If you were to consider the three most frustrating things about being an online user, what would they be?
For me it would be a poor user experience, poorly written content and of course…
How many times have you bailed on a website because it took too long to load?
More times than you can count I’ll bet.
A slow loading website can spell doom, which is why today I’m going to show you how to speed up WordPress.
Once you’ve implemented these easy and quick adjustments, you’ll find that your traffic shoots up, along with your conversions.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Website Speed is Everything: Why You Should Care About Loading Times
Whether it’s dinner, a movie, or even a package in the mail, when people want something, they want it now!
We’re not a society built on patience when it comes to online browsing either. If you can’t provide what someone is looking for quickly, they’ll move on to someone else. It’s harsh, but that’s the truth in a nutshell.
After you’ve made a website with OnBlastBlog, it’s absolutely essential to ensure it’s serving the rest of the internet as fast as it possibly can: We take this matter very seriously here.
Next time you’re checking out your Google Analytics, take a look at your Page Load Time, Lookup, and Page Size metrics. In fact, why don’t you head on over to Google’s Page Speed Analysis site and input your blog’s web address?
This will give you a basic idea of how fast your website is loading, and some top level topics on how to improve it. For a more detailed look, try these other tools on for size:
Now that you have your score, we can start talking about what it means and why it matters. You may be looking at three or four seconds right now and thinking yeah, that’s not too bad.
What if I told you that cutting down that time, even by a second, could increase your revenue by thousands of dollars per year! There are numerous studies that show how important your page speed is, but let’s take a look at some hard numbers:
The Need For Speed (Infographic)
Now that we’ve sufficiently covered the power that web speed has over your website, it’s time to put everything together into a handy-dandy infographic that you can take with you.
Don’t worry, it’s free and I encourage you to share it on your own blog or social media. This is something everyone needs to know about, so spread the word!
This infographic below takes all the major points from this post and combines them into an easily digestible form. Enjoy!
Want to embed this bad boy?
<a href="http://www.onblastblog.com/speed-wordpress/"><img src="http://cdn.onblastblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Website-Speed-Infographic.jpg" alt="Improve Website Speed" width="1000px" border="0" /></a> Credit: <a href="http://www.onblastblog.com/speed-wordpress/" target="_blank">On Blast Blog</a>
Facts and Statistics to Consider
- 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- A website that makes $100,000 per day can lose up to $2.5 million per year for every 1-second page delay!
- 47% of online users expect web pages to load in two seconds or less.
- During high traffic times, 75% of users will go to a competitor’s site in order to avoid delays.
- 88% of users are reluctant to return to a site after a poor experience
- A survey of 60,000 consumers across 80 websites showed that 8% of users abandoned their purchase as a result of slow loading times
A loss here or there may not seem like much, but it adds up. Page speed affects more than just your bottom line. Here are three additional reasons why Page Speed matters:
1. The User Experience
The user experience, or UX, refers to the overall quality of your website in the eyes of online consumers. The UX begins when they arrive on your site, and it doesn’t end until they leave. Everything they encounter should contribute towards an overall positive experience.
As they say, first impressions are everything. That being the case, a slow loading page acts as a terrible way to start the user experience. If the load time is too long, they’ll leave and they probably won’t ever come back.
You may be thinking that people are just impatient, but it goes deeper than that. Yes, attention spans online have plummeted in recent years, but we’ve also changed how we find and view content online.
The success rate of website conversions is contingent upon how long you can keep the attention of your potential customer. As you can imagine, if it takes longer than a few seconds to load, unless you have an extremely patient visitor, they are going to bounce right off the page before it even finishes loading your bulky images.
Today’s users are most commonly browsing the web on mobile devices, not their home computers. This puts everyone in a fast and quick mindset that seeks instant gratification. Like I said, we want it, and we want it now.
2. Your Quality Score
You may not know this, but Page Speed directly affects your Quality Score in Google’s eyes. The overall landing page experience is fueled by how quickly it loads. At this point in the conversion process, you have the reader’s attention, but it’s fragile.
The overall performance of your landing pages is built upon the foundation of your Page Speed. In addition, when it comes time to start making money through your blog, your Page Speed will directly affect your bottom line and your success in advertising campaigns.
