The time is past when a speedy website was just good to have. Today, it can make or break your site. Did you know 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load? Besides this, page speed is important for WordPress sites for other reasons as well.
What causes your website to slow down? What can you do to improve your website speed?
The rest of this article has answers to all these questions. Let’s get started.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
What is Page Speed?
In simple language, page speed is the amount of time it takes to load an entire webpage on the user’s browser. Also known as website speed, it is measured as the time taken to load the page on a user’s device.
Why is site speed important?
Here are four reasons why website speed is important:
#1. Google search rankings
Page speed is important in SEO. As early as 2010, the Google search engine started giving importance to website loading time. Faster loading websites were ranked higher on the Google search results page.
A fast-loading website with a higher search engine ranking attracts more traffic from Google, which in turn leads to better engagement and conversions.
#2. Conversion boost
Online customers love to interact and transact with a fast website, and it’s especially important for an eCommerce site. Retail giant Walmart has recorded a 2% improvement in conversions for every 1-second reduction in page loading speed. The same is true for any non-eCommerce website.
#3. Bounce rate
According to Bing, even a 2-second delay in page loading can result in a 4.3% drop in revenues and 3.75% fewer clicks. In other words, page speed can directly influence the bounce rate or the percentage of users exiting the website without performing any activity. Google says that the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123% if page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds.
#4. User experience
Slow-loading websites directly impact the end-user experience, and as a result, their perception of your brand and business. With mobile browsing on the rise, a majority of online visitors say they are unlikely to return to a website if they have previously experienced slow loading speeds.
Now that we have discussed why site speed is important for your online business, let’s look at the factors that influence your website loading speed.
5 Factors Affecting Page Speed
Many internal and external factors can influence your website loading speed. Here are 5 of the most common factors.
#1. Your website has malware
If your WordPress site has been experiencing slow loading for some time now, it is likely to be infected with malware. Many malware variants like spam redirects, WP-VCD malware, favicon virus, etc; are difficult to detect and can damage target websites over many days. These can overload your web server and slow down your website.
A high-quality malware scanning tool like MalCare can help in detecting and cleaning malware on your WordPress website. Additionally, since it runs the scan on its dedicated servers, there is no load on your server and therefore, no chance of your site further slowing down.
#2. Web hosting
Choosing the right WordPress web host is crucial for quality speed and performance. Based on the type of website content and traffic flow, you need to choose the right type of hosting. For instance, a shared web host may be economical but may be insufficient for handling large volumes of traffic. On the other hand, a dedicated web host provides better control over website speed and performance.
#3. Page size
The page size is defined as the file size of a web page when downloaded. The higher the page size (or file size), the more time it will take to load. We recommend that you keep your average page size to less than 5MB in file size.
Why is page size important? Page size needs to be optimized as it can directly impact the loading speed, mobile phone searches, and even your web hosting costs.
#4. Number of installed plugins
If you are running a WordPress website, you may likely have installed many third-party plugins to improve its functionality. The problem is that not all plugins are optimized for fast loading. Hence, the more WordPress plugins that you have, the slower you site will likely load.
#5. Too many ads
Online ad impressions can contribute to your website revenue but will also influence its loading speed. Too many ads or unoptimized ads can cause performance issues on your website, causing it to load slowly on any device. As a corrective measure, limit the number of online ads on your website or include ads only from trusted ad networks.
How to Check Page Speed
Fortunately for WordPress sites, you can check your page speed using a variety of free tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and GTmetrix. All you need to do is to enter your website URL into any of these tools. Apart from calculating your page speed, these tools can also detect why your website speed is low, and how you can overcome the problem.
How can you increase website speed? Let’s discuss this in the next section.
How to Improve Page Speed on Your WordPress Site
Let’s look at 7 effective ways of improving your page speed.
#1. Choose a quality web host
A high-quality web host is your best bet for delivering high and consistent loading speeds for your websites. Shared web hosts are no good for optimized loading speed, as they share your website with other websites on the same web server. Instead, opt for a dedicated web host or hosting company like Siteground.
#2. Use a caching plugin.
Used for the temporary storage of website content, caching can improve page loading speeds by loading your webpage elements quickly on the user’s browser. For WordPress sites, you can install a free caching plugin like W3 Total Cache that uses caching to improve your loading speed.
#3. Remove unnecessary plugins
Minimizing unused or inactive plugins on your WordPress installation can increase the size of your website and overload your server resources. Take stock of all your installed plugins and retain only those that you absolutely need for your site. Additionally, install your WordPress plugins only from trusted third-party sources or repositories, since these are more likely to be built for speed.
#4. Optimize images
Large or oversized website images can add to loading time. The larger the image size, the more time it takes to load on any device. Optimize each website image to reduce its file size without compromising its quality. For WordPress sites, you can utilize an image optimization tool like WP Smush or Pixlr to reduce your image sizes.
#5. Use lightweight themes
WordPress themes can make your website look more appealing with elements like UI components, background images, icons, and widgets. However, on the flip side, heavyweight themes can increase the page size, thus reducing its loading speed.
As an alternative, opt for a lightweight theme like Astra that is built for fast loading on any device.
#6. Clean up the WordPress database
In addition to your website, you also need to optimize your WordPress database for faster loading. This means reducing the overall size of your database by regularly removing old database tables or outdated information, spam comments, fake user accounts, and even unwanted plugins and themes.
#7. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Page speed can be reduced if the visitor is physically located far away from your web server location. A CDN can help in faster content loading and delivery by serving your content from the nearest location to the visitor. You can opt for popular CDN services like Cloudflare or MaxCDN.
Whether you’re just starting with WordPress or have a website with a steady flow of visitors, you only stand to gain from a faster website. The best part? As you’ve seen in this article, it’s a lot easier than you think.
Make sure you use a reliable host, install a light theme, optimize images, and keep your database up to date. Use plugins judiciously and invest in those that improve your site’s performance, such as security plugins that keep your website malware-free, or caching plugins that improve load speed.
Are there any other measures you recommend to keep your site light and fast? Let us know in the comments below.
Akshat Choudhary has always prided himself on his ability to teach himself things. Since starting BlogVault, Akshat has transformed his side project into a profitable venture that is scaling new heights in the Indian startup space. Being a member of the WordPress community for almost a decade, Akshat is keen on understanding the areas where users struggle. Akshat’s core belief behind building any product is making sure the end user doesn’t need assistance and to assist them in the best possible manner if they do.