By Ian Cleary
Did you know that 42 percent of people expect a web page to load in under two seconds and that 40 percent will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load? According to KISSmetrics, a single second delay in page load time will decrease conversions by seven percent.
Your page speed matters. Not only does it matter to your site visitors, but a slow-loading site can mean lower search engine rankings, too.
The good news is that if you’re using WordPress, there are several easy fixes that can help speed up your site. Take a look at these solutions to your biggest WordPress page speed problems. As you work through these steps, test your site speed at Pingdom to see how your loading times improve.
GUEST POST: This is a guest post from Mike Wallagher from Start blogging online
Test Your Plugins
One of the biggest culprits of slow WordPress sites is the plugins you install. Installing too many means that users have to download more files when they visit your site, which takes the site longer to load. Installing one with a bug or one that’s incompatible with another plugin can wreak havoc on your load times.
When it comes to your plugins, there are two steps you can start with to help speed up your site:
- Begin by uninstalling any plugins you aren’t using or don’t need. Having fewer plugins installed can make a difference on page speed.
- The amount of plugins you have isn’t the only factor that impacts page speed. The quality of those plugins matters as well. If you’re still having slow site problems after deleting the plugins you don’t need, test the remaining plugins to see if one of them is causing the problem. Simply deactivate each plugin one at a time, and see if the site speeds up. If it’s quicker after deactivating one, then you know that one is the problem. If nothing changes after deactivating each plugin one by one, then chances are your plugins aren’t your issue, and you can breathe easy knowing that the plugins you’ve chosen are working as they should.
Switch to a More Reliable Web Host
If your plugins aren’t the culprit of your slow WordPress site, then another likely suspect is your web host. Your page speed relies on how fast your web host’s servers respond to user requests. That’s because each of your web visitors has to contact your host’s servers to load your site. A slow server means a slow website.
While you can’t do anything about the server speed, you can control which server you host your website on. Switching to a faster one, such as by upgrading your account or by changing web hosts completely, is a viable long-term solution.
To avoid slow hosting, choose a web host known for their fast site speeds. There are plenty of web hosts that average page speeds under one second, so you shouldn’t have to settle with a slow web host. Just some of these quick, reliable hosting options include:
- A2 Hosting
- InMotion Hosting
If you get a chance, talk with other WordPress users about their host, or read web hosting reviews to see which one of these fast web hosts is the best option for you. Remember: Web hosting isn’t just about the speed, but that’s a huge plus!
Choose a Faster Theme
Another factor that plays a role in website speed is your WordPress theme. A poorly written theme means that it takes users longer to load your site. When you choose themes “bloated” with features you’re not using, all you’re doing is making users load aspects they don’t even see.
Instead, opt for a premium lightweight theme that won’t slow your site down. Start with one of these suggestions:
The Genesis Framework is a popular theme that’s known for its fast loading times. Plus, it comes with several child themes and customization options so that you can make it all your own. This premium theme costs $59.95.
Another popular one, Avada is ThemeForest’s bestselling theme. This multipurpose theme features unlimited designs, a responsive layout, great support, and more, making it a fantastic theme for anyone. The regular license costs $59.
The Divi theme from Elegant Themes is one of WordPress’s most versatile themes. With tons of customization options and a drop-and-drag page builder, you can do almost anything with Divi. Plus, it’s fast. Download with your Elegant Themes’ membership, which starts at $69 per year.
If you want more ideas for lightning-fast WordPress themes, check out this list of fast-loading themes.
Optimize Your Images
Did you know that when you upload images to your site, the user has to download that same image file regardless of how it appears to them? For example, you may upload an image that is 2000 x 3000 pixels but display it as 200 x 300 pixels on your site. Though the user sees the smaller image, their browser has to access the larger file.
Optimizing your images is all about using the proper file size for the images you’re displaying. The good news? You don’t have to go through and manually update your images. Instead, you can install an image optimization plugin that will automatically do all the work for you. That way, you can compress your file sizes so that users spend less time downloading your images to view the site.
Start by trying one of these image optimization plugins:
Enable Browser Caching
Every time your visitors land on your site, their browsers have to contact your host’s server so they can download your site files again. Obviously, this takes time.
However, you can reduce that time by enabling browser caching. This means that your files will be stored on a visitor’s browser for a certain length of time. While they’ll have to download your site files the first time, each subsequent visit will be faster because they’re accessing the files straight from their browser rather than your server.
The W3 Total Cache plugin will get you started. With it, you can set up caching for images, pages and posts, feeds, and more to easily speed up your site.
Add an Expires Header
An Expires header is related to browser caching. This tells a browser how long to store a file in the cache. For example, if you define that the cache expires in one month, then a visitor who accesses your site a month after their first visit will download the files again. This means your site will load faster more often when you define longer time frames for files that don’t get updated frequently.
It’s possible to set Expires headers on specific files. For more about how to set up Expires headers, read this tutorial from GTMetrix.com.
Control How Many Post Revisions Are Stored
In WordPress, every time you make a revision to a page or post, you create a new version of that post. However, old versions are still stored on your server. This can increase your backup file size, boosting post query times, and affecting your site performance.
Instead, control how many post revisions you store so that old files you don’t need aren’t present on your server. You can do this with the WP Revisions Control plugin. Once you install the plugin, head to Settings > Writings to define how many revisions to store for each post.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is a service that takes all your static files and allows visitors to download them quickly by serving the files from servers geographically closest to the website visitor. The closer they are to the server, the faster the file information can transfer, which speeds up your site for users across the globe.
For example, if you work with a CDN that has servers in the United States and India, then website visitors from India will receive the files from the server closest to them rather than trying to access the files from the U.S. servers. MaxCDN is just one example of a content delivery network, and it’s especially useful if you have a wide audience from all areas of the globe.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to easily speed up your site to promote conversions and improve your search engine rankings. Which one of these tips will you start with?
About the author: Mike Wallagher is founder of Start Blogging Online who helps bloggers get their blogs up and running.
Mike also writes some great posts, make sure to check out his site.
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