Here are 5 ways to speed up your WordPress site. This can help you improve your site’s performance. As we know, WordPress is a great content management system and out of the box loads fast without any issues. The problems start to appear when you add custom themes, plugins and different types of heavy content (images, videos) that negatively impact the loading of the website.
What do you do in such cases, how can you improve the loading speed of your website?
There are a number of things you can do:
#1 – Deactivate unnecessary plugins.
It’s a common practice to install WordPress plugins for testing purposes and then forget them. As a first step, review all your active plugins and deactivate the ones that are not used. Even if you don’t actively use a plugin, the plugin code/CSS is still loaded and this effects your website speed.
As a second step, go through the plugins you actually use and see if there are ways to do what the plugin does without using the plugin. For example, you may use a plugin to add adsense ads to your web pages but with a few lines of code in your functions.php, you can have the same outcome without having to load the extra coding and logic added by a plugin.
Simple changes like that, although they may seem unimportant, they can help you gain a few seconds in loading time.
#2 – Optimize your images and videos.
In many cases a webpage is slow because of the images. Good quality images and other visual elements are important for SEO and usability so removing them completely is not an option.
What you should do instead is try to minimize their file size without sacrificing their quality. Here are 5 ways to do this:
- Optimize images before uploading them to WordPress.
- Use a plugin to perform certain file size optimizations when images are already loaded to WordPress.
- Upgrade WordPress to the latest version so that you can take advantage of responsive images.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver the images to users over their network. This decreases the size of the page and the number of requests needed to complete a page load from your server.
- Lazy load of images. This is a technique where the browsers load the images in a page or post when they are needed i.e. as users scroll down the page and not all images at once (this is the default behavior). There are a number of plugins that can help you do this without having to make any changes to your website.
As far as videos are concerned, the best way to minimize their impact on loading speed is to upload them to a streaming service i.e. YouTube and then embed them on your website.
By doing it this way, your server is not responsible for streaming the video content but this comes directly from the provider. Also, make sure that you don’t auto play the videos as this is not a good user experience but have the videos started by the user on request.
#3 – Use a caching plugin.
Caching is a mechanism that helps a lot with page speed and is a must for all WordPress websites.
In simple words, when you use caching, WordPress creates static HTML versions of your webpages and shows that to users instead of generating the pages from the beginning every time there is a request for a page.
This makes the process faster, less server resources are required and the user gets a better experience. Of course the whole system is clever enough to understand when there is a change to a page or when not to cache a page so the overall website experience is the same.
#4 – Avoid loading resources directly from other websites in your website header.
Besides having Google analytics code in your website’s header, try not to add any other external resources (unless really necessary) that have to be loaded when the page is loaded.
I see a lot of people adding scripts or code from other websites and this can slow your website down without realizing it. When the page is loaded, your WordPress installation will try to load the resources defined in the header and if the other server fails to respond quickly this will delay the loading of your website.
If necessary to have other scripts or code, add them to the footer or use asynchronous scripts that don’t impact the initial loading of a page.
#5 – Consider changing hosts.
If after you do the above changes, you still notice that your website is slow, then it’s time to consider changing hosts.
Where you host your WordPress website can play a big role in speed and your SEO. Serious bloggers or businesses should use a VPS to host their websites and not shared hosting.
The main difference between the two is that shared hosting is cheaper but your website is hosted on the same server with dozens of other websites sharing the same resources. When you rent your own Virtual Private Server (VPS), your website is hosted on its own IP, on a virtual server that has dedicated resources.
This means that your installation is more secure and any potential problems or flaws in other websites do not negatively impact your website’s performance. It’s more expensive than shared hosting but it is certainly worth it!