How to Boost WordPress Speed & Performance
The WordPress speed is not only an important search engine factor, but also significantly influences the user experience. When you first test your WordPress site with a Pagespeed test, you’ll often be disillusioned. Most of the time you are far from a Google PageSpeed Score 100/100. Website speed testing with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights is a nice thing to do. But how exactly does the WordPress PageSpeed optimization work?
It’s important to take your time, because optimizing the website speed with WordPress is not always easy. Nevertheless, this article will explain in simple steps how you can reach a Google PageSpeed score in a green area.
Please also note that the speed of your webhoster (web space on which your WordPress installation is located) also has a direct influence on your PageSpeed score. So if you save on the web host, gives away the important speed potential. In the part about WordPress web hosting providerswe have presented the best three vendors.
Basics of WordPress Performance
Why Speed is Important for your WordPress Site?
The loading time of a website is the alpha and omega to spare visitors frustration and annoyance. A fast-loading website is also a must in the case of a shop connection to generate sales at all. It even goes so far that the load time of a website is a ranking criterion for Google.
Why is the speed important?
User Experience: Every internet user wants to get his information quickly. The faster the page loads, the happier it is and the more positive the user experience.
Google: The crawler must visit each HTML page regularly and if necessary update for the Google index. The fewer connections you make, the less data you need to download, the faster the Google Bot will be done with your work and the more often it will come back. In the end this leads to an increase of the crawl budget.
Sustainability: Every ms of time and every kb of data consumes valuable resources of our earth. Fast charging times reduce power consumption and thus also CO2 emissions.
The biggest influence on the speed of your niche site is your hoster. If nothing works, further optimizations are pointless. Some providers publish technical data on their installed processors and memory. Another guideline is the number of customers per server.
Your visitors want your page to load quickly. They will be happy to read more articles. However, if it takes five or even ten seconds for a new article to load, it will have a negative impact on the bounce rate. Visitors will jump off and get the info elsewhere. Also keep in mind that not all readers of your site have a fast internet connection.
The search engines are also more interested in fast websites. On the one hand, user metrics (ie user behavior) are included in the rankings. If your site loads very slowly, then you are losing visitors directly, and in the medium term also indirect visitors (due to poorer search engine rankings).
It’s no coincidence that Google has long been offering Google Webmaster Tools the ability to measure the speed of its website compared to other sites.
How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed?
Before the optimization you have to do an inventory analysis of your niche site. You can use the Google PageSpeed Tool and the Pingdom service. You should definitely try to get into the green with your page on Google’s tool.
It’s not about getting 100 points at any price. Already from about 80 points, Google is satisfied and gives you the green light. You can assume that the algorithm of the search engine works and evaluates in the background similar. A bad page speed will inevitably have a negative impact on your rankings. Be sure to be concerned with speed optimization.
Speed measuring web pages
There are many free page speed determination tools, with lots of hints on how to improve the current situation. We recommend webpagetest.org for identifying external domain requests. Moreover gtmetrix.com and pingdom.com to measure than professional freemium tools to the performance and compare it to other websites. The Google Pagespeed is often called, but in our view has little meaning.
Perspectives of WordPress speed
Frontend: The felt loading speed for users, search engines like Google and bots. Getting faster here means having a positive user experience, bringing more Google Trust and consuming less power throughout the Internet ecosystem.
Backend: The perceived internal loading speed for the administrator and editors in WordPress. Mainly determined by database requests and computer operations. Optimizing here is especially useful for many plugins, many editors or many data and media that you manage with WordPress. And for shop systems.
Caching: As soon as you work with caching, all web pages are statically generated and provided separately in the cache for the visitor. Thus, the speed of the backend (database and computer operations) is no longer relevant for the loading time of the visitors (in the frontend). If you work without caching, the performance of the database and server is also responsible for the speed of each page view. This point is central to the differentiation of the individual optimization possibilities.
High Traffic Sites: From about 100 concurrent visitors, some optimizations only make sense, because the speed improvements are complex and special for many visitors. At the end of this article we give a few optimization possibilities as an outlook. For very small web projects are more suitable home building system systems where speed does not have to play a major role.
Server Location: For US projects only servers from within the country should be used. The reason is the ping times of the server hardware among each other.
What Slows Down Your WordPress Website?
Despite server optimization, corresponding plugins and sufficient computing power.
Here are five factors that make WordPress slow:
1. Lack of caching
Caching is a fast and highly effective way to make your page faster. A cache can be understood as a type of short-term memory: If, for example, the browser remembers what a website looks like, the server does not have to be asked for the necessary data, but the browser can load the page directly from the cache. This speeds up the page load time for returning visitors immensely.
