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All websites need to do everything they can to boost their SEO ranking, but one element of WordPress Site Optimisation that sometimes gets overlooked is speed. A fast-loading website is an essential element of any high-ranking WordPress site, so here we’ll take a look at some top tips to help you optimise your own.
Anyone who has ever tried to use a slow website will know exactly why site speed is so important. It has been shown again and again that end users leave websites when it takes too long for assets or pages to load, and evidence shows that they’re likely to do this if they have to wait longer than just 3 seconds. With this in mind, it’s clear that every second counts if you want to capture the attention of your audience and convert them into paying customers for your brand.
When it comes to WordPress sites, one key concern is the CMS (Content Management System) speed. The community created the Performance Team due to the ongoing pressure to produce faster-loading websites since there were concerns that WordPress wasn’t able to compete with its rivals in the marketplace.
Today, you’ll be pleased to learn that a lot of super-speedy websites use WordPress as their Content Management System, so there are many things you can do if yours isn’t quite up to scratch.
You won’t be able to take steps to improve the speed of your site unless you actually know what speed it’s running at. That’s why it’s so vital to frequently test your site speed to find out whether improvements need to be made.
Not only do you need to test the speed of your site, you also need to use reporting software that will break down all the issues that are potentially slowing your site down so that you can start to implement changes.
WordPress has its basis in the PHP coding language, and the most up-to-date version is required. There is a warning sent out by WordPress if it thinks your current CMS version isn’t compatible with the latest version or requires the new version to be installed.
To ensure stability, you’re currently recommended to run either PHP 8 or 8.1. PHP 7.4 no longer has security fixes available and so isn’t recommended for your site.
While site speed has many more elements to it than simply hosting, it’s important to recognise that your chosen web host is the basis of your website. If you select a host which focuses on providing optimal WordPress site performance, you can be sure that you’ll benefit from a server infrastructure that is fine-tuned to meet the needs of WordPress sites.
Caching plugins are some of WordPress’s top plugins as they can boost your site’s performance. Caching takes place when a computer remembers data that is frequently used from any given website in order to save on time. When the user visits a website, the computer performs a local look to see whether there’s a version that has been recently cached to view. Due to the dynamic nature of WordPress sites, each time the end-user visits your site, content is pulled from the host. As a result, new data is loaded by the website and this can make the site slower. If your website isn’t updated very frequently, a caching plugin is an ideal choice. It creates a version of your site that is static for caching so your site speed receives a boost.
Today’s caching plugins can boost performance in several ways, including by optimising images and minimising files although you should only use a single active caching plugin at any one time because of potential compatibility issues.
Image files can be deceptively large, leading to them being slow to load. You can optimise your images either after or before uploading them to your site. WebP images are supported by WordPress. These optimised images retain a photo’s quality without having to take up excess space. You could also opt for an image optimisation plugin.
While lazy loading may sound like the complete opposite of what you need to do, in fact it’s an effective way of achieving serious WordPress Site Optimisation. Lazy loaders only load content when it’s required, decreasing asset numbers and server requests when rendering your website. There are several optimisation plugins which now have an option for lazy loading.
CDNs or Content Delivery Networks are becoming increasingly popular as they help end-users access websites at a far faster rate. Their servers cache the website’s data in a similar way to a caching plugin which allows content to be loaded up by users without the need to request it anew each time they visit the site. CDNs also increase site security, with some brands having implementations that protect from any DDoS attacks.
Your website’s heart is the information that you have stored in the database. Here, you’ll find all the vital installation details as well as plugin files, user comments, and pages. Due to the way in which data is stored by WordPress, your database requires optimisation.
Things like spam comments, deleted posts, and post revisions are stored in database tables as well as valuable data, and these entries will take up valuable space, slowing down your site. When you remove these files, your website speed receives a boost since the database tables will be far smaller, making the data simpler for the end user to process. The good news is that there’s no need to manually optimise your database – plugins can help with this.
Since site speed is a vital SEO factor, it couldn’t be more important to ensure that you have kept your WordPress website up-to-date and fully optimised at all times. It’s only by doing this that you can be sure to maintain the highest possible ranking for your site.