It is not a secret anymore that people don’t like to wait for anything, especially when they sit at home in their comfortable armchairs and feel like nothing is capable of getting in their feng shui. Clicking around, surfing online and watching some of the most interesting stuff that can relax our minds are few of the daily activities we should engage with our hearts wide open. Yet, sometimes even the most flawless and qualitative websites can surprise us (and not in a good way) – and the first impact is generated by the time required for pages to load. If you’re a website owner and decide to get rid of the long loading time, make sure to stick with us and keep an eye onto the following lines in order to see how to reduce load time on WordPress!
What is WordPress?
Every single website found online is created using a content management system (CMS). It is basically an interface between the user and the backend code, which makes blogging easier than ever before for the direct user to manage and organize. Instead of seeing and reading lines of code, for the human eye is way more appealing (as well as relaxing) to manage tabs. One of these content management systems is WordPress, worldwide used by 30% of website owners (according to a study conducted throughout the year 2018). It comes completely free of charge, being a website creation tool that is written in PHP – and on top of that, few tutorials on YouTube are exactly what it takes to help you get going with it.
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Why is WordPress load time important?
Speed has always been a hot topic most appealing to website owners. Before owning one, the vast majority of them had at least a favourite website they checked every single day – for tips, tricks, information and definitely appearance. That saying, they know all the flaws annoying enough to make them leave the page – that’s why whenever the loading button keeps freezing, it is by default a total turnoff.
The WordPress load time is critical enough to be perceived as probably the most important characteristic of a qualitative website. If you think that’s not true, consider the following directly impacted aspects, such as:
• Number of visitors – as presented above, people don’t like to wait – for anything, especially when it happens online. According to a survey conveyed by NeilPatel in 2019, if the loading time of a page is higher than two seconds, 53% of visitors would drop off the page, in theory; whereas 60% of customers remain practically on the page if it loads within 3 seconds sharp. When it comes to shopping, 21% of a website’s customers don’t return if a website performance is low. To put it short, a slow speed is likely to help you lose visitors – which is not a good sign in so many ways;
• Ranking factor – a massive and increasing website drop off is not a great indicator for Google ranking search engines, and it definitely comes with important repercussions. Even though speed is not yet an official ranking factor assigned by neither Google, nor Bing or Yahoo, it has direct implications. A troublesome loading time of a WordPress page is directly linked to a high bounce rate, known as the number of users who decide to leave the page as soon as they land on it. They don’t even wait for the page to load completely but disappear. This is not what Google looks for when deciding who gets the first rankings. It gets even tougher if we think of mobile devices which have pretty much already taken up the use of desktops when people decide to look up something online. Usually, it takes longer for the website pages to load on mobile devices, which makes it tougher for website owners to attract visitors and make them stick to their qualitative content.
• Professionalism – nothing makes a visitor spend more time in a shop, as well as to increase the chances of him coming back better than a great management of the items (coupled with the speed with which everything is handled within the four walls). The same strategy applies to any website. One of the most important characteristics is professionalism, and a website owner should definitely rule that before the customer even accesses it. This is why setting up an optimal time for page loading is the way to go, from the very beginning.
What affects WordPress load time?
Up until last few years, it was extremely expensive and almost impossible to obtain the ideal loading time for each and every page of a website. Nowadays, thanks to the various methods used in measuring and improving the results, few factors have been concluded to affect WordPress load time, such as:
• Choice of web hosting company – depending on your choice, you can decide among shared hosting, VPS (virtual private server) or dedicated server. The last one is by far the best, since serves your website only;
• Server technology – only the latest versions of anything from PHP to HTML and others are able to shorten the time required by pages to load;
• Server location – it is easy to understand that the closer is the server located, the shorter the load time gets. Pages can be accessed and interrogated easier when the server is nearby.
How to speed up WordPress?
Anything can be improved, especially in the online world. Regardless of whether or not you own a website for a long period of time or you’re just at the beginning, there are some useful tips and tricks which have been shown to speed up WordPress to reduce the load time required for its pages. Below you will find a detailed list of all the recommendations, as follow:
1. Web Hosting Choice
Even if a website is built up in the online world and most stuff can be obtained without having to pay money (thanks to torrents and free of charge alternatives), a great hosting solution has to be paid for. The more financial resources you have to offer, the higher security and WordPress speed you are ought to receive.