Now caching is not an easy topic. There are many different types of caches that can be installed and activated in many different places. To quickly get an effective caching solution, rely on popular and proven caching plugins like WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache or WP rocket. Also, you should ask your hoster which caches this has enabled. A solid foundation exists if at least one browser and server cache are activated.
A cache has the disadvantage that it usually only comes into use when the user has visited the site at least once. In many cases, however, it is important that the website builds up quickly and fluently the first time. If you want to achieve that, you have to go to the side bacon.
2. Pictures and graphics
Another killer for your WordPress Speed are pictures and graphics. Their optimization is an art in itself, because you have a lot of factors to consider: the file format, scaling, compression and much more.
But most simple behaviors, such as a plethora of unnecessary images or an inappropriate file format, lead to long loading times. Again, plugins help. These compress and optimize images during and after the upload and increase your WordPress speed significantly.
3. Unordered and uncompressed code
Such loading bottlenecks or blockages make WordPress slower. Therefore, it is common practice to summarize code in as few files as possible, to compress them and bring in the best possible loading order.
4. Lack of Above-the-Fold Optimization
All optimization uses little if the user does not end up with a felt faster page. Because this perceived speed ultimately determines whether a site benefits from a performance optimization.
In practice, therefore, a so-called above-the-fold optimization is often used. Above-the-fold describes the area of a website, which is visible without scrolling, so to speak, the first impression a user receives from a website. The aim of the optimization is now that this area builds up as quickly and fluidly. For this, the loading order of the visible elements is adjusted accordingly. All elements that do not belong in this area are placed behind because they are not visible at first and thus are not relevant for the first impression of the page.
At the heart of this type of optimization are conceptual considerations: you have to be aware of what content a user needs to be displayed in order for him or her to complete the desired conversion. There is no quick and easy solution for this.
5. Too Big Pages
That brings us to our last performance killer: the page size. Many slow pages are simply too big, have too many plugins installed, an unnecessarily large theme, or are cluttered with images and graphics. That’s good news! Because it means that in many cases the WordPress performance can be increased very easily. If you misfire your page regularly, you can usually keep its page load time at a good level.
Importance of Good WordPress Hosting
Your server and your hosting contract have a big impact. Your contract offers you more or less services and can deliver your page along with other pages from a server. Also, the server may not have specified parameters perfectly on WordPress. All this affects the loading time. The best thing about loading time is Dedicated Server, so you have all the resources of the server at your disposal. But even if you do not want to jump on a dedicated server, keep in mind that you always get what you pay for.
Speeding Up WordPress in Easy Steps (No Coding)
So what action should be taken to improve bad page-speed values? Of course, this varies from site to site and from server to server. From experience, however, it is the 2 following measures that significantly improve the value.
Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
Caching is probably one of the best known speed optimization tools. The term ultimately means that an HTML copy of your page is created and that copy is delivered to the client. As a result, not all components have to be recalculated for each visitor and, as already mentioned, HTML loads much faster. This cache is then deleted after a specified time and recreated again. There are more factors that influence caching, but that is the basic principle.
There are many plugins that allow you to pre-generate the HTML files and deliver faster in your own cache, as if each page had to be dynamically generated by the visitor. The best caching WordPress plugin is WP Rocket. A license costs about 40 USD per year.
•Minifying CSS and JS files requires knowing which CSS and JS files are being used on the page. With this you can find out all used CSS and JS files.
•Here is a simple guide to the settings at WP Rocket.
The acceleration through a WP caching plugin is very high. However, it also requires a continuous change in the administration of WordPress.
Optimize Images for Speed
The reduction in file size with good image quality is difficult, but possible. First, you have to look which image size is used in your theme. If your theme requires a width of 940 pixels for an article image, then your image must also be 940 pixels wide. A larger image is automatically scaled to the appropriate size, but unnecessarily has a much larger file size.
Which file size may a picture have at most? But a good guideline for article pictures are 50 to 100 KB. Background images should not be larger than 250 KB. If you can reach lower values - only to. Never use pictures with 500 KB and more. That is not how it works!
The three most common file formats are JPG, PNG and GIF. The PNG file format is suitable for screenshots or graphics with little color and a lot of text. A transparent background is also possible with this format. Although the compression is not as strong as possible, but lossless. The JPG format is better for normal photos. The files can be compressed enormously.
