If your website takes more than (4) sec to load then you are in for a big problem. In today’s topic, we will be looking at how to improve WordPress site speed. But before we go into that we would want to know what site speed means and also, what causes a slow website.
Improving website speed might be frustrating because it involves a lot of work, especially when your website is not a new one. One problem with most bloggers and website developers is that they focus on how to improve website speed and not the cause of the slow website.
You can’t fix something when you don’t know the root of the problem. If you can find out the cause of a slow website then you are one step away from fixing it.
This article is focused mainly on WordPress site speed. But if you are using other (CMS) content management systems, or you built your website from scratch, you could also learn some things from this article.
What is website speed?
Website speed can be described as the time taken to get data from a source (online) to your device. Most people believe website speed is the time taken for a page to completely load up.
In some cases, some website pages are heavy, this might increase the time to load up an entire page on the website.
But in this article, we wouldn’t be looking at website speed as the time taken to load an entire page but rather the time is taken for your device to display data gotten online.
Why would we be looking at website speed as the time taken to display data on a device rather than the time taken to load up a page? This is because some sites are largely built and would take up to 3 to 5 minutes to load up an entire page, but they respond in time when you log on to their website.
Optimizing your website using (lazy page load). Data are displayed on the area that the website visitor is viewing. In this process, the time taken to load the entire page is been broken down into segments.
Google and other search engines are mostly concerned about the time taken to get data from your host to the user’s device. This means you should be concerned about the time taken for your blog or website to show up on a visitor’s device.
What are the causes of slow WordPress site speed?
There are a lot of things that can cause slow websites they include.
- Your host provider
- Your themes
- Heavy or poorly coded plugins
- Huge CSS and JS files
Your host provider
Your host contains all your data on your website, if your host is slow in pushing data to your visitors then your visitors will find it hard to access your website.
Also, if your website is heavy (having a lot of content and images) you need to opt for a plan which is suitable for your website.
For example, someone receiving up to 10k traffic a day shouldn’t go for a 1GB bandwidth plan. Your website might not be reachable, sometimes users may also find it hard to access them.
Go for suitable plans, and make sure you are hosting with the right hosting provider suitable for your business.
You can get cheap host plans from Truehost they are pocket-friendly and also reliable. I have hosted most of my client websites with them and have no complaints.
You might be wondering why this is on our list. But your Ads can affect your WordPress or website load speed. How is that possible?
I tested my site using Adsense ads and Ezoic ads, I used the auto-placement of ads for Adsense, and I activated a maximum of 8 ads per page.
I used GTmetrix and google page speed to analyze the speed of my website. It is reduced from what I checked earlier before activating the Adsense code on my website. While on the other hand, if you use Ezoic ads and activate the same settings, with (8) ads per page you will notice a huge drop in speed if you analyze with GTmetrix and page insight if you are not using the leap feature. Why is this so?
This is because those ad codes you place on your website need to get various data from your ads provider before displaying the ads to your users and some of these ads are high-quality videos and pictures. Ads providers like Ezoic can display up to 3 ads per code inserted in a space of one minute.
This means a single ads code on a website can display up to 3 ads by automatically sweeping ads from left or right. This was the same reason Ezoic introduced the leap feature when they discover they were losing a lot of clients and their publisher was complaining bitterly about their website speed after inserting Ezoic code on their website.
I know a couple of people who ran away from Ezoic before the leap feature is now free and easily accessible.
If you are a huge fan of WordPress, you would notice that people always request lightweight themes. These themes are simple, optimized, and with a very light design.
This is done in other to speed up a website, but if your niche is entertainment, or let us say a tech niche like mine, you will need a lot of pictures and moving elements, sometimes videos on your home page in other to keep visitors coming back.
Here comes the problem, knowing what themes to choose. How do you know a fast and responsive theme? For me, I can analyze it in two ways it’s either I use the Ezoic leap feature or an online speed checker website.
Sign up for Ezoic here to enjoy the free leap feature
For example, if I see a theme I love on someone else blog I will use a site speed checker to check how responsive the website is or I use the Ezoic leap, by going through their list of fast websites on their platform, If I find any theme worthy, then I go with it, for now, I am stuck with this one I am using because I am so much in love with it. You can also check in the comment section before purchasing a theme you should see comments from people who are already using that theme.
Heavy or poorly coded plugins
Does the plugin affect WordPress site speed? Unfortunately, it does, here’s the truth the type of plugin you install and use may affect 80% of your site speed.
You don’t believe me? Check your WordPress site speed now using any of the online speed checkers of your choice, write down the result of what you got, then go and deactivate all your plugins, go back to the speed checker website and analyze your website again. You will see a huge difference.
No doubt plugins are part of the cores of a WordPress website, especially if you don’t know how to code or design yours, but it does have its bad side.
