5 Ways to Increase Your WordPress Website Speed
You hear it all the time. How fast your website loads plays a big part in determining the amount of time a visitor will spend on your site. That statement alone is enough to drive clients off of the crazy, obsessive, site speed cliff. Here at Quintain Marketing, we design a lot of WordPress websites for our clients and thankfully, WordPress offers some easily implemented solutions to increasing your site’s speed. So, relax and step away from the edge of the cliff!
The Importance of Speed
The average website homepage has less than ten seconds to grab a user’s attention before they move on. The best business websites compensate for this by addressing who, what, why and how about the business above the fold. By utilizing a clean layout, slick graphics and great website copy, you can capture a user’s attention and encourage them to move further in, closer to conversion.
Despite all this, if your page is slow to load, you may lose people before they even get a chance to see your carefully planned homepage. If you have less than ten seconds to grab a user’s attention, imagine how little time you will have left after a slow page load (hint: you can count the seconds on one hand)!
In addition to impacting visitor behavior, your site speed affects how it is ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google includes site speed in its ever changing ranking algorithm. If your site is slow to load, you are not only losing out on visitors and potential conversions, but you are also losing out on valuable page ranking potential.
Speed Up Your Site
Now that you understand the importance of site speed (and are back on the edge of that cliff we previously mentioned), let’s cover the ways we can increase your WordPress website speed.
Hosting is the backbone of your site and can make or break a site’s performance. This isn’t the place to skimp. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” could not be more relevant here.
Large shared hosting companies like GoDaddy, DreamHost, NetworkSolutions, FatCow, 1&1 as well as countless others seem like a great deal up front, but be warned they often suffer from slow site speeds and frequent down time. Yes, down time.
The best thing you can do for your WordPress site is host it with a company that specializes in hosting WordPress websites. WP Engine is our favorite and we are constantly referring clients to their services. WP Engine offers increased speed, the best security and the absolute best customer support I have ever encountered. We moved quintainmarketing.com there based on it’s speed performance and have been thrilled with the decision.
2. Caching Plugins
The beauty of WordPress is that it is open source, so there is a plugin out there for just about anything you could possibly need. One of the more powerful (and becoming standard) options is W3 Total Cache.
W3 Total Cache boasts a 10x improvement in overall site performance when fully configured. It has proven to improve conversion rates due to its optimized progressive rendering that allows pages to load much more quickly. Lastly, it can provide up to 80% bandwidth savings with its compression capabilities.
3. Content Delivery Networks (CDN)
A CDN takes all of the static files on your site and lets users download them as quickly as possible by hosting those static files on servers that are as physically close to them as possible.
If you are familiar with hosting set-up, you have probably seen an option for this service in the monthly fees column. It usually costs around $20 a month. For sites where speed is more critical than any other factor, a CDN is a no-brainer.
4. Optimize Your Database
The best way to do this is with a plugin. If you have programming experience and are comfortable using phpMyAdmin, there is a manual way to optimize your databases, but it isn’t fun or quick. A plugin like WP-Optimize can help you clean up “WordPress junk” you probably didn’t know you had. Did you know that every single time you make a revision to a post and WordPress saves the revision that it lives on your server? Yikes! Every one of those revisions slows your site down, but never fear! WP-Optimize can remove post revisions, comments in the spam queue, un-approved comments and items in the trash with just a few clicks.
5. Optimize Images
On many of the websites we design, images take up the most space. If your website has a portfolio or is image heavy, you are naturally going to suffer longer load times. It would be a nightmare to reformat, reupload and relink every image on your site, but don’t worry, there is an amazingly simple solution to this problem. Yahoo! (yes, Yahoo!) has an image optimizer called Smush.it that reduces the file size of an image without reducing it’s quality. Yes, it’s magical. WP-SmushIt is the WordPress plugin that uses Yahoo!’s powerful optimization capabilities. Simply install the plugin and do a “bulk smush.it” and watch the space appear (and the speed of your site increase).
Take the Test
All of this sounds great, but how do you know if your site needs it? Run your site’s url through Pingdom. Pingdom will produce a report with the speed of each individual piece of your site. You will immediately see the proble areas as well as the areas you are performing well in.
How does your site rank? Are you using any of the suggestions listed above? Let us know in the comments.
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