How to Tell if Your WordPress Site is Fast Enough (And How to Improve it!)

It seems like yesterday that we were all listening to long, drawn out tones as our dial-up internet connected. Fast forward to now, and speed is everything. Over half of internet users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less! What does a slow website cost you? Well, visitors for starters, but that’s just the beginning.

Today I’m going to show you just how important your website loading speed is for the ultimate success of your online business or blog. We’ll also look at a few valuable tools you can use to measure your speed and how you can increase your website’s performance today.

What’s The Big Deal About Website Speed?

Whether you’re running a self-hosted site or you have a growing user base on one of today`s free blog sites, speed always matters.The best way to truly grasp how important every second is for your website’s speed is to look at some powerful website speed statistics:

● 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
● A delay of 1-second in loading times can cost up to 7% in conversions.
● Walmart increased their conversions by 2% with every second increase in website speed.
● Mozilla took 2.2 seconds off their load time and received 60 million more downloads.
38% of UK online shoppers abandon websites that take more than 10 seconds to load.
● 74% of mobile users will abandon a mobile site that takes more than 5 seconds to load.
Website speed is a ranking factor for SEO purposes.

All-in-All, shoppers will make entire purchasing decisions based solely on the speed of your website. It doesn’t matter how great your product is, or how well it’s sold to them. If your website loads poorly, they will leave.

Knowing this, let’s talk about how you can measure and improve your WordPress website’s loading speed.


How to Measure and Improve Your Website’s Loading Time

The first thing you should do is perform tests on your website’s speed. Luckily, there are several easily accessible tools you can use to find out how your current performance ranks against the expectations of your visitors.

Here are two of my favorite options:

Pingdom – This is a simple and easy tool to use that also points out any bottlenecks in your website’s loading speed.
Google PageSpeed Insights – straight from Google themselves. This tool analyzes web pages and offers suggestions on how to increase speed.

So, let’s say that your website isn’t where you want it to be. What can you do? Here five actionable ways you can increase your WordPress website’s loading speed today:

1. Start With a Good Host and a Solid Theme

It goes without saying, but the hosting service you choose for your website has a major effect on the ultimate speed and success of your website. When you’re shopping for hosting, look for options that promise fast servers and high-end hardware like SSD drives instead of standard hard drives.

In addition, depending on your needs, you should consider different hosting plans. A shared hosting plan will split resources between the websites on the same server. By upgrading to a VPS or dedicated hosting plan, you can have more resources available to your site.

Shortly after you’ve chosen your host, you’ll need to choose a theme for your WordPress site. This is where I recommend a clean and simple theme, especially when choosing a theme for an eCommerce site where speed is of the utmost importance.

2. Utilize a Caching Plugin

There are tons of WordPress plugins that are useful for your site. In terms of speed, the best free plugin without comparison is W3 Total Cache. It might be a bit of a hassle to set it up but the plugin works in the background to better handle the caching of your website’s pages. Once you activate it, you’ll immediately notice your page speeds increase.


3. Automatically Optimize Your Images

Manually compressing images for your website is a time-consuming task, but trying to upload them in their raw file sizes will also quickly bog down your loading speeds. Luckily, WordPress plugins come to save us once again with a tool called WP-SmushIt.

This plugin, when installed, will automatically perform a compression on your images. This keeps the file size low without risking too much degradation in the image quality.


4. Choose a Content Delivery Network

The physical location of your users in comparison to the location of your website’s server has an effect on website speed. To alleviate loading times for users in far away areas, you can take advantage of CDNs or Content Delivery Networks. You might want to check out a CDN guide for more information.

These networks store all of your static files and provide users with them based on their location for faster loading times. There are multiple options when it comes to these types of networks. Personally I’ve had great experience with both Max CDN and CloudFlare.


5. Optimize the WordPress Database

If you’re like me, you probably save the draft on your posts as often as possible. You know, just in case. Well, as it turns out, WordPress likes to store these drafts and there’s no limit to how many it will hold. The more these build up, the more it can put pressure on your site. Once published, you have no reason to keep these around.

Same thing with those spam comments, posts in the trash or trackbacks and pingbacks. This is where I recommend a plugin like Wp Optimize which will help you clean up your cluttered database.

Final Thoughts

WordPress offers a lot of options for optimization, which is great considering how important website loading speed is in today’s world. While you shouldn’t overdo it with your plugins, installing the right ones and choosing a great host will ensure your website runs smoothly and efficiently.

How do you keep your WordPress website loading fast? Let us know in the comments!


Further Resources

“How Speed Affects Your Website” infographic by HostingTribunal
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Zoey Kasdan

Zoey Kasdan is a seasoned web designer with a passion for color psychology and the user experience. You can find her online: @kasdan_zoey