. Optimize your homepage
For this one, you may want to borrow from the minimalists in home interior design. Think, “less is more!” By getting rid of some of the bulky files and add-ons that add to your site download time, you will decrease the amount of time needed to load your page.
Remember the key is to keep people on your page long enough to let your page load quickly, let them explore your site, and hopefully, click through to your offer or at least your sign-up page. If you do not get them to one of these, you have really done nothing more than led them through an art exhibit of your site and they left the gallery without buying anything.
6. Use a content delivery network
For even faster loading, use a CDN to cache your the static files you have on your site and lets the download happen sooner. This keeps users from having to wait inordinately long on the download process and keeps them from bouncing off your page too soon.
7. Use a cache plug-in
The W3 Total Cache WordPress plug-in works as you browse and keeps your visitors from having to wait on your page loading. It works by keeping your cache clean on your site so that users aren’t having to wait on the technology, no matter what type of platform or device they are using.
8. Optimize your images
By optimizing your images and making them a compressed size, you will greatly increase the speed of your customer’s download. Make sure and use a WordPress-friendly plug-in such as WP-SmushIt or another plugin that is made for WordPress.
9. Minimize backlinks
Backlinks are a good thing that drives traffic back to your site. But if you have a bunch of dead links or links that don’t work well, you may be defeating the purpose. Check your backlinks or hire someone to do this so that you know which ones are working well. Then delete and eradicate any non-working links that do not lead customers to your site.
Think carefully when planning new links so that you can maximize the impact they have on your site and bring in targeted traffic without impeding your progress.
10. Analyze This
In addition to using these tips, you will want to learn how to analyze all of the data that you get in from your Google Analytics reports and other sources. No matter what tools you use, make sure that you know which ones to use to keep your customers coming in to your site in a timely manner without holding up the ballgame, so to speak.
Try out your site yourself on various devices. All of the big technologies companies are doing this now. Before they put out a product to market, they test out their app or software on every type of devices imaginable. Why do they do this? Because they know that they can not predict which type of device will be used when searching or landing on your site.
This is true of any site, not just a WordPress site. WordPress, in general is mobile-friendly and responsive but, as mentioned before, it can be slow due to the lack of compatibility across some devices or platforms and the sheer number of people on the server at one time.
11. Always Tweak and Run a New Speed Test
A final tip that we will leave you with is to always experiment with one thing at a time. Don’t try to apply all of these techniques. Just try one at a time. It becomes a confusing and unscientific experiment when you try to alter too many things at once. Instead, work on focusing on the results of one change at a time.
Also, communicate with your potential customers and ask them what they think. Another word for this is “lead UX.” When you are wanting to try something new, you should always get an impression from your targeted audience before you invest more time and money into the idea.
Remember, it’s your site. You owe it to yourself and your customers to get your site in the best possible shape so that you can create the best possible experience for your visitors and turn them into customers and brand ambassadors.
If the page won’t load, they’ll never make it through your sales funnel!
12. Try using Gzip compression
The file format on your site could have a huge impact on its load time. If you are using an older file format, then you may want to try using Gzip instead.
This is a compressed file format that can significantly reduce your website loading time. It scans files for similar towed and condenses to reduce the file size.
The benefits are surprising. Research from HostGator found that using this file format can reduce the time it takes for your browser to download media by an astonishing 70%.
Gzip didn’t used to be so popular, because all their web browsers couldn’t support it. However, almost all modern browsers are able to use it. You might want to give it a shot.
Setting up Gzip compression is very easy. HostGator shared a couple of ways to use it. If you want to use it across your entire site, then the easiest is to add the following code to your .htaccess file:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
If you don’t need it on every page, then you can just add the following to the top of each HTML or PHP page that you want Gzip compression:
<?php if (substr_count($_SERVER[‘HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING’], ‘gzip’)) ob_start(“ob_gzhandler”); else ob_start(); ?>
Boost Engagement with a Faster Site!
A slow load time can be the death of your website. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to get it to load exponentially faster. You may be surprised by how much difference a couple small tweaks can make.