All tech professionals, from developers to SEO folks and marketers know that the loading speed is a key to success. Yes, the content is the king, but that content has to be delivered fast, instantly fast! Each second is important and if it takes longer then 3 seconds for a page to fully load, there’s a big possibility that visitor will simply close the tab and go somewhere else.
Having a slow WordPress site can be annoying for your visitors and also show that there’s something wrong with your pages which may have a negative impact on your credibility. Ask yourself would you type in your credit card info to buy something on a site that is as slow as a slug? The answer explains everything! Beside the speed impact on a overall usability, need to mention that the loading speed is directly related to how Google is ranking sites.
How to speed optimize your WordPress site
There are many ways to speed up your site, but I suggest to do everything slowly but surely, step by step so you can able to eliminate all the issues that are causing the loading delays. The first step would be to check your host. The hosting server has to properly configured and blazing fast, which is not the case with the most of the popular shared hosting providers. If you don’t yet have a host, buy any hosting package from Webfaction.com , I’m using their services for many many years. You can’t go wrong with them!
The second step, equally important as your host is the theme you’re using or you would be using for your site. The WordPress theme has to be light weight, properly coded without any obsolete code ,containing only the features you’re planning to use. The majority of premium themes are stuffed with features you’ll probably never use. The more features some theme has, the more code is under the hood which is not good in a term of page size and number of HTTP requests. If you’re looking to have the best possible performance, your WP theme has to be custom coded from scratch, so forget about the premium themes.
What you should do next to improve your WordPress loading speed is caching. There are many caching plugins available online, but I recommend to pick either W3TotalCache or the WP Super Cache plugin created by Automattic.com. If you go with the W3Total plug, you’ll have the most of the tools needed to minify the code, enable the leverage browser caching and do other speed improvements.
Now let’s move a little bit to the content area. Each image visible on the page has to be downloaded by the visitor’s browser and that can take some time, depending on the image file size. You can have as many images you want, but you need to reduce their size and use the lazy loading plugin. For instance, instead of having .png format images, you could convert them all to .jpeg’s and then use WP-Smushit plugin to additionally optimize the images so they could be served faster then before.
When it comes to the SEO, the homepage is your important page, so you want to be sure that the loading speed is on it’s maximum level. Keep your homepage short and sweet, without many widgets, images and external files required for certain features. For instance, the Google Map on the homepage will cause an additional delays and mess up your speed. Same goes for the Facebook, Twitter share/follow buttons.
What you could do next is to play a little bit with the content delivery network services. For this purpose I recommend the Cloudflare CDN. CDN is a system of servers delivering web pages and other content to the users based on their geographical location with improved speed and security. Some of the hosts already have CDN integrated in the control panel where you can enable it and try it out.
The next thing on the list are plugins. In order to improve your WordPress speed, you need to have as less plugins as possible. Activate and use only those you really need such as plugin for a contact form, statistics, maybe some image gallery, Akismet for spam, backup plugin etc.. For some normal use, usually you don’t need more than 10 plugins, but it’s all up to you and your needs.