Why Does Website Speed Matter? + 7 Easy Tips To Improve It!
“55% of visitors spend LESS THAN 15 seconds on your website.”(Source)
Do you reallllllly want to waste those 15 seconds (or any of that time) on your website loading? Probably not.
That’s like someone trying to come into your business, and you blocking the door.
Want to hear another scary statistic? 25% of visitors will leave a page in less than 4 seconds if it doesn’t load.
And you thought 15 seconds was bad…
Your website’s loading time doesn’t only affect your readers & potential customers, it also plays a role in your SEO rankings.
Why Does Site Speed Matter?
Website speed is one of Google’s ranking factors when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
What does that mean for you?
It means that your competitor’s website could potentially rank higher in search results if their website is faster than yours.
Want to learn more about DIY SEO for your WordPress website? Check out DIY SEO for Solopreneurs!
Why is this an SEO ranking factor?
Well, for a few reasons.
Search engines like Google have search bots, kinda like robots that “crawl” the internet. These bots crawl the web to find new websites and web pages.
They use links from page to page, to find and crawl more pages.
If your webpage takes a long time to load, then Google’s search bots can’t crawl as many pages on your website. (Search bots have an allocated crawl budget).
So, if they can’t get to all of your wonderful webpages it can negatively affect your websites indexation.
But besides the allocated crawl budget, slow loading websites also give your website visitors a bad experience on your site.
I mean think about it, do you enjoy going to slow websites? No.
Sometimes, you don’t even stick around long enough to view the website because it’s taking too long to load.
So basically FASTER websites make the user’s happy (Google loves when the user’s are happy) & it helps reduce the bounce rate of your website, which is another SEO ranking factor.
In a nutshell, when your website users are happy, Google is happy.
How fast is your site right now?
Before we get into the tips and tricks on speeding up your WordPress website, we have to know where we’re starting at.
To find out your site’s loading time, you’ll need to run it through a speed checking tool.
Why? Well, for 2 good reasons.
#1. Benchmark Score:
If you don’t know how fast or slow your website is NOW, then how will you know if it’s made any improvement after you follow the tips and tricks I highlight in this post? If you don’t have a starting point, it’s going to be impossible to refer back to. Pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here?
#2. Specifics & Details:
Speed Checking Tools not only give you specific loading times (down to the milisecond) but they also give you detailed reports on what’s slowing down your site, to begin with. This detailed report will help you figure out where you should spend the most time with improvements.
Free Speed Checking Tools:
There are a bunch of free-to-use tools online and they only take a few minutes — depending on how long it takes your site to load 😉
- Pingdom Page Speed explains your page size and load time.
- GTMetrix includes helpful visuals and prioritizes speed concerns.
- Page Speed Insights helps you see how fast your website loads on mobile.
Important Note*** These recommendations are pretty generic and are based on best practices. Some of the factors might be out of your control or might not specifically apply to your page.
How fast should your website be?
As fast as possible.
The slower your website, the more users will abandon it.
Consider these stats:
- 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
- 40% of visitors will abandon a page that takes three seconds or more to load.
People want their information & they want it now.
Alright, now let’s focus on the good stuff.
One of the biggest speed factors is your hosting company & package.
Hosting is the foundation of your entire website and usually, you get what you pay for.
Most basic shared hosting packages have hundreds of websites, on one server, which can obviously result in slower page loads for each website.
If your website is seeing a lot of traffic & has a lot of content, it’s extremely beneficial to look into a dedicated hosting company like WPEngine *get 3 free months by clicking the link and using the coupon code!**
WPEngine’s servers are created EXCLUSIVELY for WordPress websites, where other website hosting servers may not be.
Besides changing your hosting company, what else can you do?!
Here are 7 Easy Ways To Speed Up Your WordPress Website:
#1. Optimize & resize your images:
Huge images are usually the biggest culprit when it comes to slow web pages. By not optimizing your images, you’re making your browser do a ton of extra work and heavy lifting.
Images take up more space than any other part of a website. They’re some of the “heaviest” and most difficult files for a server to work with. So with that being said, if you think about the compounding effect of having a ton of images on your site, the size and quality can make or break your web performance.
There are quite a few things you can do to images in order to reduce their size and compress them.
Step #1. Save your image in the correct format.
The two most common image formats to use are Portable Network Graphics (PNG) and Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG).
The major difference is that PNGs are of better quality and allow for transparency (good for logos and design elements), but their image file sizes are larger. JPGs aren’t as good in the quality department but their image sizes are a LOT smaller.
So in short: JPEGs will be your best bet in most cases as they’re a good compromise between image quality and file size. Especially when it comes to background images, galleries, and product images.
Step #2. Resize your image BEFORE uploading it to WordPress
Keep the width of your image as small as possible, without compromising quality.
If you’re using an image for a background keeping the width between 1500 – 2000px should be ideal. If you’re uploading and using images that are 3000px – 6000px wide, your pages are going to load slower because you’re asking the browser to do a LOT of extra heavy lifting (and it totally isn’t necessary).
**Important Note: Do NOT rely on the WordPress image resizer to do the resizing for you. A lot of times this will still make the browser load both the original version of the image AND the resized version that WordPress created.
