Website load time has become one of the most important factors for rankings in search engines, especially in mobile search. You might have great content and your visitors might benefit from reading it, but if they have to wait a long time for the page to load, they will definitely leave your website and look for information elsewhere.
In 2010, Google started to consider the load speed of a website as one of the 200 factors in the ranking of websites. Slower the loading is, less time will visitors spent on the website. And they will just leave. This importance of load speed is inevitable if you’re dealing with SEO or if you want to make a breakthrough with your article into a better position in the search results. So, by having a fast website, you’ll enable better user experience, increase conversions and get favored by Google.
What Is the Preferred Website Load Speed?
The key to successful optimization and achieving the optimal load speed of less than 2-3 seconds is in the way your WordPress theme is coded. If it isn’t coded properly and the codes aren’t optimized, you won’t be able to achieve the desired results. You’ll be able to minimize the damage somewhat but not to reach the recommended 2 to 3 seconds of the website’s load time. Why 2-3 seconds? “Two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half a second,” said former Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, Maile Ohye, on the official YouTube channel for Google Webmasters.
There are numerous surveys and examinations that confirmed: website load speed affects sales. As many as 80% of customers who are dissatisfied with the way some website works will hardly likely return on it and purchase something. On the other hand, customers’ dissatisfaction drops by 16% if a website they are on is slow. There are several tools that can analyze your website’s performance. You can compare them before you start working on improving your website’s speed because even the slightest improvement that will speed up your website by millisecond will be significant. Some of these tools are Google’s PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and GTmetrix. There are also WordPress plugins such as Hummingbird, WP Smush, and WebP Express.
The Role of Hosting in Speeding Up
The second important factor of optimizing the loading speed or your website is hosting. Many hosting providers offer shared accounts. Even though they offer an “unlimited number of visitors”, many users employ a single server and, therefore, there are limited resources or queries towards the database. For small websites that don’t exceed the daily traffic of ~1,000-2,000 visits, such hosting is more than satisfying. But again, be careful when choosing a hosting provider. Visit forums and blogs about each hosting provider’s advantages and disadvantages. You should avoid shared hosting if you have an e-commerce website.
If you have heavy traffic on a monthly basis, VPS (Virtual Private Server) emerges as the best option along with Managed WordPress hosting, which is a dedicated server for WordPress websites. With VPS, your website won’t have many “neighbors” but will have an allocated limit that isn’t allowed to be exceeded. A dedicated WordPress server is set to place only your website on it. What is important for the hosting server is where it’s located in relation to your computer. Closer to the server it is, faster is the loading or your website.
However, having purchased a hosting plan that’s using a different MySQL management tool than the most common one to manage a WordPress database, which is phpMyAdmin, may give you a headache in regard to your website’s speed. WordPress uses a MySQL database management system to store and retrieve all information from your website. It runs as a server by creating a database for storing and handling data, defining the relationship of each table. When receiving a request from a user that has to be made by typing specific SQL statements on the MySQL, the server will respond to the requested information and it will appear on the side of the user. MySQL hosting providers and those recommended are listed on this link, need to have a free software tool written in PHP, which is the above mentioned phpMyAdmin, who can handle the administration of MySQL. These hosting servers provide security from harmful hacking attacks, ease of use, and which is highly important – the fast speed and high performance of your WordPress website. Also, every hosting server needs to be equipped by, at least, some basic technology like HTML, PHP, SSL, etc. MySQL servers have it all and have it on a high level.
This step, no matter how complicated it may seem, is also the most important. When creating a WordPress website, tables that serve to store the data you enter into the website are created in the database. They also store data, post revisions, and drafts that you no longer need and they double it. That’s one of the weaknesses of WordPress. Each table has its own language code. Also, when you install the plugin, tables are created for that plugin, again with the same or different language code. If the language codes are different, the computer has to switch from one language to another, which significantly slows down the query process towards the database. All tables in the database need to be moved to the same language code. The website will literally take off fast like an airplane after you perform this.
You can optimize the database manually through cPanel or by using the plugin. To create space and delete old revisions you can use plugins such as Better Delete Revision and WP Revisions Control. There are also WP-DBManager, WP-Optimize, and WP-Sweep.
Optimize Home Page
There are several more steps you would have to perform to speed up your website. The home page needs to be well optimized because it’s the first page people visit when they come to your website. Optimize it by reducing the number of posts on it, by showing highlights (not entire posts), and by removing additional widgets (except those for social media share that are placed under the posts). The simple design will also affect the website speed in a positive way.
Use Proper Theme
If the WordPress theme that you are using is overwhelmed with many functionalities for which separate codes are loading, this can be a decisive factor for the website’s load speed. When you choose a WordPress theme, take care that it has only elements that you actually need, make it simpler. If necessary, you can easily expand its functionality later by installing plugins.
Reduce the Number of Low Quality Plugins
An important advantage of WordPress is that it supports a large number of plugins. However, if you have dozens of them installed, it can make your website crash, cause errors and software conflicts. It’s all due to the fact they aren’t compatible. In this case, it’s not all about the number of installed plugins but about their quality. Yes, your WordPress website can have 30 plugins and can load faster than the one with 10 plugins, they just have to be compatible.
Use the latest version of any of the WordPress plugins and use only those plugins that are of the essence for your website. Remove the rest of them, don’t just deactivate them. Social media share plugins can slow down a website significantly so reduce them to few. Using P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler), you can determine which of the plugins aren’t productive and are slowing down your website.
What Else Can You Do to Speed up Your Website?
Optimize photos and video content – photos shouldn’t be over 100 kb and need to be in JPG format.
Stop hotlinking of your photos – every photo on your website has a URL that other users can post on their websites. So, each time your photo is uploaded on other websites, it uses the bandwidth of your server.
Use caching plugins – they will help you create a static version, that is, an HTML copy of a website that allows pages to instantly open to visitors without having them wait while the request is processed in the database every time.
Use CDN – Content Delivery Network delivers all files from your website through a server that is nearest to a visitor, which has a good impact not only on the speed but also on the bounce rate, conversions, SEO, and user experience.
Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks – although they help you to see if someone has used the link from your website for the content of their website or blog, if you have too many of these links, every content whose link is used is updating over again.
Let’s wrap up: Website load speed is important because it affects bounce rate, conversions, user experience and ranking in the search engines. If you consider at least half of these instructions, you should see measurable progress in the speed of your website.