These days, customers expect fast and reliable service on every website they visit. In fact, the average web user will wait no more than three seconds for a page to load before moving on to another site. For comparison, that’s just about how long it takes to have a sip of coffee (which isn’t very long at all).
That’s why performance is one of the most important factors when it comes to the success of your website. Unfortunately, almost all websites slow down over time. And some even start out that way. We know how hard it can be to figure out what’s going on, so we put together a guide on how to speed up your WordPress website.
Now let’s jump right in so you can say goodbye to that slow-moving website!
Why is Website Speed Important?
Let’s start with the basics: why is page speed so important? Are people really going to jump ship if your site isn’t fast enough? Well, yes. And not only are new visitors going to leave but repeat customers may also.
Research shows that 40% of people will abandon your site entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load. To put that into perspective: if 10,000 people visit your site every month, that means that 4,000 of them would leave and never come back.
That’s nearly half of your potential customers, gone. Just consider the long-term effects that might have: less traffic means fewer people talking about you to their friends, not as many word-of-mouth recommendations, and probably fewer established websites linking to your content.
The real kicker? Google uses site speed as a ranking factor in search engine results. And if your site is too slow, you’re not going to show up.
What Affects Website Speed?
There are dozens of factors that could influence your site speed, including:
- Your web hosting plan: Your web hosting company and the type of plan you choose can have a huge impact on the speed at which your site loads. For example, many small business owners choose a shared hosting plan for its affordability and ease – but a shared hosting plan means sharing resources with everyone else on the server. Larger businesses may want to consider a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server to reduce any lags or service interruptions.
- File types and sizes: Generally speaking, the more files that have to load on a page, and the larger they are, the longer it takes. Things like videos, giant graphics, and fillable forms can seriously affect load time.
- Plugins: Plugins are great, but if your site has a lot of old plugins that aren’t optimized or just too many in general, it can seriously affect your site speed.
How to Improve Your WordPress Site Speed
Just as there are dozens of factors that can influence page speed, there are also dozens of things you can do to fix it. Here are some of our favorites:
- Keep Your Website Up-to-date
Each new version of WordPress comes with new features, bug fixes, security patches, and more. They help your website run more efficiently and help prevent it from slowing down – and the same is true for plugins and themes.
- Minimize HTTP Requests
An HTTP request happens anytime a web browser requests something from your website, like an image, stylesheet, or script. The more on-page components you have, the longer this process will take.
To check the number of HTTP requests on your site, you can use Chrome Developer Tools (just visit your site, open the browser menu, and go to More Tools > Developer Tools).
If you find that you have too many, all you have to do is clean up your site. Often, website owners find that they have dozens of files that they no longer need, or they never use. To start, go over your plugins and themes and eliminate anything that you’re not using anymore or that isn’t up-to-date.
- Optimize Images
Images can take up a huge amount of space on your website if they’re not optimized. That’s why it’s crucial for you to make them as small as possible without losing quality.
One of the best ways to go about the process is to use a WordPress plugin like WP Smush or reSmush.it. Both plugins will automatically compress any image that you upload to your site, without any further work on your part.
It’s also worth noting that when you add images to your blog, WordPress gives you several options for image size. You can choose whichever one you feel works best, but go small whenever possible.
- Reduce Server Response Time
Google Page Insights is a useful tool that can tell you (among other things) if you need to reduce your server response time. If you run it and find that your page isn’t up to speed, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re running the latest PHP version, since it can drastically affect load times. Next, install a cache plugin (like WP Rocket or WP Fastest Cache) to clean up your database and check for slow-loading photos and videos. Lastly, make sure your hosting service is providing you with enough server resources to fully support your website/plugin resource consumption.
If you’d like to talk to us about what type of hosting plan you need for your website, our friendly customer service representatives are always ready to help.