How to Improve WordPress Site Speed

fast concept

It’s been said that ‘speed kills’, but online, a lack of speed can definitely kill your site’s traffic. This means it’s important to know if your site is operating up-to-speed. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to gauge your site’s actual performance. 

Here at WP Engine, we strive to provide tools that can help you take your site to the next level. Our Speed Test Tool is one of the most useful features. With it, you can receive a detailed speed report and recommendations, along with raw data to help you make improvements. 

In this article, we’ll cover why site speed is so important. We’ll also take a look at what kind of performance you should expect, how to read your WP Engine speed test, and what you can do with the results. Let’s get started!

Site Speed Is Still Crucial

The nostalgic screeching of a dial-up modem signaling that your page will load eventually is the stuff of technological history. These days, consumers expect web pages to load fast. In fact, 40% reported that they would abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. 

Perhaps more importantly, 79% of customers who felt dissatisfaction or reported issues with a website were less likely to buy from that site again. To put this into perspective, research shows that a one-second delay in page loading times creates on average a 7% loss in conversions. That means a one-second delay for a giant like Amazon could cost $1.6 billion in annual sales. 

We don’t want that to happen to you. That’s why we created our WordPress Speed Test, so you know how fast your site is loading and how to make it faster.

wp engine wordpress speed test

With this tool, you’ll get all the information you need to understand your site’s performance and make improvements. Plus, it’s very easy to use. All you have to do is provide your site’s URL and an email address, and you’ll get your results in a simple-to-understand report.

How to Speed Up WordPress

No matter what the results of your performance tests are, you can always make improvements. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true best practices when it comes to speeding up your WordPress website.

Some of the best techniques include: 

  • Choosing top-quality hosting. Hosting has a significant impact on your site’s speed. Here at WP Engine, we offer a Page Performance tool for our managed WordPress hosting plans. This means that not only will you get solid hosting with built-in speed, but you’ll have an integrated dashboard full of data about your site and the experience your visitors are getting.
  • Eliminating code bloat. No one moves fast after a big meal, and that’s just how your site feels when it’s stuffed with unnecessary code. Excessive JavaScript or CSS code can really slow down your site’s performance. To deal with this, you can try combining your files, exploring plugins that ‘minify’ your files, or looking into asynchronous loading for your JavaScript and CSS.
  • Optimizing your images. Your site may also be carrying around extra weight in the form of images. You can optimize your images for the web using a tool like Photoshop or an image compression plugin, or you can try out some free compressors online
  • Managing file storage. Your WordPress site is perfect for showcasing your media, from podcasts to videos and beyond. However, it’s best not to upload them directly into your WordPress site. Stacking large media files into your WordPress hosting server is like making your site drag an anchor around all day. Therefore, using third-party hosts for your videos and sound files is a smart way to boost your site’s speed

In addition, don’t forget that keeping your plugins and WordPress software up-to-date can also help you ensure that your site runs smooth. If you’re no longer using certain plugins, it might also provide a speed boost if you clean them out of your site for good. 

Site Speed Is Even More Important for Mobile

While the ubiquity of mobile devices and mobile use is not exactly news, you might not know that speed plays a huge role in the way Google indexes mobile searches. If your site is a little slow and still relates strongly to certain search terms, you can achieve a decent ranking. However, Google does prioritize faster mobile sites

One in five Americans considers themselves to be ‘mobile-only’ internet users. If you’re concerned about your mobile site’s loading times, you might want to look into using a modern WordPress theme, and choose plugins that are built on the concept of responsive design.

How Fast Should a Site Load?

So, just how fast is fast enough? Google reports that the best practice is to keep your loading times at three seconds or less. Findings show that when loading times go from one to three seconds, the probability of a bounce (a user leaving right away) increases by 32%.

What’s more, for pages that take five seconds or more to load, the probability of a bounce increases by 90%. If you want to retain visitors rather than driving them away, therefore, you need to strive for average loading times of less than three seconds (and ideally quicker than that).

Implementing What You Learn From a Speed Test

Now that you understand why your site’s speed matters so much, there are a few elements in the WP Engine Speed Test tool report that you’ll want to consider.

wordpress site speed test results

Understanding your report and the items it contains gives you information that’s vital for speeding up your site. Let’s look at a few of the most important pieces of data you’ll see.

TTFB 

Time to First Byte, or TTFB, refers to the time it took for the web browser to receive the first byte of data required for your site to load. Each time a visitor requests to see your site, all of its data has to load first. The time this takes can vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of traffic your site gets. 

Page Size 

Your page size includes all the elements necessary to deliver your content to a visitor, and impacts your site’s speed. This can include scripting files, images, and other elements like plugins and themes. You can cut down page sizes by using some of the best practices mentioned previously, such as minifying your files and optimizing images.

Number of Requests 

Each time a visitor wants to see your site, HTTP requests are sent to retrieve what’s needed to display its content. Both the number and size of your files can impact site speed.

To improve in this area, one option is to look at consolidating your file resources. For instance, if you employ multiple CSS files, you might be able to reduce the number of requests to your site by combining all of your CSS code into one file. 

Domain Status

Understanding the state of your Domain Name System, or DNS, can be helpful in your site speed strategy. If there is a problem with your DNS, it might not be readily apparent but can still cause site slowdowns.

Checking to make sure your DNS is registered properly and your nameservers are correct are good first steps. It’s also important to keep in mind that DNS server changes can take a day or two to resolve. 

Stay Fast With WP Engine

Knowledge really is power. With WP Engine’s WordPress Speed Test, you can gather the data and power you need to keep your site fast. On our managed WordPress plans, you’ll also get access to a dashboard of real-time information about your site’s performance.  

WP Engine is here to help you create amazing digital experiences for your clients and customers. Our site speed tools and developer resources can help you create the ultimate WordPress toolkit!

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