WordPress Page Speed Optimization – 23 Essential Tips You Must Implement in 2019
Is Your WordPress Website Fast Enough in 2019?
Most businesses use WordPress for their business website in 2019. That is not surprising as WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) and runs 31% of all websites. If WordPress page speed optimization is high on your priority list for 2019, we have some great tips for you!
So, is your WordPress site fast enough? This is not a trick question. If you don’t know the answer you can test your WordPress page speed here. We find many WordPress sites to be a bit sluggish. And in 2019 that can be a real problem.
Page speed impacts everything from your search rankings to your overall website engagement, user experience, and conversions. And there is another reason you need to focus on your WordPress page speed optimization in 2019! Mobile speed matters more than ever. Not only does your WordPress website have to load fast; it needs to load fast on every device or screen size.
How Fast Should Your Website Load?
Google recommends that your website loads in less than 3 seconds. But not many websites actually achieve that goal. According to recent studies the average website page speed is closer to around 8 seconds. Below is a comparison across various industries and service verticals.
So instead of focusing on what Google tells you your page speed should be we recommend you focus on the user expectations of your target audience. That means you need to consider what happens when your website actually loads. Most websites have content below the fold. But that is not visible to visitors at first. Your WordPress page speed optimization efforts need to provide the content required to engage your audience.
If you engage your audience before they click away, they are more likely to explore other content on your site. Of course, being faster than the average page speed in your industry is always to your advantage.
23 Essential WordPress Page Speed Optimization Tips
1. Use Optimized WordPress Hosting
This is one of the simplest, and one of the most essential, of our WordPress page speed optimization tips. Don’t expect to have a fast WordPress website if you opt for cheap hosting. WordPress sites are complex, which means they have unique hosting requirements.
We recommend you look for optimized WordPress hosting from hosting providers like WPEngine and Kinsta. If you need more options here is a comparison of top WordPress hosting services for 2019.
2. Choose a Fast-Loading WordPress Theme
Once you have optimized WordPress hosting you can focus on selecting your WordPress theme. A fast loading theme is absolutely critical to a fast loading website. Avoid free themes as they are usually full of bloated code that will drag down your page speed. And be sure to check that your intended WordPress theme is updated regularly and frequently.
3. Keep Your WordPress, Themes and Plugins Updated
One of the great things about WordPress is that the platform and most common plugins get frequently updated to improve security, functionality, and performance. If you want to stay on top of your WordPress page speed optimization be sure to keep your site updated at all times. That includes the version of WordPress, your theme, and your plugins.
4. Optimize Your WordPress Database
The next of our essential WordPress page speed optimization tips focuses on an area many business owners are not even aware of. One of the nice things about WordPress is that you can add functionality simply by adding plugins. But that can be a bad thing as well.
Installing new plugins creates different files & folder in your database. When you uninstall these plugins some files & folders are left behind in your WordPress database. And that can really drag down your page performance. Therefore, we recommend optimizing your database weekly at a minimum, daily is even better.
5. Remove Unnecessary Plugins
Speaking of WordPress plugins, there is such a thing as having too many. Every plugin that runs on your site requires resources that will slow down your WordPress site. And simply deactivating them is not much help!
As part of your WordPress page speed optimization we recommend you eliminate unneeded or unwanted plugins. Get rid of redundant plugins wherever possible. And get rid of plugins that are not updated regularity and don’t work with current versions of your WordPress environment.
And one more thing, don’t be so lazy. Don’t use plugins for things that you can easily do yourself.
6. Limit WordPress Widgets
Next on our WordPress page speed optimization tips are your WordPress widgets. For those of you not familiar with widgets; they are usually found in your sidebar or footer, and generally provide additional functionality. Among the most common are social media feeds, email opt-ins, and the like. But do you really need all of them?
Having a lot of 3rd party widgets definitely works against your page speed optimization. And many widgets are not updated frequently and can use a lot of external scripts as well. Therefore, we recommend you carefully evaluate the type of widgets your audience may actually find beneficial if you want a faster WordPress site.
