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If you’ve used HostingData for any significant period, it’s old hat that your site speeds dramatically impact user experiences, which can cost you pounds and pennies.
Avoid the Curse of Poor Conversions ☠️
But - alarmingly - only 15% of websites run with page speeds at optimal levels for conversions. The other 85% transgress this law - that websites should load in under 5 seconds. As a result, they’ve been cursed with suboptimal conversions.
Even worse, many of these websites - many constructed with the best website builders around - do not even know it. Yes, bonnies. We speak truth.
Sub-1-Second Is the MOST Optimal ✔️
Average conversion rates drop by 10 - for websites that take over one second, compared to websites that take under one second to load. For 1-2 seconds, the drop-off is another 7%. And another 3%, for 4-5 seconds.
Surprisingly, figures level out after this point. If someone’s waited five seconds, chances are they’ll wait another few more. But, you more than halve your conversion potential - had you taken under one second.
Users Expect Speed When Making Purchases 💳
Today, fast transactions are associated with fast websites. As a result, the “80/20 rule” takes effect, with the top twenty percent of websites being extraordinarily rewarded with transactions, and slow websites being overlooked or abandoned.
On a scale of ten seconds, aim for the 20th percentile - as a minimum - to secure the optimum window of conversions (0-2 seconds, tops).
Quick math (for a £25 product):
- ☑️ a <1-second page speed at 31.79% conversion leads to £794.75
- ☑️ a 1-second page speed at 20.28 percent conversion leads to £507.00
- ☑️ a 2-second page speed at 13.93% conversion leads to £348.25
But Why Is My Website So Slow?
There are five main areas responsible for slow websites, and will be targeted in this guide.
- ☑️ Hosting - you should use a top-flight WordPress host
- ☑️ External Scripts - These includes things like font loaders & advertisements
- ☑️ Your WordPress Settings - Suboptimal settings overload your server
- ☑️ Plugins - Out-of-date, or badly coded, plug-ins cause slow websites
- ☑️ Page Sizes - Images should be optimized for the web
21 Ways to Speed Up WordPress Sites (UK 🇬🇧)
Before you pay someone a thousand pounds to make your website faster, you might want to try and do it yourself. You'd be surprised as to how easy it is to speed up WordPress by performing slight backend optimizations.
While some of our tips might require you to spend a certain amount of money, we only recommend that when there's no way around it. Let's get on with the list:
1. Choose a Better Web Host
One of the surest ways to speed up WordPress.
In our opinion, a web host cannot be considered among the best if it provides speeds of under 2 seconds.
Our team typically looks for speeds that are underneath a second.
Uptime must also be factored in. There is no use in having a fast website that's down most of the time. An uptime of at least 99.94% is suitable for most uses.
For more competitive businesses, you should look for a 99.8% average minimum - with guarantees. This is how you choose the best web host for your website.
Boost Wordpress: Top Tip
Perhaps you are using a site builder that also enables hosting, but is not particularly good at the hosting side of things. Some website builders also do not allow third-party hosts. This is one of the perks of having WordPress… It lets you connect to any host.
2. Choose a Better Hosting Plan
You do not necessarily have to pay more money for a better plan. There are virtually tons of great free hosts that focus on speed.
But, if your website handles large packets of data, you may want to look at plans that expand your storage capacity.
For example, most free plans have a limit of 500 MB. And they can have similar restrictions on data… This can quickly create bottlenecks.
Because this CMS is so popularly used - accounting for 60% of all websites - many hosts offer specialized WordPress host packages. Use a top-tier WordPress host plan, such as that offered by SiteGuard, and you can expect an infrastructure that is highly optimized for WordPress themes.
Alternatively, opt for a more powerful hosting type to what you currently have... Most people use shared web hosting. This means many users compete for resources of one server. Especially during periods of high traffic, this can lead to bottlenecks.
If you have shared web hosting, and good traffic, consider going for a powerful cloud hosting plan - which skips past cables and can quickly be turned up or down. Or try out a top free VPS host - if your traffic is not high enough to warrant something like cloud hosting.
