Fast loading website pages improve your user’s experience and help you increase your page views that support your WordPress SEO’s (search engine optimization) process.
Speeding up WordPress is one of the most sought-after techniques in handling websites nowadays. ECommerce is now innovating more and more because buyers tend to choose online shopping due to their lack of time, energy, busy schedules, and mainly because of the convenience it offers. This is the reason why your WordPress powered e-commerce website must be personalized and should have an increased speed in loading to have a better user experience.
Unfortunately, WordPress powered websites tend to go slower over time if left unchecked. The websites collect data, get complex, and become less efficient. Though these are normal to some extent, there are ways you can do to prevent your website from slowing down.
Reasons Why WordPress Needs a Speed Up
Web page loading speed is a huge factor because it influences almost everything such as web traffic, conversion, bounce rate, user satisfaction, and profits.
Here are reasons why you need to speed up your WordPress powered website:
- Speed ranking is a huge factor in your search position. Keep in mind that a slow-loading website increases its bounce rate. This shows the rate of users or visitors that leave your site immediately after landing on it. They don’t bother anymore checking your website because your pages take a lot of time load.
- Your website users and visitors are extremely impatient. A study conducted by Kissmetrics shows that about 47% of consumers expect e-commerce websites to load in a span of two seconds or less. When Mozilla started making it possible for their pages to load 2.2 seconds faster, it gained about 60 million additional downloads yearly. Amazon found out that a second of slowdown on their page loading speed will probably cost them $1.6 billion loss per year.
- Website speed is now included in Google’s ranking algorithm. Your website’s speed affects its SEO. Having a slow loading website may lose you a visitor and will then result in lower rankings in the search engines.
15 Actionable WordPress Performance Tips
1. You need to have a good web hosting provider
Choosing a good web hosting provider is one of the most important factors that influence your WordPress website’s speed. Remember that shared hosting environments often fail on delivering good loading time, especially during peak traffic hours. They also fail to provide almost 99 percent of uptime. Think twice before having your website hosted on a shared provider that oftentimes offers unlimited space, emails, domains, and bandwidth.
Fortunately, the advancement in the web hosting industry has offered lower prices for their cloud hosting. You can now purchase dedicated cloud servers from Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, DigitalOcean, and SiteGround.
Keep in mind that shared hosting tends to give poorer service because you are sharing the same server space along with countless other websites.
Above all, you can use managed WordPress hosting services – specialized hosting for WordPress. They come with 100% uptime guarantee and almost all aspects of WordPress performance, optimization, and security managed for you.
2. Installing the right caching plugin on your WordPress
The second priority in speeding up your WordPress website is installing the right caching plugin. This will save a lot of your resources that help in loading your pages faster because the caching plugin will save a copy of your website pages in a temporary file instead of sending a request to your MySQL database to load the user’s requested pages.
A right caching plugin will load the user’s requested page from the temporary file without having to send requests to your database every single time, thus users won’t consume your server’s resources every time they visit.
Installing WP Super Cache is highly recommended because it is loaded with features that improve the loading time of a WordPress powered website. This caching plugin has helped thousands of WordPress websites achieve efficiencies and faster loading pages.
3. You need to optimize your images
One of the main reasons why your WordPress powered website slows down is because of the images and files that you display on your site. Optimizing images make a huge improvement on your website’s speed loading time.
You have to keep in mind that in image optimization you need to focus on: size, format, scale, and the src attribute. Image size because the bigger it is, the longer it will take for your website to load, keep your images’ size small as possible. Using an image optimization plugin like WPMU DEV’s Smush Image Compression and Optimization can help you greatly.
It is advisable to use the JPEG format for your website’s images and must avoid GIFs as much as possible because of its graphics and animated images that slow down your website’s loading speed. Ensure that your image’s code is correct. The right image src code is <img src=”image_url” >. Having no source in the quotation marks will lead your browser into making a request to the actual page itself, thus adding an unnecessary burden on your server.