3. Organic Search Rankings
I know a large majority of people out there are wondering if Page Speed affects SEO, and the answer is a resounding YES! Since 2010, website loading speeds have been part of Google’s ranking algorithm for both desktops and mobile devices.
Organic search rankings are the bedrock of any SEO strategy, and while a single factor like Page Speed may not make or break your placement in the results, it can be the push you need to edge out the competition. The difference between 1st and 2nd in the rankings is reason enough to make your website’s loading speed a priority.
How does On Blast Blog stack up?
I plugged in my blog’s URL, http://www.onblastblog.com/ into Pingdom’s speed tool and I found this:
As you can imagine, I was pretty offended by my “C Minus” score here, over 100 requests and almost 3 seconds to load my homepage.
So, I did some digging, got in touch with some WordPress developers to help me out and after all the changes and tweaks I made, here’s what I have now:
Not too shabby.
What would be even better is if we can do the EXACT SAME and speed up your blog too!
I scoured the internet and had dozens of conversations with expert WordPress developers from Ecuador to Uruguay to Croatia to Armenia and all the way to Australia and I found the top 15 methods you can use today to make your website BLAZING FAST.
Ready to listen to every word I say?
Creating Your Web Performance Budget
There’s a kind of messed up mindset that some web designers have these days:
Is presentation more important than performance?
We all want a beautiful site, but at some point we have to remember that we’re not placing our web pages in an art gallery somewhere, we’re putting them up on the internet for real users.
The user experience should always take precedence over presentation.
Studies have shown us that 37% of users believe that site performance is more important than its functionality. When you’re seeking to strike a balance between aesthetics and user experience, that’s when a performance budget comes into play.
Your performance budget begins as a list of factors that affect how quickly your webpage loads. Your list should include, but is not limited to, these factors:
- The number of HTTP requests
- Page weight
Honestly, though, there isn’t an exact science to speeding up your website. It’s all about research and testing. Alex from Stackoverflow put it perfectly when he responded to a question regarding web performance budgeting and what works:
“There are no general answers to your questions. All that can be said is: “it depends”. But there is one sure way to find out what the answers are in your particular situation: try it.”
You’ll need to test your website’s speed again and again as you make changes. Each time you’ll find new factors that affect the outcome and it’s these factors that will help you build a web performance budget.
As part of your ultimate budget, you will create estimates for each of these factors and create a limit at which they will start to hamper the loading speed of a given page. Anytime you go to make a decision, consider your budget.
That being said, changing circumstances and new findings can change elements of your budget. It’s not something set in stone, but it does keep you in check so you don’t bog down your site in the midst of designing a new page.
18 Simple and Easy Ways to Speed up WordPress TODAY!
This isn’t an issue you “just get around to,” this is something that needs to be addressed immediately.
“But Matt, I have a ton of stuff to do today!”
I know, which is why I’m going to show you 15 quick and easy steps that will bring down your website loading time and skyrocket your traffic and conversions in the process.
You can go elsewhere and find lists of twenty to thirty long and drawn out processes for speeding up your WordPress site. These lists work, sure, but who has the time to spend on so many little tweaks?
Instead, I’ve hand-picked these tactics for you. These are the top ways to get your site going faster in little to no time.
1. Start With a Reliable Host
As you know, a self-hosted WordPress site is the backbone of any successful blog. What’s even more important is who you choose to host your site. Not all hosts are created equal.
Poor hosting slows your website down in a way that can’t be fixed. In this type of case, the apple is rotten to the core. I start with this because I want you to start here as well.
Take a look at your hosting. Look at the reviews from other users, check reviews on professional sites, really take a long, hard look at the company that’s hosting your blog.
If you’re finding that it’s lacking, or you want to switch to something with more options and better speeds, then I recommend Web Hosting Hub. They have been my go-to host for over ten years now and I’ve never had any issues.
2. Choose a High Quality & Fast Theme (efficiency is key)
One of my favorite aspects of WordPress is the ability to choose from a wide variety of themes and frameworks. Just like hosting, though, not all of these are created equal.
Some have a solid structure that keeps things simple and fast, while others can take extra time to load, time that you don’t have. If you don’t wish to invest in a premium theme right away, you should just stick with the default WP theme because it’s simple and fast in its design.