See related: How to Switch Web Host for WordPress
3. Twiddle Your Primary Data Centre Location
A great web host will typically have servers located in various countries across the world. When a user enters a URL into the browser address bar, a request is sent to your web server. That then sends data across to the user.
Digital information travels at the speed of light. However, the caveat is that streams of information have to travel through “information superhighways.”
These highways are made up of humongous data cables that connect the globe. Submarine data cables are responsible for connecting the planet. However, going from point A to point B may involve mini-stops.
How Your Data Center Location Affects Your Website?
Passing through these routes creates a tiny amount of latency. The further away your data center is from the recipient of your website, the more routes that information has to pass through. Therefore, the greater the overall delay (unless you use premium cloud hosting).
Let’s do something about that. Head over to the datacenter or server locations area, if your web browser allows that option. Select the location closest to where the bulk of your customers are, to optimize speeds. If you have multiple sites for different locations, message customer support, and get each server connected to the right address.
Related: List of UK Data Centres
4. Select a Faster Theme
Choose a lightweight WordPress theme or framework. While they have thousands of diverse templates to choose from - offering everything from high-level eCommerce to personal style blogging sites - they have to be chosen with your web host in mind.
For example, even if you are on a powerful dedicated hosting plan, choosing a WordPress theme that contains loads of dynamic elements, social icons, sliders, and widgets - may provide immense functionality and beauty, but run with sluggish speed.
The more data that your server has to handle, the more resources it will require to deliver an optimal service. Always keep in mind what you are asking of the plan that you are on. If it is not an option to upgrade your plan, then lighten the theme that you have chosen.
Default WordPress themes tend to be lightweight. You can also check out other frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation
5. Decrease Image Sizes / Optimize
Image optimizations are one of the five main ways to speed up WordPress - and make a large contribution to the data size of your web pages.
If there is no need to have a larger image, make it smaller, without reducing the quality.
To optimize your images, you could use something like Photoshop or the Chrome Pagespeed Insights extension…
But, this can take forever to do - if your site uses a lot of images, and if you don't have experience.
A very cool workaround is to use automated plugins that handle image optimizations. Here are three to consider:
- WP Smush
- EWWW image optimizer
You'll be shocked at how immense the reduction in your image data sizes become, which will have an add-on effect with the speed of your website. Statistics show that colored visuals increases people's likeliness of reading your content by over 80%.
If you want to upload images directly from your phone or camera, compressing the file format can decrease the image by up to five times. We suggest JPEG or PNG as a format. “Photoshop Optimized JPEG High” formats have the highest quality with the lowest image sizes.
6. Optimize JS & CSS Through Minification
We want to implement a process called minification. This is where you remove extra spaces and additional characters that are not essential for your website to run optimally. If you're wondering what you YouTube, Amazons, and Google coders have in common, performing code optimizations would be a good guess.
7. Minimize External Scripts
In general, you want to think of external scripts as massive extra load to your server. Which, in accordance, adds an extra delay to your page loading time... To get around this, choose what script you use very carefully, and keep the overall number low.
For example, we recommend commenting systems such as Disqus - for those who want to encourage user engagement. And highly-useful tracking tools like Google Analytics, to improve upon SEO and other lead generation metrics. For those in eCommerce - who want to get sales feedback - Optimizely handles A-B split testing well.
8. Spring-Clean Plugins
Out-of-date or unused codes do not just linger in the background paying no role in your websites loading experience. Each time a user requests to open up one of your web pages, all of the associated assets are processed.
Some web hosts explicitly recommend that you delete out-of-date or unused plugins, because they understand these take up an incredible amount of processing power.
This also goes for the time taken for backups to be run on your site.
Old plugins with out-of-date scripts - in particular - can also contain incompatible commands that cause a non-linear demand on your server resources. Just deactivating or removing a few of these can make a dramatic difference.
When it comes to implementing automated/scheduled tasks - like the delivery of posts to social media accounts - it is best to deal with a third-party service. Zapier and IFTTT are two options that automatically handle those tasks, without requiring an extra resource load from your server!
9. Used Advanced Caching / Caching Plugins
Caching is a grouping of temporarily stored information pieces, that your browser expects to quickly access when requested. Computers typically store that cache information on hard disks.