7. Delete Post Revisions
Do you frequently write blog posts or create new pages? If so, WordPress may actually be slowing down your website! One of the more annoying things about WordPress is that it saves all your drafts and revisions in your database. This adds a lot of bloat and can really drag down your page performance. You don’t really need these revisions, so you might as well get rid of them.
8. Disable Trackbacks and Pingbacks
WordPress interacts with other blogs through pingbacks and trackbacks, by default. And pingbacks and trackbacks are considered useful to bloggers. But they are not doing your page speed any favors! Every time another blog pings your website it adds a load on your server and slows down your site. Disable them if you want to improve your page speed!
9. Eliminate Spam Comments
Next on our list of WordPress page speed optimization tips is dealing with the ever-annoying spam comments on your site. In addition to being a nuisance, spam comments take a lot of your database space, which slows down your WordPress website. Therefore, it is essential that you delete all spam comments on a daily or at least a weekly basis from your website and database.
Of course, you can save yourself the trouble of dealing with spam comments completely. By default, WordPress installs the anti-spam Akismet plugin. We recommend you activate it. Yes, it does come at a cost. But that is minor compared to the time it can take to manually delete spam. Or you can simply disable all comments.
10. Limit Social Sharing Buttons
Social sharing may not be high on your list for WordPress page speed optimization, but it should be. Yes, social sharing can improve website engagement and search rankings. But it can also adversely affect your site performance. Social media platforms have such a large footprint across the web, their performance can directly impact your website’s loading time.
Therefore, we recommend you limit social sharing buttons as part of your page speed optimization strategy. Instead of listing every social network why not show the pretty much required Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons, and offer a Buffer button like we do on our own site? That way visitors can share your content on other social networks.
11. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Let’s move on to some other page speed optimization tips. First up, we recommend you use a content delivery network like Cloudflare. The purpose of a content delivery network, or CDN, is to improve website performance by picking a server that’s closest to the end user.
You have to consider where your servers are located relative to the website users who are accessing them. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet is not entirely virtual; physical space must still be traversed. It is substantially faster for someone in Los Angeles to access to a server in San Francisco than it is for the same user to reach a server in Tokyo, London or even Chicago.
12. Enable Gzip Compression
This is a fairly common page speed optimization strategy, and many web hosting service providers enable Gzip compression by default. Basically, Gzip compression enables a compression on your website that a web browser can quickly decompress. This can significantly improve your page speed.
13. Enable Caching
We are not the only people who recommend caching as part of your WordPress page speed optimization. Google puts caching at the top of its list of recommendations:
“Caching allows a browser to store frequently requested files on the user’s device for a set period of time. When caching is enabled, subsequent page loads can be more efficient.” – Google Page Speed Insights
Think of caching as a pre-loaded version of your website on a user’s computer. When that user returns to your site, everything doesn’t have to be downloaded again. While caching doesn’t do a whole lot for new visitors, it’s an amazing speed saver for returning visitors, or visitors browsing multiple pages of your site.
One again, here is what Google recommends:
Here are some basic recommendations for you:
- Defer some JS files from loading: Tell some JS files, particularly large files that don’t impact immediate functionality, to load after all other elements are complete.
- Optimize and minify: This just makes good sense – smaller files will load faster.
But be careful with this part of our WordPress page speed optimization tips. Even our own WordPress experts are still tweaking our own site. So please proceed with caution, and carefully test site functionality and appearance at each step.
15. Minify Your Code
The next one of our page speed optimization strategies focuses on your HTML source code. If you like at your source code it looks much like this post in a way. There are white spaces, line breaks, etc. And we browsers have to read all that code while they load your site, which can really slow them down.
If you can make your source code more compact, you can effectively improve page load speed. To do that, you need to remove all the unnecessary code, such as white spaces, new lines, unused code, redundant formatting, comments, etc.
16. Minimize HTTP Requests
In order to optimize page speed, you must cut the number of different HTTP requests. An HTTP request basically is content that loads from different websites or directories. This includes everything from images to stylesheets to scripts. The more requests the browser has to handle the slower your website will load.
The best page speed optimization strategy is to use combined files to cut the number of requests. That means putting all CSS in one stylesheet, and combining scripts where possible.