By their very nature, free WordPress themes tend to be great for web performance. Why, you ask? Well, the simple answer is they have less features which makes them more streamlined in terms of performance.
A simple and clean theme does wonders for your overall website performance.
If you’re in the market for a premium theme, there are plenty of options that come with a high score on Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.
3. Use One (And Only One) Caching Plugin
Without drowning you in complex coding talk and confusing terminology, trust me when I say that you need a high quality caching plugin for WordPress. That being said, you only need one.
Installing multiple caching plugins does way more harm than good. Feel free to browse the options, but I can save you some time by recommending W3 Total Cache.
In essence, this plugin is designed to work in the background and organize the way your website delivers data to users. In doing so, this plugin cuts down on your websites loading time immensely. Some of the biggest websites in the world use this plugin, and you should too.
4. Utilize a Content Delivery Network
Much like the caching plugin above, a content delivery network (CDN) works in the background to speed up your website’s performance. This is something that larger blogs take advantage of, but you can too.
The way a CDN works is by using multiple servers in various locations to deliver content more efficiently. Anything on your site that is static (unchanging) is stored on these servers and sent to people based on their location, which increases the delivery speed significantly.
5. Optimize Your Images
This one is quick and easy, but it makes a huge difference in loading speed. We all know and love super detailed images, but high-resolution images can bog down your website significantly.
The tool that I use constantly is called Optimizilla. It’s super simple and quick. You upload the images to the site, it compresses them, and then you download the new images. Simple as that, and it makes a huge difference!
6. Modify Gravatar Images
While it’s neat that users who comments using gravatar can have their profile picture display, these add more images for your site to load. The best way to approach this is to set the default image to nothing.
This cuts out any extra images that really don’t add anything to your site’s visual quality. This one is quick and easy: go into your WordPress Settings > Discussion and look for the option to set the the default to a blank space.
7. Install the Lazy Load Plugin
This is another image-focused tactic, but the more of these you have, the better. Images are absolutely necessary, but they can also kill your site’s speed. Luckily, there’s no shortage of WordPress plugins to help us out with this issue.
LazyLoad is the term for a process that only loads the images above the fold first. As the user scrolls down, the other images will begin to load right before they appear on the user’s screen.
This process speeds up the page’s loading, and it saves bandwidth by not using data for users who don’t scroll all the way down. You can have this awesome feature on your blog by installing the BJ Lazy Load plugin for WordPress.
8. Keep an Eye on Stored Revisions
If you’re anything like me, then you probably hit that “save draft” button every two minutes to avoid losing any progress on your posts. I didn’t realize until recently that WordPress is storing each and every one of those drafts.
When the draft is published, I’m not going to need all of those revisions, and storing them only slows down my blog. The solution is to use a plugin like Revision Control. This tool allows you to set the number of stored revisions.
Two or three is probably safe, but you don’t need sixteen, I promise.
9. Remove Trackbacks and Pingbacks
The default setting in WordPress is to track any mentions of your site on other blogs. It’s nice to know when people are talking about you, but this kind of constant tracking adds unneeded stress to your site.
Turning these off won’t hurt your backlinks whatsoever, so don’t be afraid to flip the switch on this. Head into the settings > Discussions and uncheck the option to “Allow link notifications from other blogs.”
10. Scan Your Site For Malware
Security is one of the biggest topics right now for bloggers.
Hackers are getting bolder and more skillful by the day, so you need to ensure your site is safe. In terms of speed, malware can kill your site’s performance.
I recommend using a free tool like Wordfence to keep your site safe and secure. Finding and eliminating malware can be an instant fix for a slow web site!
I know those terms probably make you want to grab the first link out of here, but don’t worry, this won’t be complicated.
Think of it like cutting out the fat so your website is nice and lean. This can include things like comments, extra characters for white space and ones for new lines. There are a few ways to do this, so here’s the breakdown:
12. Enable gzip compression
Next up we have a type of compression known as gzip. This essentially squeezes the size of your server files down so they reach user’s web browsers faster. You’re not losing anything, you’re just making it smaller and therefore easier to load.
Doing this has some attractive benefits:
- Reduce the size of pages up to 70%
- Increase speed all around
- Better user experience and conversions
You’ll need to have access to the .htaccess files or server administration files. Your access to these will depend on your hosting plan. The actual process involves modifying these files by adding something called mod-deflate.
