How to speed up your website quickly without messing around!
Got a website? Want more traffic?
Did you know that taking appropriate measures to speed up your website is one of the top things that you can do to increase your traffic, increase page views, and, most importantly, increase conversions?
Here we talk about why you should speed your website up, how to check the speed of your website, but best of all, how to speed your website up.
Why you need to speed up your site
There are obvious reasons why a very fast website would be a great thing. Lots of traffic being able to blaze through your pages with almost instant loading times, who wouldn’t want that?
Besides the obvious, having a fast loading website generally gives your visitors a better user experience. As your website is all about the visitors, it is important that you provide great, valuable content and a great user experience.
Without a good experience, your visitors will leave your site quicker than it can load. Literally! In fact, 53% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes 3 seconds or more to load.
This is why it is important to optimize your website so that you can reduce the number of people leaving your site dissatisfied.
The benefits of having a fast site
What’s to gain by having a fast website? Let’s take a look…
- Better user experience
- Higher page views – your visitors will browse more of your pages
- Lower bounce rate – your visitors are less likely to leave your site quickly
- More conversions – happier visitors means more sales
- Better Google search ranking – fast websites rank higher than slower sites
So now that you know some of the great reasons for having a fast website let’s look at why having slow pages can be bad for your website.
The drawbacks of having a slow site
Slower websites mean:
- Higher bounce rate – more visitors will leave your site on the same page they enter
- Fewer page views – slower sites mean visitors are less likely to browse other pages
- A decrease in customer satisfaction – their negative experience affects your business
- Loss of conversions – higher bounce rates and lower page views equal fewer leads and sales
- Lower-ranking on Google search results – slow sites rank lower.
How to speed up your site
So now that you know why you should speed your site up, let’s take a look at how you can do that.
Running on a good host
Hopefully, you’ve chosen a good web host to run your website on. This is one of the key things that you can do.
A good web host such as BlueHost will provide you with good solid performance, but if you’ve already got a hosting plan, then upgrading to a premium plan is likely to benefit you, especially if you have good traffic numbers.
Initial benchmark test
Before making any improvements to your website speed, it is important to run a benchmark tool to note what your speed currently is. This will not only let you see the overall speed improvements that you have made but will help you see the incremental speed improvements that you make from each thing that you do.
To run a website speed test, you can use a tool such as the Pingdom Website Speed Test tool.
Visit https://tools.pingdom.com/ and enter your website address. Then choose a location in the ‘test from’ field, one that is likely to represent where the bulk of your visitors are located.
Pingdom will test the speed of the website that you enter and, once analyzed, will display the load time, performance grade, page size, and the number of requests.
Pingdom also gives some ideas on things that can improve page performance. However, these are quite complicated for those with little technical knowledge.
The file requests section can help you identify any files that are slowing your website down, such as WordPress plugins, scripts, or images.
When you’ve run the speed test, take a note of your speed as you’ll need this later. Run the speed test again each time you make some of the following improvements to your site.
Using a good theme
So you’re running your website on a good host or you’ve upgraded your hosting plan? Check.
Great, so now the next thing you can do is to make sure you’re using a good theme for your website.
A bad theme will be poorly developed, badly optimized, and perhaps even bloated. A good theme, on the other hand, will be well developed with optimized code and images.
Basically, a good theme will run efficiently and will be one less thing to worry about when it comes to speed.
There are many premium themes available for WordPress, but choosing which one to use isn’t just down to cosmetics. You should opt for a theme that not only looks professional but is regularly updated, has ample features to allow you to get the most out of your website, and, most of all runs fast.
We’ve shortlisted the best themes for WordPress here. Our favorite WordPress theme is Divi, which is a blazingly fast WordPress theme. We love it. Definitely check it out.
Optimizing your images (resizing, compressing)
So you’ve got a good web host, you’re running a speedy theme, you’re already on your way to having a good website. But that’s not enough, definitely not enough! There’s way more speed you can squeeze out of your website yet.
Next up is optimizing your images. It’s one of the most important things you can do to speed up your site.
Images are often the largest files that make up your pages. There are lots of files that your browser downloads when loading your pages. These are made up of WordPress files, theme files, plugin files, and more.
But typically, the largest files that download are image files, and some of these can be huge! Especially if they haven’t been optimized.
We talk in great detail about how to resize and optimize images here, but we’ll cover some of the great tips now.
Firstly, make sure you don’t use images that are too big for your pages. The images that you upload to your website should be the size at which they will be viewed.
For example, don’t upload a very large photo if it’s only going to be used within a 600px wide area of your page. This is not only unnecessary but will add extra loading time.
