WordPress Speed Optimization: The 6 Best Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

WordPress Speed Optimization: The 6 Best Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

If you want more traffic from search engines, the writing is on the wall: Speed has been a factor for ranking for your website for several years, and this is why WordPress speed optimization is something that every website running on WordPress needs to be doing on a regular basis. By speeding up our site, we are doing ourselves a big favor. This is the way that Google sees it, in their own words:

When real users have a slow experience on mobile, they’re much less likely to find what they are looking for or purchase from you in the future. For many sites this equates to a huge missed opportunity, especially when more than half of visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes over 3 seconds to load.

Google

If your website can’t load that fast in mobile, think of how slow it must be on a desktop!

The above quote was pulled from 2018, but as we get more connected and Internet speeds increase, so do our expectations: 47% of customers now expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds. 

There should now be no denying the fact that you need to monitor website speeds and optimize them for better rankings. Here, we will discuss several methods of WordPress speed optimization, beginning with the best way to monitor your website speed and then optimize it.

Further Reading: 59 SEO Statistics You Need To See To Believe

How to Measure Website Speed?

Several tools can help you measure your website speed. However, most of them use Google’s Lighthouse at its core. It is an open-source tool that is free to use and provides insight into website performance. Let’s discuss some of the essential metrics that Lighthouse helps monitor WordPress speed optimizations.

First, you need to download the chrome extension for Lighthouse and install it to measure different metrics, or you can simply open the official site and run an audit. As you can see below, we have run an audit to understand other metrics related to website performance. 

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Let’s look into each one of these 6 website speed metrics in more depth.

First Contentful Paint(FCP)

The First Contentful Paint helps measure a web page’s time to load a part of content. It starts measuring the time from the first loading of the page to the point where a part of the content loads. Here content form can be text, images, <svg> elements, <canvas> elements, etc. 

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Speed Index

Speed index helps measure how quickly your content is displayed on the screen during the page load. For example, Lighthouse will capture a video while your web page is loading in the browser and calculate the progression of visual framers per second. 

Based on this, a score is provided for the website known as the speed index score. You need to achieve the ideal speed index score of 0-3.4 seconds.

Large Contentful Paint(LCP)

It is a metric that helps measure a web page’s time to load larger content. For a better user experience, you will need to have an LCP score of 205 seconds or less.

Time to Interactive 

This metric allows you to track how long your website takes to become interactive. Your web page can be interactive when,

  • The web page displays all the content measured through FCP, LCP, and others.
  • Event handlers get registered for all the visual elements
  • Your web page needs to respond to the user’s interaction within 50 milliseconds

Time Blocking Time(TBT)

TBT measures the time difference between FCP and TTI. In layman’s terms, it is another metric that helps measure how non-interactive your web page is to the user’s action. 

Cumulative Layout Shift(CLS)

A CLS score helps measure the error in layout shifts during user interaction. For example, a user is trying to browse through a product page and suddenly gets checked out to the payment page due to an unintentional click. 

This incident occurs due to rapid layout shifts or frame rendering, measured through CLS. For a better user experience, you will need a CLS score of 0.1 or less. 

Now that we know the critical elements of your web page to monitor and track for WordPress speed optimizations, let’s discuss how to optimize them. 

Further Reading: 10 Top Tips to Increase Your Blog Post SEO

Top 6 Ways to Optimize Your WordPress Site for Speed

#1. Choose a Fast Web Host

Hosting services determine your website loading speeds due to resource allocations and server-based performance. So, it’s essential to have reliable hosting services for your websites. For example, if you use a shared hosting service for a website with massive traffic, there is no control over how much others operate on the shared host server. 

So, you can end up suffering slower loading speeds due to higher server resources used by others on the same network. While with a dedicated server, you can avoid such issues, and that is where you need a hosting service that can offer such resources. However, a shared hosting service can be an excellent choice for a small blog. 

Several vendors promise you unlimited resources and higher uptime for shared hosting services, but you need to analyze your website’s user traffic and plan your hosting needs accordingly. 

Hosting resources need to be intensive for loading the content on your website or handling peak traffic and loading theme-based elements. So, it would help if you optimized your themes well for WordPress speed optimizations.

Recommended Web Host: BigScoots (used and recommended by this website for FAST WordPress hosting)

#2. Use an Optimized-for-Speed WordPress Theme

WordPress offers more than 9,000 free themes and several other paid ones for your website. Now, if you are using them bloated with different design scripts and stylesheets absorbing intensive resources to load, it can slow down your website. So, choosing a lightweight theme without bloated stylesheets can improve website performance.

If your website is subscription-based, or you want to engage better with your audiences through an instant connect strategy, try content wrapping. For example, you can wrap your content and make it visible only for logged-in users, which improves the website’s speed for anonymous readers.

Just create a script with the code given below to wrap content, and as the content to be loaded when a user first loads the website is reduced, there is a clear difference in loading speed. 

add_code( 'signedin', 'ilc_signedin' );
function ilc_signedin( $atts, $content = null ) {
  if( is_user_signed_in() ) return '<p>' . $content . '</p>';
  else return;
}

This can also help you improve FCP and CLP scores for your website. Another way to analyze your website’s speed is by leveraging the Google PageSpeed tool. When you use it, there are insights about your website performance.

