Welcome to PinkTie Technology Group

6 Ways to Speed Up WordPress

04 Sep
2016

Most likely you are making a living from your website and page speed is something which you can not afford to ignore. In research released by Loadstorm they show that you have 5 seconds to engage your customer before they leave your website. Just having one second delay in load time will result in a 7% loss in conversion, 11% fewer page views and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Begin by testing your current websites load time and then use these 6 ways to speed up WordPress keeping your visitors engaging.

Mozilla made pages 2.2 seconds faster which resulted in 60 million more Firefox downloads per year

Using free tools such as PinkTie’s Website Audit or Google’s Page Speed to gauge your website’s load time. The average WordPress website should see a page load time between 2 and 4 seconds, anything greater than 5 seconds will adversely affect your search engine rankings and visitor experience.

Making changes in WordPress is as easy as adding or removing plugins and changing your themes options to enhance page speed. Every WordPress user ought to use the following 6 7 ways to gain a faster site:

1: Compress Your Images

Nothing strains your server more than trying to load large images, especially on a traffic that has a lot of traffic. Make sure every image you use on your website has been optimized and compressed, this will ensure you use as little bandwidth as possible.

This can be done manually using tools like Adobe’s Photoshop however this can become very time consuming if you have lots of images, our recommendation is to use a plugin like WP Smush to automate this process for you each time you add a photo to WordPress.

2: Enable gzip Compression

This is one of the biggest ways to gain speed as compresses code is faster to load. Gzip compression in WordPress can reduce site load time by over 300% by using some standard compression algorithms. Modern browsers today all have support for gzip built into time, unlike a few years ago where compatibility was an issue.

One of the easiest ways to enable gzip compression on your site is to use the Check and Enable GZIP compression plugin, some website hosting providers still do not support gzip so you will want to verify yours does. Alternatively to using the check and enable gzip plugin, you could use one of the many advance caching plugins which we will discuss in way number 4.

3: Optimize Your Permalink Structure for Speed and SEO

Many people will change their permalink structure to use /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/ for the SEO benefits of having a friendly url. This can cause WordPress to use more server resources as it decides if you were looking for a page or a post, thus increasing your page load time.

To gain the fastest possible site performance while still being SEO friendly, optimize your permalink structure to start with numeric field followed by category or post name. Our suggestion is to use a year/month/postname structure like /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/. Let us know what you are using in the comments below.

4: Leverage Browser Caching

Using a caching plugin will greatly enhance your page speeds by pre-loading common page elements and reducing the number of database queries. As a bonus a majority of the caching plugins will also support compressing your essentials files. One of the more popular plugins is WP Super Cache, however it lacks flexibility as well as some important features. A better alternative would be to use W3 Total Cache. With W3 Total Cache you get a ton of powerful caching and optimization features which have been proven to enhance your page speed significantly. A warning…. W3 Total Cache does require some learning about each option and setting so that you use the plugin effectively, but the pay off in performance is well worth the efforts.

5: Minify and Combine CSS and Javascript

Minify reduces code bloat by removing excessive whitespace and avoids redundant server connections by combining similar types of files together, resulting in faster page loading. If you implement W3 Total Cache in the previous way, good news, the ability to minify is built in. Using this feature to process all of your stylesheets (CSS) and javascript (JS) files will provide you with a noticeable boost in site speed.

6: Identify Plugins Which Are Slowing You Down

Sometimes you will find you take all the steps possible but your site is still being bogged down, a common culprit is a plugin which is not optimized and thus bloats your page loading times. One of our favorite plugins is P3 which will allow you to spot any plugins which are slowing your website down. Once you know which plugins are the cause you can then make an informed decision to keep it, replace it, or kick it to the curb.

For one client we found that getting rid of a social sharing plugin they were using and embedding social buttons within the theme’s source code improved page load time performance significantly.

Bonus: Use A CDN

CDN or Content Delivery Network helps deliver static files to your website visitors faster by serving the files from a location closer to them than your hosting provider’s server. A SDN endures that your visitor hits the cache rather than reach your servers and accessing the cache as opposed to requesting site data from the server is much faster.

All high traffic websites now use CDN’s for their static content. MaxCDN is one of our favorites as they are strategically located all over the globe to provide the ideal global content delivery service to websites with a wide demographic reach. MaxCDN easily integrates into websites, especially if your using WordPress as your content management system. The downside to using a CDN is that unlike our other suggestions, this one is not free. If you followed our advice and installed the W3 Total Cache plugin you will find not only does MaxCDN easily integrate with it, but you will save 25% off the subscription cost.

Final Thoughts

Nothing beats a fast loading website. The 6 ways to speed up WordPress we have shown you here will improve your page speed and to keep your visitors engaging on your website. Let us know what how they worked for you and the performance boost you gained by sharing your results below in the comments.

Kevin Fairbanks
author

Kevin Fairbanks is the managing partner at PinkTie Technology Group located in Syracuse, NY where he builds everything from responsive websites to mobile applications. In his spare-time he is either spending it with his family or tinkering with electronics.