The rise of mobile web browsing has pushed the mobile user experience to the top of web design and digital marketing priorities in 2016. According to hostingfacts.com, there are now more mobile internet users than desktop internet users; 52% of global internet users access the internet via mobile, and 75.1% of U.S. internet users access the internet via a mobile. (Stevens, 2016)
The standards are up too! The average mobile internet user expects a website to load in 3 seconds or they move on to the next search result. This is why it’s more important, now than ever, to provide a great and speedy experience to your mobile visitors. If you don’t optimise your website for mobile users, you could be missing out on tremendous opportunities. Just to give you an idea of what’s on the table: 70% of mobile searches result in an online action within an hour of the search being conducted (Stevens, 2016). Google recently announced that it will be updating the page speed ranking factor in the near future to look at the page speed of your mobile pages.
There are also technical benefits for lowering your web page load times. We recently implemented the tactics we are about to share with you and we saw a 77% increase in pages indexed by Google for one of our clients. This is because the Google Bot has a crawl quota and if your website is slow and clunky it will not get to all of your pages.
Pages index jumped from 115 to 215 pages indexed in one day. Depending on the size of your website the gains can be significant.
Now, we will show you how to speed up your Word-Press website with 7 easy to implement tactics.
Start by running a website speed test with Pingdom. Doing this test will give you an accurate page load time. Save a screen shot so that you have a benchmark to compare your results in the future. Now you can use the YSlow Chrome extension to analyse your web pages and get suggestions for improving page performance. The YSlow extension is available for all major browsers. Here is a list of fixes that will help you the most on your quest for speeding up your word press website.
Optimise Images with EWWW Image Optimizer
Images that are not optimised for the web can take up a lot of bandwidth. Start by optimising all images in your word press media library. All you need to do is install the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin and follow the installation steps. Activate the plugin and go back to your media library where you will see a bulk optimise option:
Then click on the “Start Optimizing” button. You will see 25% to 40% image size reductions.
Leverage Caching with Word Press Plugin Super Cache
Super cache generates static HTML files for dynamic WordPress blog pages. The server will generate HTML static pages and serve those instead of the heavier and more resource consuming PHP pages that require server calls. Check out this great tutorial for WordPress Speed Optimization with WP Super Cache.
Add Expires Headers
Today’s websites contain more images, scripts, stylesheets and videos to provide a richer experience for users. A first-time visitor will have to make several HTTP requests to get all the page components. Web browsers use a cache to reduce the number of HTTP requests, making web pages load faster. Setting far future Expires header, will tell the browser to cache media components only once on the first load and keep those components on cache until the expiry time you set. This technique will lower the overall page load time for your frequent visitors. All you need to do is add this code to your .htaccess file:
Compress components with Gzip
Every time you request a file like https://www.seoworks.com/seo-services/web-site-design/, your browser sends a request to the server, then the server looks for the file that was requested and sends it over to the browser (200 status code).
If the file is heavy, let’s say 150 KB+, it’s going to take more time to transfer that file and this slows down the overall web page load time. The solution is Gzip encoding!
Gzip is a lossless compression solution based on the DEFLATE algorithm, which is a combination of LZ77 and Huffman coding. The LZ77 and Huffman coding look for repeated data or common characters to replace with smaller encoded pieces of data that make your files leaner. You can enable Gzip compression in Apache using the mod_deflate module. To enable this module simply add this code in your .htaccess file:
All modern browsers can decode Gzip encoded files. Your home page may be 150 KB, but after Gzip compression, it may go down to 15 KB. Give it a try and let us know how it worked for you.
Minify CSS and Java Script
Another tactic that can shave off some precious bits from your web pages is to Minify your CSS and Java Script. Minifiers remove unnecessary or redundant data without affecting the way the data is processed or displayed. This can be achieved by minimising formatting, removing unused code, removing code comments and so on. Here are two minifiers you can use:
Remove Unnecessary Plugins and Add-Ons
A good practice is to keep all of your plugins updated! Also, in order to optimise your CMS’ performance, you should deactivate and uninstall all plugins you don’t use. Having too many plugins can clutter your word press installation and may even destabilise it. Don’t let your website crash or slow down. Go through your plugins and uninstall what you don’t need. This will make your word press installation leaner and will help it run smoother. As an added bonus, you will increase security for your website by updating your plugins and deleting old ones that may be vulnerabilities for your system.
Install Google Page Speed Tools in Your Server
For those with developer super powers, you can install the Google PageSpeed Module directly in your APACHE or NGINX server. The Google PageSpeed Module will automatically optimise your website for top performance.
There you go! These are our recommendations for speeding up your word press website! Try these tactics at home and let us know how you did in the comments section of this blog.
* Make sure that you make a full back up of your website before implementing any of these tactics.