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How to Make Your WordPress Site Faster This 2016

Speed is everything in the online world: slow websites just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Because let’s face it: a site running at snail’s pace is not only an infuriating deterrent for your visitor but it also has a serious impact on your search engine rankings. Google has even confirmed that site speed is now a major factor in their search engine algorithms.

And with a recent Microsoft study revealing that our attention span has decreased from 18 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, it’s now clearer than ever that the online community is impatient.

The answer? Make your site as fast as possible.

That’s where I come in. I’ve put together a list of 8 easy to digest tips on how to make your WordPress site faster this 2016. Not only will these boost your SEO, but they’ll help you create a better user experience, higher conversion rate and altogether stronger online presence.

1. Optimize Your Pages

Your pages are the foundation of your site: they hold that all important information and, as a result, can become a little weighed down as your site expands. This heavier content leads to slower loading speeds… but luckily, there are a few simple tricks you can carry out to avoid this whilst keeping your pages bursting with content.

Install a caching plugin. Caching is another huge factor when it comes to speeding up your WordPress site. Why? When you visit a website, the elements of the page are pulled together into a temporary storage (a cache) on your hard drive. This stored data makes it easier for your browser to load the site the next time you visit it. By installing a caching plugin (such as W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache), your site will generate your page far more quickly for the visitor by using fewer resources.

Compress your pages with GZIP. Pages that are bursting with high-quality content (such as videos and images) tend to be larger (over 100kb) and consequently slower to download. If you want to speed up their download time, you can compress your pages together using Gzip. This enables you to create a more reliable, faster data transfer through your site. W3 Total Cache allows you to enable this from their configuration page.

Use a Content Delivery Network. CDNs take all the static files from your site (such as CSS, JavaScript and images) and send them out through a server nearest to the visitor. It does this by figuring out the visitor’s geographical location, hence delivering them at a higher speed. There are some great (and affordable) CDN solutions on the market: we recommend Cloudflare and Max CDN Content Delivery Network (I’m currently using Max CDN and love them!).

Combine Files. This is to reduce HTTP requests that are created as you add more plugins to your site. Essentially, every plugin you install will tend to have its own JavaScript and CSS file; each of these files is a new HTTP request and slows down your page load speed. You can combine these files to reduce that time. Whilst you might want to enlist the help of a developer for this, this handy guide lays out all the steps into manageable chunks. Here’s a good tool that can help you check how many requests you have on a page. Well, of course, if you’re not too tech-savvy, you can always use a plugin, W3 Total Cache allows you to enable this as well.

2. Use a Reliable Web Host

Your web host is fundamental when it comes to your site speed: a poor host or one that simply can’t handle the size of your blog is going to slow things down considerably for you.

You need to do your research. Here’s a useful resource for web hosting reviews that can help break down your options. Consider the size of your site and allowing room for growth when making your choice.

If you think your current host isn’t quite doing the job then check out these 7 indicators from WPBeginner on when you should switch your web hosting.

3. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Did you know that Google & Bing boosts the mobile search rankings of mobile-friendly websites?

Also, with Google now officially confirming that more internet searches are carried out on mobile than desktop, it’s never been more important to make sure your site is optimized for mobile.

If you’re not sure if you’re mobile friendly, please use this tool (by Google) to find out.

If it turns out that your site isn’t well set up for mobile, then you might need to hire a web developer to do it for you. Otherwise, if you want to save money, you can simply install a new theme that is responsive (or mobile friendly).

4. Optimize Your Images

File sizes are on the up: what began as kilobytes has moved into megabytes… and that growth is steadily on the incline!

For your website, this has a huge impact. Bulkier files mean lower performance and slower upload speed for your site visitors: a big turn off for readers.

You can control this with these simple steps:

Resize your images. As oversized images take far longer to load, you should resize them using image editing tools such as Photoshop ($10/mo), PicMonkey or Picresize.com. Or simply install this plugin called WP Smush, it’s an awesome plugin that can help you auto resize your files.

Use image compressions. Install EWWW image optimizer that will automatically optimize your images as you insert them onto your site. It can also optimize images you’ve already uploaded so that you can apply lossy compression to every image on your site. If you don’t want to use a plugin, you can use these tools to compress your images instead: TinyPNG (for PNG + JPG) or ImageOptin (for Mac only).

Use lazy load for images. LazyLoad only shows images above the fold (the part of your site visible without your reader having to scroll) so that as your reader passes further down the page the other images begin to load. By having images load gradually, your overall page download speed is faster. Check out the LazyLoad plugin for JQuery or BJ Lazy Load to help you install this feature.