4. Choose a fast loading and well-coded theme
Choosing a theme with clean, lightweight, and minimal properties can do wonders on your website speed. The great thing about these themes is that you can personalize it to reflect your brand.
For instance, take a look at Spacious—a multipurpose responsive theme with a lot of white spaces to help your readers’ eyes breathe. It is a minimal theme that strikes the balance between aesthetically-pleasing and fast loading.
You can check how fast your site loads using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Here are other important things to consider when choosing a website theme:
- Cost – Beyond what is visually appealing, you also need to look at your company’s budget. Don’t pick a theme that is too expensive with more functionalities than you need. On the flip side, don’t go for the cheapest one that lacks the features that you need, just so you can money pinch. At the end of the day, pick a theme that will not hamper your site’s performance.
- Developer support – Chances are, you need to upgrade your theme in the future. If the developer understands that the platform changes and advances (e.g. need for better security), then they will continue to publish updates. Look at the theme’s log history, the developer’s information, and customer reviews to find out if developers are regularly making changes to the theme.
- Mobile readiness – In the wake of Mobilegeddon, your business will lose its competitive edge if your website is not mobile compatible. Pick a theme that will respond well to your traffic, regardless of the device they use. To be sure, run your site on Google’s mobile test.
- Cross-browser compatibility – Apart from using different devices, site visitors also use different browsers. It’s best to test the template’s live preview in different environments before you purchase.
- Plugin compatibility – Plugins make it possible for you to customize your website, whether that is to improve its look, add special features, or improve your conversion rate. WordPress has an extensive library of 54,000 plugins. Pick a theme that fits the current state of your business, including the plugins you need to improve it.
5. Minify your website’s CSS and JS files
You can click here to see if your site has GZIP enabled.
6. Turn off Pingbacks and Trackbacks
WordPress websites have two major components that alert you when your page or blog receives a link. These are called trackbacks and pingbacks. Instead of using these two components, you can use the Google Webmaster tools to check the links to your website.
Keeping your website’s trackbacks and pingbacks may give an unwanted amount of strain on your server’s resources because it generates back and forth requests from WordPress whenever a user or visitor tries to link up to your site.
7. Lessen the number of plugins on your website
If you keep unwanted plugins on your WordPress powered website, it will increase the amount of junk on your web files. It will also result in an overwhelming amount of load on your server’s resources while your backs up files are being generated.
To resolve this, perform regular database maintenance by uninstalling plugins that you’re not using. Keep in mind that unused plugins continue to accumulate temporary disk space and data. If you can’t tell which plugin is taking up a lot of space, try disabling each one, and then measuring your server’s performance. You will then find out which one adversely affects site performance.
You can also use third-party services that automates or schedules tasks like sharing your posts to social media.Zappler, for instance, is a service that helps in automating tasks, which will then decrease the weight on your server resources and website.
8. Use an efficient social media share buttons
Consider the speed when you are looking for an efficient social media sharing button plugin, especially if the number of shares is cached.
Plugins avoid the “AddThis” service in general because it is slow and is only used when third-party companies track and pixel visitors on your website. According to a study that evaluates a number of WordPress social plugins, Social Media Feather, Monarch, Simple Share Buttons Adder, and Mashsharer are the fastest and add the least amount of weight on a webpage.
Another thing to consider is the location and placement of your social buttons to prevent slow loading pages. Note that too many social buttons can negatively impact your site speed; placing them randomly may not help with your conversions either. Keep testing and find out which location would lessen the load on your website, but remain strategically placed for your audience to click through.
9. Use HTML instead of PHP
When you use HTML (hypertext markup language) instead of PHP (hypertext processor) it will dynamically change the created content on your posts such as the date, copyright statement, and other basic static texts.
While PHP can help make your site more efficient by reducing the need to input the same information more than once, it does use up a lot of server space. Replace it with HTML where possible.
