Site speed, as we are told by Google, is a direct ranking factor. When you plan resources and time for site speed, you prepare for both usability and SEO. Before making any choices in terms of content, format, and tools, always ask your website designer—will it hurt my speed? The same goes for WordPress theme changes. Before making changes, record your site’s speed, so that you can compare the before and after effects on your page load.
What can hurt your site speed?
- Themes (WordPress)—check the load each theme has, before switching.
- Images which have not been compressed
- Incorrectly mapped HTTP to HTTPS
- WordPress Plugins—plugins can be one of the biggest culprits in knocking down speed. One bad plugin can slow your website considerably.
What should your site speed be?
Based on the feedback from 1,048 online shoppers surveyed, Forrester Consulting made this key discovery: 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
Similarly, research by Google (“The Need for Mobile Speed”) found that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. You can even count how much money you are losing with your current low speed, using this tool.
What this means is that your goal should be less than 2 seconds.
How to improve the speed of your site?
- Choose hosting that is known for high speed.
Do not choose your host based on popularity. Shop around, and choose the fastest, most secure option.
- Select a fast theme or template.
Before buying a WordPress theme, check its child theme speed.
- Use fewer high quality images.
Images and videos can cost you speed. Make sure they are all optimized for your website.
- Compress your images.
Use tools such as:
- Reduce cookie size.
HTTP cookies are used for a variety of reasons, like authentication and personalization.
Be mindful of setting cookies at the appropriate domain level, so other sub-domains are not affected.
- Minify CSS.
Minifying your code removes:
- Whitespace characters
- Block delimiters
There are WordPress websites that can help you with it, without manually editing the code:
- Better WordPress Minify
- WP Super Minify
- WP Minify Fix
- Use a trailing slash on your URLs.
For example, don’t use http://yourdomain.com. Instead, use http://yourdomain.com/ – unless, of course, there’s a file extension. How does it help? The trailing slash immediately articulates the web server to go to that example directory and look for the index.html.
- Optimise your database.
For this goal, use plugin WP-DBManager.
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
Some well known CDN providers are:
- Use as few WordPress plugins as possible
Check which plugins are slowing your website. Also, disable unused settings in the WordPress dashboard.
How to test your page speed?
Before launching any campaign where you expect an influx of visitors, run tests for your website:
The above tools will tell you your speed and load time, and also give you advice about speed optimization.
You website’s speed performance directly affects your revenue, reliability, and brand reputation. Once visitors see that a website is slow, they might not give it a second chance. Knowing that competition is fierce, and that one of the primary expectations of website visitors is site speed—it’s best to fix all of the issues as soon as possible.