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How to Optimize the Page Speed on your WordPress Website

page speed optimization for wordpress

You cannot throw a virtual stone on the internet these days without bumping up against an article discussing how to speed up WordPress. This is understandable since WordPress is the most dynamic CMS on the web, accounting for a major percentage of all new websites being built.

Google recently changed its algorithms for ranking websites to include how fast a website loads. Studies show that a site with a loading speed of more than two seconds loses almost 50 percent of its visitors. Additionally, people who shop online usually do not have a lot of patience. E-commerce stores that are running on WordPress but that load slow are going to lose a lot of business to their competition. With that in mind, here are some ways to optimize page speed on WordPress. For themes we always recommend Divi by Elegant Themes.

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 Get a Better Web Hosting Provider

A major factor that influences your website’s speed is the hosting of your WordPress site. If you have a newer e-commerce store, you might be tempted to host your site on a provider that offers “unlimited” space, emails, domains, bandwidth, and more. They may even offer to do this for an inexpensive price. However, shared hosting environments do not deliver good loading times and do not provide acceptable uptime percentages during the month.

A good example of page speed being mostly affected by hosting side performance is Nathan Finch’s review of leading Australian web hosts where he tracked and tested over 15 hosts on latency and uptime. Results showed that sites with better server resources performed 2-3 X better than slower counterparts.

 Optimize Image Sizes for the Web

Images play a major factor in the size of your web page. You need to learn to reduce the size of your images while maintaining the best quality possible. You can use Photoshop, Chrome, and other tools to manually optimize your images. However, this will be a time-consuming process, and you might not be happy with the results. Thankfully, there are a number of plug-ins designed to help with image optimization in WordPress. Some of the options we would recommend include:

  • Optimole
  • WP Smush
  • EWWW Image Optimizer

 Use a CDN

A CDN is a content delivery network. It works because the people who visit your site are visiting from all over the globe. Site loading speed for a site that is served in the United States is going to be different for an individual visiting from Canada as it would for an individual visiting from Tokyo. A CDN keeps a copy of your website in data centers that are located around the world. When a person searches for your site, they are served the website from a location closest to them.

 Get Rid of Unneeded Plug-Ins

If you are not using a plug-in, deactivate it or uninstall it. Keeping plug-ins that you are not using adds a lot of junk to your web files. They will put an incredible load on your servers, especially when you are backing up files.

 Select a Theme That Is Optimized for Speed

When choosing the theme of your website, pay attention to speed optimization. There are a number of attractive themes that have been coded terribly. As a result, they slow your site down. It’s usually best to use a simpler theme as opposed to choosing a theme that has complicated layouts, flash animations, and other features that you don’t need. If you find that you need one of these features later, you can use a quality WordPress plug-in to add it to your site. You can also consider using a plugin such as Perfmatter, it’s pretty cheap with a coupon code.

Only Use the Best Plug-Ins for Your WordPress Site

In the same way that a poorly coded WordPress theme can slow your site down, plug-ins that have too much bloat can slow your site down as well. When selecting a plug-in, we recommend that you look at the reviews, look at when they were last updated, and look at how well the plug-in is supported. You do not want to use a plug-in that has been abandoned because in addition to being poorly coded, it will likely have security issues that could affect your site.

Determining whether or not a plug-in should be used is sometimes a matter of trial and error. Before installing the plug-in, run a speed test. Then install the plug-in and compare its impact on your site’s performance.

Split Long Posts in to Pages

Readers enjoy longer posts. They go more in depth into a subject, and this is likely why they rank so well in search engines. However, if you have long articles with a ton of images, they could be impacting your site’s load times. Instead, divide your posts up into multiple pages. WordPress makes this easy to do with HTML tags.

wordpress increase seo with page speed optimization

 Get Rid of Hotlinking

If you are creating good content on your WordPress site, someone’s going to steal it. One way that companies do this is by serving images from your site directly from URLs on your website. Basically, what they are doing is stealing your hosting bandwidth, and you don’t even get the traffic to show for it. You can fix this relatively easily by adding the following code to your .htaccess file:

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)? [NC]
RewriteRule .(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

These are just a few of the options that are available for optimizing the speed of your WordPress site. Here’s a word of caution, though, do not think that your website’s speed is okay just because it doesn’t feel slow on your computer. You have likely visited your own website a number of times, and so your website is stored in your web browser’s cache. This makes your website load almost instantaneously. However, a person who is visiting your site for the first time may not have that experience. Also, individuals visiting your site from different geographic locations will likely have a different experience. We recommend that you use online tools to test your website’s speed.

What tips have you found to be beneficial when optimizing your WordPress site’s speed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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