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How To Increase Your Website Speed When Using WordPress

Steve Zehngut

Speed is one of the most important factors in how people respond to your site. If you’re looking to generate sales or leads, speed is a prime dynamic in conversions. And if you want Google to send traffic your way, you likely already know that they consider the speed of your site to be critical. So here’s how to increase your website speed when using WordPress.

Make sure you have a great host.

The single most important thing you can do is to make sure your host isn’t the source of your site slowness. We’ve written about Managed WordPress hosts before. One of the benefits of these hosts is that they are constantly focused on your site’s speed. If you’re paying less than $10/month in hosting, your first move is likely to change hosts.

Make sure your theme isn’t causing you issues.

At Zeek, we do a lot of custom work creating lightweight themes. When you buy a theme from a theme store, you can end up with a pretty slow site. There are a lot of good frameworks out there. We have used the Foundation framework by Zurb, Bootstrap, and Beaver Builder’s page builder to create sites. How do you know if a site is slow? Other than testing it, the best way to know is this: if a theme comes gift-wrapped with slider or form plugins, it may be the source of your speed issues.

Make sure you’re compressing your images.

Over time, we’ve seen sites get deployed with larger and larger images. Heck, we have video on our homepage. Having images on your site isn’t an issue. The issue is that those images can be massively larger than you need. And when that happens, your site takes longer to load than it needs to. There are several solutions out there for image compression, including:

  • EWWW Image Optimizer – works on your WordPress sites
  • TinyPNG – an online optimization service that has a WordPress plugin
  • imgix – another online solution that has a WordPress plugin
  • ImageOptim – a Mac or Online solution
  • Kraken.io – an online solution that let’s you say, “Release the…” you get it
  • Compressor.io – an online solution
  • Imagify – another solution with a lot of options and WordPress integration
  • Optimus.io – an online service specifically for WordPress

Make sure you’re using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

While the details can get technical, the suggestion is simple. In combination with your hosting company, make sure your images, scripts and content are getting delivered to people from the servers closest to them. That means using a CDN.

If it’s not included in your hosting plan, Cloudflare is a great option. They have a free tier that works very well.

Make sure you are regularly checking your speed using this tool

While those tips are helpful, we think this one tool may be the most useful thing you get from this article. It’s called GTMetrix and it can help you test the performance of your site. It doesn’t just give you a score, which is useful. It also makes recommendations. And those recommendations are great when you need a list of changes to give to your developer.

Some of the items your developer should be able to take care of quickly include:

  • Make sure you have GZip enabled
  • Make sure you’re adding expires headers
  • Make sure you’re not scaling images in HTML
  • Make sure you’re limiting your http requests
  • Make sure you limit your DNS requests (or pre-fetch them)

GTMetrix will catch these issues and share them (and more). That means you can take the list and pass it on to your development agency.

And if you’re site is slow and you’re looking for a digital agency that can help you, don’t hesitate to contact Zeek.

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