By default, there are two available hosting categories from which you can choose: shared hosting or individual running server. For large website owners, running their own server is definitely the key since it is the safest choice of them all. Yet, if you don’t have yet the necessary resources to make that happen, a VPS might do the trick – providing yourself with a proper load time for an optimal cost.
Some of the best offers on the web hosting market today are:
• Siteground – provide your website with the best hosting services with Siteground, founded back in 2004 in Bulgaria. Regardless of the type of operating system, the types of available hosting solutions vary, from shared Linux hosting to WordPress, Reseller server solutions to Cloud;
• WP Engine – not a single cyberattack will affect your website as soon as you choose WP Engine as your web hosting company. In case it happens, you will be assured on the company’s behalf, which means that you’ll get the website back on track with no additional fees;
• Cloudways – the high speed and low load time are two of the most important characteristics of Cloudways. The web hosting company offers high performance and security, all of which can be tested during a 3-day trial out of charge found on their website.
And the logic is quite easy to follow – depending on your choice, the result might surprise you in some of the best available ways.
2. High-end Technology
Speed is directly influenced by the type of technology a website uses, as well as what the hosting company sets itself on. Each and every new released version comes with improvements, both in terms of security and speed.
As for the moment, a website should not be running a PHP version earlier than 7.2, due to the fact that previous versions are not configured to receive security updates. One of the attributions of a qualitative host is the ability of it to update itself automatically, whenever new versions come across. Yet, if the feature is not supported, you can obtain a higher and surely patched PHP version yourself with nothing more than some clicks on your website. First, look for the PHP configuration menu and spot your current version. Next, search for the newest version and your website will be up to date. And voila, you are closer to the speed of your dreams.
3. Up-to-date WordPress Versions
Aside PHP, the WordPress version used is an important factor that influences the speed with which your website loads. Even though the software on your server is important, the WordPress versions are even more critical. With every new one, your website gets bugfixed, various features and other aspects ought to keeping it safe and sound. What’s even more, all of them combined increase the loading speed of your website.
But keeping up with the latest WordPress versions is not only a matter of speed, but an insight of security. Each new version comes with patches which apply perfectly on the previous identified vulnerabilities – and thus, your website remains straight and still in front of new cybersecurity challenges.
4. Lightweight Theme
In the online world, appearance is decisive. There is no better way to attract visitors to your website without an impactful theme – one that can remain in the minds of more for longer periods of time. Still, a characteristic of a perfect theme is its functionality.
It is not a secret anymore that a heavy theme requires more time for the website to load, since there are more lines of code ought to be run. In contrast, a lightweight one displays the pages on time, with not a single second in plus. Website owners who decide to upload a clearer theme have noticed that the load time decreases drastically. Even though this choice might appear as being too much, and that various features a heavier theme comes with are pretty useful, you can always replace them with plugins.
By this way, your website is lean, lightweight and ready to host any visitor from all over the world.
5. Database Maintenance
After every single plugin uninstall, post revision and various other features applied on the website, the WordPress database is usually not overwritten. This is the reason why the temporary disk space might be quite full, thus the website pages could load harder and heavier.
Because of it, performing a regular database maintenance is really a thing for WordPress users. This can done using various online tools, such as WP-Optimize or WP-Sweep. These cleaning solutions are perfectly designed to keep the database usable for a longer period of time, without increasing the load time.
When it comes to post revisions, things are pretty straightforward. Each new one determines the website to load harder than expected, reason why keeping a small number would definitely do the trick – and be in your favour.
6. Website Monitoring
In order to know how to get where you want, you must know your current state. And this applies to websites as well. Website monitoring is a great opportunity to check the present situation, just to realize where you stand.
There are various applications perfectly designed to monitor a website in terms of speed, yet even more in terms of automatic monitoring. Whenever you decide to use their services, you will get an email each time your website’s speed gets under their limits. It is needless to say that this investment is worth going for.
Some of these recommendations are Pingdom or GTmetrix which charges as low as $14,95 for their cheapest offer consisting in visualising your website’s key metrics.
