Are you asking yourself, “How can I make my WordPress site load faster?”
If not, you should be!
It’s hard to overstate the importance of loading time for websites today. Internet users in 2017 aren’t willing to wait more than a few seconds for a site to load, so a small delay could mean a big loss in conversions.
Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to make your site hit the gas.
1. Move your site to a dedicated server
Your hosting service plays a bit role in how fast your site loads.
While a shared hosting service might be good enough most of the time, the server’s resources are still split between many customers. If one site on your network gets a lot of traffic, it will slow down the entire server, and your site along with it.
Using a dedicated server ensures your site will load rapidly and consistently. This hosting plan will cost more but it might be worth it.
2. Use a fast theme
Beauty isn’t everything. When choosing a theme, go for one that’s fast and lightweight, with clean code.
How can you tell this? In general, look for a simple theme that provides just the features you need, not bloated with flashy bells and whistles. (Of course, this will require some forward thinking and clarity about your website’s function.)
Read reviews. And if you’re familiar with coding, check the code on a demo page to see if it’s clean.
3. Set up a Content Delivery Network
Geographical location actually has a big effect on loading time. The farther you are from the server that holds the website, the longer it takes to load.
With a CDN, your site will load quickly for your users, wherever they are. It will also speed up your server, since the CDN does so much of the work for it.
Rendering a WordPress page to display to viewers usually requires sending queries back and forth from the database. Caching creates a static version of that page, which can be rendered immediately on browsers.
Caching your website makes it load much faster and reduces load on the server, allowing it to perform well in high traffic. Because fast loading time improves user experience, cached sites will also rank higher on Google.
5. Optimize images
Before you upload an image, optimize it for the web.
WP-SmushIt is a great free plugin that will do this for you, reducing the image size without compromising quality.
You can also optimize them yourself with photo editing software. Images can be either:
- JPEG: Compressed to a significantly smaller size. Some quality is lost. Better for complicated images with a lot of colors.
- PNG: Uncompressed, so higher quality but loads slower. Better for simple images.
6. Trim down your code
Source code files (CSS, HTML, etc.) can build up over time. Minification – removing extra characters and white spaces from code, without altering its function – can give your site a dramatic boost in speed.
7. Remove unused plugins, widgets, and media
Have you collected a bunch of plugins that you’re not even using anymore?
These can slow down your site in a major way. Deactivate any unnecessary plugins, then go to your inactive plugins list and delete the ones you don’t want.
Cut back on excessive widgets too. And while you’re at it, get rid of any unused media by going to Add Media > Media Library > Unattached and deleting any files no longer in use.
8. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks are ways for WordPress sites and users to communicate with each other. However, these functions are often more trouble than they’re worth, and they’re not used so much these days.
Besides sending you a bunch of spammy messages, they drag down page speed. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks in Settings > Discussion by unchecking the “Allow link notifications from other blogs” box.
9. Limit post revisions
Use the Revision Control plugin to limit the number of drafts WordPress stores.
Every time you edit a post, a draft is kept on file forever. Set WordPress to keep only the most recent 2 or 3 versions, and you’ll speed up your site.
10. Keep WordPress update
Last but definitely not least, make sure you’re always working with the most recent version of WordPress. The software is updated frequently, adding new features and fixing security bugs.
Running an updated site isn’t only a matter of faster loading time, though it will certainly give you that. Out-of-date software can leave you exposed to hackers and viruses.
Likewise, keep your themes and plugins up to date for maximum security and better functioning.
There are tons of tricks out there for speeding up a WordPress site. These are just a few that I think are the easiest, simplest fixes that don’t require any particular skill.
The good thing about working to improve loading time is that it forces you to evaluate how exactly your site works, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. It will lead to a site that’s faster, cleaner and stronger.
See something we missed? Found your own great method for speedy sites? Share your ideas in the comments below!