How to Check WordPress Website Performance
One of the best ways to improve your WordPress website’s rankings is to increase its performance. Quick load times can improve the User Experience (UX) and boost your visibility in search engines. However, building a secure and fast site can be challenging.
Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to help your WordPress site reach its full potential. Certain tools will help you test your website performance to see how it stacks up to industry standards. If it isn’t up to par, there are numerous practices you can put in place to improve your site speed.
In this post, we’ll discuss the factors that contribute to your website’s performance and common problems that can hinder it. Then, we’ll recommend some tools to see where your website stands and show you how to enhance its performance.
An Introduction to WordPress Site Performance
Your site’s performance is determined by your page load times and responsiveness. Ideally, all elements on your page, including images, text, and video, should load reasonably quickly without moving around the page.
There are several factors that contribute to a well-performing site, including fast themes, powerful servers, and optimized images.
Speed plays a crucial role in your search engine rankings. A slow site can lead to a decrease in visitors and high bounce rates. On the other hand, fast loading times can help you increase your traffic and page views.
Common Issues That Cause a Slow Site
There are numerous factors that contribute to poor site performance. These include:
- Outdated plugins: Plugins that haven’t been updated in a long time can make your site glitchy.
- Heavy themes: A theme that is not optimized can add weight through extra code or unnecessary features, slowing down your site.
- Large image files: Unoptimized images take longer to load and can interrupt the user experience.
- Poor hosting: Some hosting providers rely on shared resources for their customers, which can lead to slow server response times.
These factors can add up to a sluggish site, which can drive visitors away. Testing your website can help you identify areas for improvement. Fortunately, there are many speed test tools you can use to assess your site’s performance. We’ll take a close look at them in the next section.
How to Check Your WordPress Site Performance
Analyzing your site’s performance is relatively simple. There are plenty of free tools that you can use to test your page load times and identify problems. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This Google tool is a top contender for testing your website. It uses different metrics to measure your site’s performance and gives you a comprehensive analysis for both mobile and desktop devices.
For example, you can view important Core Web Vitals scores such as your Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):
Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that Google uses to assess a site’s overall performance. For instance, LCP measures how long it takes for the largest element on your page to load. Meanwhile, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) measures the time it takes your site to respond to user interaction. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a green score in each area.
Fortunately, PageSpeed Insights provides suggestions on how to improve your site’s performance:
For instance, if you have a poor LCP score, the tool will recommend that you optimize the largest element on your page (which is normally an image). It can also show you which plugins contain unnecessary code so you can replace them with better tools.
GTmetrix is an excellent page speed test that’s powered by Google and YSlow. Once you enter your URL, GTMetrix will score your site’s performance and give you a detailed analysis:
If you click on the Performance tab, you can see your Core Web Vitals scores:
Meanwhile, if you navigate to the Structure tab, you’ll get a list of suggestions for improving your website speed:
GTmetrix is free. However, you can upgrade to a premium plan to access more in-depth reports.
How to Enhance Your Site’s Performance (5 Tips)
Now that you know how to test your site’s performance, let’s take a look at some things you can do to improve it. Here are five ways to speed up your site.
1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a large network of servers located all across the globe. When a visitor accesses your page, the CDN delivers the content from the server that is closest to the user’s geographical location.
This can help reduce loading times, as your data has less distance to travel. CDNs also offer additional features such as security.
At WP Engine, our WordPress hosting plans include a free CDN to help you speed up your site:
We use Cloudflare’s cloud-based services to provide security features like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates and DDoS protection. Cloudflare’s CDN also enables you to scale your website so that it can handle larger volumes of traffic more efficiently.
Some of this code could be adding extra weight to your site, leading to slower loading times. This problem can be fixed by compressing your site’s files. This minification process can help your content load faster.
You can use a plugin like Autoptimize to compress your site’s code:
3. Implement Website Caching
When someone visits a page on your site, their browser sends a request to your site’s server. The server then sends the data required to load the content in the visitor’s browser.
Caching helps speed up this process. It works by saving versions of your site that browsers can access faster.
Some hosting companies provide caching services in their plan. You can check to see if your provider offers this feature. If not, you can use a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache:
This plugin generates static HTML files from your WordPress site. The server will then serve those files when a user accesses your pages, leading to faster load times.
4. Choose a High-Quality WordPress Host
Your hosting plan plays an important role in your site’s performance. Some web hosts will store multiple websites on the same server, which can result in slow loading times.
Your web host will store all of your site data, including images, settings, and CSS, on its server. If the server is busy or poorly optimized, users may experience slow loading times when accessing your site.
At WP Engine, our hosting plans include powerful tools such as EverCache caching technology, which is specifically built for WordPress sites. EverCache is designed to handle hundreds of millions of visits per day, without compromising on performance. This way, your WordPress site can load faster for users.
5. Compress Images
Images can make your website more appealing. However, they can also slow it down.
Large image files will add more weight to your loading times. Additionally, they can take up more storage space. Therefore, you’ll want to optimize your images when uploading them to WordPress.
Large images can hurt your First Contentful Paint and Largest Contentful Paint scores. When you run a speed test with PageSpeed Insights, the tool will tell you which images on your page need to be optimized.
However, it might be a good idea to compress every image on your site. Fortunately, you can automate the process with a WordPress plugin like ShortPixel:
This tool can optimize every image on your website, using either lossy or lossless compression. With the latter, you can reduce the size of your image files without compromising on quality.
Compressing your images is especially important if you have a media-heavy website, such as an online store or a photography portfolio. It can help you present high-quality photos of your products while offering a smooth user experience.
A fast-performing site provides a better user experience, keeps visitors on your page for longer, and can help improve your SEO rankings. Implementing simple strategies can help ensure that your website is performing well.
To recap, here are five steps you can take to improve your WordPress website performance:
- Choose a WordPress host that uses a CDN as a part of its hosting technology.
- Check to see if your host provider offers caching services, or use a caching tool such as WP Super Cache.
- Go with a WordPress host that provides high-quality resources.
- Compress your images with a WordPress plugin like ShortPixel.