Building a WordPress website is easy — even for beginners. After all, your web host usually guides you through the setup process making it simple to get started.
Not to mention, there are tons of WordPress themes and plugins available, all ready to help you with both the design and functionality of your website.
All you have to do with most is install and activate.
However, if you want to improve the user experience, boost your search rankings, and get more page views, you’re going to need to do more than create a cool looking website.
Although WordPress is a stable content management system (CMS) and performs fairly well on its own, there are always things you can do to improve its speed and performance.
Especially after you’ve installed and activated all those themes and plugins you love so much.
That’s why today, we’re going to give you the top 5 ways to increase your WordPress site’s speed so you can start giving people what they want, and getting what you want in return.
1. Monitor Your Site Speed
Before getting started, it’s always a good idea to see where your website stands as far as speed and performance is concerned.
There are many online tools available for checking your site’s speed, including Pingdom, GTmetrix, and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Google PageSpeed Insights automatically analyzes your website for both desktop and mobile speed and optimization.
It also recommends a list of actionable items for you to consider that will help improve your site’s speed and performance.
All you have to do is click on the “Show details” links and Google will help you.
Knowing how fast your site is before you start making changes gives you a good starting point for comparison.
That way, after you’ve optimized your site using these easy techniques, you can re-test your site and see what improvements you’ve made.
It’s also good practice to routinely check your site’s speed and performance as your following grows.
Make sure a newly added plugin, a theme change, or some other error isn’t bringing your WordPress site’s speed down without you knowing it.
2. Keep Your Site Updated
There’s a reason WordPress updates the core so many times throughout the year. And no, it’s not because they’re bored and want to annoy you with updates.
Each WordPress update not only offers you new and improved features but also fixes bugs and security issues found in the current version. The same is true for WordPress plugins and themes.
It’s your job to make sure your WordPress site, plugins, and themes are always updated to the latest versions.
If you don’t, your site becomes vulnerable to security breaches and has a tendency to become slow and unreliable.
The easiest way to check all three – the core, plugins, and themes – is to go to your WordPress dashboard and click Updates.
If everything is up to date, it will look something like this:
If something needs updating, it will look something like this:
You’ll see exactly what needs updating, and have the chance to do it right there.
You’ll also notice the orange notifications in the WordPress menu telling you there are things needing updating if you don’t want to go to Updates.
It’s important you make sure your website is as secure as possible, and running its best, by always updating the WordPress core, plugins, and themes.
3. Use a Content Network Delivery (CDN)
Your web hosting servers can impact your site’s speed tremendously if a site visitor that is located geographically far from that physical server clicks on your website.
That’s because it takes longer to deliver your site’s content to users that are far away from your host’s servers. However, if you use a content network delivery (CDN), this problem is solved.
Using servers spread out across the globe, your CDN service will determine where a site visitor is located geographically and deliver your site’s static content from the server located nearest to them.
This way your site’s content loads as quickly as possible and the user experience is never compromised.
Using a CDN to decrease latency is one of the best ways to improve the user experience, boost your page loading speed, and optimize your website as a whole.
Not to mention, it’s a great way to reduce the strain your server experiences on a daily basis, which is another reason your site may be slow to load.
4. Optimize Your Images
Wanting to add lots of visual content on your website to break up text, grab people’s attention, and display your eCommerce shop’s products is a great idea.
But you should know images slow down WordPress sites a lot.
Because of that, 46% of web performance experts say that image optimization should be your number one focus when it comes to improving your site’s speed and performance.
The easiest way to do this is to use a high-quality WordPress plugin designed to compress images uploaded to your site so their file sizes are smaller, they load faster, and they don’t strain your server.
With over 1 million active installations, no other WordPress image optimization plugin comes close to Smush It.
With Smush It you can do the following:
- Resize images, setting max widths and heights so images are never too large
- Let Smush It servers to do the work, reducing the load on your own server
- Compress all images (getting rid of unnecessary data) without slowing your site down
- Process JPG, GIF and PNG image formats
- Manually smush images or let the plugin do it automatically (just enable the feature and go)
This image optimization plugin makes improving your site’s speed a cinch. It does the work for you, works on a separate server (so your site is never affected), and can be done from your WordPress dashboard.
If you prefer to optimize your images externally, you can use free online tools like TinyPNG and Compressor.io.
5. Limit Post Revisions
You may not know this, but every time you revise a blog post on your website, it gets stored on your WordPress database.
And, as you can imagine, the more post revisions you have, the more room you’re taking up, and the slower your site is going to run.
Not to mention, some plugins on your site may not exclude post revisions when they run database queries.
This means they might unnecessarily search through every post revision on your site before executing the functionality they’re supposed to.
This is a waste of time and can lead to slower loading times.
You can easily limit the number of post revisions that are stored for each blog post by adding this line of code to your wp-config.php file:
<code>define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’ , 5 ) ;</code>
The number you add to the line of code will be how many revisions are saved for each article on your site. And, as you make more revisions, the oldest one will be automatically discarded.
If you don’t want to mess with code on your website, or you just don’t know how to, you can always use a plugin like Revision Control.
No matter how you decide to clean up your site’s post revisions, it’s important you do it to make room on your site’s database.
After all, the more room you make, the less your site has to execute before loading your site’s content to site visitors.
Optimizing your WordPress website, whether you run a hobby blog or a full blown eCommerce shop, is the key to providing people with an exceptional user experience while exploring your website.
Not to mention, your search rankings, conversions, and ability to retain followers and customers rely on how fast you can deliver your site’s content.
Don’t frustrate people that land on your site with slow web pages that take forever to load. Instead, take a little bit of time and implement some of the above-mentioned strategies to optimize your site.
And don’t forget to run a speed test using one of the online speed tools mentioned in tip #1 (and stay consistent with the tool you use!) every time you optimize your site in a new way. That way you can see the progress you’re making.
Trust us, it’ll make a world of difference and you’ll be happy you did it.