To take full advantage of WordPress’s power, it’s not enough to create a website that appeals to your readers. You have to make it fast, especially when your user is on a mobile device.
Speed makes your site user friendly, and a rapid-loading, user-friendly site means your audience will visit your website more often and stay on your pages longer, increasing the chances that your content will go viral or that your sales will go through the roof.
Plus, Google places almost as much value on speed as social networking for SEO purposes. Fine tune your WordPress site so it loads like a boss and Google will reward you with better SERP rankings and higher traffic.
Here are four practical ways to improve the speed of your WordPress site.
Get the Best Hosting Service You Can Afford
No matter how much time you spend optimizing and fine-tuning your WordPress site, you can’t get the speed you’re looking for without adequate processing power. WordPress’s free shared hosting is very tempting, but you’ll definitely get what you paid for when you have to compete with thousands of other would-be webmasters.
For WordPress, the gold standard is a dedicated server with SSD drives that’s been optimized for this open-source website development tool, but it’s also the most expensive solution. A dedicated server is a physical machine that you own or lease. With this solution, your site doesn’t have to share computing power or get in line to transmit all the data required to load your page across the Internet.
A VPS, or Virtual Private Server, is a good compromise if you can’t afford to own or support a dedicated server. With this type of hosting, you rent scalable space on physical machines owned by an Internet hosting service. They slice out a piece of a server or bank of servers and it acts much like a dedicated server. You have your own copy of an operating system, you can change settings at will and the resources included with the VPS are yours to use as you like. This solution is faster than shared hosting but slower than a dedicated server.
Dedicated WordPress hosts, also known as managed hosting providers, are another option. This service is provided by vendors who specialize in hosting WordPress. They optimize both their hardware and software specifically for WordPress sites to give you the best possible security and speed with built-in caching layers eliminating the need for third-party caching plugins. Slightly more expensive than a VPS, this is a smart option for high-traffic sites when the dedicated solution is too costly.
Install a Great Caching Plugin
If you don’t use a dedicated WordPress host that provides caching as part of its infrastructure, choosing an efficient caching plugin can be the single best thing you can do to improve your site’s load performance. Here are three great ones you should look at:
- WP Fastest Cache: Generates and saves static html pages so that your WordPress site isn’t continuously rendering the same page over and over when your site is busy. This saves resources and improves performance by reducing the number of php and mysql calls.
- WP Super Cache: This plugin also generates and saves static html pages to reduce php and mysql calls but is smart enough to deliver freshly rendered pages to users who are logged in or have left a recent comment.
- WP Rocket: Instantly improves caching by using a proprietary crawler to simulate visits and pre-load cache. Instead of loading all images when a user lands on a page, Rocket loads during scrolling to conserve resources and increase speed.
Use Content Distribution Networking for Big Media Files
If your video or other large media file has even a two-second delay during loading, most users will give up and move on. Sometimes, they’ll leave your site for good.
By using a content distribution network, or CDN, to place your big media files on multiple servers that are located near your users geographically, they will load much faster and keep your users on your WordPress site.
CDNs, like MaxCDN and Amazon Cloudfront, store large media files on thousands of servers that are distributed at key positions around the globe. When your user initiates the load, the VPN uses a sophisticated algorithm that calculates their exact location so that the content is delivered from the nearest and fastest location. This results in near-instant streaming even when demand spikes or bandwidth is limited.
Use Google PageSpeed Testing for Feedback & Optimization Tips
Don’t wait for your traffic to drop or your customers to complain to measure your performance. Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to proactively test your changes. This valuable resource will give you detailed feedback and suggest new ways to speed up your WordPress site to make it even more user friendly. If you’re really brave or trusting, PageSpeed Insight includes an automatic optimizer that will do some of the work for you.
In a world where most website visitors won’t wait for more than 2 seconds for a page to load before moving on in search of a faster site, it’s more important than ever to make sure your WordPress site is fully optimized for speed. How fast does your page load?