Caching is a good thing. Without it, computers would have to go through several processes before they could retrieve requested data.
With this system, large amounts of information can be accessed very quickly - with minimal processing.
This same method can be used with your WordPress website, improving its performance and speed.
WordPress operates similar to a computer, in that it searches for information from databases before it shows your web page in the user browser. Going through these processes causes the website to load slower.
Instead, look up WordPress caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache. These are designed to simplify complex tasks. They implement caching rules into your website’s elements. If you combine this with all advanced caching mechanisms like Varnish, you can increase your speeds substantially.
10. Boost Via Better Plugins
Only select the best of the best, when choosing plugins. Choose one that has poor coding, and you will find that your site has poor performance. Check out reviews and do a bit of research, for every plugin you grab.
Here are a few of our own recommendations:
- Shared Counts - Handles Social Media better than most of the other social media plugins
- Envira Gallery - The fastest photo gallery plugin for WordPress in town
- Soliloquy - Our top recommended WP slider plugin
- WPForms - The go-to contact form plugin for WP
11. Grab a CDN
The abbreviation CDN is short for Content delivery Network. They are distributed systems that serve clients, with the aim of improving the performance metrics of websites owned by those clients.
Your content is copied to a network of remote servers.
Each time your content is requested to be seen by viewers, that content is automatically shared from the server nearest that viewer... For example, if somebody is based in Belgium, then a European server will be prioritized over an American server.
Minimize the loading time of your website by using CDNs as a norm, for your media and scripts, taking away the load from your web host. The most popular CDNs in town are Cloudflare and MaxCDN.
12. Use GZIP Compressions
As with images, compressing files - that are stored on your local computer - frees up a ton of disk space. And, just like computer hard drives, compressing files online can free up space on the web, freeing up your web host.
For your WordPress site, GZIP compressions massively reduce the amount of bandwidth that your server sucks up over time. Each time a user tries to access your website, zipped files need to be unzipped, which takes time and processing power.
By using a GZIP compression tool, you save your browser having to unzip the files before loading up pages. Choose a plug-in such as PageSpeed Ninja, which has GZIP enablement. We know we said no coding, but you can also manually add these codes - into your “.at access” file.
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
13. Divide Comments Into Pages
On the subject of external scripts that deal with comments, visitor engagements can actually detract from your website’s loading speeds.
Let’s say you have 112 comments on a single post… First and foremost ... well done! You’ve succeeded at engendering great audience engagement. However, this comes at a cost. Yes, you guessed it. Your web host server has to load all of those comments, usernames, and other associated pieces of data related to it.
To minimize how much your host has to load, divide your comments into pages. This is simple. WordPress automatically handles this. Just head into the “Settings” area of your dashboard. Hit “Discussion.” Then check the box titled “Break commands in two pages.”
Now, you'll be given the freedom of selecting how many comments you would like to show per page.
14. Divide Long Posts Into Pages
Long posts do well, in terms of SEO rankings. Readers love to immerse themselves into an in-depth article... Again, there is a trade-off, in terms of page loading speeds.
This is mostly the case if there are images or videos inserted t into the post. Those bits of media are likely to increase the overall data size of your post substantially. Instead, split the post into multiple pages.
This is a little bit more advanced then spitting comments, as there is no automatic function for it. Just head into the HTML source code. Add this “<!––nextpage––>” tag in the post area that you want to split as the next page. Keep doing it for each section that you want to split.
15. Limit the Number of Post Revisions
Us professionals like to follow the writerly wisdom that “writing is rewriting.” Unfortunately, this can lead to dozens and dozens of drafts of the same post - stored in WP’s database.
Many users think that these revisions take up processing space in the WordPress database. And that some plugins run through these queries when loading your pages. This happens even if the viewer doesn't request to look at earlier revisions of the post that was actually published on your site.
To save your server the hassle of going through these extra chunks of information, simply head to your “wp-config.php” file. Add in this line of code:
define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 4 );
All revisions beyond the last four will be destroyed.