7. Number of Server Requests
Each time your browser looks for any resource uploaded on your server, a server request is invoked. The higher the number of them, the harder is it for the server to put up everything in an optimal load time. This undoubtedly makes another reason why websites load harder and more difficult.
The available applications of website monitoring have the feature of checking the number of server requests included, which means that once you start using their services, you will have a detailed report on each and every side of your website.
In order to obtain a better speed level, a smaller number of server requests might be exactly what you need. Some of the ways to do that are:
• Organize the website to display fewer posts per page;
• Enable post excerpts to show only a part of each article. The option can be managed in Settings > Reading;
• Divide long posts into more pages;
• Organize a higher number of comments into more pages;
• Remove images and videos shown on the page as much as possible;
• Keep only utterly important plugins and get rid of the unnecessary ones;
• Remove useless plugins to your website;
• Activate the option of lazy loading. This feature displays the full image as soon as it has completely loaded;
• Lower the number of external sources if not necessary.
8. Quality of the Images
In contrast to either text or CSS, the displayed images on a website always require more space of the page to be displayed and shown properly. That is natural since you can have 20% text and 80% images, which is again perfectly fine. Still, the ideal strategy for a short load time requires small images, able to be loaded faster and easier. This process is also known as compression.
Due to the powerful tools found online in both the CMS platforms and out in the wild, compression is done today with a click of a mouse. Contrary to the old-fashioned way, in which you would have to compress the images before making them live on the website, ShortPixel makes sure to compress everything right when you add the content to the WordPress site. With it, optimization is made straightforward.
As a good practice guide, remember that a pixel comprimation from normal to 300 is a factor that leads to a low loading speed for a website. This is something we try hard to defeat.
9. To Host – or NOT to Host – Videos
We have to admit it – there’s nothing more enchanting and thrilling on a website than the choice of media, from sketches, drawings, photos to videos. Even so, once they are being uploaded on the website, its load speed is ought to decrease drastically. And we will see below why.
Basically, an uploaded video is translated into bandwidth, which is low for limited hosting accounts. This means that each time someone accesses your website (that has by default a video on it), the load time is highly affected.
Further, videos have a direct impact on your WordPress site dimensions, making it larger. This is translated into a more difficult method to back it up.
Last but not least, choosing one of many video hosting sites is a great alternative that provide visitors with the required website loading speed. Starting from here, you get all you want in a blink of an eye, without having to put the sake of the number of visitors at risk.
10. Say Yes to Page Caching
The entire process of invoking a server request is easy to follow. Basically, when someone accesses your website, a server request is directly sent and a HTML version is being generated. Each time this is being done, the website loads slower and visitors have to wait more for it to be 100% correctly displayed.
This process could be speed up in a second. Page caching is a great trick that comes natural when considering the load time required for the website to show everything right, from head to toe.
By definition, page caching holds information about your website’s pages which in turn is sent to your visitors. This speeds up the load time, due to the fact that pages do not need to load again from head to toe – they are directly sent from the page caching.
Among some of the best and most common plugin solutions for page caching are found the following: WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache. Another method page caching can be done is through the provider server. If you opt for this alternative, ask to see if they come with server-side caching. This method is faster than the previous one, in which the central part consists of plugins.
11. Go for CDN (Content Delivery Network)
We already know that the server location influences the load time of your website. If it had to cross the ocean to provide you with the requested pages, the speed is undoubtedly lower. On the contrary, the closer the server is, the faster any one of your pages can be accessed and in turn, loaded.
Even if your website’s server is far away, with CDN that’s not a problem anymore. By definition, a CDN is a content delivery network specially designed to host static files found on various servers placed all over the world. By this way, a website’s pages could be accessed in a blink, from the nearest place where they are being hosted. By this way, the download time decreases, which in turn affects the loading time of your pages in a good way.
12. Enable or Disable File Concatenation
Having as few server requests as possible was our goal from the very beginning. Nothing enlarges the load time better than more requests at once, each of which requires special attention to be perfectly handled. In order to decrease the number of server requests, file concatenation is a great starting point.
In IT&C, file concatenation is perceived as the possibility of combining more files into one, turning it into a larger one. One of the key benefits of using it is that the download process takes less time than expected, since one single file is easier and faster to load than more of them at the same time.
