12 WordPress Performance Tips to Make Your Website Blazing Fast

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The speed of your WordPress website plays a
major role in your visitor’s user experience, bounce rates,  conversions, and also your revenue.

If you’re one of the many website owners who are unhappy with their page load times, then you’re not alone. According to a study by Unbounce, only 15% of websites operate at a speed that’s in line with Google’s recommended page speed guidelines.

Studies have shown that a 1-second increase
(from 3-sec to 4-sec) page load time more than doubles bounce rates, and it gets worse with
each additional 1-second increase.

Other studies have shown that the average page views for sites that load in 2 seconds or less are 8.9 pages, while it drops to 3.3 pages for 8-second load time. That’s almost a 169% decrease in pageviews.

Website speed also has a direct effect on
conversions. Retailer Walmart found that for every 1-second improvement in page
load time, they saw their conversions increase by 2%.

As you can see, the implications of not fixing
your website speed are many loss in traffic, frustrated
users, lower conversions, and lost sales.

If you’re looking for proven and tested
solutions to improve your page load times, then you have come to the right
place.

Here, in this article, we’ll discuss 12 proven
WordPress performance tips that can help you increase the speed of your
WordPress website.

12 Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

Vector illustration concept of web page speed optimization isolated on blue background with long shadow.

Tip 1: A Reliable Hosting Provider

The hosting solution you choose for your WordPress or WooCommerce website plays a major role in your site’s speed and performance. A reliable hosting provider should provide you with all the necessary infrastructure, security, and support to manage your website, and at the same time not break the bank.

There are a few options to host your WordPress
website:

  • Shared Hosting A great option for entry-level
    websites. It’s simple to install and is usually the cheapest option. Your
    website is usually sharing the server resources (RAM, CPU) along with many
    other websites.
  • Dedicated Server Hosting Suitable for websites with
    growing traffic, and also for website owners who want more control. This option
    is usually more expensive than shared hosting and it also requires a certain
    level of technical know-how. Although it comes with the benefit of not sharing
    any resources (RAM, CPU, etc.)
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) A solution for
    websites that want some of the benefits of a dedicated server but not the
    higher pricing. It’s an ideal middle ground between shared hosting and
    dedicated server hosting.
  • Cloud Hosting Ideal solution for enterprise websites with large traffic that requires more complex server-side infrastructure with automatic scaling. The most widely used cloud hosting providers are Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure.
  • Managed WordPress Hosting — Ideal for small
    and mid-sized WordPress websites. These hosting solutions provide storage, configuration,
    monitoring, maintenance, and technical services to help manage your WordPress
    website. They are usually cost-effective and also scalable based on your
    growing needs.

Though there are many options, we strongly
recommend that you choose a managed WordPress hosting provider. Since their
infrastructure is specifically built to support WordPress websites, you can be
confident that you’ll always get the most up-to-date and reliable support.

Here’s a list of a few reliable managed
WordPress hosting providers:

For a detailed review and comparison on the
above listed hosting providers, check out the 7
Best WooCommerce Hosting Providers 2020
.

Tip 2: Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Choosing a reliable hosting provider is just
the first step in ensuring a fast-loading WordPress website. However, your site
will load the fastest only for visitors who are in the same location as your
hosting.

For example, if your hosting provider is in
the US, then most visitors from the US will experience a faster load time than
visitors from other parts of the world.

The best way to combat this problem is to choose a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

The CDN stores a cached version (temporary
copies) of your website’s files (HTML, CSS, Javascript, Media files) on
multiple servers around the world.

If a visitor from another region tries to
access your website, then the CDN will show them the cached version of your
webpages from their closest server location.

Most CDNs also provide additional benefits
such as SSL certificates, guaranteed uptime (usually above 99.8% and backed by
strong service-level agreements, also known as SLAs), protection against
malware & phishing, smart caching options, etc.

Here’s a list of  few WordPress Content Delivery Network (CDN)
providers:

Tip 3: Lightweight Theme

The WordPress theme you choose provides the
framework to build, customize and style your website without having to do any
coding. Including functionality to help you to personalize your site’s overall
layout, colors, fonts, typography, widgets, sidebars, etc.

There’s no shortage of free and premium
WordPress themes in the market. However, when selecting a theme always ensure
that it’s optimized for speed and performance.

That’s why we recommend a lightweight
WordPress theme that’s customizable yet at the same time has less bloat,
requires fewer resources and is fast-loading.

Here’s a list of a few top-rated lightweight
WordPress themes:

Of course, we’re biased, and we recommend Astra (or Astra Pro) as your lightweight theme of choice. Astra is the fastest growing WordPress theme in the market.

Now, you don’t have to take our word for it. Since our launch in 2017, Astra has been installed on over 600,000 websites (and steadily growing). Plus, we’ve received raving reviews from WordPress website owners and agencies with over 3,300+ 5-star ratings.

