Do you feel the need for speed? The search engines do. They want to serve up the best experience for their users (the people searching for your content) and this means they want speedy websites that look after the people they send to you. Google plans to add a banner to slow loading websites and this impacts the user experience. Who will click a link with a banner on it??? Research shows that the longer it takes for a website to load the more likely your reader will leave before seeing a thing.
How fast or slow is your website?
The first thing you have to do is to test your speed here: https://tools.pingdom.com/
This is important. Speed is different for everyone. Things like browsers, internet download speeds and other elements all have an impact on website speed.
You also have to factor in that people will say the site is slow, but they're viewing it on a 10-year-old iPhone… You cannot optimize for the people who refuse to move with the times.
Pingdom is the only, definitive answer to the question “how fast is my site”. It will also tell you where things are wrong. Pause here for a moment and go and test your own website's speed.
Got the results? good.
There are a few things you can do to speed up your site and make it blazing fast.
1. Optimise Your Images for a Faster Website
All your website images should go through Canva and be branded with your logo and URL. This includes photos from your phone and stock images. This is something you can do yourself, or get your VA to do.
If you are doing a tutorial, these images should also have your logo on them. Remember to save them and download and have your little description there as well as your headline/keyword which makes it easy for you to find the image. Yes, this matters. Someone with a screen reading device will get a better mental picture when there's a little description in place.
Install WP Smush and compact your images. You can also use ShortPixel if you prefer. ShortPixel has a free plan for you to start with. Alternatively, if you are hosting with Siteground then use the SG Optimizer plugin to compact your images.
Create your free Publitio Account, and add your details. Then add the plugin to your WP website. You can do this by going to the Plugins section of WP and searching for Publitio.
Publitio helps speed up your site by holding your downloads and images on their server (known as a Content Delivery Network). Taking a little while to optimise your images and then adding a CDN into the mix takes a lot of pressure off of your website and it's something you can do yourself. But, if you find it's too tech for you you can book our team to do it for you.
2. Have great hosting for a blazingly fast website.
Some would say hosting is more important than images, to me, Images are the thing you can change to make the biggest impact fast. Hosting is the next thing.
Cheap hosting is a false economy and will cost you more in the long run.
We host with WPX as the company story and values align with ours. Find a hosting company that can handle your traffic and serve up your site fast.
WordPress needs to run on PHP 7.00 running on a lower PHP will slow you down. Siteground will tell you to do a heap of things before they cave and switch you to 7.00. Pursue it. The wrong PHP will slow your site down.
3. Disable AMP.
Many well-known marketers have been vocal about having AMP on your site. This is a stripped-down version of your site on display on mobile devices. What they failed to tell you was although AMP speeds things up, it lowers your optins and conversions.
If things like email sign-ups are important to you, then disabling AMP is going to cheer you up.
4. Consider Perfmatters
Perfmatters plugin also now has a script manager built-in. When in your Pingdom score you see things about Scripts, this is where you can adjust them. This allows you to disable scripts on a per post/page basis. This is very powerful and can drastically increase the speed on your WordPress sites (especially your homepage). A few examples of what this can be used for:
- The popular Contact Form 7 plugin loads itself on every page and post. You can easily disable it everywhere with one click and enable it only on your contact page.
- Social media sharing plugins should only be loaded on your posts. You can easily disable it everywhere and load only on post types, or even custom post types.
You'll be pleased to know it's easy to use and set up.
5. Put Your Fonts Under The Microscope for a Faster Website
What web designers don't tell you… Fonts will slow down your site. They will screw with your loading times and cause you all kinds of problems, but the good news is when your site eventually loads it will look pretty…
So start with https://wordpress.org/plugins/host-webfonts-local/ and follow this very nice and easy tutorial https://daan.dev/wordpress/host-google-fonts-locally/
The other thing designers do is use images to display text in their fancy font… This too slows sites down and causes problems. These issues can be mostly resolved using the images tools mentioned above.
6. Heartbeat, and Video
This is and it isn't an issue. The plugin is here https://wordpress.org/plugins/heartbeat-control/ modern WP has a form already baked into the site. Siteground has a version as well. If you find you have high CPU usage on your hosting account you can try this to lower it.
Video sucks up a huge amount of energy… It's time to offload that onto a hosting platform or Amazon S3. If you're using YouTube this plugin will help: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-youtube-lyte/ It will lazy-load your video content and help speed things up for you.
This is built into SG Optimiser. It's okay. It fits perfectly with Siteground and works well with it. Siteground have tutorials on how to use this. If you are on a call with Siteground about PHP, they will encourage you to use more of the features in the SG Optimiser plugin and help you customise them. Absolutely take them up on this. They will help configure this for your hosting package with them.
If you are not on Siteground, WP Rocket is the tool that you need.
Some people use WP Rocket as well as SG Optimiser.
When you have two plugins that do the same thing they pull on the same resources and can cause conflicts. Be aware of this in advance. This applies to any WP Plugin and not just caching plugins.
8. Themes for a faster website
We recommend Thrive Theme Builder, Shape-Shift. It's a good, strong theme and comes with image compacting, CDNs and WP-Cache practically built so you'll be ready to go almost immediately.
Things you can change to increase speed – shorter home pages – pull people directly into your site sooner.
I know the trend is for long home pages, I have one myself but it won't be staying. And that video on the home page that I love so much? Going…
Your long-form content should be your sales pages. Website design is important for page loading speeds. A good user experience is important for your website pages and you'll find your overall website experience is better when you remove the fluff from your home page.
9. And finally Clearfy
Clearfy fixes a lot of messes caused by your WP database, removes strings (you will see strings in your Pingdom as an issue) and is like an antibiotic for WP websites.
You can also look at https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-optimize/
In the past, I've had issues with this plugin, and it may conflict with things. Be careful.
You should aim to optimize your WP database once a month.
The majority of speed issues with a website can be “fixed” using these tools, and checking their settings and that they're doing their job.
Things to note when speeding up your website
- This is a big task. Do a little bit each day. Back up your site first. If you break your site, message your hosting and ask them to roll it back to yesterday's back-up.
- You need to start it right now. You have time right now before the big Google Core Web Vitals update.
- Just go through my list in order. Check the Pingdom score after one thing, and keep going.
You can ignore this if you want to.
When Google slaps a slow loading label on your site you will regret it.
Final note… There will be a LOT of conflicting info when this becomes active and there will be lots of people crying about their Google Slaps.
Don't be one of them