Most concatenations are done in WordPress via plugins, such as Autoptimize, Gulp and other alternatives found online.
13. Enable File Minification
The concept of file minification is rather new to most website owners. Regardless of how difficult it might seem to use, it is a neat and thoughtful process which can decrease the necessary download time of any requested files. Basically, just like any block of code which programmers design and redesign to make it easier to read, any WordPress post is also written in CSS. It means that once you arrive to these pages of code, you can minify the content so that the number of lines is smaller than before, all in a blink of an eye.
Even though comment insertion is pretty useful for human reading, computers work just as great without them. Still, more lines of code require more time to compile which, in turn, is translated into a longer load time needed
For now, this is the problem – yet the solution is just about to come. Apps like Autoptimize, W3 Total Cache, Grunt or Gulp are there to help you minify the necessary files.
14. Use GZip Compression
Any WordPress website can be compressed per se. It means that not only the files within it (through file concatenation), but the entire display can be made smaller using gzip compression.
By definition, the process of compression directly affects data that is repetitive – and code is a great candidate for that. In turn, the website files are easy to be compressed.
While this process happens, the result gets smaller and smaller, being easier than ever to download any file in a blink of an eye. What’s more, any updated browser having the latest version knows how to interpret any compressed file, turning it into a great method of reducing load time on WordPress.
Before trying to do it manually, ask your web hosting company first for a possible built-in gzip configuration. Believe it or not, you might be surprised to find that many hosts already have a gzip server-side set up, which means you’ll get it from them as soon as possible.
15. Get rid of Hotlinking
Regardless of how appealing it is to add images on your website, load time is influenced by those which are accessed by clicking a link and opening it in a different site, where the image was originally located. Still, this alternative not only increases the chances of visitors leaving your website (either because they exit your website while surfing for the image or simply lose your domain), but it also directly affects website’s bandwidth. Technically speaking, once the link is accessed, the server has to deliver the required image by opening another page, which is not at all something that can be made in a blink of an eye.
16. Make Sure your Site is properly Secured
Nothing prolongs the existence of your website than a high level of security. By default, it is a fundamental condition that shows professionalism and a high level of trust for your visitors. Since it is built up online, cyberattacks are out there in the wild and could target it at any minute. A WordPress website hit by such an attack comes with a lower load speed, due to the following:
• Vulnerable plugin exploits – are used to obtain website resources by various hackers which create various scripts and leave them out in the wild;
• DoS (Denial of Service attacks) – being one of the most worldwide renowned cyberattacks, this one also targets the website’s resources, making sure that the site is slowed down. In the end, the final step is to redirect the visitors onto their website;
• DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service attacks) – is based on brute force attempts and tries to put your website down due to sending more server requests at the same time, from various places. Once the server cannot keep up with the increasing number, your websites shuts down;
• Access log – is the place where you can spot any attempt of brute force onto your website.
17. Use HTTPS and HTTP/2
After HTTP1.1, also known as the pervious long-term version used by the web, the updated ones have special features of which your website should definitely take advantage.
In case you are still stuck on HTTP, make sure to update it to HTTPS using a SSL certificate. Once it is generated, you must install it up on the website and make it work flawlessly. The next logical step is to upgrade HTTPS to HTTP/2, which can be done only if the website has a SSL certificate installed.
18. Disable or Remove Plugins
Just like in any other situations with storage devices, a web hosting server can have a lot of bulk inside if you keep useless plugins. Any website owner who quite uses it daily know how important and thoughtful is it to have plugins installed, since these are basically features that are powerful in functionality. Even though you go for a lightweight theme (totally recommended as discussed above), the mere use of plugins is important enough to get it going.
To make your website speed up, it comes in handy to disable (and even remove) any unwanted plugins, since they decrease the general time required for loading.
19. Avoid Pingbacks and Trackbacks
Do you know the hyperlinks commonly found in various contents among different websites? Well, we all know that this is a strategy to generate traffic using a third component. This is indeed a great way to make your website flourish as days go by, yet it might soak all of your resources in a blink of an eye if you keep your pingback and trackback options up. This happens due to the fact that each time your website is being hyperlinked somewhere in the wild, a pingback (or a trackback) lets you know about it.
