The Top 5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your WordPress Site Speed

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If you’re trying to improve the performance of your WordPress website, good for you; Site speed is extremely important not only because speed is a ranking factor, but also because a fast website is much more user-friendly.

However, knowing the importance of your website’s loading time does not make it easy to implement – especially since we all know how demanding WordPress can be – especially if you have installed a fancy theme with various plugins for improve functionality.

Of course, you don’t want to delete your plugins because you want all that functionality, and you certainly don’t want to go back to a basic or lightweight theme just to improve website performance – that would be counterproductive.

How can I improve the performance of my website?

There are, of course, many ways to improve your website load times and in this article, I’m going to outline the top 5 methods.

Method 1: Get a Decent Hosting Provider

You just can’t escape this one and in fact it’s the most common problem I’ve seen from personal experience; when someone is struggling with website performance and they may have tried changing their theme, installing a performance plugin, or maybe optimizing all of their images. But alas, nothing seems to help.

In these cases, it’s almost always the web host that holds the website. If you’re with a low-cost hosting provider, they’re probably overloading their servers, and as a result, the hardware your website is hosted on simply doesn’t have the capabilities to handle your visitor demands.

The bottom line is this; if the web server is slow, no optimization will change that. So if you want to give yourself the best foundation for site performance, get a fast and reliable hosting provider. Ideally, you should search Managed WordPress hosting which will usually give you a hosting account specifically optimized for WordPress along with guaranteed resources and limited web servers in terms of the number of accounts they hold.

Method 2: Be reasonable with your theme and plugins

Although theme and plugins are important in terms of user experience, they are still a big consideration. In an ideal world, you need a fast and lightweight theme that you can customize to your needs without sacrificing speed. Sometimes that’s not possible and you might be using a theme that comes with a user-friendly front-end editor, for example, which requires a bit more in terms of server resources. That’s fine too, but when considering which theme to use, you should always read reviews and make sure performance is one of your main considerations.

When it comes to plugins, you should remove all non-required plugins from your WordPress installation and when installing a plugin think carefully if it is necessary to have or if you can achieve the desired result in another way. The reason is simple; every plugin you install will have some sort of impact on site performance, so keeping your plugins as lightweight as possible will greatly help performance.

Method 3: Optimize your images

This is a very important question, as images (and other rich media) can usually have a serious impact on site performance. If you’re just grabbing images from your camera or a media website, they’ll usually be very large – over 5MB in many cases. This can have a serious performance impact, not only because it takes the visitor a long time to download each image, but also because the web server will often be forced to resize each image on the fly, if not properly dimensioned.

Some specific things you can do to prevent images from hurting performance are:

  1. Resize your images to the actual size you want them displayed on your website – you can use Adobe Photoshop for this, or Gimp (a free alternative).
  2. Reduce the quality of your images – again this can be done using any photo editing program – you can significantly reduce the “image quality” with no impact seen in the picture. What it will do however is reduce the size of the image considerably.
  3. Use a web-friendly format for your images, such as PNG or ideally Webp, which will further reduce the size of your images.
  4. Use an image optimization plugin such as ewww image optimizer to automatically optimize your images.

Method 4: Use a performance plugin

A performance plugin will take a lot of the burden off you when it comes to optimizing website performance. However, this was deliberately added lower in the list because it’s important not to just offload all the work to one plugin. You’ll have a much better understanding of site performance if you do some of the performance improvement work yourself. Moreover, if you combine manual optimization and automatic optimization, you will also get much better results.

Two of the best plugins on the market today, for speed optimization, are Litespeed and WP Rocket. Litespeed will usually be provided by your web host (Again, that’s the hallmark of a solid web host) and in case you don’t have that option, WP Rocket is a plugin that you can install directly on your WordPress site . Both options come with some pretty solid settings out of the box and will have a big impact on your site’s performance.

You can also go under the hood of these plugins to make other changes and the end result will be a super-fast website.

Method 5: Use a CDN

Finally, the use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can also have a significant impact on performance. This is especially true if you have a large visitor base and receive traffic from different countries.

A content delivery network sets up a cache of your assets (images, CSS files, Javascript files, etc.) on web servers strategically placed around the world. The idea being that where your visitors are coming from, the cache server closest to them will be used to serve that content – providing faster load times while spreading requests across multiple servers.

There are many different CDN providers – cloudflare being one of the best known – and it’s just one more thing you can do to improve the end-user experience by making your website ultra- fast.

If you are implementing some or all of these methods to improve your site speed, just be sure to do some speed tests before and after making the changes – you can use GTMetrix or any other performance reporting tool for this. Once you are done implementing these improvements, if your website loads faster, be sure to come back here and let us know your results.

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