WordPress Performance Optimization Best Practices
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
Always make sure your WordPress installation and plugins are up to date. CMSs usually optimize their systems with each update. Therefore, lagging behind can keep you from faster loading times. At the same time, outdated software is one of the best access points for malware.
In addition, you should update your php version. The latest version is php 7. The last stable version is php 5.6. Be careful when updating, as updating the php version may produce unwanted php php-code errors that you did not even know about. So make sure your hosting provider ensures that you can always roll back.
Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives
A little thing that is often forgotten is the so-called More-Tag. It is inserted in the editor for both posts and pages to specify a location where the preview should be truncated. This ensures, for example, that not all posts are in full text on the overview page of your blog, but that only one teaser is displayed, including the button “Continue reading …”.
Unfortunately, many operators forget to set this tag, especially on subpages, but sometimes also on blog posts. At the same time, this significantly increases the load time and has another, very decisive disadvantage: It provides duplicate content. Because your contributions and pages are then available via various archive pages in full text – in addition to the full text in the single view. Google may consider this a scam and think that you are trying to get the same content on different subpages several times in the search results.
Split Comments into Pages
If you have a busy community on your site, then the comment section may ever go wild. And that of course pushes the speed of the page layout. Therefore divide the comments on several pages. The default value is 50 , the lower the load time. If your posts typically have 800 comments, then 15 entries per page might be a little less – so do not just make that value dependent on loading time, but also on usability. As the second value, select the default Last value to display the latest comments on the first page.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
With a Content Delivery Network service, you can outsource images, videos and HTML files to these CDN providers. They then take over the fast delivery of these content modules all over the world. CDNs are other very good tools for media content. You load all media on another server and reduce the load time. So you can not only change domains or move your entire page without having to load the media content on the server, but you can also significantly affect the loading time.
This is made possible by the idea behind the network. It solves the media from a geographical location. All of your files are stored on servers across the network, and visitors get them from the server closest to them. But even if all files were in Iceland, these networks have huge power and can deliver files much faster.
Don’t Upload Videos Directly to WordPress
Videos can be a nice addition to your content if they do not start automatically when the page loads. But they too can cause loading time problems. If you use background video instead of images, be sure to compress them as well as images.
First, reduce the length of the video to a maximum of 10-15 seconds. If you choose a video that lends itself to an endless loop, your visitors will not notice how short it is. In addition, you should compress it properly. Try different quality levels and choose one that does not exceed 1 MB video.
The best way to reduce the load time of background video is to banish it from the site. Apart from swallowing enormous amounts of bandwidth, they annoy your users. Because they distract from the actual content. If a video is not absolutely necessary because of what you offer, because it’s so much onerous, then drop it and choose a meaningful image instead. For all other videos, you should never host them on your own webspace, but always outsource them, eg to YouTube or Vimeo. Proper videos occupy far too much bandwidth and force your server to its knees, leaving the delivery to Google or other vendors.
Use a Theme Optimized For Speed
Poorly programmed or stuffed with thousands of functions themes are sluggish and increase the load time. Take a look at the various premium theme developers. Your theme is just slow because it’s bloated, with many features you do not need, with countless design variations that will not help you because you can only use one at a time.
Then it’s time for a theme change. Get either tailor-made or at least opt for a third-party theme that knows what it’s doing. The developers at Theme Forest and similar platforms are almost certainly not. They defy programming standards and create themes that are anything but commendable. Not only are they programmed incorrectly and full of mistakes, they are also slow and sluggish. Do not be fooled by the pretty exterior.
Alternatively, you can also access free themes from the official WordPress repository. These comply at least with coding standards and have been reviewed by the WordPress team. However, they are almost never suitable for professional use. Free themes are the self-printed business cards of the Internet. They work, but they rarely make a good impression.
The choice of a WordPress theme is based of course on aesthetic and ergonomic considerations. But ergonomic themes, packed with features and beautiful visually are not always the lightest. This is normally the opposite (it’s an understatement). But the weight of a theme must be taken into account in the choice. The heavier a theme is, the more it will tend to slow down the loading speed of your site, sometimes to a considerable extent. Here are some tips for choosing your theme:
• Choose a theme that only offers the features / features you need. Many features are actually gadgets that only serve to weigh down your site. You need to be sure to use at least two-thirds of the features offered by the theme.
• Choose a Responsive Design theme , which allows your site to be displayed optimally on all devices including mobile devices. There are many sites that are fast on the computer, but very slow on mobile. It’s less and less acceptable for a number of reasons.
