A fast website is a key factor in improving your SEO rank. However, guides often provide generalized statements of optimization and what it can do for your website, or detail more technical aspects that may overwhelm some users. To do.
Without getting into the heart of the code, this article will walk you through the most basic steps to improve your website’s performance.
WordPress website and optimization
Site speed is more important than ever. End users will leave her website if a page or asset takes more than a few seconds to load. That’s why every moment matters when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention and maintaining conversion rates.
One of the most common concerns on the part of the WordPress community is content management system (CMS) speed.
This pressure for faster websites was one of the reasons why the Performance Team was created by the community, as there was concern that WordPress was lagging behind some of its competitors.
It adds new integrations to WordPress core, but the good news is that many very fast websites run WordPress as their CMS.
1. Test your site speed often
The first step in improving your website speed is to test your website to see what you can improve.
There are hundreds of tests online to choose from when checking performance, but here we will focus on the Google Web Core Vitals and Lighthouse reports.
Google Core Web Vitals
Launched by Google, Core Web Vitals is currently one of the most important sites for speed testing on the Internet, providing information on various fields that affect websites.
Core Web Vitals is now very focused on user experience and uses measurements like loading performance, interactivity and visual stability. However, it is expressly mentioned that these factors may change in the future.
If you’re familiar with GTMetrix and other popular free speed test tools, you’re using Lighthouse Report Technology. This is an open source technology also by Google that slows down websites.
Similar to Web Core Vitals, this report is very detailed and provides a breakdown of issues that can slow down your page, including general performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO.
2. Change the PHP version
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is the coding language upon which WordPress is based. This means that as WordPress versions increase, we will need the latest version of this scripting language.
Thankfully, WordPress will display PHP warnings if it determines that the current version of the CMS is incompatible or requires a newer version to be installed.
We currently recommend running PHP 8 or PHP 8.1, or at least PHP 7.4, for stable versions of WordPress.
PHP version 7.4 will continue to receive security fixes until November 28, 2022. When a version of software stops receiving security updates, it reaches “end of life” and is no longer recommended for use.
If your web host doesn’t automatically update your PHP version, you can use cPanel to switch between different versions between sites.
3. Choose a Host Specialized for WordPress
Site speed is more important than hosting, but the web host you choose is the foundation of your website.
A host focused on providing top performance for your WordPress site comes down to your server infrastructure.
At InMotion Hosting, we provide our customers with high-performance servers fine-tuned for WordPress. Our custom UltraStack configurations are designed with NVMe SSDs, NGINX, PHP-FPM and Redis to make your servers blazingly fast and efficient. No additional software configuration is required to significantly improve WordPress performance.
4. Use cache plugins
Some of the most popular plugins in the WordPress ecosystem are caching plugins. It’s touted as a sure-fire way to improve website performance, but what does it actually do?
Simply put, caching occurs when your computer remembers frequently used data from websites to save time.
This means that when you view a website, your computer will first search locally to see if there is a recently cached version to view.
WordPress sites are dynamic, so content is fetched from the host each time an end-user requests your website. The website may be slow as it tries to load new data.
If you don’t update your website often, you can speed up your site by using a caching plugin whose main job is to create a static version of your website that can be cached.
Modern caching plugins have many ways to improve performance, from file minimization to image optimization.
Here are some popular free WordPress caching plugins.
- W3 total cache: A caching plugin with lots of options to tune your website’s caching capabilities. This hosting-agnostic plugin improves performance and reduces page load times by providing minification, object caching, database caching, cache control, and more.
- WP Super Cache: This caching plugin from Automatic generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress files and serves them to your site visitors at lightning speed.
Due to compatibility issues, it is not recommended to enable multiple cache plugins at once, as enabling multiple plugins will counteract optimization.
5. Optimize your images
Images can be seemingly large files. So when the computer requests information from the host, it may be the last one read but he may be the one.
You can optimize your images before or after uploading them to your website. WordPress supports his WebP images, optimized images introduced by Google, which preserves the quality of the photo without taking up a lot of space.
Image optimization plugins are another popular choice for WordPress users. Our recommendations are:
- Performance Lab: The Performance Lab plugin is a great resource for WebP image conversion and other optimization settings.
- Smush: One of the most popular WordPress plugins, Smush automatically compresses and optimizes the images you upload. Bulk editing more than 50 images or compressing files larger than 5MB may require a premium upgrade.
6. Consider lazy loading
Contrary to what the name suggests, lazy loading is a great way to speed up your site.
Lazy loaders load content only when it’s needed, reducing the number of assets and server requests to render your website.
Some optimization plugins now include lazy loading as one of their options, such as Jetpack and WP Rocket, but this perk may come at a premium price.
7. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content delivery networks are a hot topic in web hosting, and for good reason. A CDN is a way for end-users to access her website faster by having the server cache the site data.
Similar to caching plugins, this allows users to load content without requesting new content each time they pull the site.
Using a CDN also increases the security of your website. Some brands also have implementations to protect against DDoS attacks.
If you’re interested in a CDN but don’t have the budget right now, Cloudflare offers a free personal account with access to the CDN service.
8. Optimize your database
The information stored in the database is the heart of the website. Contains all important WordPress installation details and files from plugins, pages and even user-created comments.
Due to the way WordPress stores data, the database needs optimization. Database tables store post revisions, spam comments, deleted posts, and more. These entries take up space and slow down your site.
Removing these unnecessary files will make your site faster because the tables that store data will be smaller, making it easier for your end users to work with the data.
Fortunately, there is no need to manually optimize your database. You can use plugins like WP-Optimize which has database optimization capabilities.
If you want to learn more about optimized WordPress hosting and how to improve your website speed and SEO, check out InMotion Hosting’s WordPress Education Channel for more articles and guides.
Site speed is always an important factor for SEO. Making sure your WordPress site is up-to-date and optimized can do wonders for your rankings.
See how a WordPress VPS with UltraStack can help improve WordPress performance.
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