WordPress has grown to become the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) in the world. Given the sheer number of websites and blogs out that, this means that a massive number of them are running this application.
It offers users an extremely simple way to deploy and operate websites and as such has contributed to the explosion in the number of sites online today – almost 2 billion and counting. It is precisely because of this massive number that sites often find themselves competing for traffic.
Thanks to the evolving efforts of search engines (primarily Google, which directs 89% of the world’s search traffic), site performance has become one of the ranking factors to consider. Studies have also shown that 47% of consumers expect websites to load in less than two seconds.
This means that your site speed not only directly affects your site search rankings, but also indirectly affects visitor behaviour towards your site.
If you are just running a personal WordPress site for the heck of it then this might not mean too much to you. However, if you are an advanced blogger who earns significantly from site traffic, or even a business using your site for sales leads – it’s time to pay attention.
6 Tips to Improve WordPress Site Performance
1. Choose a Good Web Host
This may sound like a “duh” moment, but you will be surprised at how many site owners have just gone with the cheapest hosting package they can find. The problem is that not all hosts are created equal – some have appalling performance, regardless of how they market their hosting plans.
Whether you are an advanced blogger or business owner that needs hosting for your site, choosing the right host can make a massive difference later. From features offered to actual performance and reliability, finding the right web host can alleviate much of your headaches.
If possible, use price only as a final deciding sway and not as your primary concern.
2. Avoid Bulky Themes
It can often be tempting for site owners (especially WordPress!) to go for nice flashy themes with tons of extra features. Yet remember that each of these features comes at a cost. Your main interest in finding a template should be that it is lightweight and responsive. Any features that you feel you absolutely must have can be worked in later.
An overly feature-laden template will bog down your site performance and because they are built in to the theme, you can’t even get rid of it later if you want to. Well, not without great difficulty, that is.
3. Choose Plugins Wisely
For the same reason, try to avoid inundating your WordPress site with too many plugins. There are many all-in-one plugins today that will make some smaller plugins redundant. Take note of these and try to consolidate wherever you can – do not allow plugins to duplicate tasks!
One such example is the LiteSpeed Cache plugin. The primary purpose of this is to help speed up your site- – but it does this in various ways. For example, aside from helping you with caching, LiteSpeed Cache also helps you by allowing image optimization, code minification and even database optimization.
4. Avoid Excessive Multimedia Use
Videos are great and very attractive, but there are platforms specifically for that such as YouTube. It may be tempting to pull data from youtube and showcase some video content but doing so comes at an extremely high price.
I once was struggling with site load times and discovered that showing a YouTube video on my homepage bogged down my loading speed considerably. Removing it cut my overhead in half and speeded up my site by a whole lot.
5. Make Use of a CDN
Content Deliver Networks (CDN) cache information from your website and helps deliver it directly from their network of servers. Before we go into this, an example of a CDN would be Cloudflare, which operates a massive number of servers worldwide.
This is what helps them to speed up your content delivery to visitors. By delivering content to your site visitors from locations nearer to them, loading speeds are decreased. Also, their sheer number of servers helps you cope with higher traffic flow than your own account possibly could.
Best of all, to start off with them is free and you can test the service to see how well it works at no cost.
6. Enable Gzip
This is something that’s more server side than directly WordPress related, but it does help with site speeds. Gzip is a form of compression that can be run on your servers to minimize the size of data that is sent out.
Using Gzip sends out compressed data that is unzipped by browsers at the user end, taking some of the strain off your server. Enabling it is easy and you can access the option directly from your server control panel.
Doing so makes them smaller and thus faster to download. In addition, all modern browsers can interpret compressed files making this measure an excellent option to speed up WordPress.
The 6 quick tips I have shared here are just the top of the iceberg, but the LiteSpeed Cache plugin I covered in #3 addresses multiple areas. Each of these actions will bring you closer towards having a faster and better SEO WordPress site
Another area I’d like to again stress on would be my first point on the choosing of a good host. This is one of the things that is harder for you to change later without much sweat and should be paid attention to.
If you already have a web host and are not happy with it, you’ll know what I mean. If that is the case, try to find a new host which is good and offers to help you with site migration (quite a few will do so for free if you take up a new plan with them). That will help ease your burdens as well.