More and more business owners and C-level decision makers are turning to WordPress. It’s so much more than the ‘blogging platform’ it was 7 or 8 years ago. WordPress has incredible resources for businesses that need their websites to sell product, generate leads, tell their story and increase their share of voice.
In today’s internet world where countless new websites pop up on a daily basis and competition is fierce, website speed is critical. This CAN be a real strong-suit for WordPress (WP). If you’re a WP website owner, then your page load speed is probably something you think about at least once in awhile – and if not, it should be. As a matter of fact, website speed is one of the biggest influences on the experience your visitors have…and if they’ll buy from you (or ever visit again). In addition, the speed with which your site loads will impact bounce rates, clickthroughs and conversions. Consequently, organic search value is at risk.
If you’re using WordPress-powered site, the likelihood of your website speed diminishing with time is even more probable. This is due to the fact that sites built on the WordPress platform need periodic maintenance in order for everything to run impeccably. With that said, let Search Solutions help your WordPress website by providing you with some simple tips and considerations for speed optimization.
Make sure your core version and your WP plugins are up to date
Keeping your WordPress site and all its plugins updated is one of the most vital things you can do for your website’s speed optimization. Of course, this means making sure that you’re using the latest HTML and PHP versions as well. Just in case, after checking that all these components are up to date, see if your website theme also has the latest version installed. These actions will guarantee you optimal website speed and will ensure that everything is running smoothly. It’s a baseline tactic that needs revisited every few weeks. If you outsource your website maintenance or someone else controls your site, make sure they are doing this for you.
Get rid of plugins you never use
The key to keeping your website in top shape lies in simplicity. In other words, the fewer unnecessary things there are, the better.
In order to put less load on your site, there are plenty of things that you can do. One of the most basic things is removing any unnecessary plugins. You don’t need to stuff your website with tons of plugins to have an outstanding interface. In fact, all these excess features won’t do much for your visitors if they make your website lag. And if older plugins are “off” but still loaded, make sure and delete them.
So, what you can do in this case is prioritize. First, see which plugins you are using regularly and which ones are just there as unnecessary decoration. Make sure to disable those that you never use right away, and leave only the ones that work the best for you. Once you rid your website of all that extra weight that comes with additional plugins, you will be able to see the positive effect on your website performance right away. And again, anything that was “disabled” and isn’t impacting value, go ahead and delete. If you have had a website built for you and there are still unused plugins, contact the dev/company and ask them to clean this up right away.
Optimize heavy images
Another critical optimization for WordPress website speed centers around the size or weight of your images. Your priority should be getting things heavy enough to be “rich” but not so much that it weighs down your site. It’s best to do this BEFORE loading images, but if you don’t, one of the best plugins around is Smush (which you can learn more about here). Just so it doesn’t spoil your fun, the paid version is much, much better. Most professional companies that manage websites will already have a license. Otherwise, expect to shell out $50 a month (but it’s worth it).
Consider image and video hosting
When it comes to hosting images, the best solution is to host them directly on your website. Video is a different story. Is it NECESSARY to host the video locally on your site? Or will calling-in a Youtube or Vimeo video work just as well? Chances are the latter is just fine, and can really have an impact on performance. (Video snippets used in parallax video headers or as animations don’t count – we are talking long form video living on your WordPress website here).
Use a good cache plugin
Your favorite users are probably return users. So why not help them get the fastest experience possible? WordPress has plenty of options. WP Rocket, W3 Total cache and WP Super Cache all top our list. What a caching plugin does is create a static version of your web page that it delivers to your visitors. It minimizes the amount of data that is transmitted between the visitor’s browser, the WordPress database and the web server, which translates into faster loading times. Simple enough right? (Spoiler alert – you will need to pay for this if your web management company doesn’t already have a license).
National or global traffic? Harness the power of the CDN
Last but certainly not least, if your website gets legitimate traffic from across the country (or the globe), you’ll benefit from a good CDN plugin. Our favorite is Clouldflare (it works really well in tandem with the caching plugs noted above). It does in deed have a single site free option (limited features, but a good start).
When a user requests your website, all static resources are served through CDN servers. This reduces the load on your hosting server and makes it faster and more efficient.
Static content is served through a network of servers located in different geographical locations around the globe. Each user request is handled by a server closest to the user’s location. This reduces the page load speed, and your website becomes noticeably faster for all users. If your site is hosted in Boston, but a user in San Fran wants to visit, the data has to travel across the country – and back – otherwise. It can take more than a second just to travel one way. Image decreasing a users load time by a full two seconds just by having this feature in place!
In closing, this all has a tremendous impact on the user experience (and on your SEO value). Other things like good hosting and minimized excessive code matter alsoIf you are looking for an outsourced digital marketing partner to help with your WordPress website builds, speed optimization and maintenance, please contact us today!