Guide to Boosting WordPress Speed and Performance

In a world whose culture lacks patience, website load speeds are more important now than ever before.
People want the information they are searching for, not in ten seconds after clicking a link, but instantly.
WordPress is a great platform whose reputation is blemished by inconsistent speeds, which is why many turn to solutions that boost WordPress speed.

WordPress speed

Without precautionary measures, a website and its performance may dwindle as slow load speeds mean poor visitor experiences, which consequently, will lead to lower placements within search engines.

WP rocket

Nothing makes me leap to the back button quicker than a slow-to-load website and likely speak for us all in saying so. 
Performance greatly impacts visitor experiences but also rankings and conversion rates too and there is little room for error when it comes to the speed of your website and the patience of visitors. 
Performance greatly influences visitor experiences but also rankings and conversions too. 
According to Google, websites should load in two seconds or less, any longer, and traffic will be lost.  
Load speeds are important too as it is now a metric used by Google to determine the quality of a site and its placement within search results.  Essentially, the quicker a site loads, the greater its odds of page-one rankings become.  It is evident that website performance can either help or harm a website and in more ways than one.
Are you using a WordPress-based site and want to know how to make it faster?
 If so, you are not alone, it is a matter frequented by business owners, just like you, in search of the ways digital-growth professionals excel sites to Google-loving perfection.
WordPress is a convenient solution if launching a website though is not pre-optimized for speed. 
Themes, PHP files, and plugins consume valuable server resources that impact site loading speeds. 
Too many things running at the same time can drain resources, slow the site, and thwart off traffic and conversions. 
Though maintain hope and your vision for growth as with this guide and the techniques shared within it, light remains at the end of the tunnel as we review the steps involved in speeding up WordPress sites.

The Importance of Speeding Up Your WordPress Site

Speed up WordPress!

There are many reasons to optimize your website for speed, including:

  • Search Engines award fast-loading sites with higher rankings, so if wanting to increase your SERP position, improving the loading speed of your site should be atop your priority list.
  • Websites taking longer than two seconds to load lose forty-seven percent of their traffic; this means you can retain nearly half your visitors by making your website load more quickly.
  • Online consumers are impatient and expect web pages to load quickly, so if you run an e-commerce store on WordPress be sure to closely follow the steps below to become more profitable.
Knowing how vital page-load speeds are to the overall health of a site, the first step is for you to test the speed of your website to ensure it loads within the two-second window of opportunity.

Website Speed Matters – Testing WordPress Performance

When a person lands on your site you have only a few seconds to capture their interest and attention. 
According to the search team at Google, sites taking over two seconds to load reduce visitor satisfaction by 3.8% and clicks by 4.3% while raising the lost revenue per visitor by 4.3%.
If your site loads slowly, most people will be gone before you even have the chance to convert them, let us help you avoid that possibility, read on to learn how to test the speed of your WordPress site.

Choose a Faster Host

choose a faster host

One major factor influencing speed and performance is the type of hosting the website uses. 
At first, shared hosting may seem like a bargain as these plans typically offer unlimited bandwidth, page views, emails, and storage space. 
These are often enticing incentives but come at the cost of slow load speeds and frequent down peak traffic hours. 
Plus, many shared hosting plans do no uphold their 99% up-time guarantee promise which means sites on such hosting, at times, are inaccessible, which means the site is losing money.
Shared hosting delivers poorer performance as server space and bandwidth is divided between all the websites on that server, which bottlenecks website performance.  Not only that but on shared hosting, you never know how many resources are used by other sites nor how well the server is optimized.
Fortunately, with the passage of time, the hosting market evolved, in terms of technology and pricing. 
Many affordable yet speedy-quick hosts exist, though the most popular include:
Another good option is WPX Hosting where users can launch a site in just a few minutes, and because it is a managed solution, there is no need to install WordPress yourself.  Combined with speedy servers, a support team who is among the best in the industry, and an up-time guarantee promise they never fail to uphold, the choice when wanting a faster site and stellar service could not be easier to make.

Use a Lightweight Theme

Lightweight WP themes

Themes with dynamic elements, such as social icons, widgets, and sliders, are great for eye appeal though hurt performance.
Remember, the more elements the bigger page sizes are, and as a result, the slower they will load. 
As such, using lightweight themes, such as GeneratePress, Astra, and Schema, are ideal for making sites and content easier to load.
For a fast, feature-rich site, pick a theme using optimized frameworks, such as Foundation or Bootstrap.

Reduce Image Sizes

WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins

Images greatly contribute to the size of a webpage.  
Image optimization is essential to improving performance and load times, the goal here is to reduce the size of images without sacrificing their quality.
You can reduce image sizes using Photoshop or Chrome PageSpeed Insights though doing so manually is time-consuming, but fortunately, solutions speeding this process up are available.
Plugins exist for all tasks, including image optimization, here are ones worth mentioning:

Installing one of these WordPress plugins will reduce the size of images, speed up your site, and make pages quicker to load, a win-win-win solution.