Recommended WordPress Theme: Blocksy (used and recommended by this site)

#3. Reduce Javascript & CSS

Insights that you get from Google PageSpeed include the metrics that Google Lighthouse provides and other suggestions. One of these suggestions is to minimize the usage of Javascript. 

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Minimizing the CSS and Javascript files can improve the website’s performance. You can leverage several tools provided by Google’s guidelines for WordPress theme optimizations like, 

  • CSSNano
  • Csso
  • UglifyJS
  • Closure Compiler

Apart from this, you can also integrate the PageSpeed module from Google to improve the website performance. It uses Apache and Nginx servers to optimize your website. You can also use some of the plugins available on WordPress. 

However, minifying the CSS and Javascript files is not the only way to improve your website performance through visual optimizations. You can also minimize the image size for optimal content loading.

#4. Reduce the Size of Your Images

Images are an integral part of your website’s content as it helps in engaging your audiences better. Content marketing efforts can improve lead generation three times more than other strategies. In addition, content marketing efforts can offer higher results if it includes proper images and graphical content. 

So, there is no denying that you can’t just remove images to improve the website’s speed, as they are pretty crucial to your content marketing strategy. But, you can continually optimize these images to reduce the loading speed of the WordPress website. 

Manual optimization of images can take more time, and using tools like PageSpeed or Photoshop is not that practical. So, you can use several tools that help optimize the size of images. 

For example, image compression tools can reduce the size of images. Here, you need to know the size of images that can help achieve WordPress speed optimizations. 

For example, if your stock image is around 850*850 dimensions, browsers may compress it to 420*420 pixels using server resources. Unfortunately, most developers leave the image compression up to browsers which slow down the website. So, you need to know to keep the size of the images a few kilobytes lower than its maximum resolutions. 

Some of the tools that you can use to optimize your images are, 

Website performance boost through image optimization has a more significant impact on SEO. However, when it comes to SEO, there are several factors that you need to consider for website optimization. One of these factors is website security which can also affect the loading speed.

#5. Improve Your Site’s Security

The first question that comes to mind is how website speed is connected to security? Improving the security of your website through measures like SSL certification can help you use HTTP/2 protocol which boosts webpage loading speed. 

HTTP/2 protocols are designed to reduce the HTTP/1 overheads and improve request prioritization for smoother loading of web pages. On the other hand, SSL certification is excellent for your website loading speeds and enables secure communication between the user’s device and browser. 

SSL or Secure Socket Layer leverages encryptions to ensure that the data stays hidden from hackers during the interaction of users with your website. This improves security, web page speed and even enables higher SEO rankings. In addition, it helps in achieving HTTPS-based security, which is one of the ranking factors for search engines like Google. 

So, all you need is to buy an SSL certificate for your website from a reliable CA or Certificate Authority and achieve WordPress speed optimizations. If you are looking to build a personal blog or smaller website, you can also find a hosting service that comes with a pre-installed SSL certificate. 

#6. Install a Caching Plugin

A cache plugin allows you to improve the speed through the reduction of database calls. It creates a local copy of your website in a separate folder which is static and reduces the number of calls made to your web server. So, if a user visits your website for the same kind of request, the plugin loads a cached version which is faster than the original version. 

There are several caching plugins for WordPress that you can leverage for your websites like, 

  • WP Rocket: WP Rocket is undeniably the most efficient caching plugin for WP. A layman-friendly tool, it can be easily setup and helps websites load faster. WP Rocket is used by this website and is highly recommended. Read the full review and details of how WP Rocket helps optimize your WordPress site for speed here: WP Rocket: The Definitive WordPress Caching Plugin Review of Its 11 Main Features
  • WP Super Cache: It is a free cache plugin that you can install and use even in a “simple mode”. This plugin is highly reliable as it is developed by Automatic known for WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Gravatar, and other such platforms.
  • WP Fastest Cache: This is a cache plugin that not only provides higher website speeds but also enables cache preload. It is a process where you don’t need a visitor or user to visit your website before the creation of a cached version of the website. 
  • W3 Total Cache: Not only this plugin is a good cache plugin but it also comes with features for enhanced CDN (Content Delivery Network) integrations. It also enables Opcode cache, database cache, object cache, and browser cache creation of your website. 
  • LiteSpeed Cache: This is a supremely popular WordPress plugin that offers a multitude of optimization features and all-in-one site acceleration. 
  • SG Optimizer: It is an excellent cache plugin that not only helps in improving the speed through reduction of database calls but also enables compression of images, minimization of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The catch is you must use the web hosting of its developer, Siteground, in order to take advantage of this!
  • WP Engine: A hosting service provider that comes with a pre-built caching facility for its clients without even having to use a plugin!

Further Reading: The 21 Best WordPress Plugins for Business Blogs in 2022

Conclusion on WordPress Speed Optimization

These are some of how you can achieve enhanced WordPress speed optimizations. Here. It is essential to understand that what best practice you choose for your website depends on several factors like size of the site, business needs, type of hosting, themes and plugins used, etc. So, optimizing your website will need a thorough analysis of these factors and fine-tuning critical elements for enhanced user experience through improved loading speeds. 

Further Reading: The 17 Most Useful WordPress Tips and Tricks to Blog Like a Pro!

Author Bio

Riya Sander is a Digital Strategist, having 5+ years of experience in the field of Internet Marketing. She is a social media geek, a complete foodie and enjoys trying varied cuisines. A perfect day for her consists of reading her favorite author with a hot cuppa coffee. 

Hero photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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