Save correctly for Photoshop. If you're using Photoshop, you should always use the option "Save for Web & Devices" when saving a file. (File > Save For Web & Devices). If saving in JPEG, you can adjust the quality to 80-75.

Use the right image format. If it's a photograph, always save it in JPEG format. If it's a vector graphic or computer-generated images such as screenshot, an icon, or button, save it in PNG format: their file sizes are extremely small.

FINAL TIP. Try to keep your image file size below 70kb.

5. Delete Unnecessary Plugins & Other Third-Party Scripts

Got plugins you’re not using? Delete them.

Using third-party scripts, you do not need? Remove them.

Using many plugins can majorly slow down your site. Make sure to delete those that are not really necessary to decrease file requests (one of the major factors that could slow down your site).

For example, if you don’t need two social sharing plugins or a tracker, delete the other one. If you have inactive ads, make sure to remove them as well. Look around and review the things you don’t need then clean up (but make sure to create a backup file).

6. Minimize Redirects

Redirects occur when your site visitor is sent from one file to another due to a removed (or non-existent) page or resource.

Unsurprisingly, this can slow down your site speed. Why? Because it wastes time transporting your reader from one location to another.

The good news is that you can reduce redirects with ease. Start off by restricting your use of redirects to only those crucial cases where they are absolutely necessary. For the rest? Find other options.

For example, you should avoid having more than one redirect to take your readers to any of your resources. You should also never link to a page that already has a redirect on it.

You can also avoid creating redirects by calling your resources in the same way: so if you are using –www for your site, be sure to name all your CSS (etc) files with –www.

And remember that it isn’t just your HTML that holds redirects: check your CSS files, images and external scripts as well to see if you are holding any needless redirects. You can analyze your site using GTMetrix to find out how many redirects you currently have and also refer to this handy WordPress guide on how to go about reducing them.

7. Optimize Your Homepage

Your homepage is the first thing people see: so it’s clear that it needs to be well optimized to perform at its speediest.

There are a few simple ways to do this:

  • Show excerpts rather than full posts
  • Reducing the number of posts per page
  • Removing unnecessary widgets and other inactive plugins you can seriously speed up loading times. (e.g. ask yourself this, do I need this widget? Is it necessary?)

Simple!

8. Combine Background Images using Image Sprite

PS: This one may require you some CSS skills. You can ask a web developer to do this for you!

Your WordPress theme relies on many background images, as well as CSS commands, to fully display a clean background. So that gorgeous background you’re using? It’s most likely created with over 10 different images and, as a result, over 10 different requests to your server from your visitor’s’ browser.

You can combine these background images into Image Sprites, essentially moving them into one image that will reduce the number of bytes needed to download the page.

SpriteMe makes this super easy to do.

Further Useful Tools:

Pingdom & PageSpeed Insights (by Google): These will evaluate your website performance and provide suggestions on how to speed up your site.

How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line: learn why speed is a super important factor when it comes to search engine rankings

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Pauline Cabrera is a savvy SEO strategist and a content manager of HostingFacts.com. She helps bloggers & entrepreneurs to maximize their visibility online. You can check out her latest review here.

How to Make Your WordPress Site Faster This 2016

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40 comments on “How to Make Your WordPress Site Faster This 2016”

  1. Hi Pauline,

    I've been working on the speed of my blog for a while now. It used to be so slow but I got it re-vamped. It is a work in progress because it is something we need to check all the time.

    You have just reminded me to check it again and I've clicked some of the links. Doing a happy dance because my blog is mobile friendly and loads in less than 3 seconds. Pretty good hugh?

    I have been keeping a careful eye on the loading process. Now I just learned something new here and that is working on my cashe. Going off to do that now.

    Thanks a million,

    -Donna

  2. Improving the user experience by speeding things up is a good idea. And this post shares some good ideas. Be careful with lazy loading. It can be useful. It can also degrade the user experience if the images don't load until after the person scrolls past them.

    I think some plugins and setups expect all users to have tiny ping times. But many users have poor ping times due to less than idea networks. Poorly coded lazy loading of images solutions can seriously degrade the user experience in this case. So you just have to be careful. The idea, if implemented properly, is perfectly sensible.

  3. Hello, Thanks For The Great Post, Speed and reliability are the most important factors to rank your website into higher positions on search engines. They offer every possible metric that you can perform from frontend testing.

  4. Hey Pauline,

    Great post! You've got some really useful information here.

    One thing I would like to add is enabling HTTP/2 support for your website - adopting HTTP/2 drastically speeds up your website's loading times without any changes to your existing codebase.

    Hope this helped 🙂

  5. I have been a wordpress user since a long time but never heard about "Combine Background Images using Image Sprite" technique. I will ask developer to do that for me.

