Looking to speed up your site? Well, you should be!
It’s no secret that load time effects your ranking among search engines. As Google keeps tinkering with their search algorithm, user experience is increasingly weighted.
Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your WordPress website.
Before we address increasing load time, it’s important to have a baseline number for benchmarking. To speed up your site you must identify how long it currently takes to load.
The aforementioned tools will give you your current load time, as well as specific areas of concern. If your website is taking three or more seconds to load, changes need to be made.
While the tools listed above are helpful, the analysis they provide may be more in-depth than most SMB owners have time for.
If you want to speed up your site, start by implementing these four tips.
Keep plugins up-to-date
One of the best things about using WordPress to build your website is the number of helpful plugins available. If you’re not a web developer these plugins are your way to a more productive website.
I’m a marketer specializing in SEO, but thanks to WordPress I was able to build the Write Hook website completely in-house. While this is a wonderful way to save costs, the work doesn’t end once your site is live.
If you want to keep up with the competition you must keep your website and plugins up-to-date. Available updates will be visible on your dashboard and can be updated with just a click or two. Just don’t forget to backup your site first!
Select a reputable host
For all the work that goes into building your website, choosing where it will be hosted is of paramount importance.
Website speed and uptime vary widely from one host to the next. Budgeting is crucial for SMB owners, but this is not an area to be frugal in. A low-cost host is cheap for a reason. Be diligent and research thoroughly before choosing.
Your initial impulse may be to choose a shared hosting package because of its low cost. Just be aware that this is also going to be the slowest option. Shared hosting means that you have many websites all relying on the same server for bandwidth.
The ideal option is a dedicated server. However, this isn’t a realistic option for many SMBs as it can get quite expensive.
The happy medium here is a VPS (Virtual Private Server), which is middle-of-the-road in pricing and performance.
When it comes to functionality a VPS acts like a dedicated server, despite it technically being shared. This option is cost-effective and it faster than a shared hosting package.
BlueHost offers a variety of options and is my personal choice for hosting. They are well-reviewed and offer easy WordPress installation options.
Trim the fat
It’s important to keep your website lean if you want it to be operating at peak performance. To avoid creating a site that’s destined for sloth-like speeds, consider these three areas:
Believe me, I get it. You see a theme on Themeforest or Mojo Themes that offers tons of design options. Before you allow your creative juices to takeover, be cognizant of speed.
A template offering tons of animated features and similar design functions requires a lot of coding. Not only can too much code slow down your website, it can also hurt your SEO (low text/html ratio).
One thing you can do to test a theme before purchasing is viewing the demo. Does it take a while to load? If so, avoid it and choose another, leaner theme.
I covered the importance of keeping plugins up-to-date and how convenient they can be. However, before going plugin-crazy and downloading dozens, keep in mind that some are faster than others.
Furthermore, too many plugins slow down your site. How can you discover which plugins are hurting your website? I’m aware that this is oxymoronic, but there’s a plugin for that too.
The P3 Plugin Profiler will reveal the impact a plugin has on your your site’s load time. Since I’m already semi-contradicting myself, WP Super Cacheis a plugin that can then help speed your site up.
Images are important for SEO, but large images can hurt your website speed. I’m not suggesting you don’t use photos. Just keep in mind that many images in raw format are in the neighborhood or 3k-4k pixels wide.
Featured images are usually in the 600-800 range. So a simple way to speed up your site is resizing images. Make them the same size as they will appear on a users screen.
Go easy on the redirects
It happens. A time will come where you need to redirect a page elsewhere. To do this you’ll need to use a 301 redirect. Just use them sparingly as they can slow down your site.
There are tools you can find that can help identify any redirects you may not know about. If you are already paying for an SEO tool such as SEMrush, it can also help you discover redirects.
There’s a plethora of tools dedicated to helping you speed up your website. Yet many of them require a technical foundation to take advantage of.
And remember that the tips mentioned above are not the magic pill of speed optimization. Those are intended for people who do not have a deep knowledge about technical SEO.
However, once implemented properly, it will help you to have a good two or three steps ahead of the competition.
On the other hand, the above listed suggestions are easy to apply. Use these tips to speed up your website’s load time. Not only will it optimize your place among SERPs, but it will also provide potential customers a user-friendly experience.