16. Deactivate Trackbacks / Pingbacks
Trackbacks and pingbacks are WordPress elements that give you a heads-up whenever someone links directly to your page or blog. This is, of course, a useful tool. Problem is, it eats up resources.
Fortunately, there are external tools you can use to gather the same information. The Google webmaster Tools gives you this same feedback. With it, you can free up server resources considerably being bounced between domain registrars.
Understand what is going on here: Whenever somebody directly links to your website, this adds an extra set of requests, between that site and yours. There are also several serious security issues relating to this setup… Cybercriminals, creating DDoS attacks, have been known to take advantage of this link, when targeting websites.
To deactivate the setting, head into your “wp-admin.” Choose “Settings,” then “Discussion.” Uncheckmark the “Allow link notification from other blogs Pingback and trackback.” You may notice improved speeds, as a result.
17. Keep Your WP Site Updated
WordPress is a very solid, open source system, with lots of regular maintenance and frequent updates. With each update, patches are implemented into your site - to make new features available, as well as shoring up any bugs and security issues.
As a rule of thumb, you should choose a theme that is constantly being updated, rather than an old theme that has been left to gather dust. As the website owner, it is up to you to ensure that the various elements of your WordPress site are maintained.
Whenever you get the chance, scroll through your list of plugins and give them updates. Look for updates to your theme. This is the best practice for performance.
Finally, it is imperative that you always use the most up-to-date version of Wordpress. Not updating your website risks your website’s security, and you will miss out on new improvements and features that can have industry-standard implications for your page loading times.
18. Use Excerpts for Your Homepage/Archives
Have you ever noticed a pattern, common among websites that use articles and blog posts, wherein you have to either take the link or select “Read More” - to reveal the full content of a post?
Curiosity is a reason behind why this is a good setup. But also, the default of Wordpress is to show the full content of your posts and articles. However, savvy website owners understand that this slows down the website’s loading time.
Say we show only a summary of each article. This encourages visitors to dive into the actual post, and read the content in full. A double-win.
To enable this, head to your dashboard and select “Settings.” From there, head to the area labeled “For each article in a feed, show.” Rather than “Full Text,” select “Summary.” This will automatically load your posts as only a portion of their full content. An excerpt.
19. Avoid Direct Audio/Vid Uploads
WP gives you the option to directly upload audio and video files into your site. These are automatically played through its HTML5 player. Good.
Just, never choose this option!
Video and audio require a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Which is one reason why highly-optimized, mass media platforms like Streamcloud and YouTube are so popular.
They handle that processing extremely well, and in most cases they do it for free.
Going over your bandwidth tariff could cost you an extra charge. Some hosting plans automatically turn off your hosting resources if you go over your allotment. Fortunately, the solution is extremely simple...
Use media hosting services like Vimeo, Dailymotion, and quality podcast hosting services like Blubrry. Let them handle the bandwidth demands. Paste the URL of that media source into your page. Your media will be playable directly inside of your website - without any of the bandwidth costs!
Two Final Technical Ways to Speed Up WordPress
Before We End… 🌅
20. Use the Latest PHP 💽
This is important because WP is mainly the PHP programming language. Just have a quick check that your hosting company uses the most up-to-date PHP. Every quality WordPress host should do so. The current updated version - PHP 7 - is twice as fast as its predecessors. A massive boost.
21. Choose a DNS Firewall 🧱
DNS level firewalls are the best firewall option for security and performance simultaneously. Choose Cloudflare or Sucuri. These will handle malicious attacks before they reach your website’s gates.
How to Test Page Times ⌚
We Have Seen What to Do, Now How to Measure 🧮
Before we end this guide, you cannot accurately improve without measurements. Get a rough idea of your current page loading time. Compare it to the speed after you implement some of the advice, above.
Various factors affect this - page-to-page - such as whether you have a cache, or how many requests are flying in. As a benchmark, these tools are often used:
- PageSpeed Insights
NB. Make sure that you are using a great VPN - if you are using a VPN at all - when running these tests. More and more people are using VPNs, so it is not a bad test of your page speeds. Poor VPNs will lead to massive page-loading delays! Learn more about the best free VPNs in the UK.
Let us know how you got on with this guide!
Leave a comment below …