Webmasters are continually being told that page speed matters and their websites should load in 4 seconds or less. The internet is all about user experience and if your site is slow to load a potential visitor will bounce.
Now this may be true of the fast food or millennial generation but for someone whose first steps on the World Wide Web involved a slow as treacle 28k baud modem, I’m willing to wait 15 seconds or so for my favourite site to load. But as Google ranks your site based on its speed maybe you should make sure you’ve done all you can to speed up your site.
According to Kissmetrics, 47 per cent of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 per cent of visitors will leave the website if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.
If you don’t want to take the chance that visitors will not wait for your site to load here are 5 tips to increase the speed of your WordPress site.
1. Optimise your images
In my personal opinion images add to the user experience but if they take ages to load, this can have the reverse effect. Optimising the images on your site is a quick win.
The best way to do this is to use software like Photoshop or IrfanView, which is a free tool. But if you don’t have the time then there are many image optimiser plugins to choose from. The one that meets my needs is WP Smush. This plugin reduces an image size without losing quality. In certain cases, I’ve seen my image sizes reduced by as much as 50%.
An alternative to Smush is EWWW Image Optimizer. Unlike Smush, this plugin allows you to convert file formats which means you can choose a format that gives a lower image size.
2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network hosts assets used by your website, typically images, videos, fonts, or script libraries and can dramatically increase the speed of your website as it serves up these assets separately from your web host. YouTube is a common example of a CDN: when you embed a YouTube video in your site, you’re using a CDN.
I use Cloudflare, which is free and easy to set up. A lot of good web hosts offer a CDN solution as part of their service.
I also use Jetpack’s Photon, which is an image acceleration service that serves up your images a lot faster.
3. Use a caching plugin
I use WP Super Cache to reduce the download times of my pages. WordPress generates content dynamically which means that it sends requests to the database for new information about a page every time a visitor views a page. The plugin works by generating static HTML files from your blog and serving these up instead of processing the slower loading WordPress PHP scripts.
W3 Total Cache is an alternative to WP Super Cache. Both plugins can be used with a CDN.
Deferring your script means allowing the HTML to load on the user’s browser first before executing the scripts. If you can do this your website will appear in the browser immediately making it seem like your page is fast to load.
You can also consider whether you need all the plugins that cause the problem.
5. Limit your advertising
Slow loading adverts are one of the major causes of high bounce rates. Making money from your website is the goal of most bloggers. Selling advertising space is one of the ways to achieve this but you need to make sure you are not chasing away your visitors by running too many ads. Remember your ads use scripts and each script adds to the loading of the page.
Of course, there are more ways you can increase your page speed but you can consider these 5 tips as easy wins.