74% of mobile users say they have experienced a website that was too slow to load. Even worse, 40% of users said they would abandon a website that took more than three seconds to load.
And users are not the only ones who pay close attention to page load speed. Google has indicated that it employs page load speed as a ranking factor for its search algorithm.
Simply put, if your website loads slowly, it will be harder to rank in the search engine results.
While most website owners are aware that page load speed is important knowing how to improve it is often less clear.
Much of the advice around page load speed is complex and difficult to implement. To remedy that problem, here are five simple tips that anyone can use to make their WordPress website load faster.
#1 Enable caching and browser caching
To understand why caching can improve your page load speed it is useful to look at how a browser works.
A web browser is a software application that can be used to search, find, and display websites via their URL.
Browsers have a cache that saves the information used to view that website including HTML and images. This saved data will load automatically from your browser meaning that it takes less time to download the website.
Without browser caching every user would have to redownload all of the assets every time they returned to your website.
You can read about this in detail here: [7 Ways] Leverage Browser Caching in WordPress with/out Plugin
There are two primary ways of implementing caching on your website; via .htaccess and caching plugins. Some of the most popular WordPress browser caching plugins include WP-Rocket, WP-Optimize, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
#2 Reduce plugins
WordPress plugins extend the functionality of your website.
They are one of the biggest benefits of using WordPress as your CMS. The right plugins can even be used to increase the load speed of your website.
That said the ease of adding new plugins can lead to “plugin bloat”. Many, if not most, websites have dozens of plugins that are unnecessary or rarely used.
When a user requests a page on your website it initiates a loading process. During this process active plugins will load. Depending on the type of plugin this can significantly slow down the load speed of your webpage.
Clean up unnecessary plugins by performing an audit.
List out all of the plugins you currently have on your website and the function they perform. Keep active only those plugins that perform a unique and essential function for the success of your website.
Bear in mind that this only applies to plugins that are active. Plugins that have been installed and are now deactivated will not affect the load speed of your website.
#3 Upgrade hosting to VPS
The web hosting that you use can have a pronounced impact on your website load speed.
In order for a website to load a single page it must run numerous lines of code and perform multiple database queries. All of this occurs on the web server where your website is hosted.
The more powerful your website hosting, the faster these can be executed, and consequently the faster your page loads. No matter what other changes you make to improve your website load speed, they will still be limited by your hosting package.
Upgrading to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) can be an efficient way to gain quick improvements in your website load speed. A website hosted on VPS will be running using its own dedicated resources.
These include your RAM, Bandwidth and vCPU. These can then be further customised by the user to optimise the page load speed performance. In comparison, a website on shared hosting will need to share those resources with other websites.
Many websites want to deliver a richer experience for their users.
Creating these experiences demands more assets. These can be scripts, video, stylesheets, but whatever form they take, they do place a greater demand on your users computing resources.
#5 Enable a CDN
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are one of the most common ways of improving page load speed.
A CDN is a distributed set of servers that are placed in geographically diverse locations. As an example, imagine a user in London who wants to access a website that is hosted in Singapore.
The request from the user in London would need to pass through multiple router locations before reaching the server in Singapore. The response would then need to be relayed back through the same route. Instead, a CDN would have a server in Europe that holds a cached copy of the website. This would significantly reduce the distance the request needs to take.
CDNs are used by all the internet giants like Google and Apple to minimize latency for their webpages.
The major advantage of a CDN is that it is able to deliver content fast and efficiently. There are three primary reasons for this. Firstly, as already outlined CDNs reduce the physical distance between the data being requested and the user’s device. Secondly, technology is employed to reduce the file size so that less data needs to be transfered. Thirdly, server-side infrastructure is enhanced through the use of optimized hardware. The overall impact can be a reduction in seconds to the average page load speed of your website.
Page load speed will have a direct impact on how many users visit your website and how long they stay once they arrive. With Google paying increasing attention to page load speed, it is a factor that no website owner can afford to ignore. The methods outlined in this article can help improve the page load speed of any WordPress website.