17. Eliminate Unnecessary Redirects
Website or page redirects are another way to slow down your website. Think of redirects as a detour a browser has to take before it gets to the intended page or content. Most often redirects are the results of a website redesign or other changes in your site structure or information architecture.
While some redirects are a necessary evil, try to keep them to a minimum. Consider updating out of date pages instead of adding new pages with similar content. That works a lot better for both page speed optimization and search optimization, and it provides for a better user experience as well.
18. Use AMP for Mobile Visitors
Since many website users come from mobile devices in 2019 our WordPress page speed optimization tips would not be complete without mentioning Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short. Google AMP is an opensource project that enables the creation of websites that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across all devices and screen sizes.
19. Limit Google Web Fonts
Web fonts are a great way to enhance the look and feel of your website. But let’s not go overboard here, folks! We have come across sites that feature 3, 5, or even more web fonts. And that can really drag down your page performance.
For better page speed optimization use only the fonts that you need. If you need more variety, consider using variants of one or two fonts instead of different fonts for each.
21. Optimize Images
WordPress page speed optimization strategies almost always involve dealing with website images. Yet this seems to be a constant problem. In 2019, it is hard to believe that many website owners still upload full-size images to their pages. This will definitely cut your page load speed to a crawl. Any effective page speed optimization strategy has to include optimizing your web images.
First of all, crop your web images to the necessary shape and size before uploading them. Compress file sizes as much as possible without compromising visual elements. If you use Photoshop for preparing your images be sure to use the “Export” option instead of simply “Save As.” This will give you the option to fine-tune your images even further.
And be sure to install one of the many excellent image compression plugins for WordPress on your website. You may be surprised how much this can cut your image file size and help your page speed optimization.
22. Enable Lazy Loading
Images are a big issue for page speed optimization. This is especially true for sites with lots of images, or long scrolling pages. We recommend you consider enabling lazy loading as part of your WordPress page speed optimization strategy.
Images and other media files usually take the most time to load. Lazy loading basically means loading these files once a user scrolls down the page. This will improve both your page load speed and the user experience you provide.
22. Use CSS Sprites
Using CSS Sprites may be a little too advanced for most website owners, but we wanted to include them in our WordPress page speed optimization tips anyway. Originally used by video game designers, this technique is now very commonly used by web designers to increase the speed of a website.
CSS Sprites help in reducing the number of HTTP requests for the images that are referenced on your website. They are helpful for page speed optimization as they combine and merge images into one single file, which arranges them in a grid. Instead of loading multiple images CSS Sprites load the same image; they just reveal different parts of that image.
23. Embed Video
The last one of our WordPress page speed optimization tips involves video files. Video files are usually massive in size, and as a result can suck the bandwidth right out of your website. Plus, they can be hard to manage and compress. So why not let video experts handle this for you? Simply use video embeds to pull in this information from external hosting platforms.
YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting platforms are made to host and deliver video content at fast speeds. You simply can’t do this better or faster yourself. Store video files on YouTube, or Vimeo, etc., and embed the content into your design. Users won’t know the difference. But they will appreciate your speedy website.
Final Thoughts on WordPress Page Speed Optimization
With ever more sophisticated and demanding mobile consumers page speed optimization is critical in 2019! Implementing our WordPress page speed optimization tips and strategies will impact more than just how quickly users can see your website. It influences your site rank, search optimization, and conversion rates as well.
Are you ensuring that your WordPress website is built for speed in 2019? Make it a point to start cleaning up your code and optimizing your site. Even if you just do one of these things per month, you’ll start to see results. If don’t have the necessary time or skills to handle page speed optimization on your own get professional help.
Because your visitors are not going to wait very long for your site to load. And if they can’t get to your site content how will they ever learn how awesome your products and services really are? Or even more important, reach out to you to purchase them? We are here to help.
Did You Do Your Own Page Speed Optimization?
Did you use any of our WordPress page speed optimization tips or strategies? If so, which ones did you implement? And what kind of results did you achieve? Or do you have any other page speed optimization questions or concerns? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
Espresso Digital Blog