Did you know that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish? It’s true! Goldfish can hold their attention for 12 seconds and humans can hold it for only 8 seconds. Why is this important? It means that if your website doesn’t have the fastest load time possible you just might lose visitors. And lost visitors means fewer conversions. What’s more, it’s been documented that there is a significantly low percentage of customer satisfaction when a site is slow to load and Google is more apt to rank you lower.
This doesn’t have to happen to you. There are many ways that you can speed up your WordPress site by taking a few, simple steps.
Optimizing your website will do wonders for your load times, and they are convenient in ensuring visitors can easily navigate your site.
Three of the key important optimization areas to focus on are your images, home page, and database.
Images consume most of your site’s bandwidth, which means you should be reducing the file size of your images whenever possible. There are many helpful resources online where you can resize your images before you upload them. What’s most important is that you refrain from using huge image sizes. They may look nice, but they will drastically slow your down.
Your home page is where your visitors will spend most of their time, so keep its design to a minimum to speed up its loading time and make it visually comprehensive. Simple changes you can make are:
- Have no more than five posts on the page
- Show excerpts instead of the entire post
- Remove sharing widgets and keep them only with your posts
- Deactivate any widgets you don’t need
Finally, optimize your database to keep it from becoming overcrowded. Clean it by disabling or limiting post revisions, deleting old revisions, and staying under WordPress’s 100-page limitation. A plugin like WP-Optimize can do this automatically for you.
Choose a Reliable Web Host
Choosing the right web host may be the number one thing you can do to speed up your site. Each company has its own speed and performance, but the faster ones with fewer down times can speed up your site by more than 50%.
You need to do some research to find hosting that works for you, but remember the old saying “you get what you pay for.” For most blog owners, a cheaper shared host might work, although the server may be frequently overcrowded and slow down your site during high traffic periods. But, if your site receives more than 50,000 visitors a month, choose a dedicated cloud VPS or a managed WordPress host. It’s worth the investment.
Choose a host that’s located near your audience so the travel time between the server to your customer is much shorter. And, make sure they have excellent support in case something goes wrong. You don’t want your site down for long periods of time while you keep trying to contact someone for help.
Choose a Content Delivery Network
Though more popular with larger websites, all websites big and small can improve their load times by implementing a content delivery network, or CDN.
If you’re going to implement a CDN, be sure that all your files are loaded into the network, even the little ones. By loading all your files on the CDN, you create a single connection and speed up your processing time.
Use a Caching Plugin
Plugins are an important part of any website, but having a caching plugin is necessary. They improve your site’s speed by storing your last-known pages and posts as static files, which reduces the processing time on your server because WordPress isn’t forced to generate new ones. The processing time can be so quick it can cut the loading time in half.
Begin by caching your plugins and browser. There are a few excellent caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache to help with your other plugins.
For your browser, add expire headers. They tell your browser either to request a certain file from the server or to get it from the browser’s cache, which ends up reducing the number of HTTP requests.
For more advanced users, you can speed up your site on the server side by setting up your site to pre-fetch your domain, fonts, and analytics. You can also remove query strings from your static resources to cut down on CDN and proxy cache issues.
If you’re unsure about the current speed of your site and whether it’s impacting your bounce rate, pay attention to your Google Analytics. Plugins like Monster Insights can easily be installed on your site to help you keep track of how your sites performing. You can get Google Analytics alerts that inform you if your site speed is poor.
Choose a Well-Coded Framework/Theme
Having a beautiful or slick theme is nice, but some developers add extra features just to generate more sales, and all those extra features and extra coding slow down your site. So, the focus should be more on finding the right developers, not the theme.
Choose a theme that has only the features you want and nothing you don’t. You can find lightweight, quality free themes like Twenty Fifteen in the WordPress directory, or you can choose from independent, reputable developers like Genesis and Thesis.
Delete Unused Plugins
Too often, there are too many plugins running on websites, most of which are unnecessary. This creates a heavy burden on the web server and slows your site down, sometimes as much as 86%.
Keep the number of plugins installed on your site to minimum and delete the ones you don’t need. But first, you may want to run a plugin performance test to find your plugins’ effect on load times and then decide if you want to delete them. There are several free and low-cost plugins such as P3 that can do this for you.
Lazy Load Your Images
Lazy loading your images is where the images above the fold display but the other images don’t display until your visitor scrolls down the page. You can lazy load both images and video as well as your commenting system with the use of some free plugins like BJ Lazy Load.
Lazy loading speeds up your site and saves you a lot of bandwidth because there is less data loading, which is especially helpful if your visitor doesn’t scroll all the way down the page.
You have many options to help make your website load faster so your visitor has a more enjoyable experience. Take the time to clean up your code and plugins, optimize your database, implement a CDN, and compress your images as well as checking on the quality of your hosting service. If you haven’t created your website yet, keep these suggestions in mind after you take a look at this quick WP tutorial.
Taken all together, with a few tweaks your site will work lightspeeds faster and your conversion rate will skyrocket.