• Do not necessarily prefer paying themes to free themes. Paid themes even tend to be heavier on average than free themes. In any case, remember that it means nothing: paid themes are not necessarily better optimized in terms of weight.
• Avoid overly old themes , they are generally not or more optimized and help slow the loading time.
• Choose a theme compatible with the latest versions of web browsers. Most of the recent themes are compatible here. This advice therefore joins the previous one.
• Do not choose a theme with too many HD images and animations in every way. Prefer a cleanand minimalist theme.
• In a general way and to summarize, it is a thousand times better to choose a simple theme, even if it is complicated later to adapt it to your needs, that a natively heavy theme that will be more difficult to make “lose weight”.
Note: You may have a question: how do you rate the weight or performance of a theme before you choose / buy it ? There is a very simple method: launch the demo of the theme and do a Pingdom Tools test. You will be able to access all the necessary information from this tool: number of requests, overall weight, respect of good practices (Grades), etc. You do not know which theme to choose?
Use a Faster Slider Plugin
The upper plugins do not automatically work side by side but must be selected by you. Do not blindly take all our tips, but think first and think about what could bring something to your own blog. Each WordPress blog is individual and what is good for one, can hurt the other again. So optimize and test to see what works and ultimately results in faster load times. The plugins on top are just another step in the optimization, because it’s not for nothing that this series has six parts.
Use a Faster Gallery Plugin
Many a plugin goes even further and even reduces the quality itself. But even if you compress without loss of quality, can still get more out of pictures. Since every thumbnail on the blog and every little graphic also costs loading time, this is noticeable very quickly with several pictures on a page. But the best is that the optimization of the images takes place completely without your own efforts. Just plugin install and forget, because from now on your images, thumbnails, etc. are automatically optimized when uploading.
Fine-Tuning WordPress for Speed (Advanced)
Split Long Posts into Pages
In some cases, it makes sense to divide long posts into multiple pages. For example, if the loading time could be affected by the inclusion of images or other files. Or, if the text is just extremely long and you want to save the readers an eternal Scroll down. However, for these reasons, you should not forgo relevant content. Instead, WordPress offers the ability to split longer posts across multiple pages. To implement the manual page break, a so-called tag is inserted into the WordPress text editor.
Reduce External HTTP Requests
The requests that are sent from the client to the server and back are what takes time when the website is built for display. The more requests are sent, the more time is required.
The most useless requests are those you can not see. I’m talking about the plugin that you have tested and yet does not use. And the other plugin you use once a month to find out. WordPress loads every active plugin for each page. So if plugins are enabled, you do not need them at all, or they have a very specific purpose, especially for development, you should disable them.
You can also reduce requests by reducing the number of posts and images loaded per page. So if you’re running a blog, just load 8 instead of 20 posts, for example. Or put “Lazy Loading” so that only part of the resources are loaded at once.
Reduce Database Calls
Optimize WordPress Database
In addition, you can occasionally clean up a bit. Of course, this also includes deleting old or in the meantime added themes and plugins that are no longer needed. But it can also mean removing the garbage from the database, which makes it sluggish over time.
The easiest way is with the plugin WP-Optimize. After you have installed and activated it, you can call it directly from the main menu in the backend. It’s best to back up your database in case something goes wrong.
Then check the box where WP-Optimize found something (apart from the red entries) and click on the big button Execute all selected optimizations. The red entries may take a little more time, so you should just do them one at a time with the adjacent Optimize button. Afterwards, your database should run smoothly again.
Limit Post Revisions
WordPress natively offers revision control on pages and articles. This allows you to go back and view the changes made to your page. While this may seem like a good thing, over time this can lead to performance issues.
For example, say you create a page and work on it seven times. Each time you change a word or two. Although the change in the database is minor, you would now have eight copies of your original page, the main and seven other revisions. This can quickly escalate and slow down WordPress in the long run.
The goal here is to give you all the tips to maximize the loading time of your site. This is something very important, first for the user, because if the loading of your pages is too slow, it will quickly close the tab of his browser (it is estimated for example to 3 seconds maximum patience the user of an e-commerce site). But it is also important for SEO because search engines tend to favor sites that respond quickly.
Most of these recommendations are valid for other CMSs. Some of the techniques presented in this article require a minimum of computer knowledge. If you do not have an in-house team with sufficient expertise in this area, this is not a drama of course, but avoid over-hacking. Rely on an SEO expert (agency or freelance) who will clearly diagnose the problems encountered on your site and define the best actions to take to improve the loading speed of your WP site.