6 Ways to Speed Up WordPress in 2018

WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems for website owners. When visitors land on your website, they must receive a seamless user experience as they browse, enquire or shop.

User experience signals have increased in importance with strong signals indicating that page speed is a huge ranking factor. Websites that are slow to load or offer a poor user experience are being penalised which can result in your rankings slipping and your traffic disappearing.

As page speed is so important, how can you optimise the speed of your WordPress website?

The first step though is to see how your website is performing from a page speed perspective. There are two tools that you can use to measure this, both of which are free. The first is GT Metrix and the second is Google Page Speed Insights.

When you reach GT Metrix you will see the following page:

All you need to do is enter the URL (in this example, we have entered the URL for Google) and click ‘Analyse’. In a few moments the website will evaluate various factors on your website and present you with a page speed report similar to this:

Now that you have a good understanding of the issues you need to fix, here are the top strategies to speed up WordPress and address the issues highlighted in the report:

#1 A Good Web Host

Choosing a web hosting company is a really important step in setting up your website and optimising its speed. If your web hosting services are not adequate the speed of your site will suffer. This is often due to server resources particularly in relation to shared hosting. Sometimes, web hosts just don’t have enough resources to support all of the websites on their server, resulting in slow response times. Always check web hosting reviews before you sign up to a web host to check for any issues with site speed.

#2 Caching Plugin

There are lots of WordPress Caching plugins which work well in terms of optimising your WordPress website. The main ones are W3 Total Cache, W3 Super Cache and Autoptimise. There is also a plugin called Hummingbird which functions in a number of ways to test and optimise your website directly from your WordPress dashboard. Adding caching rules to your website will make complex tasks much easier and can significantly improve the load speed of your website.

#3 GZip Compression

This is very easy to enable in WordPress. A plugin such as this will deliver your website as a compressed version to web visitors which means that the site will load faster. Compression can be enabled for CSS, JavaScript and images which can take up a lot of space and cause problems for load times.

#4 Minify HTML, JavaScript and CSS

In its simplest form, this means eliminating all of the white space contained within the code of your website where this is possible. Although spaces and tabs do make the content more readable for humans, a browser and/or server don’t really need these spaces. Rather than trawl through your code, there are plugins such as WP Minify and W3 Total Cache which are designed to handle this task.

#5 Compress Images

It’s great placing lots of visually appealing content on your website, but images take up a lot of space. Usually, they are the largest files stored on a website and if they aren’t properly compressed they can take a considerable time to load. This means slower page speed. Plugins such as WPSmush.it will automatically remove the meta data from images and unused colours. Tiny PNG is another great alternative which enables lossy compressions.

#6 Reduce HTTP Requests

Each time someone visits your website the files have to be sent to their browser. These files often include CSS, JavaScript and images. If your website has a HTML file, CSS files, JavaScript and multiple images, all of these files have to be loaded. By reducing the number of objects on each of your web pages, there will be fewer HTTP requests to fully render the web page. One of the best ways to reduce HTTP requests is to simplify and streamline the design of your website and combine files where it is possible to do so.

Many of the problems associated with slow WordPress websites can be solved using a carefully selected plugin and compressing images before they are uploaded.
Site speed is a major ranking factor and user experience signal so make sure your website speed is checked and optimised regularly.

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