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8 Ways to Optimize Your WordPress Website

8 Ways to Optimize Your WordPress Website

Having a fast loading site can do more than improve your standing with users it will also boost your SEO ranking with search engines.

Many users are not willing to wait around for a site to load, which means a delay of just one second could cost you.

In fact, research by the Aberdeen Group shows that a delay in page load time of just one second will result in 11 per cent less page views, 16 per cent decrease in customer satisfaction and a seven per cent loss of conversions. The bottom line, according to the organization, was that up to nine per cent of corporate revenues could be lost if it takes your website too long to load.
According to Radware it only takes a user three seconds to lose patience and leave the website altogether. They also note that only 14 per cent of e-commerce sites take less than three seconds to load.
This makes reducing the time your site loads as an important design element. When using WordPress there are several ways you can do this including removing unnecessary features and a few tweaks to the coding.

1. Become a user of your site

There is nothing better than testing your site for yourself. There are several tools that can be used to check your site’s performance and speed. It is recommended you do this regularly to ensure that any features or posts you add don’t cause the site to slow down too much. It is also advised that you research some of the best-practices when it comes to performance.


Don’t forget to check out your web host as it could be the host that is slowing down the load time. For example, most shared hosting plans are notoriously slow because they often use a single server for many webpages. There are some tools that can help you test the performance service of your hosting plan like GTMetrix.

2. Speed up your server

Consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to lighten the workload of the server. What the CDN does is put your images, CSS and Javascript files on servers that are located close to visitors . This reduces load time because the further a user is away from the physical location of your server the longer it takes for the pages to load.

3. Adjust your image

While images can add some style to the page and break up the text, if they are not optimized properly they can be a serious headache.
You want to keep your images as small as possible to save on the loading time for your page. You can do that by using the lowest color depth possible, removing image comments and crop the image to the size you want.
If you use Photoshop the program has an option that allows you to save images for website, which will ensure they are optimized for the internet. You can also use a plugin to ensure your images will cause the least amount of slow down but be aware that these plugins can themselves cause a slow down.
When saving your image, JPEG format is best and while PNG is okay it may be a problem for older web browsers. GIF format is best used for simple or animated images and you should avoid using BMP or TIFFs.
One last way to avoid too many problems with images is to check your SRC code and make sure there is a valid URL.

4. Clean your code

Check over your code and be sure there are no wasted components like extra spaces, line breaks or indentation. Keep it slim and simple. This will cut down on the size of your page and streamline the users experience. There are a variety of options out there to test your code like PageSpeed Insights Chrome Extension or the YUI Compressor for CSS and Closure Compiler for JavaScript.
An external CSS is best when it comes to stylesheets, as it reduces the load time of the page. Also, be sure to put all your CSS code in the external sheet rather than mix it up with the HTML code. You can use CSS Delivery Tool to see how many external stylesheets your site has. Remember that it is best to keep it to one sheet.
You can use CSS Sprites to combine your smaller images into as few as possible. This will save on loading time. You can use tools to help you accomplish this.
CSS and Javascript files can be combined using Minify, this reduces the number of HTTP requests made, which in turn improves your load time. There are a number of plugins the will do this for you including WP Minify or Better WordPress Minify.
When it comes to coding be sure your CSS is located in the head section and the Javascript is in the body. In an ideal world you will place javascripts in the bottom of your code before the closing tag for the body.
Too much code will slow down the load. Too much PHP, JavaScript and Iframe will cause your site to load slower. Thus you need to be selective in your decision when it comes to WordPress themes.
To clean it up you can use HTML to replace PHP as it is faster for servers to process. In fact, it is about 20 times faster.

5. Plugin problems

There seems to be a plug in for everything you can imagine when it comes to WordPress but the more plugins you have the slower your site will load for users. Therefore, it is best to reduce how many plugins your site runs.
Start by eliminating ones that are not needed and then search out the ones that are causing your load time to slow down. You can do this by disabling the plugins one by one and find the ones that are causing a problem for your page loading.

You can also test your plugins performance by using other plugins like Plugin Performance Profiler. Try to run a test on your site and keep it up-to-date, particularly when it comes to security issues. Rid yourself of those plugins that you don’t use. If you keep them handing around it will only slow down your site for users.

When it comes to selecting a plug in, keep your eye on the rating as well as whether or not it is the latest version. By using one that is up-to-date and compatible with the latest WordPress version you will cut down on loading time.
When it comes to keeping your site clean it includes more than just plugins. It means eliminate the spam comments, trashed posts or drafts, and even post revisions you no longer need.

6. Reduce your storage

Removing old post revisions or drafts will make your site smaller and faster to load. There are some plugins that can help you do this but again, be cautious that the plug in doesn’t add time to your website load time.
Wordpress has a trash system, much like the one on your computer. This means you will need to go there and permanently delete the items that may be causing a slow down in your site.
WordPress also offers a revision system that saves all the drafts and posts in an effort to let you go back to an earlier draft but many times these just take up space and are of little value.
WP Optimize is a plugin that can be used to clean up old drafts, spam comments and trackbacks.

7. Consider compression and cache

It is best to compress the site to cut down on bandwidth and make it easier for a user to load.
Gzip compression can enhance the speed for your website to load by compressing it to about 70 per cent of its original size. There are also other plug in that can help compress the website.
Allow for caching, which means the elements of a page are stored in a cache or temporary location so the browser can load the page quickly, eliminating the need to contact the server with another HTTP request. That will reduce the loading time for those visiting your site more than once.

8. Social Media mayhem

Your social media buttons may also be slowing things down. You can try storing the images locally and could save yourself some space and time.


Developers could also use shortcodes to enhance the site’s functionality such as Twitter widgets or affiliate links. These can be put on the site using a shortcode that is in the theme’s fuction.php file.

Conclusion

A bonus for those sites that are faster to load is that it affects the SEO ranking in a good way. Thus, if for no other reason than to try and boost your site in the search engine rankings, it is a good idea to keep the loading time below the three second threshold.

Even if you only make a few adjustments to your WordPress site it will help streamline the experience for the user, which will boost your brand in their eyes.

 

I hope this post was helpful  and you have enjoyed it.

How do you speed up your site? Tell us in the comments below.

mm
Antonio Chagoury

Founder and CEO

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