Most of us are well aware that page speed matters when it comes to a good website experience. After all, who wants to wait for a slow website to load? One of the most important things you can do to increase your website conversions and rank higher in Google Search, therefore, is to optimize your website so that your pages load as fast as possible.
To emphasize the importance of page speed, Kissmetrics created a compelling infographic that shows “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load” and “a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”
Page speed is also an important ranking factor in Google’s search results.
So, how can you speed up your WordPress website?
Before we begin, find out your website speed by running a quick test at Pingdom.
Next, with your website speed results in hand, we’re ready to begin.
Here are 10 easy things you can do to improve your website speed.
1. Choose a fast-loading WordPress theme.
When you first install WordPress, your installation comes with a default theme developed by Automattic, the developers of WordPress. As we would expect, this theme is very well coded and known for its fast loading website pages.
Most of us, however, want to change our website design from the default theme to a more professional or custom design.
To make sure you choose a well-coded theme that doesn’t slow down your website, I suggest looking for a theme coded by a well-known developer with positive reviews. Also check for mentions of page speed and lightweight code on the theme’s sales page. A beautiful appearance and design needs to be matched by beautiful code under the hood.
In addition to the tips above, I also look for theme developers that have a portfolio of themes – not just one theme. WordPress developers who have a portfolio of themes are more likely to be in business for the long-haul and more likely to provide ongoing theme updates as WordPress itself evolves.
I use the Genesis framework developed by StudioPress to power katrinah.com. Genesis is known for its high-quality, lightweight code and is a popular theme framework used by thousands of developers worldwide. Absolutely love it!
2. Optimize your images.
Compressing your images reduces image file size which will also help to speed up your website.
I use EWWW Image Optimizer plugin for WordPress to compress images on my website. If you haven’t been optimizing your images, you can install and activate this plugin within your WordPress website and optimize any or all of your images that have already been uploaded to your website.
Another great plugin that also compresses images is the WP Smush It plugin.
3. Use a CDN network.
A CDN, or content delivery network, stores cached static content on a network of fast-loading servers spread all over the world. When you use a CDN, your website will load faster. I use MaxCDN to help speed up my website pages.
4. Use a caching plugin.
A caching plugin will generate static html files from your website and serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier WordPress PHP scripts.
I am using W3 Total Cache plugin to speed up my website. Another effective caching plugin you can consider is WP Super Cache.
5. Optimize your WordPress database.
Each time you update, edit or revise a blog post, WordPress stores a copy of the revisions on your database. To optimize and keep your database clean, you can remove these blog post revisions, as well as spam comments, with a plugin like WP-Optimize.
To learn how to clean up your database using WP-Optimize, check out my previous post, “How To Clean Up Your WordPress Database” where I walk you through the steps. (p.s. it’s a fast process : ) )
6. Add Lazy Load to your images.
Lazy loading your images forces images to load only when they are “above the fold.” So, when your visitor lands on your website page, only the first few images will load. Then, as your visitor scrolls down the page, more images will load. By loading images with this “delay” the overall page loads faster, providing a better user experience.
I am using Lazy Load XT plugin on my website.
Another popular lazy loading plugin is BJ Lazy Load.
7. Delete unused plugins.
If you’ve installed plugins on your website that you’re not using, be sure to delete them. Doing so will help speed up your website. You can always add these plugins later if you need them.
For example, SeedProd Pro plugin is a plugin that I use every so often when I need a quick “maintenance mode” page for my website. Because I only need this plugin on occasion, I usually delete this plugin from my site when it’s not being used. Then, when I need it, I’ll re-install and activate it.
8. Test your plugins and choose quality plugins.
You can test your plugins to see which ones are slowing down your website by installing and activating P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler for WordPress.
I use this plugin to scan my website and find out which plugins are impacting my website speed. When I find a plugin that performs poorly, I swap it out for a better performing plugin. Easy.
9. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks.
Pingbacks and trackbacks are two features that come with your WordPress installation and let you know when another website links to you. This is a nice service to have but it takes up website resources if you have a lot of incoming links. You can find out which sites are linking to or mentioning your site by setting up a Google Alert or using other tracking tools.
Depending on how many links you have this may or may not have a huge impact on website speed but everything adds up and makes a difference.
If you’d like to remove trackbacks and pingbacks, you can do so by going to Settings/Discussion in your WordPress dashboard and deselecting “allow link notifications from other blogs”.
10. Upgrade to dedicated website hosting.
If you are currently using a shared web hosting plan and are finding that your website pages continue to load slowly even after implementing the steps above, it may be time to upgrade to dedicated web hosting.
I continue to use shared web hosting for my own websites and have been very pleased with the service I’ve received to date. For most small businesses, shared hosting works very well.
As your traffic grows, you will most likely need to upgrade your website hosting to dedicated web hosting.
If you’re looking for a web host, I use and recommend Siteground: click here to check them out.
As always, do your research to find the best web hosting to match your budget and business needs.
Your website speed …
I hope these 10 suggestions are helpful to you as ways to speed up your WordPress website. After implementing as many of the steps above as you can, run a speed test again to compare your “before and after” website speeds.
Is your website running faster, according to your speed test?
Speeding up your website will create a positive experience for your visitors which translates into higher website conversions and sales.
In addition, when you increase your website page speed your website will be favorably viewed in the eyes of Google since page speed is one of the elements included in Google’s algorithm.
To website speed & a boost in conversions!