    Thanks a ton for this wonderful post.

  6. Hello Pauline

    I am using WordPress and its the best tool for managing a site as far I know. With your essential tips, I would be making it even more convenient I am sure. Thanks for the update.

  7. Hi Pauline, I love your tips and was so Thankful to have found it shared over on Facebook by Donna.

    I read an article the other day that speed plays a big factor in getting our sites ranked.. Is this true?

    Great Share,.

    Thanks

    Chery :))

  8. Coming across of lot of articles talking about site speed today, definitely believe that site speed is the #1 factor that will drive more traffic to my blog.

  9. Sooooo many epic tips from one of my favorite ladybosses! I really needed to figure out that image sprite stuff...so thanks for the kicking in the ass on that Pauline.

    You two ladies ROCK my world. Keep kicking ass and taking names.

    -Dre

  10. Pauline,

    We just recently stumbled upon Sue's blog, and this post is awesome! Thanks for the tip about CloudFlare. It even looks like it's free. How's it compare with Max CDN?

  11. It is really necessary to keep improving user experience so that user can get more engaged with the blog or website. Making site faster is not only the ranking factor but also helpful to improve user experience.

  12. thanks for sharing this article How to Make Your WordPress Site Faster. you share amazing ways . my question is using content delivery network also increase speed

  13. Thanks Pauline, for such an enlightening article.

    Here's me thinking it's all good 'cos I got a cache program running! Time for me to take heed of these excellent WordPress site speed suggestions.

    I'm a bit nervous of Cloudflare, MaxCDN seems the better option here.

    ~Matt

  14. Thanks for your great content & list of recommended tools 🙂 I agree with you google & visitors love faster loading site.time is important for our life so,everyone hate slow loading site.I think most of the visors prefer faster loading site.we should take care everything to make our site as fast as possible.I'm using genesis framework & keykdn on my blog,speed not bad.I hope after using your recommended tools my loading speed will be more faster 🙂

  15. Excellent article! Fast loading website is a key factor to significant SEO and great user experience to the readers. I must say these basic tricks can make the difference to our blog.

  16. Optimize image is an important step we need to do to reduce the load time of WordPress websites. We can do it manually or automatically with WordPress plugins.

    Besides, a good web hosting service which provides fast speed is needed.

  17. Hello, Pauline! Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas. With the help of these, I can increase the speed of my site which is based on WordPress. Keep posting such informative blogs.

  18. Hi Pauline, Wonderful article thanks for the share. I will follow up the same and apply it to my site and see the results.

  19. Hey! I am newbie to this topic and found this blog really informative. I love to read your blog.Thanks for sharing such an informative post. Keep writing your blogs. I learn a lot from them.

  20. Hey Pauline,

    Great and well informative article you have shared. Thanks Pauline for sharing this article. Glad to be here today.

    -Akshit Wadhwa

  21. Great tips and guidelines for making a WordPress website faster in 2016. If your website loads slowly, then visitors will immediately leave your website. So it is vitally important to have website that loads faster.

  22. It's always frustrating to visit a slow loading web page. Site speed is essential. Thanks for this great article! I find that it is the number one factor causing bounce rate. Most people don't have the patience to wait more than a few seconds for your site to load. My website is very slow at 3.3s loading time, so I want to figure out how to implement your recommendations to get it faster. I don't want visitors leaving my site because it is too slow.

    I have CDN running on my sites, and they prefer themselves as they calculated security and speed. Many security features and content optimization features they provide for free if valued it will cost thousands. Also, I just want to suggest using the DNS services also. They will improve to reduce the DNS lookup quicker than your hosting.

    Furthermore, I mainly just go for overall speed shown by the Google Webmaster Tools panel. The faster my speed, the better my rankings in search ranking.

    I’m currently struggling on increasing my site speed on a new site, and you guide very effectively! What I think is most useful is the every segment of your guidelines tells what exactly needs to be done. A great information on making things faster for your web. Your recommendation will be very helpful on my website. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Hi,

    Thanks for the great posting. I’m still in the learning curve in SEO. Plenty of things to learn and this list will certainly help me to identify those I should look up

  24. very informative. i have optimized my site for mobile and now the site is working fine. Site open within a fraction of time. Thanks for your tips.

  25. Very informative guidelines to make a WordPress websites faster. To provide a good user experience, it is important for you to have a website that loads faster. And website loading time is also in important Google ranking factor.

  26. Thanks for the post.... Now a days loading speed of wordpress had become one of the important point in SEO and ranking .... really worth to read this post ...

  27. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this precious tips. I'm from Brasil and here we have a little difficulty to find good information about this subject matter.

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