Doing involves pasting the code, which you’ll find a link to above, into the .htaccess file. You can specify which files to compress if needed by removing them from the code itself before putting into the server file.
I know this sounds a little complicated, which is why I’m also hitting you with a WordPress plugin that handles GZip compression for you. Known as “GZip Ninja Speed Compression,” this free plugin will easily compress your site, provided it runs on an Apache server (which is usually the case in WP installations).
13. Database Optimization
When using WordPress to publish and create content, all of it is stored on one database that consists of tables. The database starts with eleven core tables, but more are added either manually or by plugins and themes.
In order for everything to run smoothly, this database needs to be organized and ready at a moment’s notice. Over time, it’s natural for the database to get a little dusty. Much like a car, it needs an oil change every once and a while.
A great way to do this, is by using a plugin like WP-Optimize which takes care of the heavy lifting for you.
14. Updated Plugins
While it’s always important to keep your WordPress updated, it’s equally important that your plugins are all up-to-date as well.
Before you update to the next version of WordPress, make sure all of your plugins have been updated first.
This removes the possibility for the plugins to lose their compatibility, in addition to this, updating them also removes any security flaws that may exist. With everything running smoothly, you can bet your site will benefit as well.
15. Remove underutilized the plugins
With so many plugins to choose from, it’s really easy to just go on a downloading spree. Oh wow, this one adds the ability to make my cat photos meow? Installed! This one turns all of my jokes into cat puns? Yup, give me that one too!
You get the idea. It’s fun, but it can quickly slow down your site. I read a hilarious article the other day about warning signs that show you’e a WordPress plugin hoarder.
Take a look at these signs and then take a look at your plugins. Anything that you’re not using consistently should be removed to avoid cluttering your site and slowing it down.
16. Optimize Your Google Fonts
As we’ve discussed, when someone clicks on your site, they are requesting everything they need from the server at once. Anything, and I mean anything, that isn’t perfectly optimized to quickly load is going to slow your speed down.
Google Fonts are commonly used to make websites easy to read, which is great for the user experience, but as time goes other plugins and tools will add different fonts to the list. If a website request includes a bunch of different fonts, it’s going to slow down the effort.
A WordPress plugin known as Google Webfont Optimizer allows visitors to automatically group all of your fonts into a single request as opposed to a separate one for each font.
17. Set Far Future Expiration Headers
This is a step for someone who doesn’t use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache (which I mentioned earlier in the post). A caching plugin like that one does this for you.
This small, but significant change lowers the number of HTTP requests and therefore improves overall performance. For WordPress, there’s a plugin called WP Far Future Expiration that will do the trick.
18. Get Rid of Dead Weight and Useless Features
Clutter and dead weight on your WordPress site is the last thing you need. These things can come in many different forms, and some of them aren’t obvious. Some of the previous tips are right there and easy to see (like clearing out your old revisions).
For example, did you know that when you upload themes and plugins, you’re leaving .zip files hanging out on your server? Go in there and clear these out.
That one’s free, here’s another: the Disable Emojis plugin. These little icons add a bunch of code to your web pages that slows them down for the sake of possibly displaying an icon. Yeah, no thanks.
In the same vein are things like Generic icons, Fontawesome and sliders. These things are too much of a detriment to your performance, and they don’t add anything to the quality of your site. You don’t need them, so take the extra speed and kick them to the curb.
[BONUS] 19. Utilize CSS Sprites
CSS Sprites are yet another minor tweak you can make behind the scenes to make everything move faster. Their purpose is taking multiple images and combining them into a single image file to reduce load times and increase performance.
The name “sprite” comes from a technique used in video games to bring a graphic into memory, but only display part of it at a time. You can generate CSS sprites using several different tools and methods.
Don’t be afraid of the code, we’re only making minor modifications here so it won’t be anything you can’t handle.
Time to Put Your Blog’s Speed on Blast!
You know why Page Speed is important and how it affects your blog.
You know how to speed up WordPress, and you’re empowered to make it happen! Take these tools, go forth, and kick in the afterburners on your blog.
Thanks as always for reading, and before you go, be sure to share your own tips and experience in the comments below!