The best news Astra is free to install and
use. Get started with Astra
for free
.

Tip 4: Optimize Images

According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute adding an image to your blog posts increases pageviews anywhere from
80% to 120%.

Today, images, GIFs and videos are widely used
on all websites. You’d be hard-pressed to find any blog post or a web page that
doesn’t have images.

Yet, the increased usage of images does have
an impact on the resources required to load a webpage. Over the last 10 years,
the average size of images used on webpages has increased the total page size
to over 3MB.

Pie chart indicating the common reasons why pages load slowly with 'Images' being the top reason.]

Source:
Netmagik.com (How to fix Slow Loading Images)

The images that are now used on web pages take up more than half of the total page size.  requiring more resources to load and contributing to slower loading times.

Here are a few ideas to optimize your images
on your website:

  • Use PNG and JPG Formats These file formats have higher compression rates and the file sizes are
    smaller compared to other formats such as GIFs or SVGs.  
  • Choose the Right Image Size The recommended size for images for blog posts on WordPress sites is 1200x630px.  If you’re using a stock
    image website
    to download images then these sites make it easier to
    choose the size before downloading.

When creating your
own images using Canva or Photoshop, these software usually provide you the
option to save the images in a size ideal for websites.

  • Image Optimization Plugins  If you already have a large library of images on your website, then take advantage of the many WordPress image optimization plugins (Imagify, Optimole, Smush, ShortPixel) that will automatically optimize your images ideal for website performance.

Tip 5: Use Lazy Loading

Usually, when a webpage has multiple elements
(images, videos, comments), it only loads after the entire page is downloaded
by the user’s browser.  The more elements
on your website, the more resources are required, and it takes longer to load
the page.

Of course, you don’t want to sacrifice the
quality of your content by removing all images. That’s why lazy loading is a
simple and effective solution.

Lazy loading is a technique that delays the
loading of page elements when the page is first launched, instead, it only
loads them when needed (for instance, when a visitor scrolls).

As your visitors scroll through
the pages on your site, the images, videos, and comments start to  appear. 
Google also recommend lazy loading.

Side by side comparison of what Lazy Loading is

To enable lazy loading on your website the easiest option is to install a dedicated plugin such as a3 Lazy Load, BJ Lazy Load or WP Rocket. These plugins help you set up lazy loading not just for images but also for videos (YouTube, Vimeo files) and for comments (WordPress comments, Disqus).

Tip 6: Caching

When a new visitor comes to your website for
the very first time, the server has to do a bunch of actions to display that
particular webpage (load the logo, images, headers, sidebars, and so on).

Most of this is stored on the visitor’s
browser, so when they visit that particular webpage again the server loads up
that relevant information, thus making the webpage load faster.

This process is called caching.

Caching reduces the load-time and requests
made to your page, and as a result, speeds up the page load for that visitor.

Here are a few options to enable caching on
your website:

  • Your Hosting Provider Most of the managed WordPress hosting providers (WP Engine, Cloudways, Kinsta) include caching features as part of their plans/packages. Caching rules can be set and automated directly from the hosting panel.

Tip 7: Minify JavaScript and CSS Files

Minification is a process that minimizes
source code that’s required to build a webpage such as HTML, CSS, Javascript,
etc.

But what does minification do exactly? The simplest way to explain it is, it removes all white space and comments from code files, leaving only the code required to run the site. Effectively removing the formatting.

Here are a few simple minification plugins that you can use Autoptimize, WP Super Minify, Fast Velocity Minify can help with optimizing HTML, CSS, JS for faster load times.

Tip 8: Optimize Your WordPress Database

As your website grows, your WordPress database
can rapidly increase in size with post revisions, unused themes, deactivated
plugins, spam comments, etc.

Optimizing your database helps reduce the
database size, thus improving the performance.

Here are a few ideas to optimize your
WordPress database:

  • Delete/Minimize Post Revisions Anytime you
    make revisions or updates to your WordPress pages or posts, it stores that
    version in your database. Set a limit on the number of revisions by adding a
    line of code to your wp-config.php file.
  • Remove Spam Comments   Use a plugin such as JetPack or Akismet to automatically block comment spam.
  • Database location   Check with your hosting provider
    if your hosting servers and the database servers are in the same region
    (location). This reduces the time it requires to fetch the files when a visitor
    visits a webpage.
  • Manual Database Cleanup   Your hosting provider typically provides cPanel or a MySQL management tool that allows you to access PHPMyAdmin (a free and open-source administration tool for the MySQL database).
  • Use Backup Plugins   If you want a hands-off approach, then install a WordPress Backup Plugin such as WPOptimize and WP Rocket. These plugins allow you to clean your database with a click of a button. They also help to automate the database cleanup by setting conditions or rules.