If you don’t have a photo editor on your computer, you can use a free online one like PicResize.
All in all, the smaller the image size, the better….as long as they still look okay. Don’t compromise quality for image size. We don’t want pixelated images on our site.
Step #3. Compress your images before uploading them.
This is NOT the same as resizing them.
When you compress an image you strip an image of unnecessary information such as camera details, metadata, color profiles, embedded thumbnails, etc which can bulk up the size of the image file, making it larger than necessary.
Step #4. Utilizing the “Save for Web” option.
When you’re creating images for your website or your blog posts make sure that you’re using the “Save For Web” option if it’s available in your photo editing software, like Photoshop.
This drastically reduces the image size.
#2. Use a caching plugin:
What’s Caching? It’s the temporary storage of data to help your website load faster.
Have you ever gone to a webpage for the first time & noticed that it takes a little longer to load, only to come back to the same web page later & it loads at the snap of a finger.
That’s because of caching.
Your web browser saved some of that web page’s information like HTML pages, images & files so that the webpage will load that data from the saved cache version, instead of the server, to help reduce the loading time of that page.
Some website hosting companies offer solutions like this. The settings should be in your hosting dashboard. If you’re not sure where contact your hosting companies support team or do a quick Google search: “Website Caching option for X hosting company”
If you’re looking for a WordPress plugin for this, check out:
#3. Limit your plugins:
Plugins are great. They enhance the functionality of our websites, with a quick download. So why should you limit them?
Sometimes people go on plugin binges.
They start downloading & playing with a bunch of them to test them out & to find the right functionality they’re looking for. They’ll find the one they love and forget they downloaded a bunch prior to their favorite. NOW, every time a visitor comes to their website, their browser has to download allllll of the plugin files for their active plugins.
But hey, not every plugin is going to slow down your site. Every plugin is coded differently.
Some won’t affect your page speed & some will dramatically affect your page speed.
So technically, it’s not the number of plugins that will directly affect your page speed, it’s the quality of the plugin.
How do you figure out which plugins are slowing down your page? P3 Plugin Performance Profiler plugin is PERFECT for this.
It breaks down your plugins and lets you know WHICH plugins are slowing down your website, and by how much.
This can help you determine if that plugin functionality is worth the extra load time or not.
But remember to DEACTIVATE the P3 Plugin after you’re done running your report. Having this plugin activated and always running in the background of your site WILL make your website slower — this plugin is a powerhouse, in the best way.
#4. Turn off pingbacks & trackbacks
This option is probably one of the easiest to do.
Having pingbacks and trackbacks running on your website is a great way to keep track of who is sharing & mentioning your stuff on their blog but having that little bit of insight uses up some of your speed power.
In order to pull that information, your website has to update the data on your post that was mentioned.
Turning off pingbacks & trackbacks won’t destroy the backlinks from other blogs, it will just save your website a lot of unnecessary work.
How do you turn them off?
On your WordPress Dashboard, click on Settings >> Discussion and uncheck the Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles option.
#5. Be careful with ads
Ads are how a lot of bloggers make money & there’s absolutely a financial benefit to having numerous ads on one page. But, the key is to find that balance between ads & page load times.
Script-based ads can cause your webpage to load slowly (especially on mobile), which results in a poor user experience.
If your visitors are unhappy with your page loading times, or the overall experience that your website presents them with they’re leaving & most likely never coming back.
What good are the ads, if people aren’t sticking around on your website long enough to see them?
Try it out. Try limiting your display ads & taking a look at your Google Analytics.
Are you getting more page views?
Is your bounce rate dropping?
Those are clear signs that your ads weren’t as big of a help as you might have assumed.
#6. Try not to upload video/audio files directly to WordPress
You can directly upload audio and video files to your WordPress site directly, and they will automatically display in an HTML5 player on your page or post.
But just because the option is there, doesn’t mean you should use it.
Hosting audio and videos will severely bloat the size of your website. This could potentially result in issues with your performance and hosting servers.
Best practice: Take advantage of the free media hosting services like YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud. Upload your videos or audio files to those services and then EMBED them onto your pages and posts vs. uploading them directly.
How can you embed them?
WordPress makes this pretty easy. Just click the + icon in the top-left-hand corner of your page or post. Scroll down to the Embeds section and choose the type of file you want to put on your page and then input the link that the media hosting service gives you.
#7. Keep your website updated
WordPress, themes, and plugins, for the most part, are frequently updated. Updates not only offer new features but also fix security issues and bugs.
I’m sure you’ve heard that keeping your website updated is super important for security purposes and to help prevent any vulnerabilities, but it’s also important for keeping your website speed in tip-top shape.
Ignoring updates can play a big part in slowing down your page loading times and ultimately affecting the performance of your website at all different levels.
Don’t know where to start?!
Images are one of the most common slugs.
Start swapping out your big, heavy images with nice easy, breezy, compressed ones & you should start to see a difference in your loading times.
If you have a lot of pages to do this on, I suggest looking at your Google Analytics, seeing which pages get the MOST traffic, and starting with those pages.
Also, don’t forget to delete the old ones from the media library.
Now how fast does your site load?
Test it out, implement one (or a few) of these easy tips & retest it.
Let me know how these changes improved your WordPress website’s speed!