People nowadays expect rapidness everywhere. Especially when they seek out info they need in the digital space. Is your website delivering what they want? Or are you letting your user experience and satisfaction suffer? And as a consequence, are you allowing your website to dip in search engine rankings and revenue?
If you don’t spend diligent work on your site optimization, it will slow down over time. But there are easy and actionable steps you can take. Boost your WordPress performance – present yourself as an authority that delivers user satisfaction and ranks high.
That’s why we scooped up the best advice for improving the speed of your WordPress website in 2022. Learn why you’re missing out if you’re not working on site speed, and what are the exact steps to take to grow.
Why Is WordPress Site Speed Important?
Our attention spans are changing at increasing rates. A study, conducted by a team of European scientists from Technische Universität Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, University College Cork, and DTU, concluded that our collective attention span is now being shaped by our digital environment.
Ads, 24/7 news cycles, and social media are all fighting for our attention. As a result, our attention spans are decreasing as it’s becoming difficult to sustain attention.
How should website owners adapt to these changes?
If you own a website, you need to keep in mind that you have very little time to hook your visitor when they visit your website. In 2017, Google released stats that go in line with this information, finding that the chances of a user bouncing off a website jump by a startling 32% as page load time increases from 1 to just 3 seconds.
So if you are a WordPress website owner who wants more traffic, consumers, and revenue, you need to work hard to boost WordPress performance.
Why should you take actionable steps to improve WordPress website performance? Well, empathy, for one. We’re sure you know the sudden onslaught of frustration and annoyance you get when you’re dealing with a slower website. And what do we call frustration in digital marketing? Poor user experience.
So, one of the main downsides of slow sites is a poor experience for website visitors, but there are other factors to look out for, such as:
- Poor SEO rankings: Google is not kind to WordPress websites with slow load times. Site speed is one of the main ranking factors for Google, both mobile- and desktop-wise. And the more competitive your website’s niche is, the harder it is to rank high with lagging websites.
- Lower conversion rates – Now there’s a three-word horror story for any marketer. Slower load times, naturally, lead to poor conversion numbers. A mere 100-millisecond delay will cause conversion rates to plunge by 7 percent. Conversely, just a 100-millisecond improvement was shown to increase shoppers’ spending by 10 percent and up!
First Things First: Test the Speed of Your Website
If you are ready to make some changes to the speed of your website, it’s good to know where you’re at. So, a speed test of your website’s current performance is in order.
Some site owners just assume that they have fast loading times because they put in so much time working on their website. But what they actually may have is a lot of cached files lurking around that are causing faster loading times for them than for an average new site visitor.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you get a good idea of where you are at, website performance-wise. You can start with Google’s tool for checking website speed. Just copy-paste your URL, and Google will give you detailed information along with two grades of overall speed performance – for your mobile and desktop site versions.
IsitWP offers a great free website test tool for WordPress along with information on what you can do to boost your page load time. Two other simple ways to get a good grip of your WordPress website performance are through GTMetrix and Pingdom.
Bear in mind that the loading speed can change from page to page, depending on:
- The size of a page
- The request volume it creates
- Whether it’s cached or not
- The sort of content it hosts (static or dynamic)
But what exactly slows down your WordPress website performance?
What Causes Your WordPress Website to Lag During Loading?
Your website performance results are all in vain if you can’t get past the technical jargon and understand what it is exactly that you need to fix. The key to boosting WordPress performance is knowing what is dragging your loading time down.
Here are the most frequent reasons for a slow WordPress website:
- Web hosting: A mismanaged and misconfigured web hosting server leads to slower load times.
- WordPress Configuration: A website needs to serve cached pages so as not to overload the server. Don’t risk a site with reduced load times, or worse, a website crash.
- Page size: As we have mentioned, a page’s size has a significant impact on overall website performance. Look out for images that aren’t optimized for the web since they are often the culprit of larger page sizes.
Malfunctioning plugins: A badly-coded plugin won’t serve you at all. Such a plugin can anchor down website speed.
10 Best Tips to Boost Your WordPress Performance in 2022
You can implement a host of helpful practices to boost WordPress performance. Below we mapped out 10 different things you can do to reduce loading speeds, and that will help you answer the question: “How do I increase WordPress speed?“
1. Choose a Reliable WordPress Host
We’ve already said that misconfigured web hosting can be a death sentence for your website. To avoid such a scenario, invest in a high-quality host. Preferably, pick a managed host, especially if you are making your choice on performance alone.
One of the most reliable managed WordPress hosts found on the web is WP engine. It provides security and high performance to countless websites worldwide. Even if you pick another managed WordPress hosting solution, you will still get the combination of shared hosting and bonus resources and features. The bottom line is that you won’t have to deal with the technical side of hosting, and your website’s backend performance will get much better.
The other type of hosting is shared hosting. While it has its upsides, it can easily slow down your website. That is because it comes down to you having to share server resources with the host’s other clients. So you can expect slower website performance during peak traffic times
2. Make Use of Page Caching
The simple move of activating caching can cut your load times in half, even if you’ve picked a cheaper option for shared hosting.
In ordinary cases, the WordPress website server has to “build” each page every time you have a visitor on your website. That action includes PHP execution and querying your website’s database to obtain the content of the page. After that, the visitor gets the finished HTML on their browser.
There are a few downsides to this. Individual visits take a longer time. And since it uses more resources for every visit – your website will lag even more over high-traffic periods.
