Lagging load times can be a recipe for disaster for website owners. We live in a world today where 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 increase your WordPress speed.
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.
What exactly is a fast website speed? Google states any website should load in no more than three seconds. The more content, photos, links and other things you have on your website, the slower the speed will be. If you test your site speed and determine it’s taking longer than three seconds to load, it’s time to take action before you lose out on potential customers.
Additionally, 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.
Testing Your WordPress Speed
A simple solution to improve website and WordPress speed is to work with a reliable WordPress hosting provider. The provider will periodically test your website speed to ensure it’s running smoothly and quickly. They will even take it a step further and fix any issues with lag times without any effort on your part.
But if you’re curious as to what your current website speed is or wish to check it in the future, you can do so easily by using Google PageSpeed Insights or by downloading the WordPress plugin for it. Once it’s downloaded and installed, follow the simple prompts to determine your speed. As with any time you install a new plugin, be sure to do a full backup of your website in case something goes wrong.
What Affects WordPress Website Speed?
There are dozens of factors that could influence your website and WordPress 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.
WordPress 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 Speed
If you’ve determined your website speed is too slow, then there are some tips you can follow to improve website speed almost instantly. Here are some of our favorites:
Keep WordPress 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.
Image optimization is a permanent solution that can be achieved quickly in most cases. The more images you have on your website, the longer your load times will be. The same is true for the size of images you’re displaying. The good news is you can tweak your images without sacrificing their quality. If you’re proficient in GIMP or Photoshop, you may be able to optimize the images on your own.
You could also consider offloading your images to the WordPress content delivery network or compressing the images with a WordPress plugin. These techniques can instantly boost your WordPress speed without sacrificing the overall quality of the site.
Another way 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
As mentioned earlier, 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 operating the most up-to-date version of PHP, since it can drastically affect load times.
Next, install a cache plugin, like W3 Total 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.
Never Sacrifice Security For Speed
Regardless of the strategy you use to improve WordPress speed, you should never sacrifice security to do so. Hackers are always looking for vulnerable websites to attack and the consequences could be harsh for the short-term and long-term outlook of your business. It doesn’t do any good to have a fast website if your business has a reputation of not prioritizing security to protect customers. All it takes is one incident to compromise the security of your customers to lose trust, and that trust may never be regained.
Luckily, when you work with a reputable WordPress hosting provider, you can have both website speed and security prioritized, among other valuable aspects. And if you ever run into any type of trouble with your website, having support available 24/7/365 can give you peace of mind and ensure your site is operational around the clock.
InMotion Hosting offers different levels of WordPress hosting to suit the needs of all website owners. Our managed platform provides enhanced security, automatic updates, optimized speed and overall high-quality site performance. And we are available to assist you 24/7/365 if you have any questions or concerns with any aspect of your website. Whether you have a website that needs some work and could benefit from our services, or if you’re looking to build a brand new website, contact us to ensure your site is fully optimized and to give you peace of mind.