A slow loading website can prove to be very costly. First of all, it can discourage visitors from staying on your site to review your content. Second, it can hurt your search engine rankings. Google has specifically stated that they use website speed as one of the signals in their search ranking algorithms. A fast loading website improves user experience and will encourage visitors to stay on your site longer and return more frequently. This is important to Google as well as website owners. Here are six tips to help increase your website speed.
1. Take the Google Page Speed Test
Google has a page speed tool at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights where you can test your website’s performance. Enter your website url and hit the analyze button. The tool will return a score as well as a list of suggested improvements you can make to increase your site’s speed and performance. The higher your score, the fewer improvements you will need to make. The test can provide some good insights into how Google views your web pages. Google also provide extensive information on each suggested improvement.
2. Install W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache Plugin
If your website runs on WordPress, it is essential to use a caching plugin to help speed up your site. When a visitor lands on your website, various code and file types have to be loaded. This can take a lot of time and slow down the experience for your visitor. Utilizing a caching plugin results in information being saved on the server or browser. The cached resource can then be accessed instead of having to download the information again from the files on your server, which will significantly increase page load speeds.
These two plugins are both free and easy to use. The WP Super Cache plugin requires less set up. Once it is installed and activated, you just need to go to settings and enable caching. The W3 Total Cache plugin offers more options for those who want more flexibility and choices.
3. Check Your Plugins
Using too many plugins can slow down your website. Although they can be quite handy, you should minimize the use of them on your site. Many times you can add a few lines of code instead of a plugin to get the result you are looking for without the extra baggage that widgets and plugins often come with.
4. Use a Theme with Clean Code
Another important factor in ensuring a fast loading site is making sure you use a WordPress theme with clean code that is search engine friendly. Many free themes have excess or inefficient code that can result in slow loading pages. In addition, free themes are not always updated, which can lead to incompatibility or security issues with newer WordPress versions. Free themes can actually prove to be quite costly. Buying a premium WordPress theme with search engine friendly, clean code can be a very worthwhile investment.
5. Choose Your Hosting Service Carefully
It is very important to choose a quality hosting service for your site. Cheap shared hosting plans can result in slow loading pages when the host’s resources are over used by either you or other customers sharing the same server. For the best performance, you may want to consider either VPS or dedicated hosting. You won’t have to share resources with other clients, and these types of hosting offer better performance in terms of speed, up time and customer service.
6. Use a Content Delivery Network
Distance is a major factor when it comes to website speed. The farther away a visitor is from your data, the longer it will take for the information to load. A highly effective way to combat this problem is to use a content delivery network or CDN. A CDN service consists of a network of various servers located around the world. The service stores your website’s static assets such as images, Java script files and style sheets on their servers. When a visitor comes to your site, the CDN will deliver your content to the visitor as quickly as possible, by finding the closest server. Using a content delivery network service will lighten the load on your hosting server and result in faster site speed.