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WordPress is an awesome blogging tool, as long as it's fast enough to meet your reader's expectations: fast loading pages are crucial nowadays to improve user experience and get good SEO ranks, which will in turn increase your page views and make your blog more popular and visited. In this post we'll share ten useful WordPress speed optimization tips thet will boost WordPress performance and speed up your website.
Why speed is so important?
Before digging into the optimization techniques, let's briefly try to understand why speeding up a WordPress website is so important these days. As a matter of fact, most web-related studies have shown that the average human attention span is dropping fast: more specifically, it dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds from 2000 to 2016, and it will likely drop even more. As you might easily understand, this means that websites have now a short window of time to bring their user's attention and convince them to read their content and/or interact with them.
To put it simple: the slower the site, the more likely it is that users will leave it - maybe before it even finishes loading the first page!
How to measure your website speed
A common mistake made by many novice Webmasters is to think that they are able to independently judge the speed of their website. That's wrong: as a matter of fact, website speed is not something that you can measure subjectively. This is even more true if you're working with that specific website, because you might have cached and/or pre-fetched content that will make its performances better for you and give a false feeling of speed, while other "unrelated" users will likely find it way slower.
Furthermore, unless you're using a very good CDN (more on that later on), users connecting from different geographical locations will likely have a different experience in terms of speed and performance.
For all the above reasons, we strongly suggest to measure your website speed using a third-party tool; here's a brief list of some free services that will allow you to test your website’s speed for free:
- Free Website Speed Test Tool
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
- GTMetrix Website Performance Testing Tool
- Google PageSpeed Insight
It's worth noting that the above tools are not specific to WordPress, but can be used for any website, regardless of the technology it has been built with.
How to increase your Worpdress performance
Here are five optimization tips that will definitely help you to speed up your WordPress performance:
- Update your WordPress instance, as well as your WP Theme and all the active Plugins. Each WordPress update fixes some security and/or performance issues and bugs that could have a negative impact on your website's speed; the same happens for any plugin. As a website owner, keeping your WordPress instance updated, as well as its WP theme and plugins, is a must. Not doing so on regular basis not only will expose your website to hacks, data breach and security threats, but will also negatively impact your content's loading speed.
- Optimize your images for speed. Images play a HUGE role in a blog, because they bring life to their content and greatly help to boost the average user engagement: you don't want to give up on images, even if they can have some undeniable impact on the website's speed. What you can do instead is to ensure that they are well-optimized, so that the burden will be mitigated to a minimum amount. In order to do that, be sure to avoid to upload heavy pictures, such as the photos as they come out from your phone or camera: they will likely have a huge resolution, which translates in huge size and thus require higher download times. Use photo editing software to optimize your images for the web before uploading them inside the WordPress media gallery: using a smaller resolution and converting to JPG every lossless format (GIF, PNG, TIFF) will greatly help your website's speed. Furthermore, you might want to install a image shrinking plugin (Optimole, Imagify, Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer, just to name a few) that will automatically optimize your JPG files right after you upload them on the WordPress media gallery.
- Store video and media files on external servers. Although WordPress allows you to directly upload audio and video files on its internal media gallery, you shouldn't do that, unless you're dealing with the optimized (shrinked) image files we've talked about early on. Hosting audio and video files not only will cost you bandwidth, but can seriously cripple your web server's capability in terms of performance and/or bandwidth capacity, possibly ending up in HTTP unavailability errors (such as 500 Server Error, 429 Too Many Requests, and so on). Hosting large media files will also increase the size of any backup, thus making difficult to store and/or restore them. Instead of directly hosting those files you should rely to a third-party hosting services such as YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, and so on: let them deal with the huge bandwidth requirements (they can definitely handle that) and save your bandwidth for serving your page's textual content and images.
- Use a FAST WordPress Theme. One of the main reason webmaster choose WordPress over the competition is the number of available themes: on top of that, most of them are free, therefore there is a huge "marketplace" to choose from. Howeer, when selecting a theme for your website, you should pay special attention to those that are specifically designed and optimized for speed. Unfortunately, most beautiful and impressive-looking themes are actually poorly coded and can slow your site way down: don't pick them and focus to a simpler theme! It's very important to remember that fancy layouts and flashy animations won't bring you more users: performance and speed will. It's scientifically proven!
That's it, at least for now: we sincerely hope that you'll find this post useful enough to speed-up your WordPress website! If you want to learn more WordPress optimization tricks, you might also want to visit this neat article from collectiveray.com:
See you next time!