While WordPress is a good platform to build a website, it can be extremely slow. If you don’t take precautions, your site can end up being sluggish. This will make it difficult for visitors to return to your site and can actually lead to loss of customers and subscribers. The speed of your WordPress site matters because when you have new visitors coming to your site, you have very few seconds to get their attention and convince them to stay on longer.
A Microsoft Bing report shows that when a website page delays response by just two seconds, user satisfaction is reduced by 3.8%, there is a 4.3% revenue loss per user and clicks drop by 4.3% as well. If you have a site that takes time to load, then you’ve probably lost many people and income. Currently, Google is including loading speed in its site ranking algorithm. This means loading speeds are now affecting SEO which translates to loss of visitors and low ranking on search engines. However, all is not lost because there is something you can do to improve loading speeds of your WordPress blog. Here are some tips to make your site load faster:
Identify a good host
Your site needs to be hosted in a server somewhere. However, hosting services are not the same. To ensure that your WordPress site loads fast, you need to identify a good host. If currently you have your site already hosted somewhere, it will do you no harm to explore other hosts because doing so can impact the loading time of your site significantly. A good host will offer you more than just space in the server. They will go the extra mile of providing you with WordPress themes and plugins that are designed for optimal performance and speed. Further, they will offer you unlimited bandwidth to ensure there are no limitations of traffic at a reasonable cost. Compare what different hosting services offer because that can impact on your site’s loading speeds, positively or negatively.
Analyze your website’s loading speeds in an objective way
The first thing you need to do to improve your website speeds is to check how long it takes to load. A blog that takes more than 3 seconds to load causes impatient visitors to give up and move to other sites. Google too does not like sites that load slowly. When analyzing your website speeds, it is important to note that it will load faster for you because the browser you use already has cached images. Also, if you use a high speed internet connection, your blog will likely load faster compared to visitors who use mobile devices. As such, try loading your site for someone else’s computer or phone to get a clear picture on how fast your site loads. Alternatively, use tools such as GTMetrix to check how your blog is performing. This way, you will get a report that is easy to read based on a speed analysis of every page on your site.
Optimize your images
Sometimes your analysis report can recommend optimization of images. If it does, go ahead and do so because images are critical in engaging visitors as opposed to just using blocks of text. The challenge with images is that each image you add increases the size of files you have on your pages. With time, this can slow down the loading speed of pages as each image there had to be downloaded. To avoid this problem, consider compressing images so that their file size is reduced. While you can do this one image at a time, which could take time. Instead, use image optimizer tools like Smush by Yahoo or WP-SmushIt by WordPress to get this done automatically while maintaining image quality.
Opt for great caching plugins
Caching means storage of data in browsers that have loaded your blog before. This means that once a visitor accesses your blog, some elements remain cached in the browser they used and when they return, the site will load faster for them. WordPress has several caching plugins and any of those could work to improve the loading speed of your site. One such cache plugin, which is also easy to install is W3 Total Cache.
Optimize the Homepage
While you won’t find a plugin to help you optimize the homepage of your blog, there are things you can do to make this first page load faster. First, you can add teasers to the most popular or recent posts you have on your blog as opposed to including full posts. Also, you can opt to display fewer posts there. The next important thing to do is to remove any plugins you added hoping to use them but never did. Each plugin you add to your blog will slow it down a bit. You could also remove sharing widgets from the homepage and instead, place them on individual posts. Removing clutter from your homepage helps it look clean and neat in addition to increasing its loading speed.
Avoid storing revisions and drafts
As a blogger, you tend to work on a blog over time. You review it several times and even make revisions. In the process, you create a number of drafts that WordPress stores. The truth is, as you improve your post, you do not need earlier drafts yet they affect the way your blog loads. To address this problem, you can install or get your SEO company to install the Revision Control plugin to manage drafts and revisions for you. This way, you can have the last draft retained in case you encounter a big error and have to go back to the draft, like if your post gets deleted.
Remove plugins you do not use
WordPress comes with many plugins but you probably won’t need to use all of them. Your web host will also add major plugins. However, it is important to note that the more plugins you have on your website, the slower the loading speeds will get. It is therefore important to review plugins every so often so you remove those that you do not need and have the most critical ones running.