Once your website gets popular and generates lots of traffic, the host server is ought to load slower and in turn, the load time needed for your website’s pages to load increases.
20. Split Comments into More Pages
A bigger page takes longer to load, since there is more information requested to be displayed. When it comes to speed, it is highly recommended to reduce the content by splitting it into more pages. This trick can be easily used on comments (which on popular websites are high in number), reason why a total and complete display is not useful for the time required for the server to process all the information. As soon as you decide to move them onto more pages, the result might impress you.
How fast should your WordPress page load?
In short, an optimal speed required for a WordPress page to load is under two seconds. According to various studies conducted using the help of different website visitors, a page that requires more than three seconds to load is bound to be shut down by the vast majority of people. This means that the website rank is directly affected. Yet, if it is being displayed in as long as two seconds, you don’t have to worry about speed anymore.
A survey conducted by Pingdom has discovered that a website with a load speed of 1.7 seconds makes it into 25% top fastest sites. With such a result, it won’t be hard to be noticed – and the benefits won’t take too long to appear.
How to check if your WordPress speed page is optimal
Nowadays, speed is found among the top factors to predict the level of success – in everything, starting from a business to education and arriving to websites. Believe it or not, it influences the traffic, conversions, bounce rate, profits and nonetheless, user satisfaction, most of which are explained below:
• website traffic – is known as the number of visitors who decide to go on to your website, regardless of methods – hyperlinks, social media platforms, Google searches or by directly writing down your full domain name in the search bar. When it comes to website platforms, the number of visits represents the web traffic. It means that even if you have a low number of unique visitors, if each of them access it for more times, your website traffic is blooming;
• conversion rate – represents the number of visitors who make the same action on your website, displayed in percentages. Basically, if 345 visitors who access your online shop go for the same pair of shoes (and end up buying it), this might represent 14% out of all of your website’s visitors;
• bounce rate – as explained above, the bounce rate is translated in the number of visitors who decide to exit a website right before choosing to spend more time looking over it. In website terms, it is explained in percentages – since it is easier to read;
• profits – are known as the financial benefits a website owner receives from the online activity of managing and creating useful content to show online;
• user satisfaction – is translated into the comfort a visitor gets by scrolling down a website, as well as by getting a glimpse while reading some of your best content displayed. Widely speaking, the user satisfaction is directly influenced by a broad variety of factors, among which we find the following: mix of colors, themes used, number of inserted plugins, domain name, accessibility, type of content, method of display, media used (photos, videos and GIFs) and many more.
Yet, the above-mentioned steps are ready to be taken up in any order you feel like. Plugin removal, file concatenation, CDN, HTTPS or HTTP/2, database maintenance or a great and qualitative hosting choice are just few factors shown to improve website load time, all of which have been thoroughly presented.
In order to know where we stand and what the starting point is, it is utterly important to test the site speed. We already know that the optimal one is under two seconds, but how well does our website perform? Its current speed can be measured using various tools and apps, such as Pingdom and GTmetrix. Each one of these options makes measurements from various locations, to provide the best and most accurate outcome. In addition, together with the speed coefficient, you get a detailed report on every single spotted point used to slow down your website. This is a massive advantage, since aside the already known tips and tricks, you get a special analysis on your own website – totally applied to exactly what you need.
When should I start?
It is needless to say that the sooner you make these improvements, the better the overall outcome will be. A website that is safe and sound using a SSL certificate is enchanting, as well as choosing a hosting company that pays off for the available and provided services.
But everything can be easily handled once you have a website. Without it, the mere thought of increasing the load speed is basically useless.
If we follow the study recommendations, a high load speed website is more prone to attracting visitors, make them spend more time on the pages, as well as persuading them to come back every once in a while. For a website, this is fantastic – the highest objective of all times.
These being said, if you were ever waiting for a sign, this is it – improving the speed of your website has never been easier or possible than now. Starting with these logical points, your life will definitely improve – as well as your personal satisfaction, as being the rightful owner. It is always both enchanting and delightful to make some long-term changes, and these ones will speak for themselves. Thus, what are you still waiting for? We are looking forward to hearing from you – and see which of these tips and tricks turned out to help you most.