On the other hand, poorly coded plugins could crash down your WordPress website, you don’t want that to happen, do you?
Then how many plugins do I need for a fast website? The answer is no amount of plugins.
Huge CSS and JS files
An average-looking website with good speed captures the heart of search engines and visitors. If you are planning to create a website or you already have one, you should be more concerned about your site speed rather than design. Do you know why?
Visitors and search engines frown at a slow website, even if your content is nice, readable, or well explanative
So when you are busy putting manicures and make-ups on your website be sure you ain’t overdoing it. If you are using Elementor to build up your website watch carefully at huge CSS files
How do I know if my website is slow?
Many bloggers get confused about how to figure out if their website is slow. The mistake that most website owners make is using their devices to check how fast or slow their website loads.
If you’ve been doing this, then you’ve been doing it the wrong way. This is because your device browser caches your website data and save it in other to make it faster when you visit your website again.
There are two ways to check if your website is slow
- Use an unknown device
- Using the online site speed tester
Use an unknown device
When I say unknown device I mean a device that you haven’t used to access your website, you can also clear cache files on your browser. Now check how long it takes for your site to display on that device.
Go back home sit down think about it, if it were you would you wait that long to get information from your blog? A better way to check is using online site speed checkers.
Using an online site speed checker
First and foremost online site speed checker doesn’t give you accurate results neither does the first.
This is because sometimes devices used in testing website speed are from different countries, locations, and servers sometimes your site might load slowly in India but fast in Nigeria or other countries, this can be related to server issues.
But you could run the test more than one time from different countries using a site speed checker. Some site speed checkers which I do use are.
- Google page speed
Both of these speed checkers perform well, but they only analyze website speed based on a specific page which is been inputted into their analyzer. GTmetrix is based on the desktop version, the mobile version is still in the beta stage. GTmetrix analyzes website speed mainly on a computer interface.
If you have a very low score on GTmetrix, just know your mobile site speed will perform worst.
On the other hand, Google page speed checks mobile and desktop speed. Google page speed is mainly focused on the structures and elements of your website.
Top websites like Theverge perform very poorly when you analyze mobile speed using google page speed, but load up in a time when you check through your phone.
This is because Theverge failed the required speed for cumulative layout shift (CLS) in google page speed insight. This doesn’t mean Theverge will take years to show up on your device.
If you check the analysis above, you will see that Theverge (FCP) First contentful paint, loaded in 1.4 seconds, that’s a sign of hope right?
This means the website is loading at a fast pace. It is different from waiting for a website and losing hope of seeing anything coming up.
Theverge still tops the lead in the tech niche on google search engine despite the bad analysis you saw up there on google page speed insight. Like I told you earlier in this article we count speed as the time it takes to see any form of display from your website rather than the total time it takes to load a page completely.
If you are to load the Theverge page completely it will take you up to 5mins or more because it’s a very large website. In all GTmetrix and google site speed seems to be the most used website, speed checker.
How to improve WordPress site speed
Now we are in the part you are waiting eagerly to see, it’s time to find out ways of improving your WordPress site speed. Here on my list, I have 12 things to do to improve WordPress site speed.
- Optimizing images
- Using caching plugins
- Enable Gzip compression
- Use a light WordPress theme
- Removal of slow or unused WordPress plugins
- Minify CSS and JS files
- Use a CDN
- Activation of lazy content loading
- Fix WordPress health mystery
- Use the latest PHP version
- Update plugins and WordPress
- l Make use of asset cleanup
- l Make use of the Ezoic leap feature
Optimizing your images
Well-written content without images is not yet classified as well-written content. Images contribute to slow site speed because they need to load up completely in other to display on a device.
On a norm a good phone camera image size is usually in the range of 4 to 5MB per picture, here I am using the average image size gotten with a mobile phone. When you write an article of about 3000 words with 10 images of, let’s say 5MB if you times 5MB * 10 = 50MB.
We have 50MB of total pictures on your website, we haven’t even talked about your ads and other elements. Though images uploaded on the WordPress website may appear lower especially when you want to download.
The use of photo editing apps and software plays a vital role in this, there are a lot of photo editing and re-sizing applications on Mac, Windows, and Play store.
I do make use of QReduce lite for android.
Some good photo re-sizing applications include.
- Faststone photo resizer
- FILEminimizer Pictures
- Light image resizer
- Icecream image resizer
- Movavi photo editor
Don’t worry about image quality, a good photo re-sizing application will maintain image quality.
After optimizing your image you can now upload it to your website. What this does is that it speeds up load time and also reduces the possibility of your disk space getting full anytime soon.
Using caching plugins
As we said earlier, caching is the process whereby previously data are stored on a device for easy and faster access. With the help of good caching plugins, your WordPress website will load faster.