Tip 9: Optimize Plugins

So far, we’ve recommended WordPress plugins as
a viable solution for many performance optimizations including backups,
caching, minification, image optimization, and lazy loading.

However, not all plugins are created equal. Some plugins could potentially cause performance issues depending on the resources they need while loading.  Also, some plugins are not constantly updated and maintained by their developers which could cause vulnerability issues that can affect your website security and create downtime.

Here are a few ideas to optimize the plugins
on your website:

  • Only Install What’s Needed Most website owners have the tendency to install plugins to solve each
    and every need or problem. Before installing, please make sure that you really
    need that plugin. In some cases, your website hosting or CDN provider might
    offer a solution that you can use instead of another plugin.
  • Reviews and Performance Testing Before installing any plugin, check their reviews on WordPress.org and from other reputable sources. Check the plugin’s changelogs and support forums to read the common issues that other users experience. Also, do your own speed test using GT Metrix to see how the plugin impacts your page performance during testing.
  • Deactivate and Delete Do a periodic audit of all your current plugins. Deactivate and remove
    what’s not required.

Tip 10: Update the WordPress Software

WordPress is an open-source software first released in 2003, and since then has grown into one of the most widely used web designing software, now powering over 60 Million websites.

WordPress releases multiple
updates and versions throughout each year
. The current version (5.3)
was released in Nov 2019.

Pie chart indicating the number of users by WordPress version

Source:
WordPress.org

However, not all websites use the latest
WordPress version. Close to 30% of websites are still using older
versions, and in some cases haven’t updated since 2018.

There are many benefits of updating to the
latest version of WordPress.

Each release or update brings with it new
features that will help improve your website-building experience and UX improvements.

Here are just a few cool updates from the many
years of WordPress updates:

In addition, new WordPress updates fix any
vulnerabilities, bugs or security issues that previous releases
might have had.

Most plugins and themes also update their software to ensure compatibility with the latest WordPress release, and you might notice this occasionally on your WordPress dashboard.

Updating your WordPress website can definitely add improvements to your website speed. However, the recommended best practice is to always back up your website before doing any core update to ensure a smooth install.

Tip 11: Update PHP Versions

PHP is an open-source programming language
that WordPress is built on.

Like any open-source software, new versions of
the language are released periodically.

PHP 7 was launched in December 2015, and since then has been
adopted by almost 61.5% of all WordPress websites.

According to WordPress, the minimum
recommended version
is now PHP 7.3.

However, more than 52.5%
of all the websites
(both WordPress and non-WordPress) that run on
PHP are still using the older versions.

Pie chart indicating the percentage of users by PHP versions

Source:
WordPress.org

Older PHP versions cause many compatibility
and security issues. As of Dec 2017, the support for PHP 5.6 has officially
ended.

New PHP version updates bring with it new
features to help make PHP more competitive among programming languages, and
also security and performance improvements.

One of the primary benefits of PHP 7 for
WordPress users is improved speed. PHP 7 is twice as fast as PHP 5.6, and also
requires fewer memory resources. It also offers improved functionality for
dynamic web pages and is also more secure because of the built-in security
layers.

In order to update the PHP version, one of the
best-recommended routes is through your hosting provider. They usually allow
you the option to update to PHP directly from their admin panels.

Note There is a chance that updating the PHP version might break your site
because of compatibility issues with your theme or plugins. The best practice
is to first backup your site before making any major software updates.

Tip 12: GZip Compression

Whenever a user visits your website, requests
are made to your servers to download and deliver the files to that user’s
browser. The total size of that page will affect the load time.

The smaller your files are the faster your
webpage will load.

A simple option is reducing the file size
using compression technology called GZip.

You might have used compression software such
as WinZip
for compressing your files on your computer. GZip works the same way.

GZip is a file-format and an application used
to compress your files (HTML, CSS) sent from your server to their browser. GZip
compresses common strings white spaces, repeated texts in
your source code, stylesheets and reduces the size of the webpages by up to 70%.

Most caching plugins or your CDN providers can
help you to enable GZip compression on your website.

Make Your WordPress Website More Secure and  Blazing Fast

Your website performance and speed matter more than ever in 2020 (and beyond). All major platforms including Google, Automattic (WordPress.org) are now preaching the importance of page speed and are enforcing strict standards and guidelines.

As a website owner or developer, you cannot leave that to chance. Paying attention to your WordPress performance and speed will help you increase page views, reduce bounce rates, improve SEO, improve conversions, generate higher revenue, and build customer loyalty.

We have discussed many proven and tested
solutions that you can implement today to improve your website speed and make
it blazing fast.

What other methods have you implemented to
improve the speed of your WordPress website? Let us know in the comments below!

The post 12 WordPress Performance Tips to Make Your Website Blazing Fast appeared first on Astra.


This post was originally posted here

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