Slow sites suck, and worse they drive people from your website because nobody has the patience anymore. So if you're site takes forever to load you need help with WordPress site speed optimization, this article is for you.
Here are three easy (and quick) tips to help with speeding up your website.
1. Do a plugin audit
Slow sites usually have too many ineffective plugins. Notice I said ineffective. So if you have 25 plugins but ten support your WooCommerce shop you are in a different boat than someone who has ten junk or crap plugins. WordPress site speed optimization starts with a plugin audit.
Each plugin adds extra resources even if you are not actively using them. That, in turn, can decrease your site load speed. And plugins that are poorly coded or have errors in the files contribute to load time issues too.
How to tell if a plugin might cause problems? You can try PluginTests to see if there are any code errors or if it will slow your site down.
It's time to remove any inactive or unused plugins.
And it goes without saying that the next step is to make sure the others are up-to-date. Now if you've never run an update, you might want to contact your developer or use a maintenance service. And remember to back-up first.
Now you'll want to review the remaining to see if they can stay or go. A plugin should enhance the user experience or make a difference for your website.
Here is a short list of plugins you will want to keep:
- Plugins that improve security (I recommend Shield)
- Plugins that improve loading speed (caching falls into this category)
- Plugins that improve user engagement (social sharing anyone)
- Plugins that improve your conversion rate (my love Gravity Forms)
And finally, stop installing plugins because someone recommends it or it's the new flavor of the month.
2. Optimize your media
The biggest contributor to slow sites is super huge images and media files like audios and videos. We all want pictures that enhance our message and give some visual cues but the large the image the file, the more it adds to load time. And the next step in WordPress site speed optimization is giving your images and media some attention.
Best practice it to crop your image to the right size and compress before you upload your image but that does not always happen. There are tons of free tools like ShortPixel or TinyPNG to help compress your images without losing the quality.
Next, let's talk videos. Video files size is quite large. Large videos use a lot of bandwidth and resources which when loaded can cause your site to load pretty slow. Video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo make it easy to watch your videos. WordPress even has built-in shortcodes to make it easy to add videos to any post or page.
If you're using videos for banner backgrounds that need to be uploaded to your website try to limit the video to 5-10 seconds, and the video file size to 6MB or less.
3. Use a CDN
Let's talk CDN (Content Delivery Network) which is a collection of servers around the world that hold a copy of your website and when someone goes to your website it picks the closest server. Adding a CDN is the last tip for WordPress site speed optimization.
The good news is that there are some great free options and Cloudflare is my choice. And it's easy to install. In most cases, you can stick with the preset settings, but if you need more, you can tailor to your needs.
If you're not sure how to get started, contact your web host and ask for their help. Siteground which we recommend makes this part of their cPanel and you can be set up with a few clicks of the mouse.
WordPress Site Speed Optimization Recap
Now that you've made it through the three tips it's time to test your site speed again using the same service and see if any of these changes made a difference for you. Did you see a difference after…
- Optimizing your active (and inactive) plugins
- Optimizing your images and media
- Adding a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If not then you might want to enlist some help to get your load times as low as possible. Check out WPSpeedGuru who know website speed and has several options to help your need for speed.
WordPress speed optimization is only the beginning of keeping your site in tip-top shape. Continuing to give your site love and attention is the key to keeping it healthy and working for you. Tell me where you're stuck in getting your site to perform at its best.