I have used different types of caching plugins but LiteSpeed cache does the magic for me. But for now, I am making use of the Ezoic leap feature, because I don’t need two caching programs running.
But still, there are a whole lot of good caching plugins on WordPress.
All these are good caching plugins, try them out and choose the best option that suits your business.
Enable Gzip compression
The function of Gzip compression is to compress your files at the hosting level. Using this feature will reduce the file sizes in your disk, increasing load speed.
You can enable Gzip compression by contacting your host for them to do it for you or by doing it manually using Cpanel or using a plugin.
How to enable Gzip compression manually
If you want to activate Gzip compression yourself login to your hosting dashboard, click on Cpanel> login>open optimize website panel>enable Gzip compression.
You can also enable Gzip compression using the following plugins
If you’ve already installed a caching plugin, you should be able to locate a place to enable zipping in the options area or settings. Installing two caching plugins will lead your website into a coma, avoid it like a plague.
Use a light WordPress theme
Using a light theme can improve your site speed. There are a whole lot of themes on WordPress that are lightweight and faster.
Most of these themes don’t look attractive or might not be suitable for your business but you could also work on the theme by adding some light plugins to make it look better.
When we talk about lightweight themes, we are looking at the size and also request time.
Some fast themes which I can recommend are:
Removal of slow or unused WordPress plugins
When I started 9ja Tide in 2020, I didn’t know much about blogging but one thing I was focused on is witting original content and also checking my traffic daily. I installed 3 plugins to monitor my traffic, sometimes each displayed different figures, but what I do is I compare the figures gotten from those plugins.
And also, I have some inactive plugins hoping to use them someday. I could barely get a score of 30 on GTmetrix for desktop view. But as soon as I made up my mind to use the plugins I need and not those I want, and also let go of those I am not using at the moment, I noticed a boost in my website speed.
Some plugins in WordPress are heavy, if you keep piling up heavy plugins your website will be slow. Plugins also contribute 80% to a slow website. When I check through the Ezoic leap feature, plugins are mostly the culprit of a slow website.
If you are told to remove all plugins and run a speed check, you will notice your site performs well than when you have junk or heavy plugins. But plugins make up a WordPress website so we can’t afford to let go of all. What I am just trying to say is to keep the one you need. Plugins with the same or little difference in function should be deleted, trust me it won’t help you if you keep them.
Minify CSS and JS files
Minifying CSS and JS files are as simple as reducing the sizes of CSS and JS files. It could also cause abnormality on a website when not used well. If you minify all your CSS and JS files you might encounter some errors, your site structures could also be messed up like the menu not dropping down or moving elements stopping moving.
This is to increase website speed, you could set minification to your taste, like allowing just the menu drop down to be the way it is, and make others static. There are a whole lot of settings depending on the plugin and tools you are using.
For this one I use Ezoic leap, they are good and lightspeed cache, I also recommend:
You just need to play around with the settings to know which best works for you. Remember to review your website after activation or else you might be chasing your visitors away with navigation issues and the rest.
Use a CDN
What’s a CDN? The acronym (CDN) means Content Delivery Network. A CDN allows quick transfer of data from different geographic locations, it brakes distance barriers. It also helps websites against malicious attacks.
Content Delivery Network improves site load speed, reduces bandwidth costs, and increases content availability and redundancy. CDN also improves site security.
Since CDN is globally distributed it bridges the gap between users and website resources.
I recommend Cloudflare but if you are using Ezoic it is easy to activate Cloudflare. All you need is to create an Ezoic account> integrate using name servers. A Cloudflare account will automatically be added to your Ezoic account. There you go you are done with that.
Activating lazy image loading
Lazy image loading is loading images in sections. When a visitor visits your website images are displayed on the areas in which the user is reading or viewing, if the user scrolls down, your website starts to load images for the section in which the user is about to view.
This breaks download time into different sections, instead of loading 12MB of data at once, it breaks it down showing graphics or image information around where your visitors are viewing.
I use Jetpack on some of my client websites or Smuch plugin preferable. For you to activate this function in Jetpack plugin, move over to settings>performance move down to performance and speed then activate lazy content loading for images.
Other plugins are also good at lazy content loading.
Fix WordPress health mystery
For WordPress users the health bar means a lot of things, most of the things which are indicated on the health screen are things that are supposed to help WordPress work fine.
If those things are not active on your host, your WordPress is likely not to run properly. When some of these features are not active your WordPress might be slow or unresponsive.
Once I fixed all my WordPress health issues I noticed an improvement in my website load time. Try to fix those issues and see if it works for you. You should see some improvement.
Use the latest PHP version
WordPress runs on PHP, it is always advisable to update your PHP version. Updates are being pushed to the WordPress dashboard from time to time to ensure stability and also speed.