10. Lessen redirects on your website
Lessening the redirects on your website also helps its loading speed. Keep the number of redirects on your website to a minimum, as these pages tend to slow down the time browsers need to get to the right page.
It is advisable to use the 301 (permanent redirect) instead of 404 (broken links) error on your website. You can use Xenu Link Sleuth and Screaming Frog to crawl data on your website and find out how many redirects you have.
That said, if you do have any missing files that result in 404 HTTP errors, fix them. These files are often taxing on any website’s server, taking an average of 60 to 100 MB of memory to deliver.
Use third-party services instead of plugins to check for 404s. You can again use tools like Screaming Frog and Xenu Link Sleuth or run your site through Google Search Console.
11. Clean up your media library
There are times when we forget to delete or clean an overwhelming amount of images or media files that come with the theme you use for your website. If you do not need them, get rid of them.
Keep in mind that as your website ages, you will continue to upload media files which will only eat up more space. By cleaning up your media library, it will increase the amount of available space on your website which would then help it load faster.
To do this, you can go to your WordPress dashboard media, click on the drop-down icon and click on “Unattached Media.” You can also use a plugin like Media Cleaner to help you.
12. Setup a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
The problem that most web hosting providers face is the dependence of loading time on the user or visitor’s location to the server, which results in user’s inconsistent user experience. To address this problem, a CDN is needed.
CDN is a vital factor on your website because it protects and speeds up the loading time. It also optimizes your website’s performance, security, and reliability.
There are hosting providers that have a CDN available for their customers. One example is WP Engine, it can be easily set up on your WordPress website.
13. Optimize your website’s database tables
WordPress websites are driven by a MySQL database. It is where your website data is stored, including the page revisions of your website. When you make changes on your website, it can get a little populated and eventually result in slower performance.
You can choose to manually optimize your database in your server by using phpMyAdmin. However, without the know-how, you might damage your website. If you’re a beginner at cleaning your database, you can install plugins like WP-Sweep, Advanced Database Cleaner, or Optimize Database to help you.
14. Avoid hosting videos
Although WordPress has the capability to host and play your videos, it’s best that you use a different platform for it.
For one, hosting videos can cost you a considerable amount of your bandwidth. This kind of file can take up at least 100 MB of space. Unless you can invest in an account with bigger bandwidth, you are better off saving memory for other files that you need to upload.
Secondly, with larger files like videos, you will have a more difficult time backing up your website. There are also cases of large files violating terms of Acceptable Use, risking your account to be shut down.
Lastly, with multiple users watching a video at the same time, your server will then need to work twice as hard to deliver data to all of them. With a limited bandwidth, this will result in lags and pauses during playback.
Instead, use other video hosting sites that can do a better job than your current server (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia). You can easily embed the video on your website, allowing you to keep more bandwidth and load the video faster.
15. Delete post revisions
Post revisions also take up space in your database. In order for you to delete your post revisions, you must first locate your WordPress powered website’s wp-config.php file. This is located in the root directory.
You then need to add this code on top of it: define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false). This code disables your website’s post revisions from being stored in the future. If you would like to enable your post revision, simply replace the code with this: define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, true).
You can also use plugins like RVG Optimize Database to simplify the process.
There is a huge advantage in speeding up your WordPress powered website. An efficient user experience is important in creating and maintaining a successful and personalized eCommerce website. Speeding up your website’s loading time will also help you improve your ranking in search engines.
If you haven’t started with these tips yet, let’s talk by leaving a comment below. If you’re an eCommerce business owner and you want to know more about how you can speed up your WordPress website, let’s discuss it here!
Nera Cruz is a technical writer and a web merchandiser for different online marketplaces around the globe since 2011. Nera gained tons of experience working with several e-commerce platforms. She spends her free time selling her fashion products and gadgets on Facebook (Nera Shoppe). You can also follow her on twitter @nera_joy.
(This is a guest post. View guest posting guidelines.)