That is where page caching steps in to save the day. It obliterates this issue by storing the page’s finished HTML product in a cache. It makes a copy of the page after it loads the first time. So when someone visits your page, the server can simply deliver the stored HTML without all the hassle of “building” the page again.
3. Don’t Forget About Browser Caching
With cached static content, the user enters your website another time, their browser will load those assets from their local cache. Since they won’t be uploading from your server, your speed-up load times will improve.
There are two ways to handle browser caching:
- Expires headers
Both are excellent methods to limit how long particular types of files will be stored on the visitor’s browser. You can use both or use just cache-control since it is more versatile and newer. If you choose to use both – great, but just set their storage lengths to match. For example, you can set that PNG images are stored on browsers for 30 days before getting redownloaded.
You can add both cache-control and expires headers in these two ways:
- Via code – You can edit your website’s .htaccess file (if using Apache) or Nginx config file (if using Nginx).
- Via plugin – when it comes to WordPress performance caching plugins that already include easy ways to incorporate browser caching, look for WP Rocket.
To check which of your website files are cached and which are not, you can use this free browser caching checker tool.
4. Stay Up to Date with Core, Themes, Plugins
We’re all guilty of ignoring update notifications here and there, but this procrastinating action can be a culprit of reduced WordPress load times.
Make sure you are updating the WordPress core, themes, and plugins on a steady basis. Here’s how that helps:
- You get to be up-to-date with new and useful features
- Overall website performance goes up due to bug fixes
- Your site’s security will be less vulnerable due to patched-up security issues
5. Pick a High-Quality Theme
Speaking of themes, they do have a significant effect on your website’s performance.
Instead of picking a flashy theme that’s hard to load due to the volume of features, you should go for a theme created by quality sources. And the adage of ‘quality over quantity’ stands once more – when picking out a theme, go for a minimalistic design that has just the features you need. If you happen to need some more functions down the road – you can always install plugins.
6. Get Rid of Plugins You Don’t Use
Continuing our thought mentioned above – don’t go overboard with features you don’t need, including plugins.
The more plugins you have installed on your website, the slower your website will be. So, start by going through them one by one and deactivating them to spot which one of the plugins may be causing a substantially larger slowdown.
If you spot such a plugin, but its role is necessary for your website, try to find a lightweight alternative.
7. Get Yourself a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
People in different parts of the world can experience different loading times on your website. That is because the location of your main web hosting server impacts website speed. What can you do about this?
Here’s a way to boost your global website loading times – use a CDN (content delivery network). What it does is cache your static content on a vast network of “edge” servers scattered around the globe.
Thanks to CDNs, when someone visits your website, they don’t have to download such content from the main server. Rather, they can download it from the closest “edge” spot. The file downloading times and site loading times will shorten along with the physical distance.
Some good CDNs for WordPress users include KeyCDN and Cloudflare. You probably won’t even have to rack your brain a lot on this subject, because lots of managed WordPress hosts already offer in-package CDN services.
If you do wish to use one of the recommended CDNs for WordPress, here is how you set up a CDN:
- Sign up on the CDN service
- Add the CDN to your website
- Install a plugin that will allow you to configure your WordPress website accordingly. CDN Enabler is one of the plugins that will let you download static content from the CDN.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that Cloudflare is one of the rare CDNs that doesn’t let you set up the CDN yourself – it does it automatically.
8. Optimize All of Your Images
Your pages may be unnecessarily large and take up loads of space. One of the culprits? Unoptimized images. Did you know that images make up around half of a site’s file size? So make an effort to do some image optimization by reducing file sizes while not reducing their quality.
TinyPNG is a staple web-based tool for such action. It allows you to optimize images before adding them to your WordPress website.
If you don’t want to bother with image optimization much (although TinyPNG makes the process seamless), then consider the WP Smush plugin. It goes a step further with image optimization since it automatically compresses images you add to your website.
9. Limit Posts on the Blog Feed
Do you have a high-traffic blog? Then it’s especially vital to have your homepage load fast. You can experience unnecessary slowdowns if you have 50 blog thumbnails struggling to load simultaneously. That is why you should enlist the help of pagination.
Pagination is what users see when they scroll to the end of the blog page. It can either be in the form of numbers, or in the form of the words “next page” and “previous page”. In short, it is what lets you navigate to other blog post pages. Most WordPress themes already come with custom pagination and limit the number of blog posts displayed on the screen.
10. Restrict the Number of Post Revisions
Post revisions can be great. They save a copy of your post each time you edit it. While being able to revert to previous versions is excellent, it can substantially increase database size.
That is partially because some plugins have to go through all of your post revisions to execute a command, causing lagged site-loading times.
To combat this possible annoyance, you’ll need to do a bit of coding. Open your wp-config.php file and add this bit of code:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 4 );
That will limit the number of revisions you’ll keep, and you can customize the code to let WordPress know how many revisions you want to save.
Now, On to You
You don’t have to be a tech wiz to optimize your WordPress website performance. Just don’t forget to begin your site optimization journey by testing out your website speed, and the actionable steps we gathered above will hopefully help you improve website loading times.
So feel free to implement some, or all, of the tips above. The good thing about them is that they can hardly do any harm if you don’t see some significant results. That just means that you can strive for more and that you need some additional research and tweaking. Don’t we all?