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How to Optimize Your WordPress Website’s Performance

A slow website can have a negative impact on how people perceive your business. It’s a proven fact that slow loading times lead to high visitor abandonment - if your website takes more than four seconds to lead, nearly 25% of people will leave.

A slow website can have a negative impact on how people perceive your business. It’s a proven fact that slow loading times lead to high visitor abandonment – if your website takes more than four seconds to lead, nearly 25% of people will leave.

WordPress-powered websites make up a large portion of slow websites, since they’re built on Apache and PHP – two resource-heavy technologies. Fortunately, WordPress websites can be optimized for performance by doing just a few tweaks. I’m going to cover a few of them below.

Optimize Images and Videos

70% of humans’ sensory receptors are concentrated inside a person’s eye. Visual websites heavy on video and images are a great way to grab attention, but they also contribute to poor performance if not optimized. A few ways to optimize media content:

  • When transparent images aren’t needed, use compressed JPGs to reduce file size.
  • Reduce the maximum size of your images. For instance, if the content area of your WordPress website has a maximum width of 600px, reduce the max-width of your images accordingly unless a lightbox is absolutely necessary. There are several WordPress plugins that can optimize thumbnail images and their various sizes for you.
  • Host videos externally on services like YouTube and Vimeo, then embed them on your website. Most video sharing services (such as YouTube) encode your videos and automatically optimize for speed, based on your visitor’s internet connection, while WordPress does not.

Make Use of a Content Delivery Network

If your WordPress website is hosted in the US and someone all the way from India visits it, the website may take awhile to load because their browser and your server need to communicate long-distance.

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) increases the speed of your website by serving content locally to your visitors. It does this by caching your website’s content across many data centers around the world.

Optimize WordPress Plugins

While plugins add new functionality and features to your website, too many can slow it down. Deactivate or delete any plugins that aren’t being used.

It’s also important to update your plugins on a regular basis, since many updates contain bug fixes that improve performance and security.

Optimize CSS Files

CSS has been one of the most important technologies in web development, eliminating the need to individually code the look of each web page. Unfortunately, CSS files are often neglected and disorganized, which can affect website speed. A few things you can do to optimize CSS files:

  • Remove styling elements that you aren’t using on your website, and merge duplicates when possible. There are many free tools online that can automatically do this for you.
  • Minify your CSS files to compress file size. CSS minification removes unnecessary lines and spaces, scrunching all of your code together. Just make sure to save a backup of your source CSS files for editing, as minified files can be difficult to read and edit.

Optimize PHP files

Sometimes it’s worth going through the extra step to access your server through the backend, and make sure your WordPress files and theme code are optimized. A few things you can do to optimize PHP files:

  • Use external stylesheets and JavaScript files, then call them in the header of your PHP files when needed.
  • Close all HTML and PHP tags to ensure that pages load properly.
  • Remove empty tags such as the div and paragraph tag, which often go unnoticed.
  • Similar to minifying, compress your PHP files by removing extra line breaks and spaces.

After you’ve optimized your WordPress site, you can measure its performance with tools like YSlow and Google PageSpeed Insights, which provide information on how you can further improve the performance of your website.

Alyona Galea
Alyona Galea
Alyona is a WordPress enthusiast, focused on sharing interesting things she comes across during her work with this great CMS. She loves exploring new destinations and maintains a travel blog at www.alyonatravels.com

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6 Responses

  1. I was able to solve all optimization problem when I hosted my wordpress blog on a managed wordpress hosting provider. Few hosting companies offers an affordable managed wordpress. Just take the time to search. Most of those sites do not usually appear on the 1st page of search engine result page but that doesn’t mean they are inferior to the more popular managed wordpress providers.

  2. I have a WordPress site with many large database queries that was very slow. When I moved to an all-SSD as well as nginx server (rather than Apache) it cut the home page load time by 68%. A shout out to Flywheel hosting (I hope it’s okay to mention them here.) I am now in the process of moving another slow site over. However, although this can be an easy means of increasing load times, you should still go through the steps mentioned in Neill’s article here – especially cleaning up CSS files. (I know mine are in dire need of some TLC.)

  3. I agree that there are some plugins which help to optimise the page and get it to load faster. But by adding these plugins, they are adding too much code in the page and due to this, code/text ratio is reduced which is bad for seo.

  4. One of the best ways to improve the WordPress performance is to switch your hosting to SSD VPS hosting. I switch to SSD-powered VPS hosting and that greatly improved my site’s performance. It loads much faster and it provides much better user experience. My host is https://rosehosting.com so if you are looking to improve the performance of your WordPress site by switching your host, you can check their offer. Anyway, your tips helped me a lot.

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