Over 45 percent of people will leave your site if it takes over 5 seconds to load. Yeah, your site’s performance is that important. Not only that, site performance is a crucial part of your overall online presence. With a slow loading website, you’re automatically creating a poor user experience, which will only reflect negatively on the success of your site, and diminish your chances of building a loyal fanbase. Plus, you’ll also rank lower in the search engines. Luckily, optimizing your WordPress site for speed and performance isn’t that difficult. You’ve already given yourself a leg up by choosing WordPress. Below we offer five different ways you can easily improve the speed and performance of your WordPress site.
Measure Your Current Performance
You can’t improve your site’s performance if you don’t know your current metrics.
There are two different tools which will analyze your site and give you a breakdown of how it stacks up against the rest of the web.
The first is Pingdom, and the second is GTMetrix. You’ll probably get a similar report from both tools, but the more data you have to compare the better.
Open up the tools above, input your URL and record your results. You’ll use these to compare against once you’ve worked through the steps below.
- Compress and Optimize Your Images
No matter what kind of site you run your images will probably be some of the largest files. For that reason, they can really wreck your loading speeds.
Luckily, there are a few different tools you can use to optimize your images and make them smaller, all without sacrificing the quality.
The first step is optimizing your images before you upload them to WordPress. This is done in two steps.
The first is resizing your images so the dimensions are correct. If your site only uses images that are 600px by 500px, there’s no point in uploading an image that’s 6000px by 5000px.
Once you properly resize your images, you can upload them to an online tool called TinyPNG. This nifty tool will compress your images and make them smaller without causing any loss in quality.
Now, you’re ready to upload them to WordPress.
To take your image optimization efforts even further you can install a plugin called Smush Image Compression and Optimization. This plugin will optimize any images in your existing library, and optimize images as you upload them to your site.
- Optimize Your WordPress Databases
Over time your WordPress databases can become pretty cluttered and full of junk files you no longer need. Instead of letting these pile-up and affect your performance you can actually get rid of them with the help of a plugin.
Now, you can do this process manually. But, it involves accessing your MySQL database and is probably too technical for most users.
Two of the easiest to use plugins are WP-DBManager and WP-Optimize.
The process of using these plugins is simple. Install it from the backend of WordPress and decide whether you want to optimize, repair, backup, or even restore an older version of your database.
You don’t have to use both plugins, but instead, decide which one suits your needs best.
- Use the Power of a Caching Plugin
Caching can be a very effective way for high-traffic sites to improve their performance.
Without a caching plugin every time a page or post on your site is loaded information has to be retrieved from your CSS files and databases. A static HTML file is generated from that information and served to your visitors. Since there are multiple levels of communication this process can take a lot of time.
A caching plugin will store versions of those HTML files, so they can be loaded anytime someone accesses that page on your site.
Two of the most commonly used caching plugins include W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. When installed and configured the right way these plugins will drastically reduce loading speeds and improve your site’s overall performance.
If you’re using a high-performance WordPress host, then there’s a chance there’s already built-in caching. So, check this before you decide to install one of the plugins above.
- Remove Unused Plugins and Themes
Over time, all of our sites experience clutter. It’s important to regularly clear out things that your site no longer needs to function.
Maybe, you have a bunch of themes installed that you haven’t used in years. Or, you could have a ton of plugins installed, most of which serve no purpose.
If you have a lot of unused plugins and themes this not only leaves you open to more security vulnerabilities, but it’ll also negatively impact your site’s performance.
Go to your WordPress dashboard and deactivate and delete any themes or plugins that you’re no longer using. You could also have a lot of media that you’re no longer using or linking to as well.
To locate and delete this unused media install and use the plugin called Media Cleaner. This plugin will scan your site for media you’re no longer using, and give you the option to delete it.
- Choose a Performance-Oriented Host
One of the biggest influencers of your site’s performance is your host. So, if you’re still running on a basic shared hosting package, it’s probably time to upgrade.
Even if you implement all of the above tips, you probably won’t see much of an improvement if you’re using a slow host.
As a WordPress site owner your best option will be using a WordPress-specific host. This style of host will have a server setup that’s been completely optimized to run WordPress. You can also keep an eye out for things like an integrated CDN, which will store copies of your site on servers across the globe.
Hopefully, you’re better equipped to speed up your existing WordPress site. As our attention spans continue to get smaller your site’s speed will become more and more important.
If you’re looking for a WordPress host that cares about and understands performance, then we hope you consider Namecheap.