In other to stay in line with this, you are advised to update your PHP version to the latest which is supported by WordPress. Downgrading your PHP version can cause some issues on your website.
Most of the theme developers also try to update their themes in other to support the recent PHP versions and also changes in WordPress.
Update plugins and WordPress
Like we said earlier plugins contribute heavily to slow websites. WordPress plugin developers are also aware of this, which is why updates are being rolled out in other to fix issues and also to make it work efficiently with the recent PHP version.
Making sure your plugins and WordPress website is up to date can save you from the future possibility of your site collapsing.
Make use of asset cleanup
The asset cleanup plugin in WordPress is designed to speed up load time on your WordPress website. How does asset cleanup work? Normally once you log on to your website, all the script in your website starts loading.
What asset cleanup does is eliminate those scripts and roles which are not needed on a specific page.
Take, for example, I do make use of (Easy Table Of Content) a heavy plugin, but for any user who logs in to my home page, the easy table of content scripts will also load.
It is not needed on my home page right? Because there’s no full article on my home page, what I have is just some headings, a little bit of write-up, featured images, and some links leading to other pages.
So it will be a completely useless loading (Easy Table Of Content) script. So what I did was eliminate it from my home page, I also did the same to some scripts and plugins. In essence, it improves your WordPress site speed.
I do get up to 64-54 scores on mobile view for homepage speed score in google page insight and 90 when viewed for desktop. But I get as high as 67 for a mobile view when you analyze my site speed using other pages, and not my home page (9jatide.com).
Since most of my traffic comes directly from search engines, The rate of people accessing my homepage 9jatide.com as a landing page is low compared to my other pages in the search engine. So I am not freaked out.
Make use of the Ezoic leap feature
If you ain’t making use of the Ezoic leap feature then you are missing out. The leap feature is designed to analyze, proffer solutions, and also speed up websites. The good part is that it’s for free but only available to those who are using the Ezoic platform.
I use the leap feature to analyze a slow website and the possible causes of the slow website. How does leap analyze a slow website and the cause of a slow website? Since thousands of website use the Ezoic platform, Ezoic monitors and also compare sites with similar plugins.
They also analyze how fast these plugins are, before concluding. Do you know the best part of the Ezoic leap? They proffer a solution to the problem, this means if it analyzes that Jetpack plugins contribute to your website being slow, it proffers a fast plugin with a similar job that the Jetpack plugin does.
Before you know it, in no time you are done fixing your slow website. Calling people to fix it for you would probably cost you hundreds of dollars. But here you have it for free.
Benefits of a fast website
We all need a fast and responsive website, but what are the benefits of it?
- Increases revenue
- Reduces bounce rate
- May increase chances of being ranked
- It increases engagement
When your website is slow and not optimized properly for a fast website, it makes the loading of Ads slow, and the possibility of your visitor clicking your ads will be slim.
But when your website is fast and responsive, it increases the chance of visitors seeing and also clicking your ads. Also, it increases your chances of being ranked on the first page. Once you start gaining traffic then you start getting good money from your website.
Also, advertisers will want to advertise their product or item on your site if they find out your website is fast and responsive.
Reduces bounce rate
When your website is fast it reduces bounce rate, people tend to click on the next article if you have great content. But when your website is slow I wouldn’t want to check the next article if it took me days to view just one article, imagine viewing another article it might take months (just kidding).
But for real if your article is good and you are being ranked as the number one of a particular key phrase, people click on your article but your website is still loading for about 30 sec you will lose visitors as they will tend to check out the next available website on the search engine.
Imagine if this keeps going on for a month, Google or the search engine will probably think the next guy has better content than yours. Before you know it the next guy will take your position and you lose your place as the firstborn.
It may increase the chances of being ranked
Like I said above when you have a good article and a good website page speed you tend to maintain your place on search engines or overtake the guy on top of you in search engines.
It increases engagement
More page views more engagement, right? It goes hand to hand if your website is fast and you have good content visitors will want to check out your previous or next article. The moment I worked and improved my website speed I started receiving up to 15 comments a day my page views also increased I was amazed.
Some websites like WPbeginner’s speed score are amazing.
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Website speed is so vital because it increases engagement, and revenue and also boosts your chance of being ranked. When my website was very slow I receive little search traffic, and little engagement, and also, my revenue was very poor.
A friend once told me he couldn’t access my website after I shared my website link. My website then looks amazing but helpless. My email was filled with emails of website speed audit from different company and individuals asking me to pay a huge sum of money for them to work on it, I couldn’t afford to pay them.
But now it’s better than before.
Tell me how did you fix your slow WordPress website. Also, I would love to know which of the above steps you applied.
Remember Ezoic Leap is free you could sign up using my affiliate link here.