Instead, rescale any images to the size that they will be viewed at.
Additionally, make sure to compress your images. Uncompressed images can range in size from a few hundred kilobytes to a few megabytes, just for one image!
Compressing images will reduce the file size but keep the image size and quality. You can quite often reduce an image from 1mb down to 100kb (that’s a tenth of the original size) just by compressing it.
There are image compression plugins that you can use to do this, and we’ll talk about plugins next.
The plugins to use
WP Smush it
WP Smush is the most popular image compression plugin for WordPress, and it’s great at what it does. When you upload an image to WordPress, Smush will automatically compress the image, reducing its file size without reducing the quality.
Uncompressed images generally slow your pages down significantly due to being the largest files that your browser loads.
So adding a good image compression plugin along with a good site caching plugin will help you make the most significant speed savings.
When you’ve installed WP Smush plugin, run the optimize tool to run through your images.
Once it has compressed all of your existing images, then run the Pingdom tool again and check your site speed.
You should now start to see some serious speed improvements.
When a user visits your website, your site needs to generate the page before sending it to the user’s browser. Generating the page takes time. It needs to do this every time a user visits your site.
However, a caching plugin will generate your page just once and will store the generated page in its cache. When a user visits your site it doesn’t need to generate the page, it simply just sends the pre-generated page straight to the user, saving time. It’s great, isn’t it!?
WP Rocket is one of the most powerful caching plugins for WordPress. The speed savings that you can make with this plugin are unreal, and it’s another one of the great plugins that we use on our site to make it as fast as possible for our readers.
WP Rocket is quick to set up, and within just a few minutes of installing it can turn your website into a rocket. The speed savings are very impressive.
One of our previous websites clocked in at over 4 seconds load time. After we installed WP Rocket, we got that to just 2 seconds. That’s a huge saving just from one plugin.
You can spend a considerable amount of time trying to squeeze some speed savings by endlessly tweaking your website, or you can save time by installing a good caching plugin such as WP Rocket and instantly give your website a boost.
Another great feature is it’s image loading efficiencies, where images load as the user scrolls down the page. This means no unnecessary waiting for all images to download while the page loads.
If you install a good caching plugin like WP Rocket and use the recommended settings, make sure you check your site using the Pingdom speed test to see the speed savings you’ve just made.
How to configure the plugins and various settings
Removing the clutter (disabling unneeded plugins)
We’ve talked about some great plugins you can enable on your site to help increase speed. But what about unnecessary plugins that you already have installed that might be slowing down your site?
A common thing that people do when running a WordPress site is trialing various plugins which have different functionalities.
Often these plugins will be abandoned and left running, even if the functions are no longer needed.
Every plugin that you have installed on your website will contribute to a slight slow down of your pages as they need to perform their function or load their files into the user’s browser.
It’s important to look through your installed plugins and deactivate or uninstall the plugins that are no longer needed. Doing so can give your website an instant speed boost as they no longer need to be served to the browser.
Running with a CDN
Your website is hosted on a web server located somewhere in the world. When your visitors come to your website, it is served from this webserver to their browser, even if they are located on the other side of the world.
However, a great way of boosting the speed of your website, even more, is by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
A CDN is a network of very fast servers located around the world. When you integrate your website with a CDN, it will take a copy of your website files, such as your site images, and will store these on all of its global servers.
When a visitor from somewhere in the world visits your website, the CDN server closest to the visitor will serve these files to the user, saving time.
If you have multiple users visiting your website at the same time, you will have multiple servers sending the files to the user, rather than one just server, reducing any bottlenecks.
So using a CDN is a great way of giving your website a final boost after you’ve made the other optimizations we have covered here.
One of the most popular CDN’s that WordPress site owners use is CloudFlare. You’ll be happy to know that they have a free plan for blogs, personal websites, or anyone wanting to start using a CDN.
CloudFlare offers a pro plan is available for anyone looking for even more performance, ideal for sites that attract a lot of traffic.
WP Rocket integrates perfectly with CloudFlare making the setup process very easy.
Final benchmark test
If you’ve carried out most or all of these recommendations, then it is likely that you will have made some very good speed savings.
Run your website through the Pingdom speed test again one more time, and note your speed. Compare this to the very first speed test that you carried out and see the savings that you’ve made.
Every second makes a huge difference.
As you can see, having a sluggish website means having a sluggish business.
But through the optimization tips that we’ve given you today, you can make some very good savings that can give any website a much needed positive boost.
You must make an effort to make your website as efficient as possible. If you do, your visitors will return, they will convert into leads or followers, and you’ll surely be on the road to success.