Stereotypically local business websites run slowly. This negatively affects not only the user experience on your website but it can also negatively impact your search rankings. There’s a lot of information out there about how to “minify” your website code or cut down on the number of redirects your have on your site. Both of these things do help increase the site speed, but they aren’t easy things for people who don’t know a lot about coding to fix.
If you’ve been wondering “why is WordPress so slow for me?” – that’s where we come in. Translating the language of geek into understandable, actionable items that you can do to improve your site speed.
There are quite a few tools on the web for checking your page speed. Some of our favorites are GTMetrix and Page Speed Insights. GTMetrix is easy because you can just enter the URL of the page you would like to check and it spits out a breakdown of the grades your site received, the priority, and what type of change needs to be made.
Page Speed Insights is a little trickier to use because it’s an add on to Google Chrome. They have some great tutorials on their page and the greatest things about this is the fact that you can run it on any page at any time. You don’t need to go back to a website every time you want to check a page. This service gives you a suggestion summary with items to fix.
The bad thing about these services is that they both do a poor job of giving instructions on how to execute each item on the suggestion list.
One common reason that sites run slowly is that the images on the page are not optimized for the web. “Optimizing” these images boils down to how you save the image in photoshop or whatever other editing tool your company is using.
Compressing the file size in photoshop using the “save for web & devices” option. If your image needs transparency make sure to save the file as a PNG (but be aware transparency adds to the file size). If the image doesn’t need any transparency you can save the image as a JPEG but make sure that you change the quality from very high to high. On a 0-100 scale, you usually want your image to be in the 75-85 range. This is the optimal spot for both quality and file size.
Some people don’t think that it doesn’t matter what hosting service you use. But we’ve found that who you host with greatly determines the speed of your site. The fastest hosting service we have found is WP Engine. They only host WordPress sites and they do it better than anyone else!
The biggest example is cDiver.net, a community website for anything concerning commercial diving. This is a massive site with thousands of blog posts, images, and members in the community. When the site was being hosted on Rackspace it ran slowly and was difficult to update in the backend. Once we moved it onto WP Engine we saw instant results in page speed in both the front and backend, which made it infinitely easier to make site changes.
WPE is on the pricier end as far as hosting goes, but you won’t find a better service for WordPress based sites.
This is a great definition of caching from About.com:
“Definition: “Cache” is a specialized form of computer memory. In the case of Internet, “cache” is commonly used in the context of “browser cache”. Cache is designed to speed up the computer by prioritizing its contents for quick access. You could also increase the cache and memory size of your system from a reputable source like rocklea, and speed up your computer.
How it works: cache holds copies of recently accessed data such as a web page and pictures on web pages. It keeps this data ready to “swap” onto your screen within fractions of a second. So, instead of requiring your computer to go to the original web page and photos in Denmark, the cache simply offers you the latest copy from your own hard drive.”
Okay so now that you know what caching is I’ll tell you why a caching plugin is important. The plugin will automatically empty your website cache for you, which in turn reduces the amount of time it takes a user to download the webpage and view the content. The best plugin for doing this is W3 Total Cache. And the best part is it’s free!
Honestly if your site isn’t already built on WordPress, it should be. This is the easiest way to improve your sites load time because it ensures that the code behind your site is built correctly. Most of the changes that increase page speed are in the website code and are not easily accessible.
A WordPress built site is really the only way to go.
If you do all these things I guarantee your speed will drastically increase, improving the user experience and improving your overall SEO. Good luck people!