The loading speed of your website has a big effect on the “bounce” rate or how many visitors click away before seeing your content. The likelihood of a bounce increases by 32% when your loading time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds and it increases by 90% if the time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds.
For a WordPress site, loading slow is the kiss of death. It means you’re losing visitors and that likely means you’re losing business. Let’s look at what slows WordPress down and what you can do to fix the problem.
How to Test the Speed of Your Website
The first step you should take it to test the speed of your site to see what kind of shape it’s in right now. You can’t use your own experience to judge the speed though.
You visit your site regularly so your PC will have some parts of the site cached. That means it doesn’t have to download everything so it’s more than likely loading faster for you than it would be for someone who hasn’t been to the site before.
Instead, use a website like IsItWP.com or GTMetrix.com to test the speed. These services will load your website through their servers and give you a report on the page load times, what’s working well, and what’s slowing things down.
Ideally, you want to aim for 2 seconds or less loading times.
Common Causes of a WordPress Site Loading Slow
One of the most widespread reasons for poor WordPress performance is low-quality hosting. If you’re hosting your WordPress site on a low-cost shared server, it’s not going to load very well.
Most low-cost shared hosting companies stick dozens or even hundreds of websites on a single server. Those sites have to share the server’s resources and if any one of them is using more than its share, it can bring the rest of them to a crawl.
WordPress Setup Problems
Another type of problem that’s common to a lot of WordPress websites is poor configuration and setup of WordPress and its plugins. The wide range of plugins available for WordPress is one of the reasons it’s a good choice for building your website. But a large number of choices means a lot of people install a lot of unnecessary plugins on their site.
Each plugin you install uses some overhead, which will slow down the loading speed of your site. And if any of the plugins are outdated or poorly designed, they can make it even worse.
Page Content Problems
The content of the pages on your website can also slow down its performance in some cases. If you haven’t optimized the images on your website and your pages have a lot of external scripts for displaying ads, tracking your visitors, or connecting to social media sites, for example, the pages on your site will load slowly.
How to Speed Up WordPress
The following WordPress optimization tips will improve the speed of your website. Some will have a bigger impact than others but as we’ve already pointed out, every second counts.
Install a Caching Plugin
Installing a WordPress caching plugin is one of the most effective performance tips. Behind the scenes, WordPress has to build each page on the site every time a visitor lands on it. That includes several steps:
- Loading the content from a database
- Generating the code for the theme, scripts, and everything else on the page
- Pulling up any images, audio, and other media files including on the page
- Sending the page content to the visitor
A caching plugin makes a semi-permanent version of each page on the site so WordPress doesn’t have to do all the work of generating the page. When a visitor lands on the page, the cached version gets sent to them. This saves time as well as processing power on the server.
Optimize Images and Other Media Files
Images that aren’t optimized for use on the web can slow down the loading time. Even the most basic smartphone takes pictures that are far higher resolution than what you need to look good on a website.
If you upload those images to your website without optimizing them first, they’re going to take a lot longer to load with no visible benefit to the visitor. Instead, you should either use an image optimization plugin for WordPress or use a photo editing app on your PC to optimize the image before you upload it.
Keep Your Site Up-to-Date
WordPress is no different than apps you run on your PC or smartphone – it gets updated regularly to add features, fix security flaws, and improve performance.
The same goes for the plugins and themes you have installed on your WordPress site. They get updated for the same reasons. Keeping everything up-to-date will help your site run as quickly as possible, not to mention make it more secure.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers located in different parts of the world where you can host certain parts of your website. They’re most effective for larger files that rarely change like images and audio.
When a visitor lands on your website, those components of the page load from the CDN instead of your server. And because the CDN has servers around the world, it can serve the files from the location that’s closest to your visitor, making the site load as quickly as possible for them.
Use HTTPS for Your Website
The HTTPS protocol is encrypted, making it more secure. But aside from the security benefits, HTTPS supports HTTP version 2, which has a speed advantage over HTTP 1.1. If your website isn’t using HTTPS, it will only support version 1.1.
WordPress Performance Tuning Takes Some Technical Chops
Fixing a WordPress site loading slow isn’t that complicated but it does need some technical skills to implement some of the fixes. If you don’t have an in-house IT department who can look after it for you and you’re not interested in learning a new set of skills, We Manage Your Site can help.
We offer several support packages with varying levels of support. We can do basic maintenance on your WordPress site or we can provide 24/7 telephone support with a dedicated developer on call to help with all your needs.
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help get your WordPress website set up for maximum speed.