Speed Up WordPress Website : Why and How?
WordPress is probably the most popular way to setup a website this days.
It's easy to use, there's a huge community and free support online, it's highly customizable thanks to thousands of plugins, SEO friendly out of the box...
But the downside is it can be extremely slow if you don't know what you're doing (like me).
So how to speed up your wordpress website? Should you do it? And how to do it?
Now 6 weeks into my experiment to increase my websites traffic and I'm still far from doubling my numbers every month as I was aiming for but it's getting better and better. Slowly.
I'm rolling out new content, updating the old one, fixing designs issues and as the websites start to look better I was about to start reaching to other blogs to collab and share links to each other. (backlinking)
But then I noticed in Google Analytics that there is still one issue I didn't address, the Bounce Rate.
The bounce rate is the % of people that leave your website after just one page. And it was was really high on 2 of my websites.
In fact, while it's close to 0% on my money site, it's over 80% on the 2 other one. Not good. 😏
At first I thought it was because of the content quality and the number of related content. But even after adding content and editing the one present, it was still high.
Of course, having more (interesting) content will reduce it, as it does for the money site.
But there's one more thing I didn't consider, load speed.
And boy I wished I did it before.
Google Page Speed Test
Start by checking how's your website is doing according to Google. You can click the link below and copy the link to your site and Google will tell you how the page speed is on mobile and desktop.
For me, it was clear, it was bad. Really bad in fact.
A low speed is not only bad for the users, it's also really bad for rankings, even more since July 2018 when Google announced speed would be one of the main factor for their Mobile Ranking. In short, the slower your site is, the less chance you got to rank for mobile users.
And that's roughly 50 to 60% of the traffic this days (and growing).
Good thing is, Google not only judge your load speed, but it tells you why it sucks and suggest ways to fix it.
Money Site. Not Great but not bad.
Brand Blog. Super slow on Desktop
Personal Blog. Really Slow !
So what can you do to Improve your Website Performance ?
First thing, now that Google told you what suck, go back Google and do a quick search on how you can fix the issues that the tool highlighted. One by one.
For WordPress users, I found 2 Websites that really cover the subject, were really helpful to fix most of the most common issues.
Both are really straight forward, easy to understand and accessible even to beginners. That's the magic of WordPress, the huge amount of ressources and help out here.
Now if you want don't want to go through all the work, here's the 20% that will give you 80% of the result.
SPEED UP WORDPRESS IN 5 (FREE) SIMPLE STEPS
What you should already be doing:
- Have a plugin that cache your website. It's Easy to setup and will speed up your wordpress website in minutes.
- Premium: WP Rocket
- Free: W3 Total Cache
- Use a CDN (Content Distribution Network) such as Cloudflare
- It will put copies of your website all over the world for a faster access
- Free version is fine for most websites
- Reduce the size of your images.
- Images account for 60% of the web
- Use the right extension and tools to save a ton of space
- Here's a quick guide
- Remove useless Plugins
- Do you really use the plugins your installed? If not, remove them.
- Try to use as little as possible.
- Clear useless/old data and content
- Remove post revisions, old backups, useless images...
- For database, use a plugin like WP-Optimize
This few steps can be done for free, without any technical skills and will boost your speed and improve the user experience as well as your ranking.
But there's more you can do, and you should dive into it as soon as you got the ressources:
- Improve your hosting, for a faster one obviously.
- Avoid shared hosting and get dedicated IP if you can afford it.
- Redesign your site with something as simple as possible (and fast to load)
AUDIT YOU WEBSITE
Because the devil is in the details.
Google will give you hints on what's wrong with their tool.
Now that you've cleared the most common issues, look at the ones that are specific to your website, host or plugins your use.
In my case, it was the instagram feed that you can see on the sidebar and the homepage + the list of the latest posts.
Google told me the images were too big and too slow so load.
But why? They're so small?
Well, while they look small, the plugin actually load the full size image instead of the thumbnails.
It took 2 minutes to fix and it played the biggest role in the improvement you can see below
Mobile 67 > 74/100
Dekstop 67 > 80/100
Mobile 69 > 72/100
Dekstop 46 > 78/100
Mobile 53 > 78/100
Dekstop 32 > 81/100
BETTER LOAD SPEED > MORE TRAFFIC
It's not Rocket Speed but it's a lot better than it was.
So if you have a website, it's time you have a look into you improve your website speed.
The world is getting mobile and not everybody got access to 4G.
Speed should be at the center of your attention, right after content and SEO.
Because it doesn't matter if you have the best content, products or design, if nobody can see it.
How fast is your website? What tool do you use? Let me know in the comments