Minify CSS and JS Files

minify assets

If you process your website through the Google PageSpeed Insights tool you may be told the size of your JS and CSS files are too large and that they should be reduced. 
If so, you should reduce their sizes as doing so will reduce the amount of time it takes for your website to load.
With a general understanding of WordPress themes, you can review some guides provided by Google to reduce the size of these files manually, though this approach consumes time that as a business owner you cannot expend. 
Fortunately, as is the case with image optimization, plugins for file-size reduction exist too with the most popular option being Autoptimize
Autoptimize not only optimizes CSS and JS files but HTML too, install it if wanting to improve the overall performance of your site, it is easy to install, quick to optimize, and makes pages substantially quicker.

Use Caching Plugins

fast cache

Caching plugins significantly improve website performance.
One of the most popular options is W3 Total Cache as it makes adding caching rules to website elements a breeze. 
Combining such a plug-in with more advanced caching solutions, such as Varnish, will increase loading speeds even more. 
If you need to increase your site speed and the user experience of visitors, enabling a caching plug-in is a great way to achieve both.

Use a CDN

WordPress CDN

People visiting your website come from all parts of the world. 
Needless to say, the speed at which sites load vary depending on the location from which it is accessed. 
If someone from Europe visits a site hosted on a U.S. server, pages will load slower for them than for a person from North America. 
Content Delivery Networks help to improve loading speeds for visitors from all parts of the world.
The main function of a CDN is to serve web pages from a location closest to the visitor, which means the site will load quicker, retain more traffic, and generate additional conversions.
There are many CDNs to choose from though the most popular options are Cloudflare and MaxCDN.

Enable GZIP Compression

compress your assets with gzip

Similar to how file compression saves disk space on local computers, GZIP compression is the web equivalent. 
This technique reduces bandwidth usage and the time it takes for a website to be accessed. 
GZIP helps by compressing files, and once done, will be unpacked by browsers before loading to visitors, which reduces bandwidth usage, considerably too.
To achieve this, use a plug-in that supports GZIP compression, such as PageSpeed Ninja, or add the code below to your .htaccess file.

.htaccess file

Cleaning WordPress Database

Removing unneeded data from your database keeps its size and the size of backups to a minimum. 
Deleting spam comments, fake users, unused plugins, and outdated drafts that will never be published also helps to reduce the size of your database while enhancing the speed and overall performance of your website.

Deactivate or Uninstall Unused Plugins

Deactivate WordPress plugins

Keeping unused plugins installed on your site adds mountainous troves of clutter to your web files. 
Plus, they make backups larger than they need to be while consuming more resources from the server.
In the interest of your site and its ability to load swiftly, remove unused plugins and search for alternate, third-party solutions that automate and schedule tasks.
While many options exist, Zapier and IFTTT are dev-favorite solutions for automating tasks, and by using one, will reduce the burden on your site and the resources it consumes from the server.

Minimize External Scripts

External scripts add significant data to web pages that result in reduced load speeds.
As such, use as few scripts as possible to avoid limiting site performance. 
Only use essential scripts, such as tracking tools (Google Analytics) or commenting systems (Disqus).

Disable Trackbacks and Pingbacks

disable trackbacks and pingbacks

Trackbacks and pingbacks are components of WordPress that alert you when a page or post is linked to from external sources. 
It may sound useful, though options, such as Google Webmaster Tools and AHREFS, offer the same features without needing to run on your site.
Keeping trackbacks and pingbacks activated causes unnecessary strain on server resources. 
The reason being, when someone links to your site, it runs requests on the site that results in it slowing down.  Plus, these are widely abused by hackers during DDoS attacks, so by disabling them, you not only speed up your site but fortify its security and shield it from attacks too.
You can disable these features by navigating to WP Admin → Settings → Discussions.
Once there, deselect the ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs’ option, and your site’s performance will marginally improve and reduce resource consumption.

Final Thoughts

Lessen your loading times

The biggest advantage of lower load times is that it improves the user experience, which in turn brings improved rankings, more traffic, and increased conversions.
Whether coming from a desktop or mobile phone, improving site performance allows users to access your site more quickly no matter the device they use to access it.
We appreciate you reading this Dice Media Group guide and value your visit here, it is our hope that you can now take the steps needed to improve the performance and conversions your site generates.
As a diverse brand focused on digital-growth strategies and development, we also extend optimization services and complimentary consultations to afford you the opportunity to excel in a digital landscape that is more competitive now than ever before.
Whether running an e-commerce store on WordPress that needs to be optimized or a site you want ranking higher in Google, we are here to make that happen and to turn your potential into possibility.  
With the use of strategic solutions to overcome complex growth challenges, our team, which is made up of developers and SEO specialists having decades of combined experience, can help you to succeed with a site purposed to achieve one thing: results.
Contact us today, unleash your potential, and assume command of your success, your only regret will be not finding our solutions sooner than you did.