A second or two delay in load time may not seem like a big deal. However, it can drastically reduce your conversion rate. Nearly half of website users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. When a website takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of users will abandon it. Making some extra effort to speed up your WordPress website ensures visitors will stick around longer, driving more conversions and ultimately, more revenue.
Choose a solid host
When you’re starting a new website, it may be tempting to save money by using a budget host. You do save a few dollars, but it comes at a much higher cost: slow load times and frequent down periods during peak traffic times. It’s also important to find a host that offers stellar tech support so you get the help you need when you need it, keeping your site running smoothly. Just a few popular WordPress hosting companies include Bluehost, DreamHost, WP Engine, Tyton Media and MediaTemple.
Select a reputable framework or theme
The basic guideline for choosing a speed-friendly WordPress theme or framework is to focus on lightweight, simple themes with the essential features and little else. It may be tempting to choose a framework loaded with every feature you might ever need, but it’ll just slow down your website. When you first launch your WordPress site, opt for the default Twenty Fifteen framework, which is quite fast. When you’re ready to upgrade to a premium framework, choose a Thesis or Genesis framework, both of which are optimized for speed and are easy to customize.
Use a great caching plugin
A caching plugin caches your site’s most frequently visited pages to make them available to the next site visitor right away. The plugin creates HTML files, which are served without using PHP. A caching optimized site may load pages 100 times faster than a non-optimized website. Hyper Cache is a great option for average WordPress sites while WP Super Cache is ideal for high traffic websites requiring more advanced features.
Optimize your images
Typically, images are the largest files on a WordPress website. Leaving them in their original sizes makes them take longer to load. Manually reducing image file sizes is incredibly tedious and time-consuming. A free image optimization plugin, such as WP-SmushIt, will remove extra bytes from your JPEGs automatically as you upload them without reducing the quality. The smaller your image files, the faster your files load.
Limit the number of stored post revisions
When you’re working on a long page or post over multiple days, it’s not uncommon to have as many as eight or even twelve revisions. WordPress is set up to store every single draft for an indefinite amount of time. Once you’ve finished and published a post, most likely you don’t need your drafts anymore. The Revision Control plugin allows you to cap your post revisions. In the event that you make a mistake and need a restore point, you’ll still have that option but you won’t clutter your backend with unnecessary content.
Add an expired header to static items
Hot linking is the term for an internet user taking an inline link to display an image you’re hosting on your website. For example, a user may find one of your images via a Google image search and then embed it on Tumblr using the link to the image you host. This practice is considered theft, and it steals from your bandwidth. As more and more people hotlink your images or as your site, particularly its images, becomes more popular, you’ll see a decrease in your load times. Triple SEO has the code you need for your root .htaccess file to disable hot linking.
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Host video externally
Unless you have a high traffic website and a premium server with ample storage space, hosting your video externally will free up valuable space to keep load times quick. YouTube and Vimeo are the best resources for video hosting. If you post frequent videos, most likely you’ve already taken server speed into consideration and are handling video hosting appropriately. If you only post video occasionally, host your videos elsewhere.
Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks
The WordPress default is to interact with other WordPress sites equipped with pingbacks and trackbacks. Every time another blog mentions your site, you receive a notification, which updates data on your post. Turning off the inter-blog communication features won’t destroy your links. Instead, it simply turns off the setting that makes a lot more work for your website, and consequently, slows down your load times.
If you’re still not satisfied with your WordPress website’s speed, you’ve noticed a recent drop in traffic or engagement, or you simply want to check the speed periodically, there are a number of free online speed tests such as GTmetrix and tools.pingdom.com. Testing your speed on a regular basis allows you to maintain consistent, low load times and avoid significant traffic drops and other WordPress website issues.