Website speed is getting more and more important these days.
As more people are viewing your site on mobile devices, it needs to load quickly there too—even when the user is on a slow internet connection.
Otherwise, you are losing visitors, plain and simple. And you may be losing more than you think.
Just take a look at these estimates by Google:
Just going from 1 to 3 seconds can increase your bounce rate by 32%!
And you are not just losing visitors to bounces with a slow website.
You are also losing search rankings.
Google has stated that website speed is a ranking factor. So if you care about SEO, you care about website speed.
In this post, you are going to learn 5 tips that can make your website faster today.
1) WordPress Caching
Caching is one of the biggest speed factors for WordPress powered sites.
If you don’t know what caching is, here’s a very brief and non-technical explanation:
When a user visits your site, WordPress will have to generate the page this user wants to see. This means loading different elements from the database.
Loading things from the database is slow. So caching tries to minimize this as much as possible.
If the same user—or some other visitor—visit the same page again shortly thereafter, chances are that nothing has changed.
So why load it all from the database again?
Instead, caching will store the generated page, ready to serve it again without having to do all the database loading and computation.
There’s a bit more to actual caching, but this is the gist of it.
One of the reasons why WordPress is so popular is because of all the plugins available. And for caching this also holds true.
Get one of the top ones and you will most likely be able to notice the speed improvement right away.
2) Optimize your images
Images are the heaviest files on most websites. According to httparchive.org, images take up more than 50% of website bandwidth.
This means that there’s a lot to gain if you can cut off just a few percentages on your images.
Even a few percents would make a difference if you have a lot of images. But with modern image optimization, you may be able to cut a lot more than that.
Image optimization can be a complicated topic, but you don’t need to know all the details to make your images ready for optimal web delivery.
Tools can do most of the work for you.
Personally, I use two tools for optimizing images on my website.
With them, I have been able to reduce image size significantly. On some pages, I’ve been able to reduce page size by a staggering 90%.
Here’s how you can do the same.
For beginners and intermediate users: Use WP Smush.
WP Smush is a WordPress plugin that integrates with your media library. In just a few clicks to can optimize most of your images for website use.
It’s simple, very effective, and free.
For more advanced image optimization: Try Cloudinary.
Cloudinary is an online web service that can optimize your images (and videos) for website use.
The service also works as a CDN for your images (meaning they will serve your images from their server).
Cloudinary has more bells and whistles than WP Smush, but this also means that the service is a bit more complicated to use.
3) Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) can—as the name suggests—deliver some of your content to your visitors.
This can relieve your server and improve page loading speed.
Most CDNs have servers all over the world. This can significantly improve speed as visitors from around the world can load files from the closest server instead of having to connect to your website server, which may be on the other side of the world.
You may think using a CDN is advanced and for big websites only.
It was just a couple of years ago.
But that’s no longer the case. Some CDNs are extremely simple to use and can help even the smallest of websites improve their loading speed.
One of the very popular CDNs is CloudFlare (which also has a free tier service for small websites).
CloudFlare is in fact much more than just a CDN. It’s a service that puts itself between your server and your visitors and optimizes, secures and improves the connection.
I use this for all my websites.
Optimizing the code for your website can make it smaller and faster.
There’s a couple of things you can do:
Minify the resources: computers do not care about whitespace and other unnecessary characters in the code. Minifying your files means removing these characters to make your files smaller.
If you are using CloudFlare, you can use the Auto Minify option for this. If not, you can get a WordPress plugin to help you.
The WordPress plugin Autoptimize can do a lot of work, including minification, caching and other optimizations.
5) Upgrade PHP to a newer version
WordPress websites run on a programming language called PHP.
And this language constantly receives updates to make it faster and more secure. Unfortunately, a lot of website hosts do not use the latest versions of PHP.
In fact, many WordPress installs run on old, unsupported, PHP versions. Which is bad. Not only speed wise but also due to security risks.
Here’s a staggering fact: PHP 5.2 is 400% slower than PHP 7 according to Yoast.
And yet some sites still run 5.2.
So if you want to improve the speed of your website server, upgrading your PHP version is a good place to gain significant improvements if you are running an older version.
How to upgrade depends on your hosting provider and you may have to contact them to hear about your possibilities.
Improving your website speed doesn’t have to be complicated.
This post showed 5 different tips that can have a significant impact on your website loading speed and web page size.
Implement as much as you can and I’m confident you’ll see improvements.
Written by Mathias from thejourneyof.me, an online adventure in traffic, conversion and personal growth.