One of the most important things you can improve on your website is the speed that it loads. Even just a few extra seconds of load time can have a huge impact on the page views, customer satisfaction, and most importantly, conversions on your site. In this article, I’m going to show you why this is important, how to check the speed of your site, and some tactics to improve the speed on your WordPress website.
Why Page Speed Is Important
Kissmetrics once stated that 40% of website viewers would leave a page with load times of 3 seconds or greater. That means if you have an average to below-average speed on your site, half of your visitors could be going to your competitors’. You can only imagine what that does to sales through the site. Page speed is also important since Google announced that they’ve started ranking pages based on a site’s loading time. So if you want to keep getting that organic traffic coming in, you have to know how to improve your website’s speed.
How to Test Your Page Speed
Before you focus on boosting your speed, you first need to figure out what your current website’s loading time is. This is where Google Insights or PageSpeed Insights comes in. This is Google’s free tool that allows sites to get ranked on a number scale based on their loading times. All you have to do is go to their tool, input your website URL, and give it a couple of seconds and they will give you a mobile and desktop ranking. Below the ranking, Google Insights gives you some suggestions on ways to increase your site’s performance. If you’re not a “techy”, I would recommend sticking to the tips I give you here first as the tips they give you almost all involve delving into the code and servers of sites.
Five Ways to Improve Your Speed
On a WordPress site, one of the quickest changes you can do to improve your speed is adding a caching plug-in. Some examples you can find for free are WP Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Without getting too technical, caching is basically when someone loads onto your site for the first time, their server on their end saves a copy of what your website looks like at the time they found you. Then let’s say they come back to your site a week later (or even refreshes the page two minutes later), that copy is what is shown originally which loads a lot faster than your real site.
All this happens with just the installation of a plugin but this can save viewers precious time on their return visits to your website which is where you’ll get most of your business.
If you’ve never looked at your site’s speed, I would bet the biggest factor affecting your website’s loading times is the images on the page. These take up a lot more disk space than the standard text and buttons you have on the screen and the website requires more time to load these images. Luckily, there is another plug-in I’ll recommend to optimize these images to compress them down as much as possible. Install WP Smush.it on your website. This plug-in reduces the size of the images on your website without changing the quality in the pictures at all. You don’t have to do anything extra after installing it because it works on every picture you have. Just install it and leave it activated and it will optimize your images for you after every upload.
Delete Non-Essential Plug-ins
Besides images, the next biggest pull on your website’s speed is the plugins you run on your website. This doesn’t mean that plugins are bad, it just means that we have to be frugal with the use of them. One thing that I always find when checking another person’s site is that they have plugins installed that they are not using. Even if you have them deactivated them, they are still using up your hosting bandwidth on your website. Go through your plugin tab and find the ones that you know you don’t use and delete them. Don’t just keep them deactivated on the back-end as this is still costly overall.
Whether you’ve done it intentionally or not, you probably have too many redirects on your site. A redirect is when your site or the user is trying to go to /URL-a and the site sends them to /URL-b.As you can imagine, every time the user gets sent to a different URL, it increases the loading time so try not to add these in as much as you can. Sometimes it’s essential for things like 404 errors and 301 redirects but just be as careful as possible.
Upgrade Your Hosting
Now, there is only so much you can do to upgrade your site’s speed with the tools you already have. If you have done these other steps above and are still having trouble increasing your page performance, you might have to look into upgrading your hosting.
Think about it this way. You can only tweak a 1990s Minivan for so long to try to make it a sports car. Eventually, if you really want that speed, you’re going to have to upgrade the actual car. It’s the same concept with your hosting. Some of these hosting companies on the cheaper end just don’t have the speed of some of the higher performance ones. However, I only recommend this after trying all the other tips to pick away at the performance before a complete overhaul.
Your Website’s Speed Should Have Improved
If you’ve done most of the steps we just walked through, you should have significantly changed your website speed for the better. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below and we would be happy to help you out.