How fast your WordPress website loads will have a significant impact on your search engine rankings, user experience, traffic, and ultimately, the success of your online business. Very few site visitors will wait around for a slow loading site. This is especially true for mobile devices which are commanding an increasing share of the marketplace.
WordPress is designed and built to load fast, be simple to navigate and looks exceptional by default on most if not all devices. However, like any content management system, it can fall prey to bloated plugins, poor customization, and pages that are heavy-laden with unnecessary rich media and functionality.
Thankfully, WordPress also comes with an abundance of tools and strategies to overcome slow loading sites. If you have not done an audit on your site in a while, here are some practical suggestions to help you turn your WordPress slug into a website rocket.
Choose the Right Hosting Package
If you are a new website owner, you might be tempted to choose the least expensive hosting option. However, the cheapest choice is not always the best one.
You should weigh your website needs against the pros and cons of the different hosting options to ensure that you select the one that best suits your business needs.
The three main types of hosting are shared, VPS, and dedicated server:
- Shared hosting: the least expensive type where you share the same server with many other sites
- Virtual Private Server (VPS): A higher level of shared hosting where you have dedicated parts of the resources on the server
- Dedicated server: The most expensive option but gives you the most control
Many WordPress site owners decide to start with a shared plan. When they notice that their traffic is being affected by response time, they choose to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server.
Experiencing too much downtime can hurt your site. This can be caused by getting more traffic than expected to your website or by others on the same shared server overloading it.
The result is a sluggish user experience and the possibility of lower rankings in Google. Conversely, a fast website will not only improve your organic ranking in Google, but it will also tend toward higher conversion and higher customer or client retention rates for your business.
Overloaded servers, especially on shared servers are a common problem and can slow down an entire site. Do your research before choosing a hosting company. Make sure they are not known for overloading their servers.
Use a Caching Plugin
The term caching means the process by which static versions of content are created and served to website visitors. When pages or posts in WordPress are rendered for visitors, queries are sent back and forth to and from the database. The caching function creates static copies of the requested content. This reduces the need to go back and forth from the database and reduces the load on your server.
One of the many benefits of using WordPress is the multitude of free and premium plugins to do just about anything you need or want on your site.This includes the need to optimize your site’s speed by caching files locally on your website visitor’s computer. There are many caching plugins to choose from such as W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Fastest Cache.
Pay Attention to Image Sizes
A widespread mistake many website owners make is also one of the easiest to fix. Uploading very large images to your website can significantly slow down the speed at which your page loads.
Images are valuable for websites, especially for e-commerce sites where pictures of products play a significant role in a potential buyer’s decision-making process. One survey showed that 66% of consumers wanted to see at least three images of a product before making a purchase.
How can you increase your conversion rates using images without slowing down your page loading time?
You should be sure to compress your images.
There are many free sites online you can use, or you can decide to use a WordPress plugin to accomplish the same goal.
Use the Latest Version of PHP
Depending upon your hosting package and the hosting company you choose, PHP versions might or might not always be up-to-date.
However, using the latest version of PHP can increase your site’s loading time by 25-30%. It is well worth the time and effort to do what you can to use the most recent version.
Keep Your Site Updated
For those of you who are already running a WordPress site, you are well aware that not only does the platform update frequently, but so do the themes and plugins.
Not keeping up with updates can not only slow down your loading speed, but it can also leave your site vulnerable to security threats. Updates are done to fix bugs, security issues, and add new features to improve the functionality of the platform, theme, or plugin.
As a WordPress website owner, you want to be sure to stay abreast of all the updates available to you to keep your site running optimally.
Every second counts when it comes to the speed at which your website loads. If it takes too long, visitors will leave your site, you will drop in the search engine rankings, and will lose business. Take the time to do what you can to make sure your site loads as fast as possible. The quicker your pages load, the better the overall performance of your website.
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